Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Knitting.

I thought I was doing pretty well with the Christmas Knitting.

Planned Projects-0
Finished Projects-0
Success Rate-100%

Yes, I've got a couple of hats on the needles for Princess and Hubby and intend to finish them asap but as I don't intend to wrap them up as presents, they're not official Christmas Knitting. So I'm home and dry.

Except...I just remembered I have to make a Secret Santa gift for the Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Christmas lunch. This Saturday. That's make, not buy. Oh well, so much for a good pressure free run up to Christmas. I shall just have to do a rerun of what I made two years ago, this. I see it also was a panic knit in exactly the same circumstances! I have some sparkly Louisa Harding Coquette so I'll use that.

(Her website link to the pattern is dead now, so here's the Ravelry link. It's free.)

On the home front I have the tree up, but not decorated, nothing is wrapped, only essential cards have been written and the food shopping barely started. Oh well. I have presents and there are several activities planned over the holidays, plus it's just us four here for Christmas Day so no particular need to go into a cleaning or tablecloth ironing frenzy. Suits me, so it does.

Oh, and I have the workmen back. I have fallen foul of a detail on a Building Control warrant that expires in January, so my lovely joiner and his sidekick are doing some speedy remedial work in the attic so I can get the necessary stamp on the outstanding piece of paper. Time, trouble, money and mess I could well do without, especially at this time of year, but at least I get on well with my joiner!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Yarn with my name on it.

I had to laugh...look at this stuff.

Why is it funny? Well, what's my name? And, back in the dawn of pre-history I did a degree in Marine Biology, lol. So, basically, it's sock yarn with my name all over it, innit? How funny! Yes, I will get some but I'm on a yarn diet over Christmas so it will have to wait.

Here are the rest of the new Opal Rainforest V series. Actually I never realised it part of the sales proceeds went to saving rainforests, did you?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Haldane Harris.

This "little" beauty is my Christmas present this year.

Given that it has a 24" drive wheel and almost certainly spins at warp factor nine it's not so little, actually! I've always wanted a Norwegian style wheel and was seriously considering a Timbertops Leicester...except it would cost more than I could justify if I bought a new one and the only one that's come up recently on Ebay went for a silly amount too. The Kromski Polonaise was also on the short list for a while.

But under a completely seperate subsection of the "Spinning Wheels I Would Like To Own One day" list there was this scribbled note saying "Haldane?" This was because I really liked the Haldane Orkney that I once had briefly in my possesion and I sort of though it would be nice to own one, if I ever saw one at a good price. I did know that Haldane had once made a limited run of Norwegian wheels, but I thought they were so hard to find that I didn't really include it in the list of contenders for Next Wheel.

Fate really, And it was on at a really good BIN of £175. What else could I do? And Hubby had been wondering what to get me for Christmas this year, lol.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Today was cold, wet and filled with rugby, or so it seems. I think I may be going down with a bug of some sort too. All I want to do is sleep. It's been a loooong week.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Addi Sock Needles.

Brief blog post tonight, just to report back on the Addi Sock Needles I bought last week. A couple of you have asked how I'm finding them?

Well, different. Little. I've got little hands but I knit with a classic hands-off english throw and usually my needles move around quite a lot. The small circumferance restricts this so I'm having to push the needle point clear with a finger tip, which can get sore after a while. I've tried flicking,changing to continental, combined knitting and a couple of other ways of holding the yarn, just to see what feels best. I think if you knit continental then you would get used to these needles very easily. For me, it's taking a little longer.

But I'm persisting. Why? Well, they're fast. Very fast. You don't have to stop, muck around changing needles, grip, stitches on the cords and tip. You just keep knitting round and round and round. Actually, that's possibly one reason my fingers are getting tired. There's no break in the flow so your fingers don't get a chance to stretch their muscles. Try knitting four hundred or so little stitches in a restricted way with no pauses whatsoever. Your hands would hurt too! But these 400 stitches are really, really quick.

Still, I'm getting used to it. By the time I finish these socks the motion will have bedded into my hands and it will be automatic. I just love the speed of it all, you see. I'm on the heel of this sock already and I only cast it on two days ago. For me that's amazingly quick. I expect a fast sock knitter could do even better especially if they knitted continental. So definately, these needles are worth a try.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Peeing down with rain here at Chez Fishwife. The kind of day that makes you want to go back to bed, or at least sit on the sofa watching slushy DVDs and knitting. Chance would be a fine thing, eh? Much of my knitting is done in the car these days, as I wait for the kids to either go into or emerge from various sports and activities. Yesterday the Mum Taxi was on first thing, then back on duty at 4.30pm. I did get to go home for a couple of hours here and there, but I didn't finally get home till 11pm. (With a very tired Princess who had been at The Gang Show.) Given that I get up at 7am to get the kids to school, I make that 16 hours of domestic and childcare tedium yesterday. Really, I should find myself a job....

