Monday, September 29, 2008


Has anyone seen this yet? I get the feeling that I need to own it! (Oh, the perils of checking amazon during a sleepless night!)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

me, right now

I switched on the computer to do some work on SlipKnot but got sidetracked (as I often do) by Ravelry, where I spotted that Mary had updated her blog, and I felt that I simply had to join here's me on Sunday 27 September, 2008 at 9.50am. In the background: a corner of Graham's desk and a bit of his filing cabinet.

Here are the instructions, so that you can join in, too:
1. Take a picture of yourself right now.
2. Don’t change your clothes, don’t fix your hair…just take a picture.
3. Post that picture with NO editing.
4. Post these instructions with your picture.
5. Add it to the Pool.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

caught knitting caught knitting shock... (and mr caught knitting caught napping)

I know that I tend to crochet (or, indeed, spin) far more than I knit these days but I wasn't prepared for the shocked expressions as I was caught knitting at Tuesday's KTog. In fact more than one person said "I've never seen you knit before". I have, in fact, cast on 2 cardigans in the last 12 months, but neither has got vey far. My foxtail got abandoned as I hated the way the hem was rolling and I really don't know why I abandoned the little silk garden number I was making (yes I do, I decided that it wouldn't be remotely flattering). So a certain Mr Caught Knitting has been casting aspersions about my ability to finish my current project: a tank top (I can't get used to calling them slipovers) in Noro sock yarn.

We shall see. In the meantime, here is a picture of Mr Caught Knitting slumbering on a friend's smallholding last friday afternoon.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

equinoctal ramble

Yesterday, alongside the footpaths between Girton and Coton: teasel, reedmace, crab apples, blackberries

And, in Coton itself, medlar (or "open-ers" as Chaucer called them... that's "ers" as in "*rse", owing to the way the fruit split open when "bletted", which is to say, frost-damaged and very ripe...) edited to add: excellent, the Wikipedia entry on medlars, quotes not only chaucer but some nice, bawdy, Shakespeare
medlar with small yellow snail the village tapestry (brilliant idea, every village should have one) on display in the church
detail from the tapestry
and a monument which we weren't able to read (couldn't get close enough) but--with the hourglasses, the angel and the skull and crossbones--we got the general message (the sort of message that is always on my mind at the year's quarter days). Mind you, I'd have liked to have known more about the whys and wherefores of the mattock and spade underneath the skull...
Agriculture has clearly played an important part in this village over the centuries. The stook of corn made me smile (most of the corn cut hereabouts gets rolled up into big tubes and shrink-wrapped in black plastic). And a wonderfully wonky house...As we left Coton we stopped at the Plough, to imbibe cider, then we ambled along the cyclepath to Cambridge where, after pausing to imbibe more cider at the Eagle, we caught a bus home.

Autumn is my favourite season: fruit, falling leaves to crunch through, puddles to splash in, bonfires and brilliant sunsets.

a surreal safari...

Forget Hunting Tigers Out in Africa (are there any other Bonzo Dog fans out there?)
Earlier this month (or was it the end of last month?) Liz and I went hunting elephants in Norwich...

We didn't see all 54 of the baby elephants, but we did find about 30 of them, as well as this herd of tiny elephants

decorated by local schools. I loved the stories that went with these "We didn't tell the children that the elephant was coming" (you could pciture the surprise on the faces as the children spotted an elephant in the playground)and "the children were worried that the elephant had lost its Mummy, so we painted it bright colours so that Mummy could spot it easily".

Some of the artists and community groups involved went for bright colours, too. Meet "Split and Polish" the multi-tasking nail bar elephant that was in Jarrold's department store:

We met an Ancient Mariner (with an uncanny likeness to Catweazle) on an elephant's posterior

a recylcing elephant:
a daffodil-strewn trunk
swans on an elephant's flanks
frogspawn on its trunk
and pebbles and waterweed on its feet
More pictures over on flickr.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

darn it (but don't stone the crows)!

I've lusted over some strange things in my time (I have vague memories here, for instance, of a schoolboy on the 35b bus, referred to by my friends as "the tall, greasy, spotty one", but who I though was rather gorgeous, not least because he always had his head buried on a book on how to build synthesisers.) But, honestly, darning wool? Who falls in love with darning wool?

Well, me, obviously. But head here, and you, too may be smitten (natural dyes, made in France, ravishing colours). And then drop in here (one of my favourite blogs) to view some truly jolly packaging for mending wool.

My heart has also been captured by some amazing (textile) crows. I've always rather liked the various rooks, crows, jackdaws and ravens; the way they strut, their raucous cries and (especially) the magnificent iridescence of their feathers.... Now here, at last, thanks to a link from Jo's blog, I've found someone who shares one of my more outre passions, just take a look at all these corvidae-inspired yarns over at Blue Moon Fiber Arts. Major lust...I feel some raven socks coming on...

