Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Skipping North (again)

Yippee, booking has opened for Britain's best-ever knitting break, and I've just booked my place. See you there?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

trains and countryside

Absolutely the last post for today, promise (especially as I'm still trying to get a decent picture of E-J's lovely crochet stitch holders, waiting for me when I got home!) At the top, a view of a steam engine on the North York Moors line from Grosmont to Pickering. How I wish I could centre shots properly...Pickering is the sort of quaint market town that is full of delicatessens, flea markets etc and hardly anywhere for clothes or run-of-the-mill groceries (maybe those are in the slightly less picturesque parts?!) The rest of the photos were taken on a circular walk from Grosmont station, along the banks of the Murk Esk (you can see the river eddying in one of the shots)to Beck Hole (where I spotted the plums and rowanberries) and back. The first stretch went through incredibly muddy woodland, with treacherous descents, and here I discovered that whilst the new boots are, indeed, waterproof, their vibram soles are quite slippery: eek. Still there was lots of interesting fungus to admire and some intrepid sheep, far better at coping with steep slopes than I am! The way back, on the other hand, was largely along a wide path suitable for wheelchair access. Just one steep uphill stretch at the end, but look at the view from the top: a lush green field full of cows (and bullocks) with the distant puff of steam from trains at Grosmont. I just wish I'd been quick enough to flick the shutter as the heron swooped down low in front of us. Magical. So that's more than enough about my holidays, shan't ramble on this much in future, just the novelty of having time off work and a camera, too.

Paper Anniversary!

Here are the gifts that Graham and I exchanged for our first (paper) anniversary (or "any worse-ary?" as G insisted on calling it!) For Graham, 3 volumes of Ruskin's Stones of Venice, which he'd been hunting for for ages, and which we found in a tiny shop in the Shambles Market. For me, a reproduction--on photographic paper-- of a photograph by Frank Meadows Sutcliffe, who took genre-style photos of life in and around Whitby in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. This is one of his many knitting shots (treated myself to a book that contains quite a few more as well as lots of views of Whitby, children playing etc). Knitting was a major part of women's lives hereabouts. As well as there being many local gansey styles (Bobbins website tells you more), the museum has a sizeable collection of lovingly crafted knitting sheaths, a knitting belt and the most beautiful leather needle case, decorated with a leaf design and inscribed with a badly-spelt but heartfelt verse (about remembering the maker whenever looking at the case). The knitting was probably just for family use, or for pin money, but jet and jet jewellery had a big part to play in the local economy. Jet is fossilized aracuria (monkeypuzzle tree) wood, still found in and around Whitby. Hence Graham's other gift to me: the silver and Whitby jet necklace. The design of this one is inspired by the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh (from Glasgow, rather than Whitby) but we both saw it and said "that one".


Yes, I'm really overdoing it with posts today but (alas) I'm not going to have much time to blog over the next few weeks: tomorrow sees my return to The Wonderful World of Retail (and with 2 overnight trips to HQ and a training day coming up in the next fortnight my time won't be my own) and I've got to write a paper for a colloquim in 3 weeks' time plus write the syllabus and prepare the first handout for a knitting course starting (subject to enrolment) at much the same time and I need to file my tax return by the end of Septmeber. So let's forget all that and talk knitting. First of all, here are the 2.5 scarves surrounded by lots of luscious new yarns from Bobbins of Whitby and magazines acquired from various newsagents in the town. the scarf on the right and the 0.5 of a scarf in the middle are made from Noro yarns acquired at Bobbins.

The scarves were inspired by the gorgeous multidrectional scarf that Annarella has made, but are knitted to my own recipe, using modular equilateral triangles with chain selvedge: no sewing up required. On the left we have the first one (cast on as the train pulled out of Cambridge, and cast off in The Shambles, a wonderful bar above the Shambles market)made from Wendy Fusion. There are some very long colour runs in this yarn, so I had several blue triangles in succession. I think I'll need to add a bit of decoration to this one (as I did with this scarf, knitted to my short row recipe, for my no-longer secret pal, Elaine). In the middle we have .5 of a scarf, knitted in Noro Silk Garden. I think I'll need just over 2 balls for this one and the colours are man-friendly (someone sitting near me has his beady eye on it). On the right is the star of the show, knitted in just two balls Noro Silver Thaw. I love this yarn. It is a wool/angora/nylon blend, so slightly more yardage than Silk Garden and the softest, most strokable feel (despite the inevitable bits of Japanese hedgerow!). Lots of people came up to ask me about this one, and I had to keep a very firm grip on it when I let people stroke it/examine its construction.

