Friday, November 12, 2010

Paws for Thought.

A cute cat shaped blog post tonight because I'm too tired to think of anything to say.

Ever wondered why Paws is called Paws?

And by way of comparison, Ollie's dainty little ballerina mitts...

Normal spinning services will resume here tomorrow, because it's Guild day.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dinosaur Skull.

In response to Paraknit's question... it's a dinosaur skull.

One of two, actually, that sit on the lower shelf facing each other. They came from a part work magazine that came out a few months ago, called Build a Dinosaur or some such. With each issue you got one part of your eventual dinosaur, the first part being the upper section of the skull. Like all these magazines the first one cost a paltry 99p or something, has the most exciting looking part and it's only after your kids have pestered you into buying the first three or four parts that you realise there's another ninety-six issues to go and they now cost £4.95 per issue. No, I have never succumbed to buying any of these rip-off items. But Hubby thought this section of the skull would make a great bit of war games scenery so he bought two. And there they sit. To the best of my knowledge they've never seen a game yet and I have no idea why they live on my spinning equipment shelves but they do look good and they're funny, so they can stay.

Yes I am a bit odd at times. And your point is.....?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Running on Empty.

A picture to make any spinner's heart beat faster.....

Twenty-nine empty bobbins! Yup, count them, twenty-nine. Isn't that a beautiful sight? And I've got another three Louet ones carrying WIPs, two Ashford ones ditto and five more empty bobbins sitting on various other wheels that I didn't want to bother taking off just for a picture. Oh, and three on the Hatbox which is up in the attic. Forty-two bobbins in total, eek. I've never actually bothered counting them all before. I've always, like any other spinner, thought I never had enough bobbins. Now I realise I've never had enough bobbins because they've always been full of something that I've not finished making.

I've cleared this lot though, and the two Ashford ones will be plied today. I have been doing a lot of plying lately. I estimate it as at least one if not two kilometres worth, actually, which is a lot of treadling. It's a sunny day so there will even be pictures to come of the finished yarns over the next few days. But in the meantime today's picture is for the spinners among you. Lovely sight, isn't it?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Oops, I missed a day. Never mind, it's not like I get chucked out from NaBloPoMo after all.

I got this today, for my new-to-me Ashford Traditional.

Fourteen inches of hardened steel tapering to a point. It would make a fine weapon in a tight corner. This, if you don't realise, is a quill spindle, the part of a spinning wheel that Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger on. Modern flyer wheels don't usually have them but Ashford make one to fit the Traditional. Normally these are only found on spindle wheels like a Great Wheel. I would dearly like a Great Wheel but space and finances dictate otherwise, sadly! In the meanwhile, this will do just fine and will be a talking point(!) at demos.

Off to play....

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Winter is coming.

This morning I went to watch Lad play rugby. Beautiful day with blazing sunshine but goodness knows what the temperature was. I was wearing camisole, long sleeved thick t-shirt, fleece body warmer, winter weight fleece and big winter cagoule jacket on. I was just comfortable and that was in the sunshine. Goodness knows how cold it was in the shade. Winter is definately here.

The cats knew this weeks ago. They have been seeking out the warmest places in the house and bracing themselves for the freezing weather.

Saturday, November 06, 2010


It's still monsoon season here. I haven't seen rain like this since....ohh, our 2008 camping holiday where about 100 slugs came to live in our tent every night. Think I'm not serious? We were overrun with slugs.

Today was an interesting day. I bought some yarn from The Yarn Yard, who had a stall at the Morningside Makers Market, I had a most productive trawl round the posh charity shops in Morningside but most unusual of all, Hubby and I went out to a party. Without kids. And...? I hear you all say? Well, this time we did not get a babysitter. We left the kids home alone. We decided that if Lad was old enough and sensible enough to take Princess on bus rides, to swimming pools, shopping and just generally gad about all over the place then he was old enough to look after her in the house for a couple of hours. So we took our phones, put a neighbouring mum on stand bye just in case he needed speedy assistance or advice and toddled off, leaving them with a mountain of snack food and Addams Family Values on DVD. And they were just fine.