Unfortunately the association of socks and crows reminds me of one rather gruesome (though secretly rather fascinating) aspects of growing up on the fringes of the countryside: the crows' legs and heads that local gamekeepers used to nail up on gates. For a more scientific, and less macabre, account of crows and the Norfolk countryside I can recommend Crow Country, by Mark Cocker, which is now available in paperback.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

when I grow up, I want to be...

I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up! I'd love to go back to primary school, but as a pupil, rather than a teacher.

From what I remember, primary school meants hours of painiting and lots of singing. I didn't have any talent for either, but I put plenty of passion into them! At home I did more of the same, plus lots of reading. I presume there were other lessons, but they've not left any impression.

In fact, the only lesson I do remember was one we had to do when I was 10 years old, one that I thought was pointless. We used a textbook of some sort, that had little snippets of information about various animals. Then we were told to write about otters and draw a picture. I asked if there were other books we could look at, and was told there weren't. So the lesson was simply a "copy out or paraphrase" one: so disappointing, as I thought the otters sounded wonderful and I wanted to know more. (I think my mother, too, needs to take some of the credit here, the first film she took me to see was Ring of Bright Water). Since then I've read many books on otters. But I've still never seen a real one.

So just imagine my envy when I discovered this whilst blog-hopping this morning! I love my own life but am feeling a wee bit envious...

But back to primary school. I've decided that this autumn is going to be full of colour. I've enrolled on an experimental textiles course, every Thursday evening. (We've been screen printing: beats potato printing!) And I spent yesterday skeining up over a mile of assorted yarns to dye (white Sublime merino DK, some creamy-yellow Adriafil angora, Kidsilk Haze in pale apricot/green blend) and am about to do more. I've also got a good quantity of Cascade 220 which is already in hanks, but I think I'd better put some extra ties in it...

Graham's away until tomorrow so I'm turning the kitchen into primary school. I shall sing, I shall paint my yarn and whilst there isn't an otter for company, I do have a wonderful cat! And I'm going to be joined for some of the time by a pig wot knits(though I think I'll limit the singing whilst Bekki's around, my voice is all cracked and rusty these days).

Friday, September 12, 2008

illusions (optical and otherwise)

Wot? Still no pictures? My dearly beloved has, alas, been proved wrong: the internet connection has been even worse during daytime hours than it is in the evening. So you'll just have to pretend that there are pictures to go with this post (which is, after all, about illusions...)

Sitting browsing through The Times this afternoon I spotted an article about a scientific survey which shows that...wait for it..."a stastically significant number" of those surveyed felt that women look slimmer in horizontal stripes than they do in vertical strips. Whilst this goes against the received wisdom passed on to us by fashion editors, grandmothers etc it is no surprise to those of us who used to love the pages in annuals devoted to optical illusions. If you take 2 squares of the same size and fill one with veretical parallel lines and the other with horizontal ones, the vertical square actualy looks dumpier: both broader and shorter than the horizontal "square" which actually looks more like a tall oblong. I particularly liked one observation in the article--that vertical lines going over a large behind will look distorted--and the suggestion that this accounted for the fact that whilst horizontally striped tights come in and out of fashion, vertically striped tights haven't been repeated since Mary Quant first tried them out! (We're talking coloured stripes rather than ribs/welts). And then there was the very wounding (to those of us who fall in the broad and short category) comment that "fat people will always look fat".

After that sobering thought I felt the urge to treat myself to the latest issue of Let's Knit!. I do wish I hadn't, as (a) I'm broke and (b) it has a decidedly 80s feel to the patterns and styling. Which might be OK if you are 30 or under but is positively undesirable for those of us who are nearing 50... Not only are we treated to a long-line, short-sleeved, deeply-v-necked, jumper in wide bands of bright blue and white (though, it must be admitted, the bands are horizontal, so there is a saving grace) we are also shown models in sequinned frocks teamed with metallic-looking cowboy boots. Nice.

But it did contain an illusion: someone on the editorial team ( see "Splurge versus Steal, pp56-57)suggests that spending £11.00 on a 100g (270m) skein of Manos Silk Blend is a "luxury option", then proposes Malibrigio Bahia (£5.25 for 50g/ 137m) as a "Budget" alternative. Here we have the "I didn't do the maths illusion": yes, if you are buying 100g, the Malibrigio saves an entire 50p whilst offering you an extra 4m... Frankly, at least until I find myself some gainful employment, both are "luxury options". Then again, if I can resist the next 5 issues of Let's Knit (£4.99 each) I'll have more than enough money to buy 100g of each of them...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I Knit Day

Hmm, well, I've just reviewed my pictures of I Knit Day and found: one out-of-focus-shot of The Yarn Harlot (think I must have been laughing too hard to focus!); one shot of my knee and, erm, that's it.

