Sunday, January 27, 2008

Delightedly Foxed

Every Thursday, regular as clockwork, The TLS (Graham's favourite literary journal) flops through the letterbox. This week, I was delighted to find that it contained a flyer advertising Slightly Foxed, which is a far more important publication as it is my favourite literary journal. (Note impartial and scholarly flair of my adjudication. Not). But how's this for an advertising leaflet?

As I sat clapping my hands with glee at the thought of the treat in store (seriously, this journal is a real treat); it struck me that I'd seen this painting somewhere else (though, maybe, sans lupine passenger, and with a white horse--rather than a white fox-- in the background...)

Aha! Here it is:
Eric Ravilious, Train Landscape (1939)
(available as a greetings card, see here), but also available as a full page illustration in this book (see p63) which I am currently re-reading for at least the fifth time. The most recent issue of Persephone Books' Biannually had Russell Sidney Reeves' The Felixstowe to Ipswich Coach on its front cover, (see page 269 of The Gentle Art of Domesticity) and acknowledged their debt to Jane Brocket (aka Yarnstorm) for bringing the picture to their attention. Has she had the same effect on the Slightly Foxed team?

Whatever the case, I'm still bouncing up-and-down in anticipation of my favourite, quarterly, treat....

Thursday, January 24, 2008

is this much fun legal?

I can't believe how much fun I've had over the last 8 days (despite a miserable sinus infection). First, the wonderful parcel from Siret. The choc (far nicer than UK choc, as it is less sweet) vanished in no time at all. But here's the beautiful "preyarn"

from this company. It really is the most tempting yarn presentation I've ever seen, and I think I'm going to follow Siret's lead, and use the yarn to make a crocheted, felted bag. Siret, you're a star!

After that (and the minor matter of filling in the tax form, which is not counted in the week's fun) it was off to the cinema, my first visit for over 2 years. Obviously, since I'm a most infrequent cinema-goer, it takes a special film to get me there! In this case it was the new St Trinian's film (sensationally silly and I'm still laughing over it), last time it was Wallace & Grommit and the Curse of the Wererabbit (Caught Knitting may have degrees in highbrow lit but she views films as strictly for fun).

Friday found me at work. But on Saturday it was KTog stash swap time. With 24 knitters (and one baby) this must have been the highest turnout to date.

The pictures give you a flavour of the atmosphere, but no hint of the fabulous stash that was on offer. I was really good: I gave away 7 balls of yarn and didn't bring any home. (I did, however, manage to come home with a copy of this fantastic work free, gratis and for nothing. There were even duplicate copies of some of Elizabeth Zimmermann's books on offer!) I'd dragged myself out feeling as though I should really be spending the day in bed, but ended up having a whale of a time.

On Sunday I revisted the wonderful White House Arts to do another felting course with textiles tutor extraordinaire, Roger Prime. This time I discovered the joys of Nuno felting, and even came away with a rather dramatic, reversible scarf (all my own work).
(Sadly this photo seems to be more of my chair than my scarf!). I can't recommend White House Arts classes highly enough. In the past I'd been put off by the prices (Sunday's course was £55) but I've realised that you really do get value for money here!

Monday, as ever, was spent at work and my poor head felt as if it was going to burst. Tuesday, too, slipped by in a fug of paracetemol and sinutab. But somehow(!) I made it to yet another KTog, this time at The Cambridge Blue. More stash was swapped (I weakened and came home with 2 new balls for my stash, but I did give away a further 5 or 6, so feel rather virtuous). By Wednesday morning I had to admit to myself that the sinuses needed anitbiotics (ugh), so off to the doctor's. But I sweetened the blow by heading to the bargain bins at Sew Creative. I got 3 fabulous balls of mohair blend for £1 each (another twirly scarf on its way) and (better still) 9 balls of creamy-white Wendy/Emu superwash DK for £1.50 each.