I feel like I've turned a corner childcare wise. Freedom beckons! I knew technically that there had to be some sort of progression between them being born and them leaving home but it's always surprising when something like this happens and you realise that yes, they're becoming more competent at looking after themselves. It's great, really it is.

I can recommend the Morningside Makers Market btw. I've been to quite a few craft fairs in my time but the standard of the items for sale at this one was really quite superior. And if The Yarn Yard gets a permenant stall there we can all go and buy world class yarn there every month. What's not to like?

Friday, November 05, 2010

Bonfire Night.

It's the Fifth of November, Bonfire Night. We don't say Guy Fawkes Night so much here in Scotland, we say Bonfire Night. I wonder if it's because of some old forgotten pagan fire festival at this time of year, one that I don't know about? I must Google for this one day.

Anyway, we're not actually doing anything special tonight. It is tipping it down with rain, absolute stair rods bouncing off the pavement. I know this because Hubby left the car lights on and I had to trail up the road to where it was parked and turn them off, after a neighbour phoned to tell me. Hubby is down at the pub, the cats are asleep in the warmest parts of the house and Princess and I are watching the fireworks out the window. One advantage of Chez Fishwife is that it's built on top of a hill and on three floors, so we can see lots of fireworks. From the attic we can see clear to Edinburgh and the big city centre displays, from the front we can see our own local Council display (not at all bad, really, and on a clear night we can hear the sound track too) and then up in the hills we can see the higher rockets from the smaller village displays. Given the monsoon weather it's the best seat in town, nearly, and we have home made pizza and soup to boot.

Oh, where's Lad? Out with his mates down at the fireworks? Well I'm sure he'd like to be but the poor soul has rugby training tonight. They have one of the most important matches of the season coming up on Sunday and they have to show commitment, you know. Ye Gawds. Rugby training on Bonfire Night? That's cruel!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Spinning backlog Pt1.

I started working on clearing the spinning backlog today. I have several bobbins of long forgotten orphan singles, a few skeins of yarn needing some remedial attention (I used to badly under ply my yarns)and some singles that were just patiently waiting their turn in the plying queue. And a few bobbins of almost finished singles, just needing the last 20 or 30g of fibre spun.

This is some of it. Note the dust on the bobbins....

So today I got out the skein winder, ball winder, lazy kate and my best plying wheel, my old S10. If I've got a lot of winding to do I like to be able to half watch the telly while I'm doing it, so I set up a sort of winding station in front of the sofa. The various clamps don't fit our coffee table so I use this.

Sharp eyed people will detect that this is one of these wooden stepping stools you can buy for £10 or so from Ikea. Very useful item around the house but I doubt even the Ikea designers thought of doing this with it. Ideal though, perfect height for the sofa, you can re spin straight off the skein into the wheel and you can move the whole assembly round to wherever you want it. The little Lazy Kate is a Haldane one btw. It's untensioned but it can take any of my huge assortment of bobbins and it's very compact and stable.

I decided to start with the under spun skeins, as these don't take long to make good if you can unwind the skein straight to the orifice of the wheel and onto the bobbin, adding that crucial extra bit of twist as you go. ???? Well, here's a really bad photo but it shows what I mean.

On the right is the under plied yarn. You can see the plying is loose but more importantly the fibres of the singles are not in alignment along the length of the yarn. This yarn has been washed btw, so it's not going to get any better than this on its own. On the left is the same yarn after a tiny bit more twist has been added. You can see the fibres now run straight along the length of the yarn. This is what you want. I had four under plied skeins I wanted to add a little more twist to so I did this, but they're still on the bobbins awaiting skeining so not worth photographing just yet.

Then I made a tactical error and started plying some camel/silk singles I had been carefully ignoring for a year or so. You can see them on the ball winder above. They are skinny so there is a lot of yardage in that one centre pull ball and I decided to ply both ends of the ball together. Yes, of course this's a neat trick to know and as long as you put your thumb into the centre of the ball as it comes off the ball winder the ball doesn't collapse and tangle. But of course, you can't take your thumb out while you're plying, nope. You're stuck. You can't go to the loo or answer the door or anything. You've just got to keep plying til you finish. All 1200 yards of it. It takes a loooong time to ply 1200 yards of yarn, did you know?

