Sunday, December 30, 2007

Thank you.

Thanks to all who left comments or sent me emails about Missy. It was comforting. I know it's a reasonably common occurance for pets to die for whatever reason, but she and Theo her brother were actually the first two pets I've had since I left my mother's house, and when my mother's cats died I'd been away for years and it didn't have the same impact. Funny how the little gits get under your skin, whilst still managing to ignore you half the time, eh? Theo is also managing fine, though he does have a somewhat puzzled look on his face when he sees only one food bowl on the tray. We're giving him a lot of fuss and treats, but there's no denying he's not the brightest twig on the tree and it's quite possible that he just thinks she's off catching a particularly agile mouse or something.

On a brighter note, I just wanted to show you a photo I took of my kids, Lad and Princess, on Christmas morning. (Pre-accident.)

Pretty well sums the two of them up, really. The slogan on the t-shirt is a World of Warcraft joke, btw. No, I don't understand it either. Hubby bought it for Lad. But most of Lad's friends find it hilarious, so presumably it is. Oh, and Princess doesn't usually look this red eyed, it was just that she got some play make up, including pink eyeshadow. Not a girl that really appreciates the concept of less is more when it comes to warpaint. But the expression? It says it all, really. We are NOT amused!

PS. Seen Kerrie's blog today? I'm proud to report that she saw it here first. Ohh, if there's one thing almost as good as being able to buy 3,000 packs of yarn for yourself, it's enabling someone else to do it. I do so hope she posts photos of it all on the Open Day!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


This is Missy, one of the brother-sister pair of kittens we got from a friend 18 months ago.

Yesterday she brought home a blackbird. A live blackbird. I was out shopping, but reportedly the blackbird wasn't going down without a struggle and managed to fight off Missy, Theo and my Hubby round most rooms of the house before Hubby caught it and took it down to the garden to free it. Minus about half its feathers, but still capable of a wobbly flap. I missed this drama, but one of the things I said was that I was SO glad Missy hadn't brought it back during Christmas lunch, bad cat. Bad cat just curled up in a drawer and went to sleep on top of the teatowels.

She managed to go one better when it came to ruining our Christmas lunch. Just as our guests were arriving today, she got hit by a car just outside our house. Two passing neighbours alerted us and after a frantic hunt by them, our son and myself we found her under a tree, unmarked but obviously badly hurt. I brought her back to the house and was just phoning the emergency vet when she died, very quietly. She didn't seem to have ben in obvious pain, but was very, very shocked. Internal bleeding? I don't know, though the neighbours said that when she was hit, there was a very loud thump. I don't know if the driver even saw her because the angle of the sun would have been in his eyes going up our hill. He didn't stop though, and he must have known he hit something. She ran off into a garden. Maybe he thought she was okay.

Anyway, she's dead. It was a horrible Christmas lunch and my son especially is very distressed. We're all very sad. She wasn't a lap cat, she liked to be outside watching things and killing small beasts but she did like a scratch and a cuddle from all of us and as she got older she was rounding into a lovely personality of a cat. We all loved her very much. However the kids have decided she's gone to live with their big brother Robbie in heaven. I like that idea. He always wanted a cat as a pet and he'd like her, I'm sure.

Christmas is officially cancelled here, folks. Hope you all had a better one.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


It would be best for me to stop thinking about this, yes?

(It's only a three hour drive away. How big a van do you think I'd need?????)

Edit: Well, I could hire a monster great van for a weekend for around £150 so transport would not be a problem. But Hubby has pointed out there is the additional problem of storage for one and a half metric tons of yarn. And while the attic is almost certainly big enough volume-wise, the rafters might not be quite up to the weight.


Thursday, December 13, 2007


Hand-dyed 100% wool fibre from Mo-Bair, SECC Glasgow, 2006.

Spun on my Mazurka, Navaho plied to preserve the colour runs.

I did try to add in some extra texture during the spinning and plying, with varying degrees of success.

Pretty, isn't it?

Pattern is the One Row Handspun Scarf, from Yarn Harlot.

But really, it's all about the colours, which I can take no credit for. Aren't they fabulous!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Craft update.

I think I need to do a craft update more regularly, just to remind myself what I'm doing and where I am with things. This is supposed to be a blog with knitting and spinning content after all!

1) Finished the back of the Iro waistcoat/vest/jerkin. Srill not totally enamoured of the bright blue stripe but it's going to be warm at least. I've decided to make it high necked with a small ribbed stand up collar and the zip running right up to the top, given that this is supposed to be a for warmth garment.

2) Made a little Christmas gift bag.

3)I've got to the heel of the second Regia Cotton Color sock. No, not fast progress, but this project lives in the car and I only put knitting time in on it when I'm waiting for the kids at school/sports events/etc. Once I have finished 4) I will bring this upstairs and finish it here, because I'm getting bored with it and want to cast on some other socks.

4) The Dead Parrot. I am on to my third ball of yarn, which will also FOR DEFINATE be my last. Just remind me to poke my own eyes out with a spare needle if I ever even think about using this stuff again, will you?