Actually, I don't know if I mentioned but I was offered a tutoring job out at the Poldrate. Teaching spinning, of course, which was quite funny to think of given that I've only been spinning myself for five or six years. I've no formal qualifications to teach, you understand, but I am one of these people who likes to teach and explain and so far, I seem to be reasonably good at it. So I did give the job offer serious consideration. It wouldn't have paid much but it would have been fun I think.
However they wanted me to do it at least one evening per week, which is impossible. Hubby used to get home around six-thirty pm least a couple of days a week but work has expanded for him to take up all availible time space and the kids still need someone here with them in the house, let alone their taxi driver! So no evening job for me at the minute, and they don't want only a day class because we already have the self-help spinning group. Where I will teach you to spin anyway, come to think of it. Only difference is I don't get paid for it!

One day.....

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Socks etc.

Finished socks...Araucania Ranco, colourway unknown, Violet-Green Sock pattern Generator.

Finished hat. Except for the dangling braids. I will need to discuss these with Lad. Rowan Plaid in Soft Kelp, Ear Flap Hat Generator.

It's very cosy. There is a box on the pattern generator where you can adjust for closeness of fit and Lad opted for a loose helmet type effect rather than tight. So it sits down well over his head and ears and what with that and that double layer of alpaca and merino this is a really warm hat. The earflaps are actually just like knitting toe-up socks using short rows, with the "toes" sticking out of the headband section in a very entertaining way until the facing is folded under. Well worth a shot.

Finally, my Addi sock needles arrived today. You can quite clearly see the little kink as the tip joins the cord. That's what makes them fit into my hands so well.

So naturally I had to cast on another pair of socks immediately. The choice was of the pink Yarn Yard yarn above, or the rather lurid greeen and blue. I dyed this second one myself a couple of SkipNorths ago, using Kool-Aid on a (I think) Trekking sock yarn base. After a bit of a mental struggle I decided on the green/blue, basically because it was already wound so I didn't need to go and find my ball winder. Lazy? Me?

(The ginger bit is Oliver's tail, btw, if you hadn't realised.)

Have to say, casting straight onto such small unfamiliar needles was a bit tricksy. So I resorted to my tried and trusted method of casting on to straights, one size larger than my main needle, then working two rows straight before transferring to the working needle(s). Much better. I've done a few rows of the ribbing and the little needle just flows now.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I finished the socks today.

I finished the earflap hat today too. Well, apart from doing the braids, but the knitting is finished and the ends sewn in.

And I went to spinning group today.

This sort of productivity is a bit alien to me, actually. I possibly need to go and lie down somewhere soothing and dark.

The sock needle has not arrived though. So life is not all good.

Short blog post today, actually, because now I'd like you to all nip over and read my friend Natalie's blog post of the day. Many if not most of you will know her as The Yarn Yard. (Fabby fibres and yarns, really. Have a look while you're there.) But she's also the founder of p/hop, which is her fund-raising site linked into Médecins Sans Frontières.

By the time you finish reading your way through all of this you'll probably be thinking that perhaps that third skein of sock yarn isn't quite the priority you thought earlier? Well, as Natalie says, donations of money would be very acceptable but also it would be very welcome if you could spare a day of your blog to mention p/hop and Médecins Sans Frontières to your own readers. Details on how to do this are on the p/hop linkie above. Spread the word!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Catch up.

Monday is always catch-up day. Laundry, cleaning the bathroom, hoover etc. Work out what leftovers are in the fridge and knock up some sort of meal plan till at least Thursday. Write a shopping list so I can go shopping while the kids are in swimming club tonight. That sort of thing.

I'm determined to sit down for an hour somewhere though and finish these socks. Why the rush? Well, while I was at spinning Guild on Saturday a friend showed me her 30cm Addi circs, for sock knitting. Previously I'd dismissed 30cm needles for this because the ones I'd tried had longish tips and joined straight onto the cords. I thought they were awkward and was staining to knit a standard 60 stitch sock on them. But the Addis have much shorter tips and a smooth bend onto the cords. I tried ten stitches of my friend's sock and was instantly hooked to the point of wondering if she'd notice if I just slipped the needle out her half-knitted sock and stole it. (Probably...yeah, she would, bah.) So I came home and ordered one from Pavi Yarns instead. So now I have to get the current sock finished asap so I'm ready to cast on a new pair when my new needle arrives, hopefully tomorrow.

