Saturday, March 22, 2008

Saturday etc.

Kids are quite astonishingly resiliant. This was my sick Little Miss Princess last night.

(Take a moment to admire the positioning of the opportunistic cat at the end of the sofa. This is one of his favourite sleeping places, so he couldn't belive his luck when he found a feather quilt on it. Even after LMP went back to bed, he was hanging on in there grimly. We gave up and she took a different quilt to bed. That cat has us trained.....we iz it's cats slavezes. )

Anyway, LMP bounced out of bed at 6.30am today demanding breakfast and to be taken swimming. So she seems to be over her lurgy as quickly as it descended. Good. This means I can go to the allotment this afternoon rather than staying at home washing out puke bowls.I did try going yesterday but as I stood at the gate leading into the site I could see part of the roof of my neighbour's shed cartwheeling around in the strong gale force winds we had here yesterday. At this point a strong memory of the day part of a glass greenhouse came flying over the dividing hedge in a similar gale came back to me. Also how it shattered when it landed not six feet from me and how I was still picking up glass from the plot weeks later. So I went shopping instead yesterday. An allotment full of loose, spikey, potentially dangerous flying objects is no place to go in a gale. But the weather is calmer today so I will try again.

Which does lead me on in a way to my next topic. Bettna. I started knitting this over a year ago, before the last SkipNorth. It was an easy knit and most enjoyable but I hate finishing, so it went into a drawer for six months. I thought though I'd finish it for SkipNorth 2008 so got it out and with much labour got it all grafted together and blocked the day before I went.

Nice, isn't it? It's in Noro Shinano, which is a discontinued silk and wool blend. Nice colour, nice yarn, pretty well knitted and finished. (Sez she modestly.) Did I wear it to SkipNorth? No I did not. It does not suit me, not one little bit. It is horrible on me. It makes me look like a dwarvish quarterback.

Now there are thirty-three Bettnas on Ravelry. Several of them knitted by people of much the same build as me ie short, fat, busty and with big shoulders. How come then that they look fine in this jacket and I look so awful? I don't think I'm being hypercritical over how bad it looks, really. But the words "dog blanket" come to mind, in all meanings of the phrase. Maybe I should give it to the cat to sleep on?


Bit of a shame really. The yarn cost a lot, even at sale prices, so yes, I'll frog it and turn it into something else. Too expensive just to dump into the back of the wardrobe and forget about till the next charity shop run. Every so often a project does turn and bite you back. That's life. But it's disappointing, no?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Tidy Girl.

First day of the school Easter break today, and with superb timing Little Miss Princess has got the lurgy. There seems to be two versions going around...the adult one where you have a sore throat and temperature for a couple of days followed by two weeks of coughing your lungs up and feeling knackered all the time (that will be me and Hubby) and the child version that comes with pukes. Fortunately LMP is a very neat puker and is quite happy to use the nearest dustbin, bowl or toilet. (All parents should train their kids from about 18 months old in this skill, IMHO.) So while it's going to be a sad thing for her to be ill in the holiday, at least it's not too much hassle for me.

(Yeah, I'm a mean mummy. Lowish on overfussy sympathy, very high on practicality. She's No3 child, remember?? Dragged up rather than carefully nurtured! Somehow she's turning out at least as well balanced as her brother, lol.)

And on the knitting front...well, I seem to be currently obsessed with the Forest Canopy Shawl. It's a nice pattern, with just enough rhythym in the rows to keep you interested but simple enough to be able to spot a miscount. I'll be on the border in another repeat or two.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Just at the right time to distract me from the ongoing building work hassles, this gorgeous little parcel has arrived from Natalie at The Yarn Yard.

This is hand dyed 100% silk in "Burnish". At £11 for 80g/200m approximately of a unique colourway of hand dyed DK silk it is an absolute steal, and Natalie still has some of it left in other colours. (Limited Edition though, so it won't be there long.) It is smooth and heavy and totally lovely. It tells me it wants to be
Branching Out, so will be next on the needles after the Forest Canopy is finished, I think. I like knitting with silk.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Yeah, I am p***ed off with my builders. Again. I am positively fizzing......