And so, alas, here comes another photo-less blog post. Socks will be pulled up soon, I promise!

But back to Saturday, a day that falls so firmly into the "day to remember" category that all I can remember now is the utter exhilaration rather than the detail. So I'll just cluster a few words together to give the effect:
friends (too numerous to mention but vigorous waves to you all); delayed trains (all the better for getting on with one's crochet and I want one of those mechanical grab things that was loading scrap metal into a goods train while we were delayed at Hitchin); so much yarn that I got yarn blindness and didn't buy any (!); yummy fibre for spinning (I caved in); falling under The Yarn Harlot's spell; unbelievably talented knitters from all over the world; an abundance of aliens (mine looked so small amd mous-y compared to everyone else's that I now have a complex and fear that middle age is eliminating my creativity and bravado). (Sorry about the existential wail. Today was my last day at work and whilst I'm overjoyed I'm also feeling terrified). Back to exhilaration: a fudge stall with free samples (I thought I'd gone off fudge but this was just like the stuff I remember from childhood!), poetry readings, fashion shows and (especially) enjoying hearing squeals, squeaks and squees as each and everyone of us found his/her own personal fibre nirvana.

Whilst money was being spent left, right and centre this didn't feel like a commercial event. Some of this was because there were many charitable causes present. But I think most of it was because this was a day run by yarn lovers for yarn lovers. And love it I did.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

long time, no blog

Sorry about the recent silence: let's just say that my broadband connection is rubbish and that even my dial-up service is often on the blink because of problems with our 'phone line. We're hoping to effect some improvements before too long. I've done so much in the last few weeks, and have plenty of photos to share, but think they'd better wait until one of those (rare) days when the broadband service is in a good mood! (Graham tells me that weekday daytimes are good. I've not had any of those free recently, as I've been working extra days prior to escaping my job, but come the end of this week daytimes will be mine again.)

Meanwhile, here's a whirlwind summary of the last 3 weeks or so.

The trip to Walsingham was a great success. Graham throughly enjoyed the service and I had fun mooching around, watching the arrival of the travelling community for whom Assumptiontide is an important gathering. One of the travellers was wearing the finest hoodie I've ever seen (I adore hooded garments): it was a soft mink colour and the hood was lined with the largest, most bronze sequins I've ever seen. After Walsingham we caught a bus to Wells Next the Sea, where we lazed and lunched, then caught the coasthopper right the way round to King's Lynn, where my parents live. Two weeks on, and I made another trip to Norfolk, as Liz and I went elephant hunting in Norwich. This will make sense if you follow the elephant link, promise. It was a very entertaining day and I've got some great pictures to share. (The time our broadband connection functions best is weekdays during the hours of daylight. Since my last day at work is Weds and I've still no job to go to I should soon have the chance to bring you proper reports and pictures!

I've not only been to Norfolk, but also to Suffolk. First for the KTog Knitting Picnic/visit to Wibbling Wools in Bury St Edmunds and then (3 days later) to see Beguiling, an exhibition of art inspired by witchcraft and myth. Some pieces, like Lyndall Phelps's witches balls filled with crochet chains, captivated me instantaneously; others took longer to work their spell. So that's another post I'll have to write. I also had to return to Wibbling Wools as I'd been totally bewitched by the Cascade 220. It is economical, felts like a dream and comes in a wide range of colours. Better still, it comes in skeins and is available in a nice natural colour, making it ideal for dyeing. (Ooh, roll on end of job: I want to get into my kitchen splashing my dyes around! I'm hoping to be doing lots of splashing outside the home, as as I've enrolled on an experimental textiles evening class.)

This leads me on to recent FOs. I've lots to show: a "pilgrimmage pot" (made in Cascade 220!) as a souvenir of our trip to Walsingham, a nudibranch (sea slug)-inspired scarf and several small, crocheted aliens... so please bear with me, and drop back in a week or so!

The aliens were for I Knit that really deserves an entry all of its own (for now I'd just like to note that it was amazing and that Liz not only has a brilliant reports on her blog, she also has some rather compromising pictures of a slightly sozzled me posing with the stupendously gorgeous plait of merino tops that I purchased from Jo, an erstwhile swap pal, whom I was very excited to finally meet in person) .

As I've had to reconnect about 18 times whilst typing this I'm calling it a day for now. (Alternates between sighing and cursing!) I've also just managed to delete about 30% of this post, including links to I Knit Day. Time to wallow in the bath, methinks, or to carry on crocheting an ever-increasing circle. I have no idea why I'm crocheting it, nor what it will eventually become but I'm having fun!)