5) I have finished spinning the two bobbins of singles of Aspen, the October (?) Fiber Club fibre from Spunky Eclectic. Can I just urge you to click across and look at her fabulous fun fur wreath? I tell you, it almost makes me look at the spare ball for the Dead Parrot in a new light. Almost.....

6) I am on the last 10% of the November fibre from Amy as well, the Goblin Eyes.

I am planning a big plying session this week, to do the above two sets of singles. I my humble opinion I've been waiting for a new piece for Old Man Louet my Louet S10 to arrive. Old Man is thirty years old next year and it's been becoming increasingly obvious that one of his important joints was wearing out. The older Louets have a bolt arrangement at the top of the footman, where it joins the drive wheel, rather than the newer push-fit sealed-for-life bearing. This bolt was wearing badly and even copious amounts of oil at every session couldn't eliminate the increasingly loud banging and clattering noises as I spun. So I emailed Louet Nl (The USA people have their own site...this one is for the other side of the Atlantic) and explained my problem. I got a reply almost immediately to tell me that there was a spare parts kit availible that was designed to sort this exact problem and just to order it via my nearest Louet Dealer.
It just so happens that my nearest dealer (and pusher of fibre, books and other all too tempting goodies) is Doreen of Scottish Fibres, a person who I see most weeks anyway at one or other spinning group. So that was easy to do and I got the kit on Saturday. The kit comprises a new footman rod , with the relevant connectors at each end plus the rest of the bearing assembly section for the drive wheel. It took five minutes to fit, assuming you have the right size of Allan key handy. (The ones from Ikea flat pack furniture fit perfectly). There are no instructions, but it's pretty self-evident. And now the new assembly is fitted Old Man Louet is...totally silent! It's like he got a new knee fitted and he's spinning like a frisky youngster. No idea how much the kit was, btw...Doreen hasn't got the invoice yet. I'll let you know. But given that Old Man is now spinning like new again, I think it will be worth every penny. And IMHO there's few better plying wheels than the bobbin led Louets, with their huge bobbin capacity and the way you can pull plying samples in and out with total ease.

What else?

7) I've been working on making the house a bit fancier for Christmas. There's not much that I can do to improve the look of the bare/flaking/falling off plaster etc,not in two weeks, but I have been recovering the the scatter cushions for the lounge sofas. I bought a pile of wool tartan mill ends from The Scrap Store a few weeks back and am using these. Hopefully the effect will be eyecatching enough that no-one will notice the scruffy paintwork, lol.

Oh well, on with Christmas tasks. Two weeks to go, urgh. Better vacuum the lounge sometime soon!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

"Festive" Inspiration.

I suddenly realised yesterday morning that I hadn't got round to making a small Christmas gift for the Guild gift swap. Ah. General panic and wimping out thoughts here. It just so happened however that I was reading Diane's blog around the same time, and the pattern for her cute little "Sweet Stranding" knitted gift bag was there in front of me, like inspiration from heaven.

No time to mess around with stranded patterns though so I reached for the recently bought sock yarn by The Yarn Yard, in Festive and knitted up this....

I filled it full of little chocolates, and am happy to report that the person who recieved it seemed very pleased. So thanks, Natalie and Diane!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Last Year, This Year....Next Year?????

You'd think that a year was a long time in the life of a cat, no? Especially if it's the difference between 8 months and 20 months. First one you're still a kitten, second one you're a grown cat that gets out at night and can kill things, even be a mother of your own kittens. (If your owners hadn't opted for you to have permenant birth control.)

Apparently not. Missy, aged 8 months.......

Missy, aged one year eight months. And the difference is?????

"What are you moaning about, Ma? You put it here for me, didn't you? Merry Christmas!!!!"

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The November Storecupboard Challenge.

A few of you (probably very few) might be wondering what happened with The Storecupboard Challenge I signed up for at the start of November? Did I do well? Did I manage to do any of it?

Well, yes and no. Yes, I used up a considerable number of the more long-time residents of the pantry and freezer. It's surprising what inventive recipes you can come up with. But are the pantry and the freezer now nice and empty? Well, no. They are still pretty full because November is the month of the Stock Up Now For The Christmas Season special offers in the shops. Some of the offers are too good to miss. So now I have the small freezer (I have two, a small chest one and a very useful "tabletop" extra one) filled up with all the Christmas food that can freeze and the other about 2/3rds full of day to day things.

And my main home shopping delivery has just arrived, with all the bulk basics of booze, cat food, loo rolls and such. Stuff that I don't want to shop for over the next three weeks. And it's vanished into the cupboards with no effort whatsoever, which is amazing.

(Actually, the pantry seems to be full of cat food now, rather than groceries. You really don't want to hear the very long and convoluted tale of how Tesco gave me four weeks x two cats supply of cat food, but belive me I enjoyed this.)