Last Thursday we had what is called the snagging inspection. It is one year ago that the main building work was completed, but a percentage of the total payment is retained for a year after completion and the inspection is supposed to flag up any faults which have developed, or pinpoint jobs that have not been completed.

Now I'm not going to bore you with the lengthy details but I had a small team of builders arrive Friday and nearly complete the short list of very small outstanding jobs. So far so good...except there is one job remaining. Something that will take approximately one half hour of a joiners time. Except one of the building company's joiners walked out on Friday and they are short handed.

So? I'm happy enough to wait. It is not an urgent job. But Mr Boss Builder has taken it upon himself to decide that despite what my architect, his No2 boss and The Man From The Council decided on Thursday, this job does not need done. They have done a cosmetic repair, while this job is structural. Good enough, sez Boss No1. Not good enough, sez me. (And my architect, if anyone is in any doubt.)

So Mr Boss Builder Man is coming again this afternoon to "decide" on the problem. My sweet a**e he isn't. The bloody man tried to browbeat me over this on Friday already and I've no patience left for a rerun. I also suspect he wouldn't be trying on this particular bit of builders' skullduggery if my large and glowering (he can't help it, it's his eyebrows) Hubby was here, and this makes me even crosser, if that is possible. I dislike being treated like I was a wee wifie of no intelligence and less consequence, and I stopped being the simpering type when I was about five.

Bottom line though is until I am happy that the works have been completed, I don't authorise my architect to write the letter to The Man From The Council telling him to release the rest of the cash. So ultimately I will win this one. But it's just the hassle. Given the amount of work that's been done ...and done well...on this house by these builders, why spoil the ship for a ha'porth of tar as they say?

Stupid man. He's quite ruined my day, and I resent that more than anything. So instead of going to Zen out on the allotment (not in the mood for Zenning)I am off for some retail therapy. Or, at least, the grocery run.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

As promised, a list of what I bought at SkipNorth. This is not all of it because I bought a couple of things for presents and have already given them away, but it's most of it. Not as much in volume as previous years, have to say. I'm not sure whether this is because I was being more selective or that some individual items did take a biggish slice of the budget. Budget???I hear you ask? Yes, I do go with a budget. I make a point of clearing out unwanted stash from time to time on Ebay and the proceeds go back into the yarn fund. Plus my mum still gives me money for yarn, now and again, just like she gives the kids sweetie money!

First stop, Coldspring Mill.

Louisa Harding Sari Ribbon. There was just this one skein in this colourway but I love her stuff. I'm a real magpie at me a yarn with a bit of flash and I just can't resist.

Louisa Harding Coquette. The labels are off but it's the real stuff. They were selling this for 50p per ball, or a twenty ball pack for £7.99 so I bought a pack in this coral colour for a summer cardi. Several other SkipNorthers got packs too. There was a great turquoise and a coffee colour as well, but I liked the coral.

Four balls of Noro Silk Garden Lite. I've never used the Lite before so I was pleased to get these at half price. The two balls on the left are the same colourway and dyelot, would you belive? I think they will become some sort of scarf or shawlette, with the other two for hat and mitts.

Noro Kochoron. I bought three big skeins of this, a total of about 750 grams. It wasn't as cheap as the Coldspring Noro was last year but it was still a bargain. I just loved the colour....perfect for a certain little Miss Princess, don't you think?
I also bought a daypack at Coldspring. They have a camping and outdoor equipment warehouse upstairs from the yarn store, which is an interesting combination I think. Nice daypack with lots of pockets to store essentials in, including knitting. In fact now I think about it I suspect I saw a knitting bag first and a daypack second....

Next stop, RL & CM Bond, Haberdasherer extraordinaire....

It was a short stop and I was just so amazed at the place I hardly bought anything. Too busy marvelling at all the vintage haberdashery. The pink needles were for Princess again, plus I got some totally over the top bling pink and metallic brocade ribbon for her. 3 metres for 50p? You can't go wrong.

