Tuesday, October 31, 2006


The year turns: I've always been thrilled by Hallowe'en/Samhain (and not just because of the proximity to my birthday!). As a little girl I thrilled with genuine terror (and secret longing) at the thought of witches, insisting that Ma and Daddy should put horseshoes up at both the front and back doors, and sleeping with an extra horseshoe by my bed for luck! We lived in a new house built on what had been farmland, so (usefully) we turned up the odd horseshoe in the garden, as well as fascinating remnants of clay pipes...and whilst my little sister played at schools (she was always the teacher, I had to be a pupil along with the dolls), I used to play at shops and (more relevant to this post!) museums, featuring lots of exciting finds from the garden (and even rudely rounding Ma up as one of the exhibits).

I don't need to worry about evil witches/thunderbolts where we are living now, as a houseleek appeared in our driveway last year, and a thoughtful bird or squirrel has seeded a rowan for us... But I still believe in magic!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Perfect day!

Details and pictures will follow tomorrow, but can you imagine anything better than a day spent teaching modular knitting, bumping into a SkipNorth friend (hello Ellen!), heading off to Loop (with Ellen plus Jane and Marjorie who were also modular knitting with me) for a spot of retail therapy, then finding that Erika Knight had dropped in, with some of her fantastic designs, to promote her 2 new books. I floated back to Camrbidge on a cloud, then returned home to find a parcel stuffed full of treats (kniterly and otherwise) from a secret pal, who is known to me only as the "secret socker".

This is my last Saturday off between now and January, so I knew it would be special, but I didn't know how special.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Cat joins knitting circle

Had huge fun at the KTog at the Cambridge Blue last night, where we were joined by Ajax, the pub cat. You can see a picture of him here. And, yes, for the second time within a week my image has been captured on film. That's me on the right of the picture. I'm amazed that Bekki's camera survived!

As ever, there were lots of gorgeous projects being worked on (especially Julie's crochet and Liz's shawl), and a great deal of laughter. It was good to see lots of bits of stash that had been traded during the two recent stash swaps being put to good use, too.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

neglected spouse behaviour

You know you've been neglecting your husband when you discover that he's been watching Strictly Come Dancing... That he's been watching it so avidly that he can tell you who scored what...

For those of you who don't know my husband, he's a very intellectual chap, who usually spends his spare time writing learned articles, or immersed in tomes on philosophy or abstruse literary theory. And if you've not seen Strictly Come Dancing; think C-list celebs, funny frocks, sarcastic judges, and unintentionally hilarious facial expressions.

Still, at least we sat and watched the highlights together on Sunday. And I have to admit that his daughter was just as shocked to find out about his new viewing habit as I was. Though she tells me that they used to watch World's Strongest Man together when she was younger. I used to watch that with my Auntie Joan, whose other strange viewing quirk was playing endless videos of *anything* starring Paul Daniels whilst doing the ironing. And could that auntie iron? She even ironed drip-dry petticoats.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

uncreative writing

After discovering my rapacious Scorpio dark side yesterday evening I thought I'd better investigate this:

You Are 24% Evil

A bit of evil lurks in your heart, but you hide it well.

In some ways, you are the most dangerous kind of evil.

Oh dear! I'm always joking about knitted dolls and sticking pins in people... anyway, have decided that finding things to post about by visiting blogthings is *not* the way forward. So this week my aim is to work smarter so that I can get more knitting time and thus have something more intersting to blog about! Must get some pix, too.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Me to a tee, not!

Your Birthdate: November 2

You're so intuitive, it's like you have a sixth, seventh, and eighth sense.

You connect with others freely and easily - and you tend to have many best friends.

Warm and caring, it's hard for you to close your heart to anyone.

Affection is like air for you - you need to give and receive it to survive.

Your strength: Your universal compassion

Your weakness: Your unpredictable mood swings

Your power color: Mauve

Your power symbol: Butterfly

Your power month: February

Found the above whilst visiting Shona's blog. And as a certain "Secret Socker" who is spoiling me in the current round of SP wants to know a bit more about me, I couldn't resist giving it a go. But that description is *so* not me! Maybe I'll accept the compassionate bit. Mauve? I can't begin to imagine mauve as powerful. February. Huh! Give me October and November, anytime (but make October a bit more nippy and frosty than this one has been).