So overall I've used up a lot and as the idea was partially to free up space for Christmas catering, I've succeeded there. It was an interesting exercise and saved me a lot of housekeeping money over November...which I have of course now spent on booze and such. I think I'll do this again in January to help with the twin financial attacks of the sales and the post-Christmas credit card bills.

Knitting? Oh, okay....back of the Cold Weather Corset. (Without lace-up bit.)

The colours of the Noro Iro are, as is usual with Noro, a constant surprise while you're knitting it. I'm not totally 100% enamoured with that very electric blue, but am going with it on the principle that the Noro colour master is probably better at this sort of colour choice than I am.

This is one of a pair of lovely stitch markers I recieved as a gift from a lovely Canadian
Ravelry member called Knittergrl. (No blog, which is a shame. I like reading blogs of people I know in one way or another.) She traded me some Socks That Rock in Scottish Highlands and in the parcel came these stitch markers which went so beautifully with my Iro that I put them on straight away. Thanks, Knittergrl! I hope you enjoy your parcel too, if the Royal Mail ever gets it there.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Mysterious Case of the Vanishing Kureyon.

I bought this at SkipNorth 2007. It cost me not a lot(under £15 if I recall correctly) considering there was 650g of Noro Kureyon there.

Or was there? I fished the nice neat pack of wound cakes out of stash on Friday night and started to think about making
Rosedale from Knitty. And like a good fishwife, I swatched.


Nowhere near what I expected. I usually have to go down a needle size but this was ridiculous. Tried again. And again. But to get the pattern tension/gauge, I was ending up knitting cardboard. Eh? After much thought, a suspicion occurred. Who actually said it was Kureyon? Noro cone, sure, but no other info. Lets go look on the yarn search on Ravelry....Ah. Noro Iro. No wonder I was going wrong.

So now I had a different find a pattern I liked that I could make from 650g/850 yards of Iro. Clearly, a sweater was not a possibility. So I am making the Cold Weather Corset, also from Knitty, but with a zip up the front rather than the slightly ahem lacing. And ribbing rather than eyelet. And perhaps a higher neckline....really, it depends on how much yarn I have left. But definately not the lace-up bit!

I've started, and I have to say yet again how much I love knitting with Noro wool yarns. (Iro is 75% wool 25% silk.) There's nothing quite like knitting with good wool yarns in general, actually. (Sez she with the worlds largest stash of Summer Tweed in the attic.) Wool is stretchy and cushy and flows on the needles, and the finished fabric is warm and cuddly. Iro, like many Noro yarns, is a tad scratchy in the ball but the swatch I have washed is cuddle soft. So all in all, I'm not regretting the Kureyon.

(I am however now wondering about the other two cones I bought. One was for definate Silk Garden, but the other? I thought it was Kochoran. It's definately got angora, is aran weight and is plied, anyway. Oh well, will find out eventually!)

Friday, November 30, 2007

End of November.

I finished my NaKniSweMo sweater....

Yes, deeply rubbish picture, but what do you expect at 11.30 pm? Art? (I'll get a better photo tomorrow.)

Pattern is 3timesChic, in Rowan Plaid, recycled from a UFO that has been taunting me for over a year now. It's a chunky sweater and the alpaca/wool blend is going to make it waaarrrmmm, but it's a great fit (I made a medium), the very slightly ribbed effect gives it shape and it's a total doddle to knit. I will make it again, I think. But possibly an inch or two longer...I already added an inch to the pattern, but it could do with more.

Oh, and with this post I have also completed NatBloPOMo. Hopefully it hasn't been too boring a read for you all? I've quite enjoyed the discipline/encouragement provided by having signed up for this, and hopefully not too many of my posts have been filler ones. I've written about cats, knitting, spinning, my family, cooking, my endless struggle with the house improvements AND had a competition, so I think there's been something for everyone!

I'll do the November progress roundup next week. But for December I'm not going to have challenges, targets or any other sorts of pressure. Christmas is bad enough, urgh....

Oh, and Lad is home. He had a grand time, as predicted, and did a lot of things. But the principle topics of his conversation this evening was how they gave them three (Yes, three!!!, sez he) courses every dinner, cooked breakfasts every day and an all-you-want-to-make packed lunch system, lol. And he found a new girlfriend....though, by the sound of it, she found him. Well, the school did say that the week wasn't just about outward bound activity, but also about personal growth and development!

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Hey, I finished something!

This is the Lace Edged Woman's Hat from the Head Huggers site, which actually specialises in chemo cap patterns. I just found the hat and thought it would be nice for Princess. It's knitted in a wonderful yarn called Sirdar Balmoral, a lovely blend of 72% wool, 25% alpaca and 3% silk. I have fallen for this yarn big style, which is a mistake as it's discontinued.

This hat is a good fast knit...I made it in an afternoon, and I'm not a quick knitter, and it took just under 100yards of yarn. I made the small size as recommended as I'm a loose knitter, and while it's a good fit for my bigheaded six year old it's also stretchy enough to fit me, nearly, and I have a big skull. Excellent pattern, ideal for a st minute present I would think.