challenged by sheep

Aha! Give a girl a camera and look what happens. Yes, she could be taking landscapes, seascapes, skyscapes and what does she snap? She snaps sheep and we all know who is to blame. So here we have (in totally random order, as blogger has thwarted my attempts to organise them)
dinky pink case in shop window in Flowergate, Whitby;
handpump in the most extraordinary pub I've ever encountered*;
sheep glovepuppet and sheep-strewn fleeces in shop window in Church Street, Whitby;
landscape shot (as a sop to Graham, who intially didn't get the hang of what I was doing and said "this is getting silly" when I took photos of sheep in shop windows!)** genuine sheep (although Graham alleges that they have been crossed with lemmings as one appeared to be about to hurl itself over the cliff edge) on top of cliffs between Whitby and Robin Hood's Bay;
and finally the other end of the shop window in Church Street...sheep keyring on zip of fleece, embroidered sheep on pocket of fleece, long draught excluder sheep and a naughty wolf club glove puppet who just can't believe his luck at being displayed with all these sheep. Whoever did the window display here has a great sense of humour!
* The most amazing pub is the Birch Hall Inn, Beck Hole. It has two bars (one claiming to be the world's smallest) divided by a tiny little sweetshop, full of old-fashioned delights. I tried to take photos, but the camera batteries were on the blink, which is also why I didn't get a picture of the sheep on a house sign (The White House) in Beck Hole. As we sat outside the pub-- Graham with a half of Black Sheep Bitter, me with a half of cider, knitting away on scarf number 2-- an elderly lady walked past and said "now I've seen it all". Obviously ladies do not drink cider in Yorkshire!!! Or maybe men don't drink halves?
** The penny finally dropped when I explained the sheep challenge to the landlord of the aformentioned Inn

return of the Whitby wanderers, with 2.5 scarves

Blogger's in one of its "I've let you upload one photo so that's your lot" moods at the moment
so here's Graham looking back towards Whitby Abbey whilst we walked along the coast to Robin Hood's Bay last Monday. Note blue sky and sunshine! So much for the long-range weather forecast that predicted cold, wet weather. We had mainly bright sunshine, with just a few light showers and a distant thunder storm on the Wednesday. We realised on that first walk that we were going to have to carry more water with us. Lime and soda (or "slime and odour", as I like to say to Graham when he's off to order the drinks and, yes, he has ended up asking for that more than once!)has never tasted so good as the one I consumed in seconds at the first pub we encountered when we reached Robin Hood's Bay. If you're looking at the backpack Graham's wearing and wondering what on earth we had in there (apart from water) here's the list of essentails for a good day out: map, water, oat cakes (lots), chocolate (ditto), plasters, blister plasters, sunscreen, book and, of course, knitting. I knitted on the cliff tops, I knitted in pubs and cafes, I knitted on trains, I knitted whilst watching morris dancers, knitted during music sessions in the local taverns (it was Whitby Folk Week). In all, 2.5 scarves were whipped up in Whitby and environs (pix to follow). On the train from Middlesborough to Whitby a little boy picked up the yarn that I'd dropped on the floor, asked me what I was doing and then turned to his mother and said, very solemnly, "Mum, can we buy some knitting to do?" Mum replied that she'd plenty of yarn and needles at home so he could have a go then. Wonder if he will?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

A year and a day

Caught marrying at Cambridge Register Office, 25/08/05! Note handbag designed and knitted by the bride.
(We've just got back from Whitby: more on that tomorrow).

Friday, August 18, 2006

off to the moors and seaside

Yes, it is going to be cold and wet next week, so Caught Knitting is off to get soaked and wind-swept. Good job that the sheep challenge is for indoor sheep, rather than real ones. I think I'll have to investigate every handpump in every bar along the North Yorks Coast, then head inland to do the same on the moors. Actually, I don't care what the weather does as I'm taking Dracula to read (local colour) and I'll have this scenic railway route and this steam railway to explore. I've also already checked the opening times for Bobbins! And at least I'll find out whether the new, waterproof hiking boots are indeed waterproof.

Look forward to plenty of pictures of sheep, rain and (I hope) an FO or two. And for a real challenge I'm going to try to get a picture of the husband, who is very, very camera-shy. Now, how much yarn can I cram in to my rucksack?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Join the sheep hunt!

