Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas.

Against a tasteful background of partially stripped wallpaper and two poinsettias, a Playmobil Nativity as arranged by my children.

Three Kings, travelling from the lands of the Great Northern Hallway....

Sheep (merino, naturally) and Angora goats....

The Holy Family with their pets and friend. (Yes, doesn`t Mary look familiar? )

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Cats:0 Tree:1

Two cats who do not like pointy, nasty, prickly, smelly evil realses treeses, noooooo we don`t, precioussssss....

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Cats:10, Tree:0.

Actually, the catlings won by a landslide. Poor tree, it never stood a chance. I put the lights on it but that was just one more thing to pull, as far they were concerned. By last night even Hubby was thinking the tree was looking a bit wrecked. And we hadn`t added one single bauble.

I was sad, because I really like a nice tree and we bought that one for Duncan`s first Christmas so it has done us proud over the last ten years. However after a brief consultation with the kids I have gone out and bought the spikiest, the prickliest, the most determinely piney smelling Norwegian Spruce in a pot that I could lay hands on. It`s only little and I suspect it won`t really survive being planted out on the allotment for next year but it`s a cute tree and the kids will like it.

Plus the catlings are gazing at it with extreme resentment. (Hehehe...) Oh well, chaps, give me time. There will be plenty of things to play with on it soon. Fortunately most of our decorations are childproof non-breakable ones, so the cats should safe from them if not me when they pull them off.

Picture to follow, once the kids have had their evil way.....ooopps, decorated it this afternoon.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

In a word....

I don`t usually do memes, but...

Yourself: sleepy
Your boyfriend: who?
Your hair: long
Your mother: daft as brush
Your father: dead
Your favorite Item: Louet S10
Your dream last night: gone
Your favorite drink: port
Your dream car: camper
The room you are in: study
Your ex: who?
Your fear: ill heath
What you want to be in 10 years? healthy
Who you hung out with last night? computer
What you're not: awake
Muffins: yuck
One of your wish list items: time
Time: 07.45
The last thing you did: slept
What you are wearing: dressing gown
Your favorite weather: warm
Your favorite book: everything
The last thing you ate: bagel
Your life: stressed
Your mood: ditto
Your best friend: Shona
What are you thinking about right now? Haddington Planning Office
Your car: Ford Mondeo
What are you doing at this moment: waking up
Your summer: busy
Your relationship status: married
What is on your TV? The Faries
What is the weather like? raining
When is the last time you laughed? yesterday
Who do you tag? you?

Monday, December 11, 2006


You really have to be Scottish or at least British to "get" this ad fully, but belive me, it`s taking the p*** on so many levels it`s a pure delight if you know what`s going on.

(And for these who know, watch out for (amongst many other gems) Blackness Castle, the Monarch of the Glen and the Gresley A4 Pacific steaming over the Glenfinnin Viaduct is straight out of the 1959 version of The Thirty-Nine Steps.)

Coca-Cola, eat your heart out.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree.....

I usually put the Christmas tree up round about this time every year,but due to having too much to do as per usual I only managed to put the bare tree up this evening. I`ll do the lights tomorrow while the kids are at school, and then they can hang the baubles when they come home.


Here`s our bare tree.(Yes, it`s a fake.) Not very interesting yet, is it?

Or is it?????? (Click the picture..... ;-) )

I`m taking bets on how many times I`ll have to pick it up off the floor this coming festive season. But for the kittens Christmas has come early, and Santa has brought them a new toy.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I can see daylight today. Good? Well, this is through some of my walls, so perhaps not. The workies are renewing the string course today. Wasssat? It`s the band of stone that trims off the top of the shop frontages and our front room walls sit on top of this. The only thing that now separates us here from the outside world is the skirting boards. (Wooden trim round base of walls inside, for our foreign readers.) There are gaps, top and bottom, where you can put your fingers out and wiggle them in the fresh air. Bit disconcerting, really. What`s keeping the walls up??????

I did stick my head out one of the windows and asked the foreman if this was the was it was supposed to look from the inside. He seemed most cheerfully confident that all was well. Hmm. Have I faith in this man? Maybe..... Are they a reputable building company. Yes, actually, appearances to the contrary. Shall I just go out shopping and try not to think about it? Possibly, yes.......

And a bloke came round to give us an estimate for the cavity wall insulation we`re thinking of getting installed if possible. He blinked a bit at our massive three and a half storey gable end and mighty rear elevation. Bit different from the usual three bedroom semi. We`ll have to see just how much it will cost before we decide but it would certainly be a good idea for our cold, draughty Thirties house with its three huge exposed sides. I just have this horrid vision of them pumping the powdery insulating material in and it coming straight through the cracks round the skirting boards. Then the rooms gradually filling up, and up, and up.....

Maybe I should ask Santa for a new Hoover for Christmas?

The Planning and Building Warrant applications went in yesterday, so that`s progress. I was getting pretty sick of sitting in the planning offices yet again, waiting for the long suffering but very helpful duty Planning Officer to tell me I was short of yet another piece of essential paper. It all takes time.

And it`s the 6th today, and that means nineteen days to Christmas. Argh!! I`ve bought some presents and put the Advent calendars up, but that`s all so far. Usually we do Christmas crafts and gluey stuff and all the rest, but who`s got time? The kids seem to have so many activities...swimming, ballet, judo, basketball, rugby, Cub Scouts, music practice, wargaming and homework. I have the building works clogging up so much of my time, and trying to keep some vague order in the house. (This last ain`t working, belive you me.)

I did however go to my spinning group yesterday. There`s something very soothing about a dozen women sitting around in the upper floor of an old historic mill room, weaving and spinning and knitting and talking. It`s tranquil, and also very timeless. If we had different clothes we could be in any time in the last three centuries and if we got rid of the wheels, longer than that. It was a glorious sunny day, we could see the swans down in the millstream guddling around and someone had brought home made cake. Well worth going to. We`re a very miscellaneous bunch of women with a lot of different interests besides spinning but we are a tight group and we all get on well. No personality clashes to disrupt the harmony.

And I`ve got them all knitting socks! For a couple of weeks I`d only been able to stay for an hour or so and it wasn`t worth lugging a wheel around for that so I`ve just been taking in knitting. All I`m making is another plain pair of socks from the eternal freebie Opal pattern, but the lure of the self-patterning yarn is strong and there are six people knitting socks now, including three sock virgins. I`m hardly any sort of expert given that I`ve only been knitting socks for eighteen months, but in some ways that`s an advantage when you`re demonstrating to a novice. You remember what bits you found so hard first time around.

Even thinking about knitting socks is soothing.....remember Nero who fiddled while rome burned? Perhaps I should just sit here and knit socks while the house gradually collapses into a heap of dusty bricks around me? And I found just the right sock pattern....The Sock of Doom.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Not Knitting.

I just don`t have time to knit these days, it seems. I don`t have evenings in front of the telly any more, evenings when I could crank out most of a sleeve or similar. Nope, my knitting is done two rows here, two rows there. It`s frustrating. Spin at home? Not a chance. I`ve got bobbins full of singles everywhere, just waiting for plying time. Not this side of Christmas, sadly.

Yesterday, for example, I went to the allotment. Had to really...I haven`t been there for weeks. Now if you`re going to neglect an allotment then November is an ideal time to do so, but there are limits. It was pouring with rain when I arrived so I was just going to dump the wood and compost things I`d taken up, grab some veg and run but then the sun came out and I decided to stay. I weeded five beds, pruned the hazelnut tree and was halfway through cutting down the autumn raspberries when the sky went black again and I ran. I got some lovely veg though...great fat carrots and leeks, parsnips, a neep and some winter cabbage.

After I`d defrosted in the shower I basically had to go straight back out again and hit two supermarkets to do the other part of the hunter-gathering thing. Yeah, I`m a glutton for punishment spreading my shopping over two supermarkets but money is tight at the moment so I have to shop by price, not convenience. I can shave £20 a week off my grocery bill by going to Lidl as well instead of just buying everything at Tesco like I used to do. And some of the Lidl produce is fantastic...real gourmet stuff at bargain prices. So if any of the UK readers here haven`t tried Lidl, go. Yes, the brands are German and often unfamiliar but once you`ve got past the brand loyalty thing (Heinz or nothing??) then it`s really going to be worth your while, I promise.

So back home just in time to make the tea for the kids, quick pick up and a batch of laundry in, Mairi into bed then sat down with Duncan to watch The Santa Clause 2, which was okay in a very corny way. Yup, got some knitting time there. I did about six inches of the second sleeve for Duncan`s sweater.