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

UFO Sightings.

I might as well use NaBloPoMo to do something useful, so as I've been sorting out the spinning and knitting supplies I also decided to round up all my UFOs and put up the (bi)annual Knitting List of Shame. Some of these articles have been in the UFO pile for a year or two so I expect you'll have seen some of them before, sigh. I'm sure you understand how it can happen though.

I dredged my most recent past list up from November 6th 2008.

1)Plain vanilla socks in Regia Kaffe Fassett . 95% finished, will complete this week. Finished long ago.

2) Viveka in Rowan Soft Lux Amythyst. 25% done but really like this one so WIP. No change here.

3) Brigitta in Rowan Soft Tweed Twig. 35% complete. Not sure about this one. It may be working out small but I can't tell untill I get to the armholes. Horrible. Frogged it. Yarn now being used in entirely different UFO.

4) Cold Weather Corset in Noro Iro. 80% done and intend to finish it. Eventually.

5) Tahoe in purple DB Cathay. Hate this and it's heading for the frog pond. The Cathay is meant to be knitted at a looser than usual gauge then blocked to size. To me it just looks cheap and skanky, as if my gauge was off or I used the wrong yarn. Frogged.

6) Kismet from Rowan mag No (???) , in khaki Linen Drape. I've finished 60% of this, as in the back and front but have laid it aside as it's a summer sweater. I'll definately finish this one. Linen Drape is gorgeous. I have to finish it's not listed on Ravelry yet, so this is my chance to be the lead link picture, lol. Finished, sewn up, just needs the ends darned in and blocked. It's been like that for a few months now.

7) Forest Canopy in a heavy blue silk 2ply I bought at Woolfest from Knitwitches .

I like this and it was my holiday knitting (until I got the wheel) but I was having real trouble with it in the poor light of an evening campsite and rather put myself off it. It's looking lovely though and I'll get going again with it. No change. Can't bear to frog it though.

8) Silk Tweed Sweater in dark raspberry Summer Tweed. 60% done, as in the body is done up to the front neckline. I hate the neckline though and have reknitted it three times and it's still not right. I want a Summer Tweed sweater though and most of the rest of this is okay so I feel it's worth at least one more shot. Finished the knitting, just needs sewn up.

9) A single sock in something I really can't remember, except it was by The Natural Dye Studio. This is nice and I'll make a point of putting the other one in the car to knit on in these five minute slots when I'm waiting around for kids. When I've found the other ball of the yarn, of course..... Long gone. I think I lost the first sock eventually, then found the yarn. I p/hopped the yarn just to put an end to the misery.

What else has appeared since then? Well, I've actually knitted and finished quite a lot of items but not gained many UFOs, which is a relief. I've got a pair of socks on the needles at the moment but they're my car knitting so don't really count as a UFO. Similarly I'm knitting a blanket but as it's progressing at a slow but steady rate of a 12" square per week that's not really a UFO either, is it? So really, I've only got one new item in the UFO pile.

10)Mr Greenjeans from Knitty, Fall 2007.

I've almost finished the first sleeve of this and as it's knitted top down aand all in one, that means only one sleeve and the front bands to knit, really. And no painful sewing up to do. It's cardigan weather now too so I am motivated. I have pulled it's basket out and placed it firmly on the sofa. I'm intending to finish it before I cast on anything else. Honestly!

The rest of the UFOs have been gathered together in another basket so at least I don't have the excuse of not being able to find them any more. Really though given that two of them only need some sewing up and blocking it is pretty shameful. But I can't find it in myself to think further than Mr Greenjeans and something new to cast on.

Tomorrow (or soon) I'll give you the Spinning List of Shame, or what's on the bobbins and has been for months. And I have a lot of bobbins, oops.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Spinning Group.

Tuesday is Spinning Group Day. I've been a member of the Haddington Spinners for some years now, ever since I went along to one of their Open Days a few years ago out of curiosity, just to have a wee look. Really, that day was a watershed day in my life. I had never seen a spinning wheel close up, I'd never seen anyone spin, I had no clue at all about how it worked or how yarn was made or fibre types or anything. I went for an hour, just for something to do that would get me out the house and away from the kids on a rainy Saturday. They practically had to sweep me out with the rubbish five hours later. Actually, I've never really left.