Yay! See that new button (caught knitting's first ever button, added thanks to Isabella's kind help?) It's for woolywormhead's brilliant sheep hunt. It has made me realise that there are not enough sheep in my house (note to readers who've not yet heard about the sheep challenge, the idea is to find pictures of sheep on things, not *real* sheep, before you get visions of chez caught knitting being overrun with ewes, lambs and a ram or two!) I had high hopes of finding one here and found a mole, a dove, a horse, a hare, a goat, a cow, a pig, two big, fat, black flies, a dog and turds aplenty...but no sheep. Hmm, this is one challenging challenge.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Yes, Bobbi, hostess for the SP8 group that I've been part of has posted a list of (almost) everyone she's matched, so that we can track one another down! Which gives me a good excuse to upload this image, the very first that I've taken (and transferred to the computer) with my new digital camera. Francesca (who's been spoling me rotten, and who told me how to add links) was so right when she said I should've taken pix yesterday, so I took the plunge today and bought the camera. Then it all went downhill. Believe me, blood, sweat and tears (and a small G&T) have been involved. For reasons I fail to understand, I accidentally started to set up the camera with Finnish as the default language (prompting long call to HP Technical help). Then I accidentally shot several videos of my leg (hmm, crumpled brown linen, the new box office sensation, not!!). Then I managed to take this picture and transfer it to the computer. Then I spent , eek, more than 2 hours trying to find where the image was stored so that I could upload it. In the meantime I kept accidentally uploading all sorts of things, hooray for Blogger's draft mode which let me delete the utterly random images. I hope it gets easier!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

knitting in the library

Caught up with my crafty nieces today.

The older one, Goth Niece (sporting very striking red eyeshadow and astonishing lashings of black eyeliner), spends her spare time hanging out with fellow goths in a park. Sometimes she takes her knitting along, as does a male friend (who can cable and make cardigans: Goth Niece is impressed). If it rains, the entire group descends (noisily) on the local library, where GN and friend continue to knit. Needless to say, noisy goths are not tolerated for long, but the naughty knitters always refuse to leave until they have got to the end of the current row. GN's latest crafty project has been using felt to customise one of her teddy bears, who now sports a very fetching mohican crest and a black jacket with black and white tie. She's contemplating entering him in the junior needlework category of the village show...would love to see the judges' faces...

Younger niece, Miss Pegs, has been busy on the gonks I mentioned a couple of posts ago. These gonks are constructed around a ring (about 2.5cm diameter) which has 15cm lengths of yarn looped all around it, then has googly eyes stuck on. These can then be attached to chains for use as keyrings, 'phone charms etc. GN has one attached to her Dougal shoulder bag. Miss P leads a very hectic social life: today was Irish dancing, tomorrow is more dancing followed by swimming.

Both girls are beautiful and talented (just like their mother) and they can both talk the hind legs off a donkey (suspect they get this from their aunt!)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Soy Source?

Last Tuesday I went to Robert Sayle (local branch of John Lewis) just to take a look. The look (as seems to happen all too often!) turned into some serious stash enhancement, as I left clutching the new Rowan magazine, 3 balls of Wendy Fusion in fenugreek, glorious blue/green colourway and 3 balls of Rowan Tapestry in the pot pourri colourway (soft browns and pink). I was totally seduced by the Tapestry yarn but how I wish I'd read the label more closely. Fondling my new treasure just before the KTog that evening, I spotted the words "soybean protein fibre" and alarm bells started to ring. I've nothing against soy (I really enjoy well-crisped tofu) but I always take great care to ensure that any soy I buy is neither genetically modified, nor produced in Brazil, where soy growing is hastening the uprooting of rainforest! To make things even more ethically challenging, my step-daughter has just pointed out that the yarn comes from China, too, making me wonder about the conditions and pay of the workers involved in its production (this is a very unsettling point for me, as I work for a company that sells Chinese-made goods, though it is increasingly finding suppliers in Britain and Europe). today is the first day of my holiday, but as I'm feeling too unwell to go out/knit/do housework I've just written to Rowan for more information and suggested that "if these are issues you have not considered before and the yarn does turn out to be contributing to rainforest depletion or exploiting Chinese labourers, would you consider making a donation to environmental/ethical charities by way of compensation?"

Watch this space!