Yeah, question about Duncan`s sweater. I am knitting it in the round, but the pattern (raglan sleeved) is written for flat. I`m quite confident about the knitting three seperate tubes (body, two sleeves) bit up to the armhole shaping, than putting them all onto one long circular needle and working up to the neck, including all the raglan decreases. But what I`m wondering ablout is the part at the start of the shaping, both for arm and body flat sections, when they tell you to cast off three stitches at the start of the next two rows of each flat piece to start the armholes. Yes, I know I`ll have to dump these stitches when knitting in the round as well. How? Cast them off, then sew up the little slots under the armholes at the end? Leave them on safety pins and graft them at the end? Do a three needle cast-off to join the armhole decreases to the body decreases? Anyone got a good descriptive website for this? Anyone just tell me?

Anyway, today I`m wrecked. This is the pattern for me these days...I do one day of what I would regard as normally busy mother activities, then the next day I can barely move, I`m so wrung out. But of course I can`t stop and have a day off because there`s far to much to do here, especially at the moment, and I just don`t have time. I`m sitting here with boxes of stuff from one end of the hall to the other, the cat tray and dishes need cleaned, the whole house need hooverd because the hoover has been up in the attic for a week now, the attic needs finished off and dust sheeted before the workmen come back (tomorrow??), I have ten loads of laundry to sort and wash and then there are the normal daily things like pick-up and make the beds. And I need a shower and we`re going out to see the Singing Kettles at five. Which means the kids will be back from rugby in an hour and a half, filthy and I`ll have to get them sorted out and bathed myself, as Hubby is going out Christmas shopping. Day off? Hah! One thing I do know, it will be fish and chips for dinner. I`m not cooking today, trust me.

And tomorrow? Back to the Planning Office....

Friday, December 01, 2006

Up at the coal face...

Good thing my ancestors were all miners, because I`ve been getting dirty enough for one. That attic!!! Yuck! I have hoovered up five...yes five...bags of grit and grot and dust from the attic. Doesn`t soiund much? Imagine it in a 5mm layer over every surface of every box or bag in a 45` x 15 ` attic. That`s 675 square feet...and that`s assuming I was cleaning it from a flat surface, which I wasn`t. There`s a lot of stuff up in the attic.

Yuck....I`m still sneezing soot. One good thing though was that the attic has been tidied up a bit and dejunked quite a lot. Who needs three bulky computer monitors when we`ve all switched to flatscreen? A 15 year old laptop? The empty boxes for every electrical appliance we`ve bought in the last five years? Both cars are full of bags of junk now...the big car is full of bags bound for the dump/electrical recycling depot, the little car has bags for the charity shops. It is refreshing. :-)

I also found a few things to put on Ebay (Anyone remember Psions? We`ve got two....) and some odds and sods that I probably bought last year for putting into the kids` Xmas stockings and then promptly forgot about. I also got the chance to revisit my world class collection of vintage Playmobil, fortunately all boxed up and dustproof. Actually, I was quite lucky in that a lot of stuff that was stored up in there was bagged or boxed up. My fleece and yarn stash, for example. Imagine the grot getting into fleeces! And I`ve got all the boxes of Christmas decorations and the tree out, ready for putting up next weekend.

In fact, I`m having quite a good time up in the attic, grot not withstanding. Once the two windows go in we`re going to have a big, usable space up there, not just storage. One end is going to become the main storage area for my fibre and wheels and the other is going to be used for playing. Scalectrix? Model railway? Wargames? Massive Playmobil city? All of this is possible, though not all at the same time. And of course we also have huge amounts of storage under the eaves, out the way.

Want to see some pictures? These ones were taken just after we had it floored but before we started filling it up.

I like it up there.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Just read this and tell me what you think.

We`ve got a lot of spare sets of keys, both Hubby work related and domestic. We have a big keyboard, of which the top three rows, the work ones, are labelled etc. The bottom two rows are domestic keys, spare keys for house, my mum, friends etc. I know what they are because I know the rings, the pairings and where they live on the board. I don`t like putting names and addresses onto other folks keys. What if we get burgled? Open invitation to pick up keys for other people`s houses, no?

Hubby had some new work keys cut. He needed some new rings. Guess what he did? He pulled nineteen keys from the bottom two rows off their hooks, took the keys off their rings to reuse and threw the "unwanted" keys into a bag. He gave me this bag because "Mairi wanted some old keys to play with, didn`t she?"


I don`t know how you feel about keys, but I feel keys are important. I feel if I`ve gone to the trouble of placing them onto the keyboard, they`re very important. I feel that Hubby should have asked me about them before he muddled them up into a bag. But apparently, despite the fact we have had this keyboard for over seven years and I have ALWAYS kept the domestic keys on this board, they shouldn`t have been there. It`s HIS board. Therefore the keys were junk keys, because they were not work keys that he recognised.

He has apologised, but more, I feel, to try to shut me up than for any feeling he might have been wrong to do this. I think he feels I am being unreasonable.

My Hubby has three degrees, one of them a PhD and he teaches postgraduate students at a prestigious university. He is clever, no doubt. So what happened to his "*^%$£ common sense?

I`m mad about this. I`ve got six different things to organise for the house repairs over the next couple of days, the kids and house stuff to look after and (wait for this) I have to make an annoying and time consuming trip into Edinburgh to deliver two sets of his work keys. He knows I`ll do it, though I`m probably going to have to miss my spinning morning just to fit this in. He trusts me, because he knows I think keys are important. I`m also going to have to find time to go round several other houses with these "junk" keys and work out whose are whose. What if someone has an emergency, and needs their spare keys in a hurry? I`ve already fished out the three spare sets of our house keys, the ones he was going to give to our daughter as playthings.

Yeah, I am mad. Very. Can you tell? Can anyone come up with a satisfactory explaination as to why he didn`t just buy new rings at the locksmiths when he was getting the new keys cut?

Friday, November 24, 2006

24th November 2001.

I wasn`t entirely sure if I was going to post about this, but I think I must.

The picture above is of my two sons, Duncan and Robbie, and was taken in the summer of 2001 at Edinburgh Zoo. Duncan is on the left and he`s not quite five in the picture, and the pest with the innocent expression on the right is Robbie, then aged seven. The picture was taken in July and on the 24th November of the same year Robbie died after a two year fight with a rare form of soft tissue cancer.

He was a great boy...the picture really sums him up, cheeky and fun and feisty, loved playing with (and tormenting) his little brother and intent on enjoying himself despite all the unpleasant and often very painful treatments he underwent at the hospital. He always looked forwards to getting out and about on these family treats, which couldn`t happen as often as any of us wished.He was in a temporary remission over his last summer though, so we did as much as possible.

His sister Mairi was born on the 18th October. Sadly, when she was ten days old he had the first of three strokes and that was when we discovered the cancer had moved into his brain. He made an amazing partial recovery from this, though....enough to give us just a little more time together. He was always a boy who wanted to know what was happening with his cancer, despite being so young, and he had seen all too many of his hospital friends die so when he asked me the question I was expecting I told him yes, this was it. He thought about if for a little while and then told me "Okay mum, I may be going to die, but I`m going to have some more fun first." We all did. I remember going to see the first Harry Potter film...twice, going to MacDonalds, going Christmas shopping and being persuaded to buy him yet another Lego set. He enjoyed being with baby sister Mairi too. I`m convinced he held off succumbing to his cancer long enough to see her. Sadly, not for long. He died when she was five weeks old.

That was five years ago today, and we all still miss him terribly. Even Mairi talks about him and asks for the funny stories about the brother that would have been a strapping twelve year old if he`d lived. There are pictures, things that belonged to him still around and we have special days here and there when we all do things he would have enjoyed. It does get easier...I`ve got used to him not being here but I still think of him every day and I`ve never quite got past the feeling that one day he might just walk in the door, back from school, and life will go back to the way it should have been.

Today was just another day in many respects though, hassle with the builders, cleaning etc. Life goes on, especially with two lively children and Christmas coming up! Tomorrow we will go to the event that for the past few years now has come to mean the start of the Christmas season for us. Nothing grand, it`s the local Scout Christmas Fair day. We had planned to take Robbie to it five years ago, to have some more fun. He didn`t make it that far. Hubby and Duncan and Mairi and I went anyway. Robbie would have approved.

Fun is important. Remember that, folks.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Progress on all fronts.

Well, there has been progess, on all fronts. I`ve now been given a time line to work with, which is a relief with Christmas looming close. We`re still chasing the Planning Consent and Building Control paperwork for the replacement windows and Veluxes for the attic, you see (bloomin` Council chambers won`t let you get away without every t dotted and every i crossed.....;-) ) So basically everyone has given up on Plan A, which was to finish totally by Christmas, and have decided to finish everything but the windows before Christmas, leave the scaffolding up over the two week holiday period then swoop in straight after the New Year to do the replacement windows etc. We should have the consents by then.