Nope, I get the feeling that I'm more of a typical Scorpio A quick trip over to Wikipedia suggests that the only famous person born on the same day and year as me is a Bosnian war criminal. I do remember reading years ago (in a Time Life book on the history of mathematics, which is the sort of thing that I have a hidden passion for) that more American presidents had been born on 2 Nov than any other date. And I notice that Marie Antoinette was also born on 2 November. Bet she thought mauve was sissy, too.

But the best thing about my birthdate is that it is All Souls Day. I was due on 1 November, can you imagine what I'd have had to live up to had I been born on All Saints Day??!

Apart from dreaming of my birthday (am looking forward to it, especially as I have directed my beloved to here) I've had an amazingly taxing day at work, thanks an absence-of-customers situation and to a throat bug that has knocked all my colleagues for six. Only one could come in, and she had such terrible sinus pain that I wished I could've sent her home. Bang goes my day off tomorrow, too. World domination will have to wait until next week!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

no, I did not say that

Help! Am expecting sacksful of protest mail from older knitters objecting to the quote from me in today's Cambridge Evening News. They left a crucial word out of the following statement: "ours was possibly the first knitting group outside London"...and the crucial word is "pub". (Note distressing perponderance of alcohol in recent posts).

ps am delighted to note that the areticle and pic aren't available in the online edition, so at least I'll only be getting letters from "outraged of Ely" and "disgusted of Newmarkedt".

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

2 umbrellas, no hairbrush

Today started innocently enough (overslept, had 7 minutes to get to bus, decided to go for tousled hair and just a slick of lipstick look). At work by 8, powering through the to-do list. And then...

Colleague arrived late. Just as I was reprimanding her, the 'phone rang. Yes, my pet bugbear, the personal 'phone call during trading hours. It was the Cambridge Evening News, for me. Answered a few quick questions (no, the group is not called Cambridge Stitch'nBitch. Why not? Because we're not very bitchy!), promised to get in touch with my top knitting tips and returned to work. 'Phone rings again. The photographer will be along sometime between 9.30 and 5. Photographer?????

Those of you who know me know that I hate, detest and abhor having my 'photo taken. If you look at the SkipNorth pics, I'm hiding behind my hat. In Cambridge KTog pics I'm the one holding my knitting up in front of my face (whilst simultaneously downing a pint of cider to calm my nerves). Explain to journalist that my face breaks camera lenses. That I'm rushed off my feet. No, no way can they take my picture in the store. Oh, outside, OK then. Can you see how I fell into the trap?

Stick myself back into my busy day and forget about the looming threat. But all too soon... Dash downstairs to grab my knitting (if they must take a pic, at least it should feature my knitting) and find hairbrush, warpaint etc.

I have knitting, I have lipstick, I have 2 umbrellas (2?) (how?) (why?) but no sniff of a brush or comb.

The awful truth is scheduled to appear in the Cambridge Evening News on Thursday...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

questions, questions

We've been asked to answer a few more questions for SP, so here goes... I have to say that the only one I found easy to answer was "favourite yarn"! I don't really think about having favourites, there's a whole world out there to explore. (Oh, and for any cynical friends saying "yes, but we all know your favourite drink" it was a close-call, I do like a G&T now and then, as several of you witnessed on Tuesday, ahem).

List your favorite:

Actor - I don't watch many films or much TV, so this one is rather difficult. But I do go all gooey over Luke Wilson and the spectaculalry desirable man who plays Dr Kovac in ER. Hmm, which one? Make it the guy who plays Dr Kovac...
Actress - Juliette Binoche made a real impression when I saw _The English Patient_ quite a few years ago.
Animal - hare. I also love it when I find frogs and hedgehogs in the garden. Favourite bird: owl.
Band - Rolling Stones, though my tastes really veer towards world, early and classical music.
Book - only one?! Then it will have to be a poetry anthology. The one I keep dipping into is _The Thunder Mutters: 101 Poems for the Planet_ edited by Alice Oswald.
Bubble Bath - my favourite addition to a bath is one of Lush's bath melts, especially the "Nude" variety. But they don't create bubbles. So I'll have to say Faith in nature's foam baths, especially the seaweed one. The most important thing is that my bath products are cruelty-free and as natural as possible.
Candy - dark chocolate, especially if combined with cherries or ginger. If you don't count choc as candy, I've recently discovered some gelatine-free sour jelly babies, far healthier than the Haribo Tangfastics I sometimes gorge myself on.
Colour - Green, but not bottle or kelly green-type greens (too much like my school uniform!), I prefer sharp greens, mudgy greens, olive greens, yellow greens, acid greens.
Drink- I love cloudy, sharp, apple juices, especially if they've been fremented. Oh, let's be honest: I'm a cider drinker!
Flower - Aquilegia. But I find autumn fruit and baerries and fungus every bit as beautiful.
Food - a plate laden with celery, rye and caraway bread and goat's cheese (not the very hard kind of goat's cheese, and not the soft spready sort, either, it has to be one of those log-shaped ones, mmm) . And can I have thinly-sliced apple (a nice sharp one) and some grapes on there, too, please? (Plus, if the vegetarian members of the family aren't watching, some air-dried ham eg parma).
Lip Balm - now, here, I really am defeated. I don't like anything too soft and gooey (prefer sticks to pots), it has to be cruelty-free and I prefer organic. Not big on flavoured ones, but my husband gave me a nice one with a little hint of honey that he got free from somewhere.
Lotion - Neal's Yard cocoa butter body lotion, it has the most glorious smell, from the frankincense, I think.
Movie - For a feelgood movie: _Practical Magic_. (Though I thinked I like the original book, by Alice Hoffman, even more). And I have every Wallace & Grommit film! (Strictly for the knitting scenes, you understand). But as a teenager I was totally captivated by _Lacombe, Lucien_, set in wartime France, it is the heartbreaking tale of a boy who is refused entry to the Resistance, so becomes a Nazi sympathiser, just because they'll let him join in, only then he falls in love with a Jewish girl. I wonder how I'd feel about the film if I saw it again now?
Place- none in particular but I'm at my happiest walking along windswept coasts and by rivers. And I do love the study in our house. It has a radio/cd player, comfy chairs, the computer, lots of books, a little yarn, two desks and (more often than not) my husband.
Song - Well, if I had a glorious singing voice I think I'd spend my days singing "The Irish Rover". And I've finally got the wherewithal to play my vinyl collection again (yay!) so keep singing along tunelessly to "Love Over and Over" by Kate and Anna McGarrigal.
TV Show - None (unless you count my ER habit, which is strictly for the pleasure of Dr Kovac) Yarn- Noro silver thaw, closely followed by Noro silk garden.
Vacation Spot - this is even harder than favourite book! I give up!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

from fuming to laughter

The last couple of days have been stressful, but not without their lighter moments. Yesterday thieves managed to leave my store with vast quantities of items that did not belong to them. I was beyond p*ssed off but, happily, it was KTog night, and gin and the company of knitters worked wonders on my mood. Then today, whilst giving my statement, I almost stole the constable's pen! And there may be a prosecution in the offing (no, not of me for the pen).

Meanwhile (over at Jan's blog) I've discovered a sublime combination of yarn and my favourite artist. Have hintingly emailed details to my husband!

Friday, October 06, 2006


Having had such a wonderful time during SP8, I've signed up for SP9. As before, it seems that I need to publish my answers to the following questionnaire.

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
I adore natural fibres (especially merino, silk and anyhting that felts) although mohair makes me sneeze! Until a couple of months ago, Noro Silk Garden was my favourite, but now I'm utterly smitten with Noro Silver Thaw: the angora doesn't shed and it doesn't make me sneeze. I like good quality blended yarns and do use acrylic and novelty yarns but have rather a lot of those piling up in my stash...

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
I have a wonderful pouch for my circulars thanks to Francesca, my SP8 buddy, and assorted holders, vases, biscuit tins etc, too.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
I've been knitting for some 30 years now. My Ma and nanna tried to teach me (tears and tantrums galore) but eventually I got a book and got on with it. I'm an intermediate knitter but really struggle reading charts.

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

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products, etc.)
I like citrus scents (bergamot, lemon and grapefruit rather than orange); woody smells (cedarwood, frankincense) and spices (ginger, amber). Apples and pears are good, too.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
I adore dark chocolate! Other than that, I really prefer savoury snacks or luscious cherries and raspberries. Ooo, and blueberry youghurt raisins: scrumyum!