That day I bought a spindle, fibre and a book. Two weeks later, after a Google powered crash course in spinning wheels, I bought my first wheel off Ebay, an elderly Louet S10 with dodgy painted artwork and a skeinwinder. Truly the Spinning Gods smiled on me that day because it was a fabulous old wheel, ideal for a beginner and in perfect working order. I told my Hubby that it made sense to buy a second hand wheel as if I didn't take to spinning then I could resell it for not much of a loss. He agreed, but told me much later he'd privately known the wheel would never leave because spinning was so obviously "one of my things". He was right. I've still got the Louet and it's been joined by several other wheels. I think the highest number of wheels I've had in this house at any one time was eleven, but to be fair only seven of them actually belonged to me!

So yes, that Open Day had quite a profound effect on me. If people ask what hobbies I have I don't say "I spin." I say "I am a spinner." I don't just spin, I'm interested in the science both of the wheels and the way spinning works, the history of it all, the fibres, the techniques, the ways you can work with colours when spinning. There is an awful lot more to it that just doing the spinning bit and I'm interested in it all. And the more I learn, the more I realise what a vast topic it really is. I've been doing this for years now and really, I hardly know anything compared to how much more there is out there. And I used to think I was a "not bad" spinner but over the last year or so I've begun to realise I've barely begun. That isn't to say I'm bad, just that there's so much more.

Oh well, it's not like it's something I'll get too old to do, unless my hands cease to function. I just wish I'd started earlier, you know? But...and this is what prompted this blog post....someone asked me today how long I'd been spinning and I had to confess I can't remember now when that Open Day actually was. Six years ago? Seven? Eight? There is nothing else I can match the date up to in my memory. I only know there was a half forgotten and distant time without spinning, then the Open Day and after that I was A Spinner. Just like that.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Blogging for November.

I've been awol for a while now, haven't I? Sorry. Been busy. As in really busy. Since I started on these new drugs I've been getting at least halfway back into my old groove again and getting so much more done than say this last year. More things done means more to blog about but also means less time to do the blogging, no? Oh well.

However it's November and that means it's NaBloPoMo.I've done this before so it seems like a perfect opportunity for me to do some catch up blogging, as I'm sure you'll be delighted to hear. What have I been up to? Well, a lot of spinning and knitting, astonishingly, lots of work down the allotment, three birthdays and even some home improvements, though I must admit my back isn't up to shinning up and down ladders any more so not quite as much DIY as I would have liked. Oh yes, and there is the saga of the apples too.

First off though, I bought a new spinning wheel. Yes, another one. I can hear you all laughing from here, ho ho. Get Away. It was a deliberate planned purchase, not like some of the others. I decided that I really needed to own an Ashford Traditional, both for doing some basic teaching and also for when I'm taking a class myself. Despite all the wheels I own I don't really have one good simple workhorse that can do a good range of types of spinning. You can't go far wrong with a Traditional so I decided to keep my eyes open for a good bargain second hand one. At the same time I was due to spin at a local Scottish Day event and was dithering about which wheel I owned that would look most Scottish, which most of them don't. So when I saw this wheel on Ebay, I thought it looked ideal for a Scottish Day, despite coming from New Zealand.

(Pictures from the Ebay auction, but it's MY wheel now. I don't think the seller will mind.)

I fell in love with it instantly. I bid (quite a bit more than I would for a basic Traddy, must admit) and I won, at a remarkably fair price and a lot lower than I was prepared to pay. It arrived, I put it together, I spun on it. And loved it. Old Ashfords go on forever but this one is a particularly sweet spinner. And I just loved the painting on it, with the clever Celtic twirls that fit the wheel perfectly and the affectionately drawn fibre animals. (There is a camel, a goat, an alpaca and a cotton boll on one side, two sleepy sheep and two crazed rabbits on the other.) My favourites are the rabbits, hurtling at top speed round the rear of the drive wheel. Lovely, and full of character. I've bought it a four speed sliding hook flyer for taking classes and really, it's become my favourite wheel.