Sunday, August 13, 2006


cheerful post! the sun's come out, my SP has received her final parcel and really seems to like it and the lovely person spoiling me has sent me a lovely email to cheer me up. and whilst I had to go into work today (on what was supposed to be a day off) I got home at a reasonable time and have now got an entire fortnight's holiday coming up. time to get on with the bootees I'm knitting, then to finish one or two Xmas presents (one of which was started this time last year). and I'm off to visit my wonderful crafty nieces on tuesday. the younger one has asked me to bring lots of oddments of brightly coloured yarn for the gonks she is making...sounds fun!


grumpy post: heavy cold, sleepless night and such bad weather that I'm wearing a tweed skirt today...still, I have plenty of lovely yarn to play with!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Sue's sensational knitted mole

I rarely knit toys but I've fallen in love with Wye Sue's amazing mole (complete with molehill). Sue has very generously posted her pattern here.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

This sounds good...

This sounds good! Wonder whether they'd like an article on the design possibilities of molluscs (ahem!)?!

And now, just in case you fancy a little stash enhancement in Singapore, here is a list of yarn shops which has just appeared in The Straits Times and been sent to me by my friend Tamy, who doesn't have a blog but does have a very impressive web presence! The list appeared with an article about Singapore's male knitters and how shy they are.

Spotlight, Plaza Singapura, Level 5: wool and acrylic yarns, magazines, lessons
Golden Dragon Store
, 02-51 Peopke's Park Centre: yarns from England, japan and France. Knitting mags.
Ishida Craft Centre, 01-04 Tanglin Mall: over 70 brands of yarn, linen, cashmere, silk, Japanese and English knitting magazines.
Knitting Shop Enterprise, 390 Victoria Street: yarns from Italy, Germany and Japan, knitting magazines, children's knitting tools, free knitting lessons for the completion of one project given for purchases of $50 and above.
Ng Lang Quee, 682 Hougang Ave 4, 01-336: yarn from Italy, England and Taiwan, any purchase entitles you to free knitting lessons in the course of 3 months.
Yong Herng Co, 02-12Holland Road Shooping Centre: predominantly English Yarn, also stocks knitting magazines. No knitting lessons.

I especially like the sound of the yarns and Japanese magazines at Ishida Craft Centre, whilst Knitting Shop Entreprise (with its mention fo children's tools and lessons in exchange for yarn purchase) really does sound entreprising.

I've not been able to set up a link to the article but if you Google "Straits Times Men Knitting" and click the first link you may be able to get it as a pdf (I've tried 3 times and it worked once).

Sleepless at Lammastide, knitting at Lughnasa and slug genitalia

Sleep is eluding me tonight; wonder whether it is because the night of 1-2 August is Lammastide, originally Lughnsadh (festival of the god Lugh) one of the "quarter days" of the Celtic year, later Christianised as Lammas (loaf-mass), an early version of the harvest festival and also, traditionally, a time for sheep fairs.

If you ever get the chance to see (or read) Brian Friel's amazing, moving, play Dancing at Lughnasa (click here for a reasonable plot summary, though one that omits to mention the knitting content) or the film version, starring Meryl Streep, do so. The story features knitters (see below) and the knitwear in the film is gorgeous! It tells the tale of an Irish family of several sisters, one illegitimate son and an uncle, a former Catholic priest who has been overseas for many years and "gone native". The oldest sister, a teacher, desperately tries to hold the family together and to keep "pagan" values (smoking, as well as festivals) at bay in a time of social and economic change. Several of the other sisters are professional knitters, work that is drying up. The changes and clashes, cultural, religious and economic, come to a head at Lughnasadh. The play is extraordinary for the way it features incredible energy (the scene when the sisters all dance is utterly uplifting) and contrasts it with frozen tableau at beginning and end, suggesting thta the family is trapped by circumstances, even as the dynamics have shifted. Stop reading this and try to read/watch the play/film instead!

I'm off to try to sleep now, and if that fails, I'll work some more on my latest curly whirly scarf: hop over here (see especially the picture labelled "flared reproductive structures") for a vivid pictorial explanation of why I refer to any spiralling scarves and anything with masses of frills (like anything made from Wendy Knitit) as slug genitalia. One of the best books that I have ever read is Garden Creepy-Crawlies by Michael Chinnery (Whitett Books, 1986). I confess to having been one of those little girls who preferred keeping caterpillars/watching worms in the garden to boring stuff like knitting, yuk, but Chinnery's book (which I read whilst commuting to work) reavealed all sorts of things that I'd never been aware of, most memorably the mating ritual of the great grey slug limax maximus...