I bought the yarn on Tuesday, in one of the charity shops in Haddington. They had a huge basket of vintage yarns, mostly acrylic but I did find a 1oz ball of Patons "Nylox" sock yarn (80% wool 20% nylon) in a rust colour that will coordinate perfectly with the left overs from my Anastasia Socks. Four 1oz balls of dark ruby 4ply Patons "School Knitting" in the same wool/nylon blend, also for socks. Two 1oz balls of Lee Target "Motoravia" 100% pure wool 4ply in dark pink, for socks or a scarf for Princess Top prize find though was the one and a bit balls of the Balmoral. Gorgeous yarn! Total cost for 8 balls of very useful and good quality yarn? £1.60, or $3.20 USA. I LOVE charity shops!

I've also been plugging on with the Dead Parrot and I've finished all the sections for my 3timesChic sweater. I doubt I'll be finished it for the end of November though, given the current swamp of chores i have waiting. Oh well...not to stress out about a sweater. I want to finish it though so I can get onto knitting something else. My very favourite old zip-up hooded cardigan has finally worn out under the arms after three years of almost constant wear. It's not mendable, so I need to replace it with something. I quite like this, the Zip Cardigan by Lorna miser, but there are lots of contenders out there.

Oh, and I finished painting Lad's room and am just waiting for the paint to dry before I shove all the furniture back. It looks a little more blue than I hoped (it's two coats of cream over a very strong sy blue) but there's no time now to put on a third coat of paint. Anyway, I'm going to have floor to ceiling shelves round three and a half sides of this room before I'm finished. No-one is even going to notice the paint colour has changed.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Old and creaky.

Well, I got the first coat of paint on Lad's bedroom walls today. Only two and a bit walls because I have to paint them first then move the ceiling high shelves (and contents ) across to free up the other walls for painting. And it only took me about one and a half hours. But...

...I'm getting old, alas. My back and the back of my legs hurt, big style. I have stiffened into a question mark shape. My fault, of course, because instead of going for an immediate hot shower after I finished I sat down for an hour and just sort of set.Yeah, I'm a wimp. How can that little bit of painting be so tiring? Well, if I tell you that the ceilings here are neary fifteen feet high, would that explain things? Our walls are BIG, and there is a lot of uppity-downy and stretching involved with painting them. Hey, and after I finish this room, I have three more bedrooms, two publics, kitchen, bathroom, 35' long hallway and a stairwell with a thirty foot drop to paint. (Actually this last is DEFINATELY getting subcontracted.) Good thing I quite like painting, no? It's just the stress on the body I hate.

Oh, as to colour? Well, after trying about 100 matchpots of every known blend of white, cream, magnolia and pale beigeish , I decided on an inoffensive creamy yellow-white called Jasmine White. The reason it had to be inoffensive is because I'm going to paint the entire house with it, end to end, with the single exception of Princess`s room which will be Rose white. I am going for the Neutral Look. Bugger Style Statements. I'm not intending to do this again in a hurry.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Theo in Waiting.

Theo is officially Lad's cat, though in practice Theo seems to think he belongs to whoever is holding his food bowl.

But there's no denying he's missing his boy. He has barely moved his furry butt off Lad's backpack since Lad left.

(Except to visit his food bowl, of course. He's not that upset!)

Monday, November 26, 2007

DIY week.

Well, given that Lad has pushed off for the week, I've decide to paint his bedroom. This is Stage 1 of a long and complicated plan which is designed to not only swap the study into his room and vice versa, but also to swap our bedroom with that of Princess. A couple of weekends work? Ahem. I think not. Six months, more like it.

It's the stuff, you see. We have a big house with large rooms, high walls, lots of shelving and four pack rats living here. We do floor to ceiling accumulation of stuff. We have stuff here that moved in with us nine years ago that we haven't seen since the day we unpacked it. We have tottering piles of toys. Shelf upon shelf of boks. Camera gear. Computer gear. My massive Playmobil collection. My stash. My other stash. My wheels. (Back up to five again.) Etc. Just moving the stuff away from a couple of walls takes hours. Fitting it all back again is generally impossible.

Yup, I know. Chuck it out. I am I've been in Lad's bedroom for two hours already, have moved the furniture clear of the work zone and have three binbags of rubbish to go out. I'm sitting down for a cuppa here though. I'm not getting any younger and moving furniture around isn't half as easy as it used to be. I am pacing myself. I have cleared the two and a half walls I am going to paint and now need to brush them down and do a bit of plastering on one wall, where last year's repairs knocked the skirting out. Then I will get the painting things ready and walk away till tomorrow.

This is what Hubby doesn't understand when I say painting one room will take a week. Yeah, sure, slapping two coats of paint on just over half a room will probably take me about three hours total with the roller actually in hand. It's all the rest that takes time. And if I knacker myself in the first day by doing too much then I'll not be able to do anything tomorrow. I have all the rest of the domestic stuff to do...laundry, shopping, cooking, school run etc. Plus I don't want to miss my classes, and I'm doing a spinning demo at a craft show two days this weekend. (Note to self here: Do not knacker hands. Rough hands can't spin!)