(For the non-UK readers who have asked... our local councils don`t just let us do any old alterations we want to our houses. Even things they totally approve of, like reinstating original style windows in place of the vile 70`s plastic monstrosities we currently have. It requires a period of time where we officially request permission to do this, notify our neighbours to see if they object, allow 28 days or whatever to allow them to object and even then the County Council might decide not to allow it if we had wanted to do something inappropriate to the building. Same with the Veluxes, which are a sort of sloping window we want to put into the pitch of the attic for ventilation. Just to complicate things further, we also need a Building Control warrent for the Veluxes, which means we need to prove to the Council we`re not going to do anything to damage the safety of the structural integrity of the house. For the two Veluxes we need to cut and brace one roof joist per Velux. Nothing difficult, it`s very common and perfectly safe if done properly but we still need to complete the paper trail. If we don`t do all of this, when we come to sell the house twenty years from now we won`t be able to, as no lender will give a buyer a mortgage on a house with unauthorised alterations. Plus we can get hit with massive fines from the Council for not following the legal process. If they feel scunnerish about it, they can fine you AND tell you to reinstate the original structure. Really, it`s not worth not doing the paperwork! Plus, we`re getting some grant aid towards the main outside works which is really nice in these days of cash strapped Council budgets and they`ll require all the paperwork done properly.)

Anyway, to get back to the timeline, this means we`ll have our lounge and kitchen still functional over Christmas, with (hopefully) working utilities and heating. In return we get to keep our scaffolding for another three weeks or so. It means I can put the Christmas tree and all the decorations up...originally I was thinking if they took the lounge windows out the week before Christmas I would be frantically cleaning the mess up on Christmas Eve and putting the tree up at 5am on Christmas morning, yo ho ho. So I`m happy. It also gives me another five weeks to box up ornaments, books, toys etc. The window replacement is going to be very, very messy.

Gawd, you must be all sick of reading about my house! Well, it`s my blog and I`ll moan if I want to. ;-) But belive it or not, I have been doing a reasonable amount of crafting amidst all this, even if it is only (a) more socks and (b) a plain sweater for Duncan. I`m still going to the Haddington Spinners every`s a haven of tranquility and sanity, belive me! I also go to the Edinburgh Guild on the third Saturday of every month, though having said that I didn`t last Saturday because it was Mairi`s big ballet show and she was performing.

I am currently spinning a lovely blend of shocking pink merino carded with white angora from Marshmallow the rabbit, who is owned by my spinning friend Debbie. (I swapped her a tent for a box of angora fibre, lol. ) This is for a hat/scarf/mitts for the Pink Princess, of course, though she might not get them this winter! I also bought four 50g balls of dyed mulberry silk roving from Doreen at
Scottish Fibres, who was at the felting workshop last Thursday and who always brings along a sack or two of her new stuff "just to show us". Temptress! I bought some siver grey to blend with the grey angora I bought at Woolfest (name of rabbit unknown) and some very intense peach, pistachio and lilac colours. Sounds revolting? No....gorgeous.

Unfortunately I can`t show you any of this at the moment, because we`re down to less than seven hours of daylight here now and the green safety netting round the scaffolding means the house feels permenantly subterranean when it comes to lighting. The garden is a no-go area because of the building works. I must see what I can rig up indoors, but I don`t really like taking pictures of fibre and yarn under artificial lighting. The colours don`t show well.

Oh well, on with another cleaning and packing day. And Christmas shopping, argh!!!!

Monday, November 20, 2006

And for today`s encore....

...the workmen managed to inflict an almost mortal blow to the satellite telly dish.
Fortunately or otherwise they seemed to regard this as far more serious than the computers being down and produced a repair person in under an hour. I was almost disappointed. Nothing but pap on the TV most of the time anyway.

So to date they`ve flattened the garden, up in the attic they have recreated Pompei after Vesuvius blew, cut my telephone wires and broken my satellite dish. We still have electricity, gas, central heating, drains, windows and the cats. Any bets on what the workies will do next???

Answers on a postcard in ten words or less, please. The best suggestion submitted will win a chunk of genuine Scottish battleship grey render chipped directly from my walls. Judge`s decision is final, and you get to pay the postage.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

And just when you think....

And just when I thought it couldn`t get worse yesterday....the builders managed to cut the telephone wires somewhere. So we,`ve been without our two landlines or internet for the last 36 hours.

(No internet for 36 hours, folk. Think about it.......*eek*)

Several phone calls (thank goodness for mobile phones!) and a lot of yelling as to whose responsibility it became to fix it, given that our phone provider is not BT but the wires belong to BT, the connections have been restored. It did however give Mr Builder and I something else to discuss in a "full and frank manner", as my BIL puts it.

On the plus side however I can`t fault the speed and efficiency of Mr Builder and his band of merry men when it comes to actual work. Slates are off, timbers cleaned up and the main roof felt is on. So we are watertight again, which is just as well as it was pouring last night.

And I went to a felting workshop this morning and I have made a hat. It`s not finished so no pix yet plus it looks like a cross between a green flower pot and something a hobbit might wear, but it`s definately a hat. I am thrilled with it. Does not mean I will ever wear it, but that`s not important. It`s a hat, you know?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Fig Rolls?

I feel it may be the time to start sending the emergency Fig Rolls, peeps.

They started stripping the slates from the pitched roof today. Now this is good, but.....

...they didn`t tell me they were going to, despite Mr Builder and myself agreeing I would get a couple of days notice of any work that was going to intrude into the interior fabric of the house. So that I could take down curtains or move furniture or put down dust sheets. I hadn`t yet dust sheeted the attic which contains computer and photographic equipment, fleeces (mercifully in plastic bags, yarn, camping equipment, a world class collection of vintage Playmobil, two spinning wheels, fabric, documents, the kids Christmas pressies. And the men were up there, ripping out the hundreds of eighty year old slate nails, each one leaving a tiny hole that dropped a trail of eighty year old building dust into the attic space. Not to mention eighty years worth of dust that was clinging to the underside of the rafters. Dust? Grit, grot, grime, general stour....


Well, down the length of one side of the attic anyway, but that was bad enough. Think of a dirt layer, forty-five foot long, ten foot wide, one half inch (yup, one half inch) deep. Over everything....

What could I do about it? Absolutely zilch, apart from ringing the builder, the surveyor, Hubby. The men were winding down for the day so no point to me scalling the scaffolding and throwing them off the roof. Not their fault anyway. Mr Builder`s fault, for not giving me the agreed advance warning.

He wasn`t in when I called him, but by God, I`ll get my hands on him tomorrow, I swear. You will hear me in California when I do. I am pissed off.

The other thing I`ll be doing tomorrow is a little dusting. I think, though, it`s time for the Fig Rolls, don`t you?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Christmas is sneaking up on us...

I just realised a couple of days ago that it`s only six weeks come this Monday to Christmas. Eeek!!!!

One thing for sure...the building work will not be completed. In fact my best guess is that the work will be at its most horrible, messy and disruptive, not to mention the roof will probably be stripped fully just before the workmen leave for their two weeks of holidays over Christmas and New Year. Double eeek!! But can I do anything about it? No. So I`m trying to cultivate a Zen-like acceptance of what`s going on. There really is nothing to be done about it from my end. So I might as well go with the flow and concentrate on Christmas.

I don`t do knitting for Christmas presents because I`m far too slow. I`d need to start two years ahead, trust me! The adults in our family only give token presents to each other anyway. So mostly I get to concentrate on the kids, which is fun, because I really like hunting down all sorts of weird and wonderful (and cheap!) things for them. I don`t like, for instance, just going out and buying Mairi the whole pile of curent Disney or Barbie themed pink plastic. She`d like it, of course, but she`d also be bored with it all by the New Year. Nope, she likes notelets and sticker books and little making things kits and a constant supply of good quality felt tip pens and paper. Anyone else reading this intending to give their daughter a 500 sheet pack of A4 paper as one of her Christmas presents? She`ll be really pleased with it too! Of course, I`m sure there`s going to be a Barbie in there somewhere.....

Duncan is getting more and more difficult to buy for. He`s ten now but not a sophisticated ten so he still wants toys, but not babyish ones! He`s got a computer and telly and lots of the latest beepy things and more wargames stuff than he could eat in a year, so this year has been a problem. (We did finally come up with something nice and quite grown up as his main present that he`ll love, but he sometimes reads this blog so I`m not saying.) But toys? He`s not particularly a Lego type and we have plenty anyway. More than plenty. Same with train sets, Scalectrix and robotic stuff. What toys do you buy for ten year old boys?