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I'm a novice crocheter but apart from darning and sewing buttons back on (sssh! don't tell my husband I'm actually rather good at those!) I don't really dablle in any craft apart from knitting. I have tried to spin with a drop spindle but my wrist screamed in pain. Would love to have a wheel and a loom (oh, and lots of spcae!) I'm quite keen to have a go at dyeing.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD) Rather an eclectic mix: world music (especially traditional dance); medieval, renaissance and baroque; some 20th century classical composers; folk; French cafe tunes (Charles Trenet etc); Django Reinhardt and other 1930s jazz; Cole Porter and The Rolling Stones. No MP3 facilities.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand? I love autumnal shades and most reds/purples/oranges/ pinks; greens (especially rather acid or leafy ones) are my top favourite; I adore the crazy mixes that Noro put together. I'm not all fond of "baby" pastels and (for reasons I cannot fathom) I've not been much into blue for a few years now.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
I'm married with a 26-year old stepdaughter and a delightful, elderly cat, Jiminey, who always manages to evade the camera.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
Yes to all the above, but I'm really particular about ponchos: they have to be very smart and to flatter me.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
Small projects: scarves (love coming up with new designs), hats, gloves and baby clothes. I simply cannot make socks to fit myself. Somehow I always either make the leg too narrow (I've rather chunky legs) or the foot a bit too short (must have long toes). My (slimmer, slightly smaller-footed) sister does rather well out of my inaccuracies!

13. What are you knitting right now?
A modular scarf, using Twilleys Freedom Spirit in a glorious blend of pinks with tiny highlights of yellow and blue.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic? I've got very wide-ranging tastes. I can no longer use very short circs (shooting pains in the hand if I try!) but, as I knit on the bus a lot, I do love circulars and short pins, I'll often use dpns for my modular prjects. My current faves are a pair of short peace fleece needles and I love Brittanys (looks and feel). I also crave more colour...love the look of gorgeous coloured transpartent plastic needles, adore the beads bedecking peace fleece needles.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
No yarn winder, but I have a creaky metal swift that belonged to my grandmother.

17. How old is your oldest UFO?
I hate to think! I've a nasty feeling that I've a cardigan that I sarted about 7 years ago in my attic; and that my parents' attic may harbour things from nearly 30 years ago.

18. What is your favorite holiday?
If this is holidays as in festivals, then I love harvest and spring celebrations. I'll never forget the Erdeven Onion Festival in Brittainy (France, a carnival with a parade, and lots of stalls including one with over 40 varieties of onion. there were even more types of garlic and almost as many apple ciders. I do enjoy Christmas, but as I work in a gift shop I'm usually totally exhausted.
If this is holidays as in vacations, then give me plenty of fresh air; coasts and riverside walks, scenic train journeys (especially steam trains); interesting museums (especially social history/folk life) and amazing knitting shops. Having said that, 2 of my favourite trips have been to Vienna and Stockholm!

19. Is there anything that you collect?
Yarn!!! Library book fines (must get more organised). I've also got a few frogs, hares and owls.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
Books: I love anything new and inventive but have snapped up most of what I desire on publication. Can't get hold of the Twisted sisters Modular patterns in the UK, though.
Magazines:I subscribe to Selvedge (a fabulous UK textiles magazine) and buy most issues of Interweave Knits, Knitting (a UK publication) and VK. I've also fallen in love with a bizarre, arty tome called Foxy Dreamy, Yes Indeedy, which features the somewhat adult adventures (passive dope smoking, lust) of a group of knitted toys.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
I try to be a sock knitter (see q12). I've got rather chubby feet, European size 40/UK 6.5-7.

23. When is your birthday? (mm/dd) 11/02 (All Souls Day)

It really does seem rather introspective and greedy filling this in!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

je m'amuse

Whilst this is not a good thing to admit on a knitting blog, I have to admit that I really haven't been caught knitting much for the last 2 or 3 weeks. Caught stressing, yes, caught overworking, and caught sniffling, too. But not knitting.

After yet another sleepless, coughing-fit-filled night on Tuesday I decided to take myself in hand. Booked myself a massage and promised myself a day along the lines of "follow your nose wherever it goes...". And my nose took me here, S'Amuser, leading me into a bizarre and entertaining venue which opened a couple of weeks ago. It is quite crazy but lots of fun. One of the "muses" sits you down (actually you're perched vertiginously on top of a very high up chair) and works through an extraordinary process to come up with your signature blend. That's all I'm telling you, as I don't want to spoil the fun.

Normal knitting news should be resumed tomorrow evening...