Really, it's ridiculous to get this excited about a new sock needle.....

The Earflap Hat is coming on apace too. I've finished the double-layer headband plus earflap section and am getting close to the crown shaping. For these who have asked no, I'm not going to line it with fleece fabric. There is a three inch deep double hem of Rowan Plaid round head and ears and that's going to be quite warm enough. Plus Lad has his own thick layer of curly locks which will provide the equivalent of thrums inside.

Yeah, hair like that is totally, TOTALLY wasted on a boy.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lazy Sunday.

After a fairly frantic few days, I finally managed to have a lazy Sunday. Up late (ie not 7am), no rush to get showered, only real fixture in the day was to take Princess to gymnastics. I even had time to chat to my neighbour in the supermarket. Then lunch and my sister came round and I sat and nattered to her most of the afternoon, while Princess vanished off to see a friend and Lad and Hubby did manly things like rugby and xBox and painting toy soldiers. Curry dinner courtesy of M&S, kids off to bed sharp, nothing left to do except sit on the sofa, knit and see if there's a good trash film on the telly.

Might not be everyone's idea of what to do on a Sunday but it suited me just fine.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Guild Day.

Not the third Saturday of the month as usual, because the church hall we use has their Christmas Fair on the third Saturday of November. The Guild calendar had been printed with the wrong date though and the website is wrong also, so apologies to anyone who intended to turn up for spinning on the 21st! Not my fault, I do assure you. I only found out because of a chance comment another Guild member made on Tuesday. Shoot the Guild proof-reader instead, unless I get there first.

Anyhow, we are going to make Christmas decorations. I have no idea exactly what, but it's sure to be interesting. And I won't need to teach, because no-one new will turn up, I don't think. Not with the date mix-up. bah.

However I have managed to shed Princess for the day so that's good. I was reasonably confident she could cope with half a day of pom-pom making or similar activity but she wouldn't last a full one. I was scheduled to be looking after her because I didn't think I had a Guild day and Hubby and Lad were off to a wargames show, and the car was going to be full. But someone has dropped out and Princess has opted for wargames instead. As she says, she can make pom-poms any time.

Speaking of pom-poms, yesterday I found this amazing set at Hobbycraft. Where has this been all my life? I've made dozens of pom-poms using the classic old two cardboard doughnut method and this is 100% easier. Princess has really taken to it and is churning out pencil roving pom-poms like a pro. Worth every penny. I foresee a very pom-pom Christmas!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Crikey...actual knitting.

Well, with some actual knitting content today....

I've not been knitting much over the last weeks. Life is busy and come 10pm all I can do is slump in front of America's Next Top Model (compulsive viewing in this house) and pick my way round a plain sock for twenty minutes. Then go to bed. I have three sweaters all at the stage of front and back completed, but do you think I can make the effort to start knitting the arms? ZZZZzzzzzzzzz......

However when we were up buying Lad his winter jacket at Mountain Warehouse (great place for genuinely warm, waterproof jackets) he spotted this.

Now I'm absolutely b****red if I'm going to stump up £19.99 for a nasty acrylic knitted hat, even if they are on Buy-One-Get-One-Free. But he did look remarkably good in it, in a sort of crazed muppet way. Isn't it amazing what teenage boys want to wear? I rejected a pair of Lee Cooper lace up black sneaker type gym shoes the other week as being dorky, only to discover they were the latest fashion craze around these country parts and had to go back to the shop to get them. (They were dirt cheap so I did not mind.)

Anyway, I said I'd knit him a hat. He came home from school the next day looking expectant so I had to get up to the attic asap and find something suitable. I came up with two balls of Rowan Plaid in an alpaca/merimo/acrylic blend, in Soft Kelp.

It's nice stuff to knit on and I'm using 7mm needles so it should be a quick knit. (Well, for anyone but me...) I'm using the Earflap Hat Pattern Generator.(Ravelry link.)

Here's the socks...