Apart from that, we`ve got Christmas dinner arranged at my BILs, a trip to see Cinderella in pantomime at the the Kings Theatre, a trip to see the Singing Kettles at the Festival Theatre (The not so sophisticated ten year old wants to go too "Just to help look after Mairi"), two school Christmas parties, rugby club Christmas party, Mairi`s ballet show, Scout Christmas Fair, Watchnight Service, school church service, school Nativity Play, two meals out this side of Christmas, Boxing Day with my sister and her family and a lunch out just after Christmas.

I think I need to go out and buy some alcohol too, just to get me through all this. Not that I drink much, but I feel I might need to!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

MatchPot Land.

In an effort to distract myself from the noisy mayhem outside, I`ve been creating a little mayhem of my own inside. In our very long hall, to be precise.

When we moved in to this house eight years ago the hall, to our complete mystification as to why, was "panelled" in rush matting up to shoulder height. Yup, you heard me right, rush matting. Of the type used to floor conservatories and such. Wierd or what? But it turned out to be very, very useful with two boys of four and two riccocheting around as it acted as a sort of padded cell for them. And over the years we sort of got used to it, even though it shed all over the carpet and bits fell off occasionally. After all, it could be changed "after the major work gets done outside".

Eight long years pass........

......and the kittens arrive. They really liked the rush matting. They could climb it. Trouble was, both the matting and the glue holding it to the walls (always a bit dodgy, that glue) was getting old. The matting began to fall off the walls in ernest, leaving yet another legacy of the previous owners taste behind. Glue. They loved glue. They must have used gallons of yellow tinged lumpy contact adhesive all over the wallpaper beneath just to hold the matting on. ("Why"??? I repeat? Why matting????)

So I`ve been faced with stripping, repapering and repainting our thirty foot long hall. With ten doorways to work round, five interior corners and an exterior corner. (Hall is L-shaped.) I can paper, but my dodgy ankle was going to be a bit of a handicap on top of a ladder reaching to our fifteen foot high ceilings. Big job. Too big. Can`t afford a decorator to do it. Quick fix is needed.

The solution has arrived in the form of our big wall sander, unused and forgotten since our last major bout of DIY twelve years and two houses ago. The adhesive is literally getting sanded off the walls. The paper beneath is don`t ask me why, but I can reduce the glue to the level of the random texture and when you paint over voila! Not perfect, but not at all bad. And painting the hall with a couple of coats of emulsion is do-able.

Which leads me to the MatchPots. Little pots of sample paint colours, for the American readers. You can paint a couple of square feet of your possible colour onto the wall and see how it looks. Because of course, the colours look nothing like the charts or names might suggest.

"Honeygold"......bright synthetic orange.

"Natural Calico".....dirty grey-white.

"Barley White".....dirty brown-white.

"Havana Intense".....sixty ciggies a day smoked underneath for the last ten years. "Nicotine Intense" would have been better.

"Natural Teraccotta".....dirty bricks.

"Natural Straw" poo.

And so it goes on. I may go with the Magnolia yet, lol. 99% of British homes have, or have had, a room painted in Magnolia sometime in their history. You know where you are with Magnolia. (Just about anywhere, really.....)

"Magnolia".....scientifically proven to be the most inoffensive colour on the planet. A sort of pale cream.

Magnolia it is, then.

Monday, November 06, 2006

And the walls came tumbling down....

Well, the workies are here, the windows at the study, loo and Mairi`s room are boarded up and they`ve started to strip the render. I don`t know why I had this vision of dwarvish hammers tinkling away delicately chipping it off, because in reality they`re using a sort of flat pneumatic drill. Or rather, three drills. The noise is incredible. Render is flying everywhere outside, lumps are falling off and I`m quite convinced that they`re going to drill through the walls. No wonder they took internal pictures of all the cracks!

Great fun. I may have to go and live in the allotment shed during the day if this keeps up though. One small mercy is that the kitbits don`t seem in the least bit fazed. They are sitting on the living room window ledge craning their necks to watch. Laid back kitties or just plain daft?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Glasgow Hobbycrafts show.

I went across to the Hobbycrafts show in Glasgow last weekend. To be honest, there`s pretty slim pickings at it for dedicated spinners and knitters as most of the stalls sell scrapbooking and cardmaking supplies, but there`s always a few knitting related things to look at, plus lovely quilting fabrics, beads and embroidery stuff. Also you get free entry to the next door show at the exhibition centre, the Crafts for Scotland show and that`s always worth a look round for early Christmas presents. My local church embroiderers group runs a coach across to it every October and are always keen to fill the bus up to keep costs per head down, so you even get an hour of knitting time each way. Well worth going for a day out.

As usual I headed for Black Sheep Wools and their often very interesting yarn mountain, where they often have packs of Rowan etc at 2/3rds off.

This is for a spring/summer jersey for Mairi...she suits these shades of sea blue, but it`s difficult to convince her that they`re appropriate for a girl. Pink, purple or nothing, according to her!

The only spinning purchase was from Mo Bair.

Two hundred grams of lovely soft hand dyed merino. Yum. Funnily enough I got stopped by four different women asking me where I got this as I wandered around carrying it in a clear plastic bag. All of them were spinners and desperate to find fibre in the show. I hope they got to Mo Bair before she sold out, because she only had one crate of fibre there. This was the only stall I found spinning supplies at last year as well...I got some lovely hand dyed silk noils there.

Craft fabric for lavender sachets to repel moths.

The Christmas cats will be for gift sachets, the funny cats at the back are for me.

I also found these highly useful embroidery thread boxes on sale for a measley £1.99.

I bought each for the kids to hold their escapologist Hama beads and one for me for my more mundane bead collection. Well worth every penny.

Apart from that I bought some Christmas themed stamps and pads for the kids to make their Christmas cards with, some peel-offs ditto and these....

They`re called Scraps, for these of you that don`t recognise them. I remember playing with them a a child, and I know some designs date back to the turn of the century. Not entirely sure what you were ever intended to do with them except for cut them out, look at them and swap them with your pals, which was what I did, but the kids liked them. (The cats were for Duncan, the fairies for Mairi and I bought more for Christmas.)

I also stopped by the Knit and Natter stand and met
Yvonne who runs it. Always fun to meet a fellow blogger when you`ve been reading their blog for ages.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A week of minor irritations.

I did actually think I was going to be able to post some knitting content this week! I had a pair of Opal socks on the needles I was determined to finish by the end of the month, just to say I`d been a vague and unfocussed member of Soctoberfest. I finished them sure enough....I`ve even worn them, but can I find them to take a photograph? No, I cannot. There can only be one of two explainations...either Mairi has swiped them to put in her secret treasure stash (they were pinkish, so she would have thought them rightfully hers) or the kittens have them. In which case, I may never get them back.

Bah to Soctoberfest then. Sorry, Lolly! I did cast on another pair directly after I`d cast off the Opal ones though.

This is a ball of the Regia Silk that I bought at Woolfest, and it`s irritating me. I`ve knitted a bit more of the leg than you see here and it feels lovely and soft, but it`s not as easy to work with as an all-forgiving 75% wool 25% nylon blend or similar. It knots in an instant, it pills and my usual perfectly adequately stretchy cast on is oh-too-tight. Also it`s "speaking" to me of a lacy stitch, not ribby. So it`s getting frogged.

Incidentally, I finally came to the frogging decision yesterday when I was grabbing half an hour of uninterrupted knitting time in the car outside my daughter`s ballet class. however...I didn`t have any other knitting with me, or even a book, so guess what I did? Yup, kept right on knitting, lol. Even I knew I was going to rip it out. Sad, addictive behavior, no?

I`ve also come to the conclusion that I`m a sock addict. Yes I know I`m a slow knitter and a pair of socks takes me a couple of months when done inbetween other projects, but since I learned to knit socks last year there`s never been a time when I didn`t have a pair on my old, well loved charity shop sock needles. Which is why though I`m going to leave the Regia Silk for a while till I find a nice pattern that will do it justice, I`m now going to go and investigate the sock wool basket and see what socks I`m going to cast on tonight.

Other minor irritations this week?

On Saturday night Mairi came through at 2am to tell me she`d thrown up. Being a tidy child (in some ways) she`d done this in her waste paper bin, which earned a lot of praise from Mummy! But she was sick a couple of more times that night and she did need a cuddle each time, so I had a bad night. And she needed a quiet day on the sofa with lots of Barbie DVDs the next day, so no allotment time for mum.

On Monday evening Duncan started throwing up....