But it gets better.Today I got a PM from a spinner on Ravelry. She'd read a description of my 70's painted Tradtional and it sounded familiar. Could it be the same wheel that she had owned some years previously, and which she'd painted? I linked her to a picture and waited with bated breath. I love wheels with character and history and I must admit I'd wondered about the spinner who'd owned this wheel before me. She must have loved it very much to lavish so much attention on it after all. It is an old wheel, dating from the mid 70's, thus 35 years or so old. It was entirely possible that the owner had died, even, given the Ebay seller appeared to be some sort of curio dealer.

But no. Step forwards the previous owner but one, Skyskeiner, who had indeed painted her/my wheel. She had bought it second hand about 14 years ago, then later sold it to a spinner in Cornwall. Skyskeiner is "into gardening, fruit growing, spinning and spinning wheels", lol. It say so on her blog. I've read her blog in the past! She's read mine! And she told me all about how she'd painted the wheel, and what had inspired the lovely paintings of animals.

I'm really pleased she found me and told me more about our lovely old Traddy. She's pleased to see it again, and to know it's found a good home where it's loved and cherished. Isn't the world a small place? Really, it's made my day.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ikea Cats.

This advert went live on UK TV this past weekend....(it's better if you click twice on these to go to YouTube and get the full screen effect.)

And there is a companion "Making of..." video.

The makers reckon it's going to make the Top Ten YouTube hits of whenever and also sweep through Blogland. They could well be right!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

"What I Did on my Holidays."

First day of term and the kids have gone back to school. Yeah!!!!

Traditionally in UK schools the teachers always set a "What I Did on my Holidays" essay when the kids go back to school. I'm not going to write this, but I'd like to show you all a video of one of the things we have to do regularly on our camping holidays which is to set up our big Conway Camargue trailer tent. This video surfaced on a tape we thought we'd lost so it's about four years old. The kids you can see (occasionally) helping are Lad and Princess. The reason that there are cars crossing in front of the camcorder is because we had to set it up on the opposite side of one of the campsite roads. Sorry.

The whole process usually takes a good hour or so, normally. But at least it wasn't raining!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Knit Camp Marketplace.

I went to the Marketplace at Stirling Knit Camp on Friday. There had been a lot of talk on Ravelry and elsewhere about the shambolic disorganisation that was the hall mark of this event but I decided that I was going to go to support the vendors of the Marketplace anyway.

I have to say at this point I did encounter several small examples of the general disorganisation myself. I had pre ordered my Marketplace two day ticket back in April but had never been sent a that one sorted out online in the end though. There was practically no signage to the event on Stirling Campus..if it hadn't been for the fact my OH works in the Pathfoot Building I'd have had no idea where to go on campus. There were no Goody Bags when I arrived...I did go back and get one later but really, it was barely worth the effort given that it contained mostly advertising literature and Stirling University pens, plus two small and not very interesting balls of yarn. The two areas of the Marketplace were several corridors and a steep flight of steps apart with no direction signs between them.....though I belive some of the vendors made their own signs and pinned then up. No Hall of Fame either.

Worst bit though was just after I arrived I was talking to one of the vendors I know and Jo herself came up with some piece of paperwork. I'm a friendly soul and she looked a bit grey round the edges so I smiled and said hello. She looked me up and down then turned on her heel and walked away without so much as a nod or a word. Was I annoyed? Yes. Was it my Ravelry badge that pissed her off? Who knows. I will say however it was bloody rude of her and totaly unprofessional behaviour by an event organiser. You just don't blow off the paying punters like that. At the very least you fix a plastic smile on your face and say "Nice to see you...hope you enjoy yourself!" two or three hundred times over the course of a day until your teeth ache. No?

Anyway, that's my moan. Nuff said. Lets get on with the rest of the day. The Marketplace was GREAT. There were lots of stalls with some totally fabulous things to buy, belive me. Yes, I did buy one or two things!

70% Baby Alpaca 30% Silk laceweight, from Abstract Cat. This was her first big show and I think she's a seller to watch in the future. Lovely stuff.

Superwash Blue Faced Leicester, from Artist's Palette Yarns.