The Skep.

Surprisingly I didn't buy any yarn at The Skep, despite there being some very tempting offerings. No, I spent most of my time there rummaging through their bags of mill-end fabric offcuts, looking for nice patchwork pieces. The Skep stocks a lot of very nice patchwork and quilting fabrics by the yard and fat quarter, but they also sell non-standard pieces by weight at £10 per kilo. And belive me, you get a lot of patchwork fabric in a kilo. The smallest of these pieces is about 15" x 15".

The Knitting & Crochet Guild.

Vogue magazines from 1990 and 1998.

A great find dating from about 1998 as well. I remember looking at this in the shops at the time, but being too skint to buy it!

Sock yarn, of course. I got two batches of this, one being for a present.

100% synthetic goodness-knows-what-it's-for yarn, from the 1p per gram Yarn Mountain. I just loved the colours.

I also found a copy of a Ladybird childrens book called "Learn to Crochet", printed in the 70's. I bought this as a present for thereyougothen, confidently expecting her to fall about laughing at it given that she's amazingly good at crochet. Much to my amusement she actually loved it, because she's already got the companion knitting Ladybird from the same era. Was I pleased with myself or what?

Wingham Wool Work, nirvana for UK spinners.

Here I bought myself a long-desired tensioned Lazy Kate, specifically for use with the smaller bobbins some of my wheels use. Plus four extra bobbins for my early version Kromski Mazurka. To the best of my knowledge Wingham is the only place you can still get these bobbins. The modern Mazurka bobbins don't fit my old girl.

Blended merino and plain dyed tops. Plus some dyed silk carrier rods, because I loved the colours.

And my Wingham Swag Bag, free when you spend over £50. Perfect for carrying all your SkipNorth stash home.

I was also lucky enough to find a slightly sundamaged copy of "Vogue Knitting:Socks" in Wingham, a book which my knitting crony Gourdongirl has been seeking for ages. So I felt I had to phone her from Wingham and wake her up from her Sunday am snooze to tell her about it.....*grin*

Finally, some gifts from the ever-generous Wye Sue who was having a major destash. There were a lot of lucky people at SkipNorth that night!

HipKnits Silk Aran, in an amazing pink/orange colourway. I've already cast on the Forest Canopy Shawl in this.

Some truely scrumptious Giotto, also from Sue. You're too good to us all, Sue!

I also came back with a bag of dyed silk threads for spinning from Natalie, but I'm darned if I can find the photo on my PC and I've not got time or light to take another one at the moment. Belive me though, lovely colours.

And finally, some dyeing of my own. Base yarn is Trekking sock yarn and I dyed it myself in the SkipNorth Kool-Aid dyeing workshop.I'm very proud of it, have to say!

So that's all. Not as much as from
SkipNorth 2007 or SkipNorth 2006. Or is there?????

PS. Zippiknits, thanks for the comment you left on my last post, but I can assure you that the lady in the white sweater is not me. That's Heather...she's an American knitter living in the UK, is the mother of the baby on the right in the baby picture, is twenty years younger than me and has the sort of fabulous auburn hair I've always wanted. So while I would like to pretend to be her, sadly, it's not the case.

Friday, March 14, 2008

SkipNorth 2008 Pt1.

Off to SkipNorth 2008.

Much knitting was done in the car on the way down. Here blogless Lauren models the third version of the Hat of Doom.

At the hostel there was a chance to meet old and new friends. From left to right: Anne-at-work, who is currently blogless, Rosie and Terri.

And some very new friends.

On Friday afternoon we did some short workshops. This is the result of my first attempt at Kool-Aid dyeing. We also had Modular Knitting and Colour Theory workshops, but you don't really want to see what I ended up with there, oh no.