...and it was my turn last night. Fortunately it`s one of these bugs that make you violently sick for 2-3 hours, then rubbish for another 12-24, then you`re fine. However Hubby is on a work trip in London so I haven`t been able to have my day on the sofa watching DVDs, sadly.

Because.....last and most important "minor" irritation of the week is that the washing machine died. Or almost...Washing Machine Repair Man Dave seems to think that as it`s a mighty German built Bosch that has performed magnificently over the eight years we`ve had it (10-12 loads a week, every week, or around 5,500+ washes) then it`s worth giving it a full organ transplant, ie a new motor. He seems to think (no reason to doubt this man, who`s been fixing washing machines for our family and friends for thirty years) that an eight year old German built Bosch with a new motor is still vastly superior to the current non-German built ones. Makes you think, eh? For a "mere" £150 our washing machine should be good for another five years, says WMRM Dave. Better than a £500 replacement that will only last five years as well, apparently.

Though I suppose it`s not in the commercial interests of a washing machine company to have their washing machines last for too long, is it? I hate this disposable society.

Rant over. I`m off to take Missy to the vet to get her stitches taken out. (She was neutered ten days ago). Don`t cats look peculiar with their fur part shaved off?

She didn`t want me to take a pix of her looking less than beautiful, clearly!

And as a finale.....Have you heard the expresion "It was like herding cats"? Too true....

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"Black Cat With 29 Miniature Pumpkins".

Yes, they`re real, I grew them. We did have thirty (from only two plants) but one has been given away already. We sent most of them into Mairi`s primary one class to use as part of the Halloween display.

And doesn`t Theo make a great vampire-type cat?

Have a nice Halloween, folks.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The view from my window....

This is the current view from the window in front of my desk..

Beautiful, isn`t it? Not! The whole house is encased in this, three floors high. It`s like being inside a cage, especially when you practically have to tunnel through to reach the front or back door. And how much work has been done so far?

Yup, zero. We`ve got the scaffolding, but no actual work as yet. On Site meeting tomorrow though. Wish me luck......

Monday, October 23, 2006

The scaffolding cometh...

The builders arrived at 8am today. Were we expecting them? Nope. I was having a shower while thinking about the kittens...they were booked into the vets to be neutered today. So when the doorbell rang I thought it was the postman.

Was I prepared? Nope. I had pretty well decided that this just wasn`t going to happen this side of Christmas, which would have been a total PITB because I would then have had to make Christmas lunch for all my nearest and dearest. Now I can rely on my kitchen being mostly in the nearest skip on Christmas day, yeah! There is a silver lining in every we can go out to eat or inflict ourselves on someone else.

Downside of course is that I have slowed down slightly in my dejunking efforts to the point of coming to a total standstill. So the house is not ready for an invasion of builders. Fortunately they don`t need interior access for a whileand now that they`re here I feel remotivated. Tommorow I`ll dejunk for Scotland, belive me.

Today? Well, last day of school half term so I did what every sane woman would do the day the builders arrive for a ten week stay....I took the kittens to the vet, then took the kids out for the morning and lunch. We went to Dynamic Earth which was really interesting, even for a five year old. Lots to see and do. Now we`re home waiting for the pick-up call from the vet. Poor little cats. Seems a bit unfair to remove all choice of reproduction from another living creature in a way. But it would have been a very bad idea to have a brother/sister pair of unneutered cats in the house, so off to the vet they went.

Kids go back to school Tomorrow.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Good Gawd, is it really four weeks since I updated this blog??? My apologies!!!!!

What have I been doing? Well, many things, but no, the building work hasn`t started yet, alas. We are waiting on one single piece of paper, the permit for the scaffolding to be erected. We live on a main traffic artery, you see, and our scaffolding may have an impact on the traffic flow. We will get the permit, but not sure when. And of course, we`re getting close to the point where we may not have time to complete the work by Christmas. And building companies don`t like leaving scaffolding unattended for two weeks of holiday time. There is always the possibility some drunk might decide to climb it, fall off, break his neck and the builders would get sued, you see. Or us! So there`s a growing chance that the repair start date may be put back to January......*sigh*

Watch this space.

As to the rest, well, life goes on as usual. I turned forty-eight last week and young Miss Mairi turns five next week. We`ve had two parties already...her big bash at the trampoline centre for her schoolfriends. Fourteen little girls dressed up as fairies and princesses bouncing around and pretending to fly, lol. Very cute! No pix though, because they`re not all my kids and I don`t want to post pix of other kids here without parental permission, sorry. We also had a small family party last week, for my, Mairi`s and Duncan`s birthdays. (Duncan turned ten last month.) They didn`t mind sharing this party but they didn`t want to share a cake, so I made two, one for him and one for her. Kids are weird about this sort of thing, no?

And on the knitting and spinning front? Well, I am back for the new sessions of both the Edinburgh and Haddington spinners Guilds, and I have been working on finishing up a lot of small projects. Plus I finished Mairi`s jumper, nearly done another pair of socks and am looking for a nice pattern for the peacock yarn I spun up over the summer. No, no pictures just yet. Weather and light have been foul here as we settle into the long greyness of the Scottish winter.

Half term next week...already! We`ve got a few things planned for outings, so I may get some pictures then. We`ll see.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Old car, new car.

This is my old car. It got towed away to the great scrapyard in the sky on 1st September 2006. It was an M-reg Renault Savanna seven seater 2.1 litre turbo diesel estate.

It may look like a pile of rusty crap here, but it was the best car we`ve ever owned. We bought it when it was six months old (ex-rental) and kept it for over eleven years before it recieved its final fatal injury from a daft female muppet that couldn`t park in an empty field. It could carry three tandems on the roof, three bikes on the back, two adults and two kids, camping gear to the ceiling inside and still do a steady 60-70mph with a fully laden trailer tent hitched to the back. And it was a seven seater too, did I say? Incredibly useful car when there were hoards of kids to be ferried around.

This is my new car. It`s a six month old (ex-rental) Ford Mondeo 2.0 Zetec TDCI diesel estate, in "Stardust Silver".

My only gripe at it is there wasn`t a seven seater model availible. In all other respects, it`s brilliant. It has acceleration that you wouldn` belive for a diesel estate. It has alloy wheels. It has cupholders!!!!! It has space in the back for a big ten year old son to get comfy in for the next few years and...get even has a 12v socket in the boot to run the camping fridge on.

And it`s shiney. I`m not sure I can cope with a shiney car. I`ve always driven the whichever of our cars is the current official Rusty Old Banger. Shiney? I might end up feeling I have to wash it occasionally. Shiney is so not me.

All it needs now is the tandem bike racks on top, a towball, the old trailer tent hitched on the back and a few scratches. Oh, and a few coke cans on the floor and some dirt smears. A faintly allotment whiff. Then...then it will be my car, lol. Just like the Renault.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Run for your lives! MOTHS!!!!!!!

I`m pretty good about moth prevention, but no-one is 100% perfect, are they? Most of my fibre and yarn stash is tucked away in ziplock bags, but there`s always a few things lying around. For instance, there is this huge fat skein of handspun Ouessant sock yarn hanging up waiting for a turn on the ball winder. It`s been there for quite a while now. I thought it looked decorative and I liked to give it a stroke now and again as I went past it.

Except this time, when I stroked it, something flew out. Four somethings, in fact. Little silvery grey/beige moths. EEEEKKK!!!! It was in a hot soapy bath of lavender handwash one minute later, I can tell you. I`ll soak it and dry it and freeze it and if that doesn`t work I`ll incinerate it down the allotment, despite the time it took me to spin. a spinner/knitters house? Ultimate evil....

So then I turned my attention to the rest of the stash. Of course, it had to be that the main "exotic fibre" section of the stash lives right next to the place the Ouessant skein was hanging. Ulp. First though I cleaned out the drum carder, also right next too....well, most of the spinning stuff is within a six foot radius of where that skein was hanging. (Except the fleeces, thank the Lord...they`re up in the attic.) Then put the kittens in the kitchen with a very early lunch and started on the stash.

Well, all I can say is thank you to whoever invented ziploc bags. I`m positively addicted to ziploc bags. Sometines I have big ziploc bags filled with lots of little ziploc bags filled with related things. I even have a mini-stash of assorted ziploc bags. You never know when you might need one or ten.

Of course, it`s well known that the evil moth can sneak through hermetically sealed six foot steel doors, so I wasn`t taking any chances. I took everything out and looked at it. No moths. It was nice looking at the stash though. I was quite enjoying myself. There were open bags of fibre everywhere, yarn, tangles of this and that where I`d been stripping the last scraps off the storage bobbins. My bedroom was a shamble of wool and fibre and spinning kit....

Then ..........the kittens appeared. Through two closed (I thought) doors...........