Hand dyed Kid Mohair tops, from Freyalyn's Fibres. I've not spun mohair from tops before so am looking forwards to this.

I don't normally go to wool shows with "honey stirrer, pastry brush & wooden spoon" at the top of my shopping list but you know...when you see such things complete with pictures of cute sheep, you've just got to have them. From Fire & Fibre.

A giant ball of orange fibre, from Woolfish. She very kindly donated this to me to use when I'm teaching and demonstrating. I go through a lot of fibre doing this so it's a very welcome gift. The next Woolfish/St Abbs Festival is on Monday 30th August at St Abbs btw. Small but perfectly formed. I must try to get down there for a couple of hours.

Dido shawl pattern by Asa Tricosa, from the p/hop stand.

Miscellaneous items. Clockwise from top left...

Long cords for my Denise Interchangables from Jamie Possum. They're the new UK dealers for Denise needles and you can get all sorts of spares from them.

Stitch markers from Wibbo's Works, given to me by my friend Liz.

Sheep stitch marker from Atomic Knitting.

Washable ceramic buttons by Incomparable Buttons.

Silver ball earrings from Northern Lace Too.

Shawl pin and wooden buttons from Textile Garden. This last was an absolutely fabulous stand, with a vast selection of treasures on sale. Some people were getting really carried away with the credit cards here!

A copy of Issue One of the new UK spinning magazine Yarn Maker. This was literally hot off the had only been printed in the last couple of days and the first copies were either sent out to advance subscribers or to the Northern Lace Too stand at the Marketplace. If you're a spinner in the UK I do urge you to buy and support this magazine. It's well written and beautifully laid out, full of interesting articles.

Finally, I didn't buy this but would like to mention it. This is a flyer from a very old Haldane Orkney that belongs to my spinning group, the Haddington Spinners. The flyer was completely knackered and the bobbin in bits and we really thought that the old wheel was only good for spares...then we decided as a last resort to show the flyer to the woodworking geniuses at Woodland Turnery. I handed it in at Woolfest and picked it up from them on Friday. Result....the mended flyer is as good as new and can you tell which is the new bobbin which was made by them? No, thought not. So the old Haldane is back in business and all for the very modest sum of £15.95. I was so pleased by this I promptly gave them the drive wheel of another damaged wheel to mend lol. I can set up and adjust wheels and even do some basic repairs but for expert help, go to Joan & Clive.

Finally I'll say again, I really enjoyed my day at the Marketplace. The shopping was excellent (far too excellent!) and I had the chance too meet up and chat with a lot of old friends including The Yarn Yard, Woolly Wormhead and Knitting on the Green. The chat and gossip is the best part of these events, really!

Da Boyz spent their day at home, in a sunbeam. Priorities...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Because I can....

Found this on Ravelry. I think I'm going to have to try it....

Monday, August 09, 2010

General news and gossip.


The house is a swamp....eight loads of washing, canvas and camping equipment everywhere. All waiting to be cleaned or hung up or folded or put away. After a month of absence every surface is dusty or covered in cat hair or both. The kitchen and bathroom both need cleaned as a matter of some urgency. And we are close to running out of toilet rolls and bin bags, not to mention that I've not quite got into a shopping routine again yet so there are erratic gaps in domestic supplies. And I haven't even opened up the trailer tent to unpack it.

Of course I have been back for three days so I should have been able to deal with all the above. Nope. I've been gardening. Much more interesting. Princess and I went up on Saturday for three hours of picking (her) and weeding (me) and I was up again on Sunday for another three hours. My sister joined me yesterday so that I could "put her to work" but I knew she wasn't serious when she turned up in white trousers and strappy sandles, hoho. As revenge, I put her to picking blackcurrants. Do blackcurrant stains come out of white chino fabric?