I'm sure I heard someone at the back ask why Hubby doesn't help? Well, he's going out to work at 6am at present and getting back at 7pm. Nuff said? If I had waited two weeks till the teaching for the semester had ended I might have been able to get a couple of hours furniture moving out of him. But Lad would have been here and that would have made things considerably more difficult. Nope, this week was my only chance.

Dustsheets. Plaster. Laundry. Rubbish bins. Boxes into storage in attic. Make beds. Before lunchtime, if possible...and it's 11.30am already, eek. Better get away from here!

But I will leave you with one last image. It has to be a mental one though as a black cat on a black background is a bit...well, black. Lad has left his school backpack on a shelf in the hall and Theo is asleep on it. He's been there for most of the last 24 hours, actually. He's never slept there before. Is it possible he knows in some strange feline way that Lad is away? Is he there because he's in some way missing Lad, or waiting for his return?

Oh well, onwards and upwards....!

Sunday, November 25, 2007


On a brighter note than yesterday, this is my second son Duncan, aka Lad.

He's eleven now and a big lad, almost as tall as me.

He likes his food...

His sister loves him...

He loves his kittens...

He even loves her. (Most of the time. She is a pest.)

He's helpful....

And funny....

And tomorrow he heads off on his week long school trip to an outward bound centre in the Scottish Highlands. Hiking, canoeing, white water rafting, absailing etc. He's never been away from home for such a long time before, not without one of us around somewhere. Yes, he goes to sleepovers etc and sometimes I barely see him from one days end to the next, he's so busy during the summer. But this is for four nights and five days.

Naturally though he's really looking forwards to it. He likes good dirty sporty outdoors stuff, has a good bunch of friends going too and likes and trusts his teachers. He's not pernickity about food, as long as there's lots plus ketchup, and he's used to camping and living out a holdall for weeks on end. (They are not camping, they are sleeping in bunkhouses.) He's not some fragile shy flower totally dependant on someone else cossetting him along. He will have a ball.

It's just ME that's suddenly gone into full mother hen mode, overloading him with socks, reminding him not to go out in wet shoes and to remember to wash. (This last is a bit of a vain hope, I admit.) My little curley-haired baby is growing up. He was always the little, cute, cuddly one that put his hand in yours when he was worried about something, unlike his big confident brother and totally unfazable little sister. Now, he's nearly a young man.

Have a great time, son.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

November 24th.

Today is that day again.

I'm not saying life really gets better about this sort of thing, but you do get used to it. I was watching a terribly trite program on bereavement a few months ago when someone came out with a very true statement "You never get over these things, but you do work out ways of getting through them". Yup, that's true. The thing is it all takes such an amazingly long time to get to this stage but conversely on days like today it seems like it all happened only a few days ago.

This morning though I looked at my tall, fair, lively and beautiful daughter as she scampered around the house in her PJs looking for breakfast. She's six years and five weeks old today. Next year she will be seven, and the same age as her big brother when he died. Also, the same number of years will have passed since he died as he lived with us. It all seems impossible in a way, even yet. I wonder if seven years will be the magic number for me when I finally come to terms with all this? Because it's certainly not happened yet. What does "come to terms with" mean anyway?

However as they also say, life goes on. Today we are off to the Haddington Scouts Christmas Fair, which is the official start of the Christmas season for us. It's a fun, lively, very home-made and well run event and the kids enjoy it hugely. A good time to turn another corner and into another year, I think.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Dead Parrot?

I've lost the will to live over this scarf.....

It looks like a dead parrot that's been dropped in a blender. The yarn skitters and slides around on the plastic needles like it was greased, but when I tried rosewood needles it required physical violence to move the stitches along. And I have mysteriously picked up another stitch from somewhere, but of course it's impossible to see where.

And newbies use this stuff? No wonder many of them never knit a second anything. If it wasn't for the fact that Mum will love it, I would have thrown it in the bin by now. However I've made progress since this picture...only the second ball to go.

And in the meantime I've kept this on my desk to remind me there are still yarns out there worth living for...

The colourway is "Porage Oats", from The Yarn Yard, plus the raspberry mini-skein is the one Natalie has been adding to all Porage Oat skeins sold in order to make the Have you Checked your Breasts socks designed by Jane, here. These socks are on my list...probably not before next Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but just I had to have the yarns and pattern ready and waiting.

Back to the Dead Parrot.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Rosie? Where are you, Rosie???

Because I need your address before I can send you your competition prize. I've tried emailing and leaving you a comment. No joy. I do hope you're well? any of our mutual SkipNorth friends have her address? Would you mind passing it on? (Given that you've met me so are reassured to a point I'm not a mad axe murderer etc.) I'm quite determined she's going to get this yarn, whether she wants it or not!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Best laid plans.