I do not have a picture as I could not find the camera, but I assure you, it was horrible. Anyone want a kitten, before I decide to see if kitten fur makes good sock yarn?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Woollywormhead`s become famous!!

Hey look, Woollywormhead become famous! Well, she always has been, come to think of it, within the knitting universe, but Simply Knitting? That`s becoming known in the big bad outside world where there are still unfortunate people that don`t know about wool and fibre and knitting. They only know they want to, which is why they`re buying Simply Knitting. And there be WW. Yeah!

And, I`ll have you know, I`ve sat next to her and watched her make a hat. I`ve touched some of her knitting!! Does this make me famous by association???? (

But I did help persuade her to buy a new spinning wheel. I`m very proud of that. I`ve got a real talent for persuading people to buy spinning wheels, so I`ve discovered. ;-)

That reminds me...the Edinburgh Guild of Spinners, Dyers and Weavers has a meeting on Saturday. I haven`t been to a spinning meeting all summer, alas, so I must go to this one. It`s a very lively and interesting group, with very friendly people. Well worth attending, if you live anywhere in the Edinburgh area. It`s at Craiglockhart Church Hall, every third Sarurday of the month.

And I signed up for the new session of the Haddington Spinners group as well. This is where I was first inspired to learn to spin, after I popped in to their Open Day for a "quick look" a couple of years ago...and stayed for the entire day, asking relentless questions. Two weeks later I`d bought a wheel. Funny how just watching someone spin makes you think. "I want to do that too. I want a wheel like that.....!"

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Dejunking and the domestic environment.

Now that Mairi is at school full time, I have it again, SIX hours a day four days a week without her. Plus Friday mornings. Freedom......You might think that I`m having a grand time with all this spare time? Weeelll...sort of. As I`ve said before, the major building repairs start in October. So I`m trying to get ahead of myself with tidying up the house, and getting rid of any unneccesary junk.

Of which we have a lot. A LOT. We`ve been here for eight years, and most of these have been troubled times, what with Robbie`s illness and death, and the aftermath. Keeping a neat, tidy and clutter free house has not been much of a priority....I`m not one of these strange people that gain solace from scrubbing things. I prefer to go to the allotment. So over the past years the junk has rather taken over.

I`m not talking about the hobby, that`s not junk, though goodness knows there`s enough of that too! But you know how it buy something new, but do you get rid of the old one? Not if you`re me. You put it in a cupboard because "It might come in handy if the old one breaks". Well and good, but once you`ve done this three or four times, you forget that you had the original one in the first place, don`t you? And if the current one does break (none of them have ever broken, btw,)then would you use the old one? Well perhaps...for as long as it took to go out and buy a new one.

This makes me sound like the consumer slut from hell, doesn`t it? With cupboards bursting with barely used appliances etc? Nothing so interesting sadly. But things like worn out linen, cooking utensils, elderly pots and pans...they all seem to breed in my cupboards. It doesn`t help that when my late sister in law died I ended up with all her vastly superior kitchen equipment....but didn`t throw my own out.

And multiply that for the whole house, and every possible type of item you can think of.

I have a problem, don`t I..........?????????

Anyway, a combination of the upcoming building works and time to do something about it has focussed my attention on this problem. I don`t want to be moving all this junk out of the way of the workies...and then move it all back into the cupboards again, do I? So...I`m dejunking. Charity shops, recycling, the dump, unwilling friends and Ebay. The target I set myself was at least one 80 litre binbag a day. This is easy, btw...some days I`m managing three or four. So over the course of the last month, I figure I`ve cleared out.....60 bags?


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Cats in a box...

Weekend Cat Bloggin` again...note very small shoebox.

Missy (small grey bossy one) just loves boxes. So does Theo. But she`s boss cat, right? So if he`s in the box first, she simply sits on top of him and makes herself comfy.

Poor Theo. He`s been bossed around since birth by that sister. Missy always gets the box.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

SkipNorth again!!!

I just signed up for SkipNorth 2007. I went to the first one last Feburary and had a great time and met a lot of great people, many of whom I`ve remained in contact with. There`s even a folder in my bookmarks named "SkipNorth Blogs"!!

And it`s a great chance to go SHOPPING! Here`s what I bought last time. Far too much!

I`m really looking forwards to it. Now all that remains to be done is to clear some space, save up some spending money and make sure that Hubby has the date in his diary. (My Hubby is notorious for forgetting everything that`s not in his diary...and quite a lot of what is.....)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Spindle spinning.

I`m not a great fan of spindle spinning...I admire other folk that can do it well, but as I currently own five wheels a spindle is not my first choice when it comes to choosing something to spin on. I first learned to spin on a spindle, of course, but very quickly bought a wheel.

But..I do own a handful of spindles and would like a Bosworth one day, simply because...well, because. I was lucky enough to see some and to meet Sheila and Johnathon Bosworth at Woolfest this year..there can`t be many in the UK that can claim to have had their first ever try of a book charka under the eye of Johnathen Bosworth, no? (I was mince at it, btw, but the prototype Bosworth book charka is a work of art...)

However, when I saw this spindle in a charity shop, I had to buy it...I had to tell the ladies behind the counter what it was, which was rather funny.

It cost £3, and it`s huge...that bottom whorl is four inches across, and weighs about three times as much as any of my other spindles. But it spins like a dream...on, and on, and on...I`m beginning to wonder if the reason for my previous total apathy to spindle spinning is because I`ve never had a spindle that suited me?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Stripping the Willow.

One of my allotment neighbours told me a couple of weeks ago that she was about to remove a small pollarded willow tree from her back garden, as the roots were starting to grow through the nearby pond foundations. Would I like the top growth for basket making? Ohh, yes please. So I gave her a hand to lop the top growth off and came away with a large bundle of willow.

This is it after about a week, when the leaves had wilted.

I wasn`t entirely sure what to do with it as regards to processing, but reasoned that leaving the canes (Branches? Rods??? Withies????) in amongst a pile of rotting leaves wasn`t a good idea. So I decided to strip off the foliage. I ended up with a sack of leaves for the compost bin, and quite a lot of promising looking willow.

What next? I thought hanging it up to dry under the eaves might be a good idea, for air circulation. And it made a very artistic looking pix against my weathered old shed, I thought!

I couldn`t resist making something, even though the willow was still green. So I wove a little God`s Eye to put in the herb garden. Yup, you`re seeing right...the base is made from two knitting needles. I keep getting given bags of old knitting needles for school and craft groups so when I take out all the old bent "useless" ones, I recycle them into row and plant markers. (Yes, my fellow allotmenters do think I`m a bit strange sometimes.....)

I`ve been growing willow this season already, incidentally, following a basket weaving workshop I did last March at which I made my one and only basket so far.

Now, I`m sure someone out there is shaking their heads and going "Wrong, all wrong." If so, could you please send me a link to a good website or a book title where I can learn about willow growing and processing? I don`t seem to be able to find much, and I`m reluctant to shell out for a book until I know that it will tell me what I need to know. Specifically I want to find out about the bit between harvesting it and actually making the basket.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Weekend Cat Bloggin`

I was going to put these pix up for the unofficial Weekend Cat Bloggin`, but Blogger wasn`t loading pix very well at the weekend. As usual.

Soooo...dinner for two.....

...and all change round...

(The food belonging to your sibling always tastes better, no?)

They were seventeen weeks old yesterday, btw. Here they are at three weeks. Bit of a difference, eh?

Saturday, September 02, 2006


At last! Some knitting has been done!

First in ages too. Somehow I always hit a knitting slump in the summer months. I`ve got too many other outdoor things I`d rather do in summertime and that usually means the evening is spent finishing off chores. But the nights are fair drawing in, as we Scots say, and it`s getting colder so my thoughts are turning to knitting again. Plus I`ve been sorting out the kids` clothes, and they both seem to have grown out of 99% of their warmer stuff. I`d feel pretty pathetic buying them wooly jumpers, wouldn`t I, not with the attic stuffed to the rafters with wool and yarn. I feel I have to knit them at least one sweater each, plus hat and scarf.

So after a quick rummage around the stash I unearthed the Sirdar Denim Sport Aran I bought for kiddy sweaters last spring, following a lead that Alison from CityKnitty posted for a really amazing sale. I think it was about 95p a ball, so I bought enough of a colourway with a pale pink fleck for a jersey for Mairi, and a denim colourway for Duncan. Yup, sure it`s an acrylic blend, but given that my kids tend to wear sweaters for messing around on the edge of rugby fields or campsites, the machine washability of it is a real plus. And it actually feels pretty good because of the wool and cotton in the blend as well. It knits up fast into a nice smooth cosy fabric too. A good yarn for kids.