On Saturday we got down to some serious shopping. I have no pictures of Coldspring Mills or The Skep, because frankly I was too busy running round grabbing stuff. I did however take some pictures of a new stop on the SkipNorth itininary, a shop called RL & CM Bond, of Pudsey, which is just up the road from The Skep. This place was truely astonishing. There are two floors like this, and the assistant told me they have another third storage floor above.

They had stuff there I hadn't seen in shops for decades, I kid you not. I even found some cards of the hairclips I used to wear in primary school. (Which I then forgot to buy.)

We went to the Knitting and Crochet Guild gang hut in the afternoon, but once again I was too busy running around with my arms full to think about pictures. Sorry! Little nugget of information here though...apparently at last year's SkipNorth we managed to buy half a metric ton of yarn between us at the Guild shop, according to the management.

Back to the YH, to admire and covet each other's shopping bargains.

Belive it or not, ALL of this yarn belonged to Chris. She just kept on piling it up, and up, and up, and eventually disappeared behind it.

In the evening we did traditional SkipNorth things...

We ate cake. There was so much cake we eventually had to give some of it away to a youth group that was also staying in the hostel. But not before I'd tried a bit of just about everything, of course.

Knitting and spinning...unfortunately my camera took a wobbler at this point, but it did revive for the Problem Solving and Advice session.

Next day we went to Wingham Wool Work, where we also shopped like demons.

This is a very rare sort of photo for the of me! It was taken by Alex, one of the very hardworking organisers. I hope you don't mind me stealing it, Lixie!

That's all for now. Sorry the pictures are a bit patchy...I'm not renowned for remembering to take out my camera when it involves stopping talking or knitting to do so! More tomorrow, when I'll put up some pictures of what I bought. I'll just leave you with this sneak preview......

Thursday, March 13, 2008

SkipNorth blues..

Sorry for not reporting back sooner. Truth is I came home to a slew of building related and other problems and I'm struggling for the energy to blog. I've also got a severe case of the post SkipNorth was such a fun, fast paced, friendly weekend that coming home again seems very flat. However I'll get the chance to have a really good gloat over the new stash enhancements this weekend and I'll put up a blog post about them then.

In the meantime I have managed to cast on the Forest Canopy shawl using two skeins of HipKnits Silk Aran in various shades of pink and orange that the wonderful WyeSue gave me as part of her massive SkipNorth destash. At the moment it's still at the traditional crumpled mass of nothing that half made lace knitting always looks like, but I'm so amazed at myself actually knitting anything even remotely lace-like that I can't fail to be impressed with it. I do recommend this pattern for anyone thinking about dipping a toe in the lace pond, btw. It's easy. There's only three rows out of every eight that you actually have to pay attention to, and even with these the repeats are such that errors stick out like sore thumbs.

Last but not least, I stumbled across this on Ravelry. You have to love the kind of person that sits down and works out patterns like this, no?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Gone Knitting.

Gone knitting. (And spinning, and shopping, and an awful lot of talking.)

See you all Sunday night.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Went for a haircut today......

This was a traumatic experience, because frankly I'd rather have my teeth scaled than have my hair cut. Tooth discomfort is over quickly, but you have to look at the results of your hairdresser visit for weeks if not months. Actually I've not been to the hairdressers for about three and a half years now, during which time my ultrafine poker straight hair has just got longer and longer. (And greyer, but we won't discuss that just now!) I thought if Little Miss Princess could cope with the cafeful hair regime that allows her to keep her similarly ultrafine hair at waist length, so could I. I always wanted long hair as a child, but in Ye Olden Days there weren't the same number of potions to keep hair in good condition and it didn't occur to my mother to simply braid it up to keep it from tangling. So short it was, then I got to be a teenager with all that implies in terms of colouring, perms, crimpers and general abuse.

So in fact when I got up this morning my hair was the longest it has ever been, down to my waist. 40 years too late to pretend to be a princess, like Little Miss, but it got there! But being so fine, it was a wispy mess at the bottom, so I finally forced myself to go and get four inches cut off the ends. Traumatic! Got to admit though it looks a whole lot better. and as I wear my hair up 90% of the time, no one will notice anyway.