Anyway, quite a lot of the allotment is looking a whole lot better. "Coarse" weeding, when you rip out practically everything, is fast and dirty but effective. I have cleared the top end totally and there's only three more beds that urgently need attention in order that the actual crop plants in them have a chance to grow. I've harvested quite a lot too (fortunately several of my neighbours actually like courgettes). There is still a lot of work to do but I'm confident that three or four more sessions will get it up to speed again. It just shows though the difference it makes when you can go up two or three times a week and keep on top of things, and when you have to leave long gaps between sessions. My friend Jean always bemoans the fact that her vegetable gardening is not as succesful as mine but I'm absolutely certain that's only due to her not being able to visit her plot as much as I do. If she was visiting her garden three times a week, every week, it would be a showcase dripping with produce, I'm sure of it.

Knitting? Nope, none to report. It's still all packed in the trailer tent. I am however going to the Ravelry Weekend at Stirling on Friday, to meet up with a few friends and (ahem) maybe have a look round the stalls. I did intend to book classes at KnitCamp too and even got so far as to fill in the booking form but didn't in the end because our own family holiday was so close. Now I'm glad I didn't. The classes I wanted to book and the tutors I wanted to meet vanished off the list long ago, and there seems to be some worrying last minute glitches developing in the program, but no-one seems to know what's happening and the organiser has gone to ground. Hopefully her silence means she's working on the glitches but no-one seems to really know. It's worrying. I have several friends that have taken holiday time and invested a lot of money in classes and accomodation for this week and I hope things work out for them. The worst that can happen to me is that I'll loose £10 on a two day weekend ticket, but I'm pretty sure the Ravelry Market won't be affected.

I won't be going on Saturday as originally planned though. I realised that the Broughton Gathering is on the following Saturday and it's a bit much to take two full Saturdays off in a row. I've also found out that Jess and Casey from Ravelry are having a meet-up in Edinburgh that afternoon so guess where I'm going? Even Hubby approves of this....he's got no interest in knitting but he highly approves of Ravelry as a site and uses it frequently as an example of excellent use of site design in his lectures in Media Studies. So I have a mission to convey this opinion to Casey, lol.

Saturday, August 07, 2010


Allotment in early July, just before I went on holiday.


I think I need to do a bit of serious weeding, don't you? However, there are some florishing (and less weedy) bits.

Sweetcorn bed.

Courgettes and squash, with broad beans behind.

Tomatoes. This last was a bit of a gamble, actually, as the plants were a bit small to go out just then I thought. Hence the enviromesh cage. Looking pretty good though.

I was only up for an hour to pick and see how things were so had to struggle with an overwhelming desire to start tidying the place up. (I do not get this urge with housework, ever.) There was a lot of produce ready to harvest though, far too much. I was feeling a bit frenzied about it actually! I thought my sister would have picked x5 as much, but instead there was all this plenty going to waste, argh. I concentrated on taking what I needed immediately however and promised myself I'd go and start the weeding today and Sunday. And take Princess...there are about 10lbs of blackcurrants on one bush alone, and she's got nimble little fingers.

Peas, broad beans, purple french beans, raspberries, lettuce, chives, white and black currants, potatoes and (ahem) some of the many courgettes.

Friday, August 06, 2010


Got back home yesterday, after the usual loooooong, tedious drive up from Portsmouth. Made worse and longer by roadworks, two delays caused by accidents up ahead and of course the speed restrictions on towing a trailer. Still, it was otherwise uneventful.

Good holiday. I'll blog about it all when I get the pictures uploaded. There's even some knitting content but as usual, I woefully overestimated the amount of knitting and spinning time I'd have and took far too much with me. Still, better than running out of yarn.

I wasn't entirely looking forwards to this very long camping trip actually because of the increasing pain and mobility problems I've been having with the degenerating disc in my back, but two weeks before I went I saw a new GP and she didn't hesitate, just signed me up for a new painkiller regime that made the previous GP's efforts look like "take two asprin...". Five days later I was skipping around like an elderly lambkin mostly pain free....... well worth the side effects of almost permenant nausea and occasional foul headache. Seven weeks later the headaches have mostly gone as the drugs bed in, but the nausea hasn't. Think 24/7 morning sickness. It quite put me off the nice holiday food, which was a pain , (and also NO alcohol)but as a bonus I've lost 20lbs in 7 weeks, which can't but help with the mobility problems all by itself. To every cloud and all that...? I'm off to see the doc again next week and I'm hoping I can continue with the same regime. I wouldn't recommend it as a diet of choice however!