I decided I didn`t like the very simple T-shaped sweater pattern I`d originally thought about using for this yarn so it was back to the bookshelves. Eventually I decided on Nell from the Debbie Bliss Junior Knits book. Of course, Debbie Bliss is notorious for her hugely oversized childrens` patterns so I wasn`t in the least bit surprised to find myself knitting the age 3-4 size to get a finished chest size of 30 3/4 inches. Bliss kids are short too, btw. I always end up putting in extra length as well!

Here we have a truely inspirational picture of ten inches of straight stocking stitch....

I quite like the odd bit of non-stop stocking stitch, btw. I know it bores most knitters to tears, but I like being able to mindlessly rattle back and forwards while reading a book or on the PC. I`m not a fast knitter and I find it difficult to carry a pattern reliably in my head for even one row (unlike my amazingly prolific friend GourdonGirl) so it`s nice to make something I can knit fast for a change.

I see that the same pattern gives an amazing 41 1/2 inch finished chest measurement for a 9-10 year old, btw!! I think I may make it for Duncan, who`s not a small boy by any means. Matching (apart from the colour) brother and sister sweaters, ick ick!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Kitty life.

"Okay, so it`s your chair. And? Whatcha gonna do about it?"

Friday, August 25, 2006

Life in general.

Lots of little general updates today.

1)We had the first on site meeting about the repairs, which was a bit dull as it wasn`t really about us, it was for the builders to come and work out a general plan of attack and where they were going to put all their stuff. However I know know the start is scheduled for October and that it`s going to take fourteen weeks. When exactly in October, hmmm? Well, that depends on the sucessful lodging of all the myriad pieces of official paper into the correct legal and office pigeonholes. We`re turning around our pieces of paper as fast as they arrive, but of course there are also our two co roof owners and the dilatory council to worry about. So if the work start at the beginning of October, I`ll be amazed to the point of needing smelling salts. Incidentally I`ve also figured out that whenever in October the work starts, the house will be covered in scaffolding and the kitchen half destroyed at Christmas time. You might think this is a bad thing but oh no, I`m almost pleased. It was going to be my turn to "do" the family Christmas this year, you see. Reprieve!

2)My car is an official insurance write-off, did I say? I`m still driving it around because the garage said it was still safe to do so, but as the work needed was going to cost £2000-3000 and the car is worth about £400 then for the insurance company there`s no contest. I`m waiting for the phone call to tell me when it`s going to be picked up to go to the great scrap yard in the sky. The tax runs out at the end of the month, so basically the car will be no more after then as even if it hasn`t been collected it will be illegal to drive it. Crying shame, because it was the best car we ever owned, a Renault Savanna 2.1 litre turbo diesel seven seater estate. We could load it up with two adults, two kids, three tandems, four bikes, camping gear to the roof, hitch a 600Kg trailer tent on the back and it would still cruise effortlessly despite being nearly 12 years old. (Let`s not talk about hills here though.)
RIP, Savanna. Well never find another one like you. Especially for £400 minus the excess!

3)Mairi`s first week at school has gone well for her, though she`s a bit disgruntled as to why she has to do things exactly when she`s told. The constant comment is "It`s not like nursery!", which is very true as the school nursery was very free-flowing and liberal and let the kids do more or less what they liked by way of activities within a certain framework. She`s an independant soul and not keen on doing things anyone else`s way, as I can testify! However, she`s also very bright, and she`ll work out for herself that it`s easier and more rewarding to cooperate. Gawd help us (the family) at the weekends, though......

4)Haven`t mentioned it much lately, but my health hasn`t improved much since I last posted about the constant and often overwhelming fatigue I`m feeling. Well, it`s been a busy and fraught summer, I suppose, but there`s nothing normal about having to take about every third day off to recuperate especially if I`ve been doing a lot of very physical stuff. I`m only 47, with no obvious signs of anything wrong unless you count the perimenopause as "wrong", which I don`t. I can`t afford to carry on feeling like this, not with Hubby, two kids and two cats to look after, not to mention the house repairs. I do try to eat properly, go to bed at a reasonable hour and get some fresh air and exercise every day but I still end up on the sofa asleep every third afternoon, or I`m dragging myself around all day. Can`t be normal. I`m off to see the doctor again next week.

5)Last but not least, the kittens. Where did they go??? They`re fifteen weeks old on Sunday and to be honest they`re not kittens any more, they`re young cats. They eat every one of their four meals per day like they haven`t seen food for weeks, race around the house playing and fighting each other for hours, sleep anywhere and everywhere and are growing into sleek, beautiful, healthy young cats, just like they should. I do rather regret that the little kitten phase has gone past so quickly but as compensation, they`re also becoming very affectionate. Before they were always to busy or preoccupied with playing to come and sit on or by you to be fussed over, but just recently both of them have started sitting on knees or, in the evening, lying around on the desk while I`m on the PC and evetyone else is asleep our out. They love human company, and can`t abide not being in the thick of things to find out what`s going on.
Incidentally I guessed their personalities 100% right when they arrived. Missy is the boss, the nosey one, Missy Mischief as we call her here. Theo is definately the "little" brother (Though he`s bigger than her now) usually two steps behind and letting her go first. He`s always the one caught standing over whatever mayhem they`ve wreaked though, because he`s not quite sharp enough to scarper from the scene of the crime. But he`s definately the cuddlier of the two and is going to grow into a big milksop of a cat that goes around sniffing daisies for a hobby...that and eating. Oh boy, does he love his food? He`s never two steps behind at dinner time!

(Pix to follow....Blogger is up to the usual again.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Fig Rolls and Caffeine

Well, now the girl has gone to school, the next big milestone is the communal repair we`re having done to the building in which we live. We`ve been trying to get this moving since back in the dawn of prehistory...well, we`ve been living here for eight years now, and the repairs that were obviously due then are still outstanding. Partially the delay was due to Robbie getting ill within a year of us moving can`t do that sort of major works when you`re dealing with a child on chemo and we were the driving force behind wanting to get the repairs done. Then after he died we decided to get moving on the repairs again because water was starting to come through the ceiling, into the then newborn Mairi`s bedroom, eek!

Except one of the shops below us (we live in a double flat over the top of two shops) had changed hands, and the new owner was having nothing to do with roof repairs, communal or otherwise. So the last four years have been spent trying to persuade him to fulfil his legal responsiblity to keep the building in safe and good order. It was only when bits started to fall off our crumbling window mullions into the street that the local Council moved in and did a bit of "persuading" of their own.

So since last January we`ve been ploughing through the paperwork, surveys, permissions, meeting etc etc, and though we are getting there, we`re getting there very slowly. However the contract has been awarded, the relevant sigatures obtained and we are having the first on site planning meeting with the contractors, the surveyors and the Council chap on Friday. Of course, this doesn`t mean we have a start date yet, oh dearie me no.

What are we having done? The roof has to be stripped and renewed, both the slate pitched roof at the front and the flat felt roof at the back. The window lintels, mullions and sills are being removed and replaced. All the outside pipes, from the rhones to the drains, is being redone. The render is being completely refurbished, patched and painted. Stone surrounds to our front doorway and the shop frontage refurbished. Doesn`t sound too bad? Well, this flat alone has 14 windows. The pitched roof is 45 feet long. Our gable end (that`s` OUR gable end, not a communal one) is about 40 feet high Etc. This is a BIG building, and tall. They estimate the scaffolding alone will be up for three months..if (big IF) they don`t find anything nasty when they open up the roof and wall voids, like skulls or bats or dry rot.

And yes, even our share, with grants, is going to cost us one arm, one leg and a mortgage on our souls for all perpetuity. Don`t ask. It makes me feel ill to think about it.

Also someone here had the bright idea that while they were ripping out the window lintels, they might as well get new windows put in to replace the ghastly non-functional 70`s ones here at present. You think it`s impossible to design a window that cuts out 50% of light transmission and provides only 10% of necessary ventilation? Wanna picture? I`ve got 14 of them. So the workmen will have to be inside the house as well, at least for that. And for the huge gaping holes they have to knock through above the windows to replace the lintels, of course. Did I mention that we have 14 windows? They`re going to have to knock a hole through the wall of every single room in the house.

So after, we`ll have to redecorate every single room in the house. So about getting the new boiler and central heating we so badly need before we redecorate? Yup, we`ll do that. Except we need to renew the old 30`s water pipes to take the pressure of the new boiler. And if we have a new boiler installed in the kitchen, then the old kitchen will need remodelled round the boiler. Just as well the workmen will have to take down all the kitchen wall cabinets to put the new mullions in, yup? And of course, the floorboards (and carpets) will have to come up to lay the new central heating pipework, and the old radiators will have to be removed and they`ll leave gaping holes because the new ones aren`t going in the right place.