The rest of today will be spent getting ready for SkipNorth. Food must be organised, laundry brought up to date, clothes and knitting supplies gathered. Etc. I'll be driving down first thing Friday morning with "n" from The Yarn Yard and a local SkipNorth veteran called Lauren that I went with last year. It occurs to me by the way that I'm a SkipNorth veteran too...I've been to all of them, this one being the third. It hardly seems like a year ago we were driving away on a very driech sunday afternoon thinking "That was too short...."

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

To date....

Much to catch up on.

Firstly, thanks to these who clicked on Hubby's test blog link. He wanted to gather some stats just to show his innocent young charges how easy it is for a blog owner to record all sorts of info about blog visitors, like where they had come from, what they read, how long they stayed etc etc. None of this is personal data per se, but it leaves footprints out there on the web. And where there are footprints, you can be tracked. Hubby says his students are often horrified when they find out just how visible they are out there. It's a good lesson to learn if you're going to be a sucess in a media industry.

(And just to reassure...Hubby was not using any specialist software other than the freebie type availible to anyone anywhere, so don't fear that you've now been the target for some sort of in depth probe.)

Other catchups...thanks to all who emailed or otherwise asked if I'm feeling all right. Seems my last post was a bit of a downer one? Well,we all have up days and down days, no? It's just that time of year, no? Roll on the spring.

Yesterday was an up-day though. I had arranged to meet up with Jean and Helen, two far more famous Edinburgh knitbloggers than I, to investigate the new branch of K1 Yarns that has opened in the last couple of weeks in Edinburgh. Lovely shop, with some real treats of exotic yarns rather than just the same old stuff. I often get asked by people planning a visit to Edinburgh if there's somewhere they can go to buy real Scottish yarns, or even just unusual UK yarns. There hasn't really been anywhere up till now, but K1 will fill this gap and more. Definately worth a's a beautiful shop, and Katherine the owner is lovely.

It was a real treat to meet Jean and Helen as well. It's a real quirk of the blogging world to be able to know someone's name, how many children they have, their names, often the cat's name, the fact that their car broke down last week and how they can't abide purple or whatever details about themselves they care to share on the web....but have never met them face to face. Then when you finally really meet this person or persons you have never set eyes on before, you end up nattering away like old friends (which indeed you are, virtually) without any of the constraints of meeting someone new. I've been in this situation several times since I started knitblogging and it never fails to amaze and amuse me. It was a biting cold day in Edinburgh yesterday though and Jean didn't feel too well, so it was a shorter visit than originally planned. We'll have to do it again soon, ladies, though this time somewhere a bit warmer!

Saturday was warm though which meant a lot of folk made it out to Haddington to the Haddington Spinners Open Day. This is a very informal event, with (normally) a big chattering circle of spinners, knitters, felters and what-have-you-ers doing lots of busy things, Scottish Fibres providing the shopping opportunity and lots of tea and home made cakes. The Poldrate mill was definately looking its best in the sun too. We had a lot of visitors too, and hopefully converted a few to spinning. One new person that visited was Woolypaws, whom I had "netted" on the web, lol. (It's a dangerous place out there, as I keep saying!) She brought along her new to her wheel for a quick once-over and her first lesson in wheel spinning. She turned out to be a natural spinner, so I'm sure we'll see more of her. I'm also particularly proud of myself in that I "enabled" another recent spinning convert to buy her first wheel at the Open day, a Louet Victoria from Scottish Fibres. Lovely, I'm not intending to buy another wheel!

Last news is that SkipNorth 2008 starts this Friday. I've been to both previous SkipNorths so I know I'm going to have a great time meeting up with old friends, meeting new ones and talking non-stop about knitting and spinning for a straight three days, lol. For these that don't know it's run by Lixie and Nic, you're too late to book for this year but you should definately take note of the dates for next year.

I'll leave you with links to the shopping that took place at SkipNorth 2007 and SkipNorth 2006. Happy days!