Anyway, today is an unpacking day. I have eight loads of washing to do which is not bad at all given that it includes the towels and bedding from a month of camping plus a weeks worth of clothes. Plus a shopping trip to Tesco/Lidl and a "shopping" trip to the allotment, just to stock up on fresh veg and fruit and see what's what. My sister and brother in law have been up twice a week to harvest things and my non-cooking sister has even made some jam (!!!!) but neither of them are gardeners of any sort so no work or weeding will have been done and the allotment will be looking a bit shaggy, I expect.

Friday, July 09, 2010


It's 36'C and sunny here in Arnhem. I'm Scottish. I don't do 36'C, not for three days on the trot so far and set to last till next Tuesday when it goes down to a more civillised (but still too hot) mid twenties. It's too hot to knit, to spin, to sightsee, to cycle, to sit outside or inside the tent, to eat. I am melting. And people actually go on holiday in search of weather like this???????

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Farewell and enjoy the view.

Time has run out...I'm off on holiday tomorrow. We're going to Europe...the Netherlands, Belgium and France...for a month of camping in the old trailer tent.

I did intend to take some photos of What I Did at Woolfest but really, I've been too busy packing and at the allotment. So instead (and especially for Jean) here's some pictures of the allotment instead.

Overview for July.

Different crops...sweetcorn (Yes, in Scotland!) and the courgette/squash bed behind. I grow these through black membrane to suppress the weeds and to keep the soil as warm as possible. The hose arrangement is "leaky" semi-permeable couple the main hose up to it and the bed gets watered at base level. Otherwise with courgettes and sweetcorn a lot of sprayed on water would get trapped on the foliage and wasted.

Yellow onions, with strawberries and potatoes behind.

Broad beans.

Gooseberries and apples. This is a family apple tree, with three varieties grafted onto one trunk. It cost me 50p at Woolworths a few years ago!

Crops...this is the first of the early garlic. It's been a good year for garlic. It likes a bit of sun.

New potatoes International Kidney, otherwise known as Jersey Royals if you grow them in Jersey. Plus two varieties of strawberry.

Red hairless gooseberries. They still have spines on the plant though.

I do sometimes get asked if I grow anything other than fruit and veg on the allotment. Well yes, I do have some flowers but they're more tucked into corners than grown as a focus. Still they do provide some colour.

Roses. This was a nameless one out of the garden centre reduced to clear box.

Clematis...a Montana species. This covers the trellis between the end of my allotment and the communal barbecue area.

Volunteer poppies. I pull up the common red ones but I like these ones so much I spare them. They're very prolific however so I may have to start culling them soon!

Californian Poppies. These also self seed everywhere but the hover flies and bees love them, so they're useful.

Not exactly a flower but a self seeded onion. I let these stay if they're not in an inconvenient place because they're fun to look at. This is a Welsh Bunching Onion.

The Shed, just to show you that I do tidy it up sometimes. Yes, these are slug pellets on the shelf at the back. I'm mostly an organic gardener but I'm also a pragmatic one.

And finally, everyone needs to end a long blog post with a picture of a Cute Animal. This is a Ouessant lamb that was the most popular sheep at's about the size of a small cat. It's being hand reared and will live with a small flock on a childrens zoo down south somewhere. Ouessants are true miniature sheep, not dwarves.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Allotment update.



Have been knitting, have been spinning but there's too little time and too much to do to feel like blogging. Summer is for gardening, really. I'me off to Woolfest tomorrow though. Head Prefect on the Guild bus as usual so I'll see some of you there, I hope? Might even manage to blog and tell you about it.

But next week even the allotment will have to take second place. I'll be packing for the big summer camping trip because we're off to the Netherlands, Belgium, Paris and Normandy for four weeks in the trailer tent. The poor allotment will get weedy and neglected and my sister will get to pick all the strawberries, bah. No, my sister does not do the weeding thing. She does cat sitting and hoovering but gardening is not one of her stronger points.

Oh, the cats? They are enjoying the summer too.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Allotment year.





Yes, I have been busy. It's looking good though, don't you think? Now all I have to do is wait for it all to grow a bit.