Today should have been market day, but a high temperature doesn't really go with standing outside and selling cakes and crafts. And my head was truly bunged up and thumping. Under these circumstances, a girl needs steam. In the past, I've taken the opportunity to cook up gigantic quantities of pulses for the freezer, but the cupboard was bare. Only then I had a brainwave, remembered everything that Liz had taught me (scroll down to "a second kiln"), grabbed my cauldron,

got to work with my niddy noddy, and a few hours later not only was the headache gone but: look what I've got!
The skeins on the right (starting with the bright green ones) are the Wendy/Emu DK, and I'm delighted with them. To the left of those are various pale lilac pure wools DKs (some Cygnet, some Jaeger) that called out to be livened up and on the left (not all visible in the pc) are assorted Rowan tweed yarns that I've picked up at previous stash swaps. I've turned a rather sludgy green into slightly brighter semi-solids (adding leaf green to both, highlighting one with turquoise and one, less susccessfully, with yellow) and some porridgey/browny yarn is now awash with various greens and reds.

Is this much fun legal?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


So there I was, hard at work with the t*x r*t*rn, when Graham came in brandishing a big jiffy bag. Addressed to me. A big, soft, squishy, very promising sort of a jiffy bag. From Estonia. The lovely Siret has sent me a New year gift: dark chocolate with cherries in (my dream chocolate, in fact) and the most beautiful cakes of yarn I have ever seen in my whole life: softest, loftiest, roving/lopi type in autumnal colours. I must take photos for you: words won't do it justice! But first, having completed the you-know-what (and here I really must thank the wonderful staff on the Inland Revenue help desk), I'm off to celebrate by going to see St Trinians. (I hope they still have the same school song. I hope nobody in the audience takes any notice of a strange middle aged lady crocheting and singing).

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Daytrip, anyone?

I've just heard about a fantastic-sounding exhibition coming up at the Sainsbury gallery, in Norwich. It sounds fascinating and features contemporary textile artists from Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Japan and the UK.

I'm not sure there'll be a huge amount of knitting/crochet content (though I see that Freddie Robbins is included) but I'm planning to go at least twice, as I'm hoping to organise a couple of daytrips for the Cambridge KTog crew (one on a Saturday and one on a weekday, sometime during March/April) combining the exhibition with a visit to the oh-so-tempting Norfolk Yarn.

We'll be travelling by train from Cambridge (via Ely for connections with trains from the Midlands and the North) and bus once we're in Norwich. (Interesting fact: when you catch the bus to Norfolk Yarns you ask for "Mecca", as the Mecca Bingo Hall is opposite the shop).
Let me know if you'd care to join us!

*update*: the Saturday is now fixed- Sat 5 April 2008

Friday, January 11, 2008

Misty Mountain Hop!

Thanks to my (blogless) sister for putting me out of my misery: the Led Zep track accompanying the Larkrise to Candleford trailer is Misty Mountain Hop.
Thanks Hilla!

ps: Enjoy! (Guess what poor Graham is going to have to listen to when the caldo verde is served...)
pps: do follow the links to other Led Zep tracks: the "video" to Trampled Underfoot has to be my all-time favourite rock video ever.

Monday, January 07, 2008

UK Swap

Part One: Crafting
Do you knit, crochet, or both? Both. I tend to crochet more than knit these days.

What do you like to make? Small projects (accessories for homes and humans).

Do you have a favourite project? Varies but I have a short attention span.

Do you have a favourite type of fiber or brand of yarn? I love most wool yarns and alpaca. Favourite weights are sock yarn, 4-ply, DK and worsted. I'd love to try cashmere...

Do you have a least favourite type of yarn? Scratchy acrylics. (Some of the very cheap types). And I find that my hands hurt if I use really big needles, so that rules out bulky yarns.

Do you do any other crafts? Yes, but very, very badly... Not at all keen on things that require glue and fiddly bits!

What knitting do you bring ‘on the go’? I find crochet more portable and usually have all sorts of yarn scarps and assorted hooks with me, ready to whip up scarves, hats and corsages. Any knitting "on the go" will be on 4 needles (wristwarmers, socks) or a modular project.

What do you carry your ‘on the go’ knitting in? Do you want something new? An assortment of bags: canvas, plastic, paper... backpack, briefcase, handbag... I'd love a neat little case for my "notions".

Are there any knitting gifts (book, toy, yarn, item, tool) that you have been lusting over? I'd love some yarn from Posh yarns. I work on Sundays so never get to their shop in time...

Part Two: Your Favourites

What is your favourite colour? What is your least favourite colour? I adore greens (except bottle green), berry colours and autumnal colours. Anything you'd see on a walk in the countryside (from bright pink foxgloves to muted mushrooms). No to: neons and icky pastels.