I thought I was really well organised with my knitting schedule. Finish my Knit a Sweater in a Month sweater, the second Regia sock, Mum's ghastly scarf and get started on a pair of mitts for Princess for Christmas. Maybe even another hat for me....

Then this arrived in the post....(picture swiped from The Yarn Yard shop, because it was too dull for photographs today.)

This is Festive, one of Natalie's hand-dyed sock yarns. I bought a skein of Porage Oats initially and added the Festive as an afterthought, but when my parcel arrived today the Festive was the one I instantly wanted to cast on. It's boingy and cushy yarn and the colourway is cheerful and bright and...well, very festive! Just the thing for a gloomy winter's day of sock knitting.

No, I've not cast it on. Got to finish the second sleeve of that sweater...only 85 rows from cuff to shoulder, so shouldn't take long. I think I'll keep the Festive for December.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Typical Tuesday.

Get up at 7am, feed cats, make cup of tea (note order of this!) wake kids, sort out breakfast, pack schoolbags, sit at computer to drink tea, yell at kids to get washed/dressed/ready for school, answer phone to mother, get myself washed, dressed and ready to go out, take kids to school for 9am.(Because Tuesday is Trombone Day.)

Come home, check email, sort dirty laundry, start first load of washing, make beds, do very fast clear up round house for more laundry, dirty cups etc, grab spinning wheel and spinning bag and get to spinning group by 10am.

Leave spinning at noon, go to supermarket/recycling/other errands (today was a pile of toys taken to charity shop) Go home, put groceries away, do more laundry, clean out car, bring in rubbish bins, sort out recycling boxes. Have lunch. Feed cats. Go to collect child B from school (with friend), hang around local swingpark till child A comes out of school too (with trombone.) Go home, make snacks, tidy up, do more laundry. Sit in front of computer for a while and ignore noise.

Make tea for kids, start dinner for adults. Small friend of child B goes home. Feed kids, do more laundry, feed cats, write emails, get changed, wait for arrival of Hubby, go out to Fat Class at 7pm.

Come home 9pm, do laundry, pick up mess kids have left, feed Hubby, feed myself, do last load of laundry, remove mouse from jaws of cats and flush down loo, get out school uniform for tomorrow. Sit on sofa, watch telly, knit. Or sit here, read forums, knit. Go to bed at midnight.

Gosh. Don't I live an interesting life? And Tuesday was one of the good days, during which I go out not once but twice to an activity just for me. Thursday, for example, has no activities for me but involves a lot of hoovering. Bah. And there's always laundry.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Progress so far.

I was intending to write a "What I did this week" post on Friday but the competition got in the way, so here it is now.

I finished my Anastasia socks. Yup, the colour banding matches. I find the easiest way to do this is to put the 100g ball onto the digital kitchen scales and wind off 48g or so, stop, pull out the start of the yarn from the inside of the ball while it's still on the winder and then keep winding until I find a place that the colour sequence matches, break the yarn there, pull off the first ball then wind the second. As long as I wind both halves and knit from the inside, the bands will match well enough. I'm not anal about ultra precise matching though, given my inability to count past six rows.

And promptly cast on for the second one of these. Regia Cotton Color, plain vanilla sock pattern from the Violet Green Sock Calculator. I've decided I dislike Second Sock Syndrome even more than I now dislike knitting socks on dpns so I'm going to get this one out the way. I need a mindless car project anyway. And matching this is impossible, of course, which is fine by me.

I made another Pineapple Upside Down cake in the form of an owl, because my kids decided that they liked cherries more than pineapple whereas the adults prefer the opposite. Works quite well, no?

Another couple of shots of my Colour Challenge skein, because I'm so pleased with it. The second shot shows the silk thread covered with real silver that came with the fibre. I'm supposed to work it in to the final object design, so I'm thinking of a tassel detail of some sort, or embroidery. The beads are there because I think they go well with the fibre colours. As yet though the final design has not spoken to me, so watch this space.

My beaded scarf is growing and is about ten inches long. No decent pictures though, sorry. Too driech here.

I have nearly finished the first sleeve of 3timesChic. It's a fast and easy knit but bulkier to carry round than socks so is not benefiting from the "three rows here two rows there" that accounts for sock progress. Annoyingly enough I don't think it's going to be long enough despite the fact that I'm only 5'4" and I added an extra inch already. However I've got plenty of yarn and the bottom edge will be easy enough to unravel and pick up the stitches, so I'll add on a bit more once I've got it sewn up and seen how much more I need. I do wish I'd knitted this in the round, though. Plaid is going to be a b****r to sew up. I've already ripped the shoulder cast offs and done a three needle bindoff instead.