Other arm, other leg. Redecorate? I`ll be doing that. We won`t have any money left to buy food by then,let alone employ anyone to do it. Hey, I might even get thin for the first time in my life. Usually I need copious quantities of fig rolls and caffeine in the form of strong tea to see me through this sort of thing. I don`t think we can afford enough fig rolls, not if we have to buy paint too..

Today, however, is a dejunking day. Because we don`t have a start date I have all this jittery home improvement adrenaline that needs dissapaited, and what better way than getting rid of some of the junk? Less to move around while the builders are here, and less stuff to scrape dust and stour off afterwards. I have set myself a target of one 80 litre bin bag per day...and I`m achieving this effortlessly. Nearly twenty bags gone in the last week.

(House doesn`t look any tidier though...)

Monday, August 21, 2006

First day at school.

Today the school term started again after the summer holidays here in East Lothian...and for my girl Mairi, aged not quite five, it was her first day at school.

For the non-UK folk amongst you...yes, like the overwhelming majority of schools here, our school requires the children wear school uniform. I`m hugely in favour of school uniform, myself. She was extremely proud of her school dress, let me tell you.

The routine on the first day at our school, anyway, is for mum and/or dad to accompany the child into class, stay for a few minutes to settle the child then leave them and go to the main hall for a cup of tea. The tea is to soothe the parental nerves at their chickie flying the nest, I think! There were quite a lot of tears, from both children and parents.

Mairi doesn`t go in for the clingy routine. She`s been looking forwards to this for months. For her it was more a question of "Right mum, I`m here, now you can go, ok?"

As for myself? Well, this is the third time round for me, so I wasn`t one of the red-eyed parents, no! I`m happy she`s started...she`s a bright girl, loves being busy and the company of other kids and she had a great time in nursery. She`s well ready for school.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Spinning a peacock.

It occurs to me that I`d better blog something about spinning or start calling this blog another name, like Digging Fishwife or Camping Fishwife or even Mother-of-two-on-school-holidays Fishwife, eh? Truth is, not much spinning has been perpetrated since Woolfest, despite all the swag I picked up there. Who`s bright idea was it to put Woolfest on the weekend that our Scottish schools broke up for the summer? I haven`t even got round to blogging about the stuff I bought there, ho hum.

Anyway, the wheels were sitting there looking reproachful and I was getting itchy fingers, so last Wednesday I picked up Old Man Louet and took him out to Prestongrange Industrial Heritage Museum, where Gourdongirl and I spend a greater portion of our spare time in the cafe, listening to the distant screams of our children rampaging around in the woods.

I thought I might get a quiet hour or so of spinning done, sitting outside the cafe in the sunshine, but not a bit of it. There were a couple of families visiting the museum hoping that they had one of their childrens` craft sessions on. "No", sez Malcolm, one of the museum assistants, "But one of the mums has her spinning wheel here and would be delighted to give you a demonstration." Sigh. Thanks, Malcolm! (He`s actually a really nice guy, and felts. You can forgive anything in a guy who opened his first felting exhibition last weekend, no?)

So instead of my quiet afternoon spinning, I ended up giving a demo and letting several pre-teen girls have a try at spinning instead. Fortunately I had brought the Louet, because it can stand up to this sort of abuse. And there`s always odds and ends of roving and a spare bobbin or two in the bottom of the spinning bag. I`ve never taken a wheel out in public and not had someone wanting to try spinning, come to think of it.

I did get a little bit done at the end, though. I started this yarn back in June (eek!!) when I was demonstrating "fancy yarn" spinning at the Edinburgh Guild Open Day. I`d decided to try to create something that would catch your eye if you saw it in a wool shop, so it had to have a bit of glitz and colour. Back at SkipNorth in Feburary we had gone to Wingham Wool Work, where they had an entire shed that contained nothing but huge coils of pre-dyed rovings. It was like a sweetie shop! I went around with several bags making up mixtures of coulours that I meantally labelled "Peacock" and "Indian Spices" etc etc, and the yarn I`m spinning at the moment is from the peacock bag.

Basically I`ve been lightly carding together six colours of pre-dyed roving (royal blue, lime green, emerald green, turquoise, jade and purple) plus some cut sari silk threads in purple, turquoise and emerald, plus some fine gold angelina fibre for the glitz.

Making rolags...

...and spinning singles. This is the second bobbin.

When plied, it`s going to come out as a lightweight DK or four ply...3.25 to 3.75 mm needles, probably.

No idea what I`m going to make with it, though. I`ll wait till I know the total yardage, though given the size of the Louet bobbins, I`ll probably have about 300 yards. Any suggestions?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Book destash.

I`ve been having a bit of a tidy up and clear out of the stash, and found a lot of old knitting books (dating from around the 80`s)that are surplus to requirements. Anyone want any of them? Happy to swap for anything knitting or spinning related, just to cover the postage charges. Send me an email (Link on profile) if you want anything.

(Click on the pix for a bigger view. Hopefully all the titles are fully legible, otherwise I`ll add a list when I have five spare minutes.)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Sheep Challenge.

Woolywormhead is asking for pix of sheep. No, not real sheep, but...erm, alternative sheep. "Daft, imaginary or artificial sheep."

Okay, here`s a few that just happen to be lying around my desk...

Pencil case sheep, bought last night from Asda, £1. (And I got one for you already, Shonze, so don`t rush out specially....)

A rainbow of Fimo sheep, as bought from Ebay last year from a seller called weegreenfrog.....

Weegreenfrog also made my daughter a special bespoke pink Fimo sheep, after Mairi complained about there being no pink sheep in the rainbow. (Sent it to her as a gift as well. Nice lady!)

(My fingernail included for scale. Sorry it`s so grubby...I was gardening today.)

In my next life...

In my next life I want to come back as one of my cats.....

Nothing to do but lie around sleeping, eat tinned sardines (note the little fat tummy on that cat...she likes sardines), sleep, preen, sleep and play. Tough life, eh?

We didn`t go to Wales. Did I mention that someone hit my completely legally parked car the week before we planned to go? She hit the corner of the driver`s side bumper, right on the place where three panels join. Not hard, but just enough to dislodge the rust a bit. All three panels need replaced, and currently the bumper is tied on. The garage told me that it would be all right for local trips, but not a six hour drive to Wales.

So, after a major kerfuffle getting the big bike racks (for the tandems/triplet tandems) moved over to Hubby`s Citreon, we set out on Wednesday for Wales, with a full camping load, trailer tent and five bikes. The sort of load my Renault sneers at pulling. The 1.9 litre diesel Citreon Xantia? We got three miles down the road and red lights started flashing everywhere. The fancy hydraulic suspension wasn`t going to make it, Captain.

So we did the only thing possible in the circumstances...went home, cancelled the Welsh campsite, hooked up the trailer tent to the Renault and went to Peebles in the Scottish Borders instead, 25 miles away. Wales, Jim, but not as we know it. The kids didn`t care anyway, it was a great campsite, lots of things to see and do and we had a lovely ten days there instead. And I certainly didn`t miss the six hour drive to Wales and back. Was a shame Hubby missed seeing his pal Huw though. He was upset about that.

I did miss going to Colinette though! I went round Woolfest determinely ignoring all the Colinette because I thought I was going to vist their millshop when in Wales, bah!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Gone to.....

I`m off to Wales
today, for a couple of weeks of camping and to look at the sheep. The fleece for Huw the Sheep came from a sheep on a farm not three miles from the campsite. So who knows...I might see him.

There has been a bit of doubt as to whether this holiday was going to happen...over the last week we have had an attempted break in, a heatwave (In Scotland??????), Hubby has been snowed under at work, the kittens have arrived and, crucially, my car was hit by a dozy female muppet while she was attempting to park twenty feet in front of mine. Looks like it`s going to be an insurance write-off, and of course it was the tow car for the trailer tent, eek! so on Saturday there was a mad scramble to get Hubby`s car fixed up with towball and bike racks etc. (Whether it can actually get that far while towing 600Kg of trailer tent is another thought. Will let you know.)

So apologies to my lack of blogging. I have been harrassed! Also many apologies to Sue..I didn`t get back to you about Colinette because (1) I didn`t know till yesterday if we were going to Wales at all (2) We may not be staying the two weeks planned because of Hubby`s work so (3) I have no flip of an idea as to whether I`ll get to Colinette or not, so didn`t want to arrange something and then have it fall through.

Off to jam everything in the car. Did I mention the boot of Hubby`s car is considerably smaller than that of my my Renault, so I can`t take the little spinning wheel? Baaaaaaah!