What scents/smells do you like? What don’t you like? Love: fresh lemony/green smells; ginger; woody scents; rose. Hate: anything too sweet/bubblegummy/artificial

How do you like to pamper yourself? (bubble bath, hand creams, massage, manicure) I love wallowing in bubble bath (but it must have a natural scent and be cruelty-free: Faith in nature is my favourite brand and I especially like the Seaweed one). I'm also hooked on Neals Yard cocoa butter body cream. My hands need some tlc!

What goodies to you like to treat your tummy with? (chocolate, biscuits, truffles, etc.) I'll answer this one by telling you that my Mum calls me "the twiglet piglet" (cheers, mum) and adding that I also love dark chocolate, ginger and dried fruit in any combination. (Excluding the twiglets, that is). I try to get organic treats (again, except the twiglets!)

Do you prefer tea or coffee while you knit? Any particular kind? I'm not keen on tea and cannot stand coffee. I enjoy most herb teas but I'm rather fond of water. (And cider. And gin & tonic. But the knitting goes a bit weird, sometimes.)

Favourite mug/cup? That beauty that I found in Oxfam a couple of weeks ago. But that is strictly for display on the sideboard. For everyday I have a fabulous bone china mug with a ginger cat on a burgundy ground (think of a modern version of William Morris).

Do you listen to/watch anything while you knit? (TVshow-Along, movies, music, podcasts) I usually have Radio 3 or CDs in the background (I like classical, medieval, folk and world music). But I'm addicted to the Archers and Heartbeat. (I can't believe that I've just admitted that!)

Part Three: Living & Past-times

Where do you live in the UK? (General idea not address) East Anglia.

Have you always lived here, or did you grow up somewhere else? Born in Liverpool, moved to East Anglia (not the current bit) aged 3. Since leaving school I've had brief forays into Manchester, Worcestershire and Hertfordshire but the last 12 years have seen me moving closer and closer to my youthful stamping grounds.

If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? Practically everywhere! So many places that I want to see. Finland and Estonia; Prague and Budapest; Edinburgh. I suppose northern and eastern Europe are top of the list, but would love to go to Japan, Paris, New York...

If you couldn’t go to a knitting group, what other kind of gathering would you go to? (book club, tea party, yoga class, jewelery class, etc.) I'd go to anything where I could also knit/crochet. Think I'd enjoy a book group or tea party. I also like swimming, but that is quite solitary (and incompatible with yarn).

What’s your style? (elegant, traditional, glamourous, girly, natural, sporty, outgoing, etc.)
Eclectic yet understated. (Actually "low maintenance" probably sums it up..) I have to admit that my ideal outfit is a pair of cords or a tweedy skirt, a long-sleeved t-shirt and a stylish knit.... My favourite outfit is a brown 1920s/30s style dress (with a subtle pink/green/orange print) that I wear with a brown shrug and often layer with a long-sleeved t shirt and even a longer skirt underneath. Very versatile.

Final Part:

Any allergies/preferences (fiber-wise or treat-wise)? Mohair makes me sneeze and I have to be careful with anything that goes on skin near my eyes.

Anything we missed that you’d like your partner to know? Just that I'm really looking forward to the swap.

final final part!
Swap rules say that I'm supposed to link to this post from my sidebar. Wish I knew how, as then I'd have spared you all from wading through this! Is there any kind blogger user who can explain how to do this? Thanks!


Can anyone explain to me why the trailer for the forthcoming BBC adaptation of Flora Thompson's Lark Rise to Candleford (written in the late 1930s/early 1940s but recalling Thompson's teenage years in the late 19th century) is accompanied by a a soundtrack from Led Zeppelin (circa 1976 or so)

And can anyone put me out of my misery by telling me precisely which track it is, as I'm losing sleep over this one, literally...

What next? All (anachronistic) suggestions welcomed!

*edited to add*:
Mr Caught Knitting reckons the sound track has been added to try and interest men. (Not that it works for him, the Led Zep records in our lounge belong to me...) Apparently there's an article on costume drama in The Guardian today in which the author says her husband and son both leave the room if they spot a bonnet on the screen...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


No new year resolutions on this blog (I gave up making them over 25 years ago) but I think I've finally worked out how to add some links to the sidebar. Unfortunately first I really should do my tax return. (See what happens when you don't make resolutions: you leave everything to the last minute!) Maybe by this time next week?