Christmas knitting. I wasn't going to do any but my mother has asked me for a scarf. She's a very difficult person to buy presents for as they usually just end up in a drawer to be kept for "good", but the ghastly fun fur scarf I knitted her in two hours for her 2005 Christmas present has been worn and worn. (Possibly not "good" enough, lol.) So I must find something quick and fun, but not so fancy that she won't wear it, argh.
Also I have already made socks for Lad so I'd better knock something up for Little Princess otherwise there will be cries of favoratism. A hat, probably. So plan is to finish my own sock and sweater then get on with the above two objects. Only five weeks to go till Christmas!

(Bet you all just love me for mentioning that, no?)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

And the winners are.....

Okay, the judging panel (that's Little Miss Princess and myself) have deliberated at length and we have contest WINNERS!

Fibre Prize..."K", from Harmless Drudge. At first Little Miss Princess thought that the aurora borealis had something to do with Princess Arora of Disneyland fame, but once she saw the pictures she was rightfully entranced by the thought of these dancing northern lights being spun on this wheel. As was I. Lovely thought! So you win the two Ice Castle, and I hope you enjoy spinning them.

Yarn Prize...Well, here we ran into a split in the judging panel. LMP liked Rosie's suggestion of "happiness out of sunbeams" best and I was deeply taken with Corbie's suggestion of spinning "silence like that of an icy winter's night." So I think the fairest thing to do is to award two yarn prizes, okay? I fortunately have two sets of the Angels & Elephants hand dyed Shetland sock yarn, so that's one for each of you.

(So if K, Rosie and Corbie could send me their snail mail addresses to spinningfishwife AT yahoo DOT co DOT uk , I'll send out the prizes asap.)

I'd also like to give an Honorable Mention to Bezzie, for being the only person brave enough (or with a suitably eccentric sense of humour) to make the fibre-glass joke. My Hubby thought that this was the only answer possible, but as I remember the horrific fibreglass curtains my mother had back in the late sixties I can only say that it would be vile stuff to spin, sorry, and certainly not on a wheel so beautiful. So a round of applause for Bezzie as well.

And many thanks to the rest of you for participating, and the amazing answers. We enjoyed reading them. I don't think I've ever got 45 comments on a single post before! Also, I've been round as many of your blogs that I can link to (not all of you have your public blog profile button enabled) and it's been fun reading them too.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ice Castle.

As promised, here's the contest prize. Incidentally given the very high standard and number of entries I've decided to give one spinning and one non-spinning prize. Spinners will win the batts, non spinners win a skein of Angels & Elephants hand-dyed 100% Shetland sock yarn, to knit socks or a scarf to keep you warm in all that snow and ice.

Spinning Fishwife's recipe for Ice Castle. (Makes 50g approx.)

1) Take a field of perfect untrodden fallen snow. (Finest white merino tops.)

2) Add a sprinkling of snowflakes (white angora from a rabbit called Snowball) and two pinches of midnight starlight. (Sapphire Angelina fibre)

3) Blend smoothly with the frost flowers of deepest winter (white mulberry silk tops) and icicles gathered from frozen mountain waterfalls. (Indigo dyed silk tops.)

4) Draft and spin to taste.

It should spin very evenly into a nice drapey soft yarn with all that silk, with a few neps for texture from the angora and a very subtle bit of sparkle from the Angelina fibre. Very easy to spin though. And the batts are as soft as kitten fur, belive me.

There's still time to put an entry into the contest. The contest closes at midnight (GMT) tonight, and Princess Mairi and I will choose the winners tomorrow.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Blog theft...

I stole this from Chronic Knitting Syndrome's blog sidebar. (Thanks, Helen!) A MUST for knitters everywhere though be warned, it's a real time black hole once you get onto the 120 piece and above cuts.

Just a reminder that you've got till midnight on Saturday (GMT) to enter the contest. Picture of prize later today. I have to go to Ikea now to buy some new plates for Christmas dinner.

Eek, just mentioned the C-word! Shoot me! Actually I've resisted doing any Christmas preparations before December for years but it's dawned on me over the last couple that this is why I get so stressed out in December. So this year, I'm trying to get a bit more organised. At least when it comes to new plates.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie.

There's a mouse on my desk....

No, not a house mouse but a little field mouse. Theo brought it in last night for a suppertime snack but rather grumpily dropped it when I told him to. I don't like them eating their rodents in the house very much (stains the carpet), especially when I'm still up to hear the screams. I usually either flush the corpses down the loo or, if the mouse or whatever still has all its limbs and looks lively I take it over the road to the park and let it go. Ocassionally I have to kill a half-dead rodent to prevent further suffering. They don't do well minus a leg.

This one however looked intact, but very, very wet and was shivering like crazy, presumably from fear and cold. It was cold out last night however and I thought if I put such a drookit little creature outside it would die very quickly. So Mr/Ms Squeak became the first mouse to get offered emergency residential old storage jar with a muslin cloth stretched over the top. And a teaspoonful of muesli for dinner.

Poor little sod just sat for the first twenty minutes amd shivered, until it dawned on thicko here s/he needed a bit more than a cold glass jar to warm up. So mousie got presented with a luxurious bed of drum carder cleanings (silk/merino, no less!) and the jar went through into the cupboard where I keep the freezer, where it gets warm enough to proove the bread.

This morning? Bright as a button. I have the jar on my desk now and Squeak is looking nice and fluffy after a lengthy preening session. S/he is sitting eating a raisin.

"Time to go home, Squeak? Back to the park? Keep away from the big bad cat from now time, you might not be so lucky."

(Yea, I'm a softie. Especially when it comes to wee furry things.)

PS. Thanks for all the Competition entries! I think this must be my record for comments so far. Still time to enter though, up until midnight GMT on Saturday. Winners will be judged by my six year old princess and myself. There'a been some wonderful stories and some equally great short but beautiful suggestions, so keep them coming. And I've blended up a beautiful batt of spinning fibre for the winner, with an alternative prize for these of you that don't spin. (Yet.) Pix tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Spinning with glass.

This is beauty....

It's from here, by a designer called Andy Paiko. You can click through several pictures of the wheel, and he has other amazing glass objects.

But the wheel is the best. (I would say that, no?) He says you can spin on it, but I'd be terrified to try! Nope, this wheel should be used by a beautiful princess with silver gilt hair down to her knees, wearing a white dress embroidered with silver threads and crystal. In the top chamber of a tower made of ice, of course. On the other hand, I'd give it a go if he would let me. What would you spin on a wheel like this?

Yeah, go on, we'll make it a competition, okay?

What would you spin if you were allowed to try this wheel? Spinners and non-spinners alike may enter and suggestions can be as fantastic as you like. Unicorn fibre blended with moonbeams or whatever!

I'll try to find a suitable prize for whoever wins, but it will be a choice of either fibre (a specially created batt of something fabulous) or something knitting-related. Winner to be judged by my own six year old Princess and myself. Answers in the comments before midnight (GMT) of Saturday 17th.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Spinning Tuesday.

Tuesday is my day for going to the Haddington Spinners. Today was a bit different though, as I took thereyougothen to for a little convalescent therapy. I'm not 100% sure that she went with the intention of learning to spin, but when she was handed the spare Ashford Traditional she got stuck in with good grace and produced a very jazzy mini-skein of designer yarn very quickly. I don't think she thought it was particularly impressive as yarn goes but belive me, I've seen considerably worse from spinners that have been spinning for months, not just one hour.

No pix, unfortunately. Forgot the camera.

I manage to spin about ten yards of the Aspen merino-tencel but the rest of the time I was either gossiping or doing a little remedial surgery on a pair of socks another member had fallen afoul of. I'm pleased to report, btw, that I've made three sock-knitting converts this term alone and as thereyougothen was also sitting knitting her maiden sock for a while, I'm going to claim her as well since I gave her the Opal pattern to get her started, lol. New spinner AND new sock knitter, yeah!

Rest of the day was spent rushing around for shopping and a meeting at the school. I'm typing this in the brief moments between getting the kids home and getting them to do homework, make their tea and get myself out to diet class. Oho yes, I'm still going to diet class. I may have spent the last three months or so circling around the same couple of pounds, but at least regular attendence at class means I'm not putting the flab back on. I need a bit of motivation to get back onto the True Path, though.

(After Christmas.)

Monday, November 12, 2007


Yvette asked me why I had the sewing machine out.

It was for this sorry object, which normally lives in the lounge with a tartan blanket over it so that I can put my feet up when I knit.

It's a well made old thing though and I've owned it for aeons, so have been intending to take it to upholstery classes one day. However Hubby loathes it. A quick fix was required.

I found this in the Scrap Store last week. They had a newly arrived consignment of mill ends and I bought this piece of really fabulously high quality all wool tartan for 50p. It's actually quite a bit darker than the pictures show, btw. Usual problem of not enough natural daylight and having to use flash.

Bit of glueing required, to cure the shoogles. Rowan Cotton Glace to hold the legs in place while the glue dries.

A rare sighting of this shy item. I don't iron (seriously, I DON'T IRON) but I firmly belive in "Sew the seam, press the seam". Good pressing and pins save hours of tacking time, IMHO, and the finish is 100% better. This is me pressing the fold and sewing lines into the fabric. It turned out during this process that not only was the tartan piece a tad off grain there was also a weaving error in one of the checks. Well, what do you expect for 50p? And it was a mill sample, after all.

Secret weapon.

Hiding a multitude of sins. Nope, I didn't take the old cover and padding off. I'll do that at upholstery class one day. This is a quick fix, remember?

Yeah, it fits first time! Amazing! (Or could it be because I measured the thing????)


And nearly Finished Object.

Bit of an improvement, no?

Actually, it's not finished because I still have to put an underlining piece in place. I stopped here though because I was a bit unhappy with the staples. The staple gun above is a cheap and nasty one from B&Q, but I have a heavier one at the allotment, and will change the stapling I think. In the meantime I've sewn the corners of the flaps in place. It's pretty sturdy. What's the likelyhood I never do go to the upholstery class now?

PS. With optional accessory.