I only have 15 rows plus toe shaping to go on the second sock, so might finish by Christmas, eh? The yarn was a gift from Thereyougothen on her summer visit back from Chile. The lucky so and so apparently lives round the corner from an Araucania outlet shop. This yarn is (I think) Araucania Ranco...lovely bouncy yarn, anyway, and a great colour. I "enabled" Thereyougothen to start knitting socks when she was ill, come to think of it, so these ones have good associations for me.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Parents Night.

Parents Night at school this evening, for Princess.

You know, at the risk of bragging, there's hardly any point in me going to Parents Night. Princess is extremely bright, likes school, gets on well with her classmates, is polite and enthusiastic and works hard. There's some bits of work she likes less, of course, but they're few and far between and she just gets on with them or, in the case of disliked classmates, ignores them as much as possible. Really can't ask for more. Except the furiously enthusiastic and somewhat novel spelling to improve, but that will come. So apart from reading off her marks and saying how well Princess is doing in all respects, Teacher had nothing much else to discuss. And I'm perfectly happy with how Princess is doing at school and I have great confidence in the school too, so I didn't really have any worries to discuss either. Is that good or bad?

So her teacher and I ran out of things to talk about very quickly. Her teacher is young and enthusiastic and very nice and Princess likes her but she's not as much fun as the very quirky and opinionated older teacher Princess had last year, who really had a soft spot for my strong willed and also very opinionated girl and treated me to a stream of funny anecdotes of what Princess was getting up to at school. I do miss Mrs P. She's taught all my kids at one point or other and we've always got on very well. Must try not to hold this against the new teacher!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Times Twelve.

Do you know, I have driven down the same small street in Musselburgh twelve times today, what with one trip or another. At no point have I driven further than two miles from my own front door, but I have been round and round and up and down and across this blessed town carrying tubas and trombones and a variable number of kids and bags of sports equipment and all the rest all bloomin' day. Or so it seems!

How do mums without cars manage? Do they manage all this by taxi and bus? Or do they just take the sensible option and restrict the number of activities and interests their kids are allowed to do? I was on taxi service duty from 4.15pm to 9.00 pm today, not to mention the am run to school with the trombone.

And to top it all, I had to miss the allotment AGM. First time in thirteen years, bah. And me on the committee too. Bah bah bah. I'm not happy!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009



Get up, get kids up, feed kids, assemble lunches/backpacks/kids, make sure kids are clean and dressed, send kids to school. have shower and breakfast, deal with emails. Put on load of laundry. Go to spinnning group at Haddington. Very pleasant lunch with Pollianicus. Quick trip round the Haddington charity shops. (Didn't buy anything.) Back home for kids coming home from school, make dinner, do laundry, supervise homework, feed kids, take Princess to Cubs, take Lad to buy new school jacket, fetch Princess from Cubs, come home. Message on answerphone from neighbour to say that Oliver's mum Lily has had five kittens and could they borrow the kitten cage again? Take cage round (no I didn't see the kittens), come home, get kids to bed. Husband comes home from work. Feed husband. Feed self.

Think I'm going to sit on the sofa, knit a couple of rounds of plain sock then go to bed. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day, not quiet like this one.

Monday, November 09, 2009

First Frosts.

It was the first hard frost of winter last night. We live on a hill looking down into one of the local parks and all the grass and trees were diamond white. I live near the sea and as such we miss most of the snow but we can still get some killer frosts. The allotment will be a heap of shattered vegetation today and the pond will have stared to freeze. Start of winter.

I didn't go to the allotment today though as I was so tired from the weekend. You'd think that sitting on your rear end spinning and chatting for six hours, plus an hour's drive at each end would be a reasonable but not excessive day out, no? Apparently not. I was shattered yesterday and this was not helped by having to go to Princess's Cub Scout Remembrance Day parade and service,which took up the best part of four hours of hanging around and walking, with only a brief sit down in church.

So this morning I got up at the usual 7am, got the kids off to school and went back to bed. I didn't get up till lunchtime and I'm still creeping around dead tired and with no energy. Off to the doc's again, methinks. Got an appointment booked for Friday.

Oh, as to Princess being a Cub these days? She was in the local Brownies up till the end of last year till we discovered one of the local Cub packs took girls. (They don't always, it depends on the pack leaders and of course they have to have at least one woman leader in the pack as well.) Our Brownies are pretty tame...they don't camp in tents, just bunkhouses, because it's "too rough for the little girls" in tents. They don't do sporty things or outdoor activities much. On the other hand Princess has been eyeing up Lad's local Scout and Cub activities for years...they camp, often in wet and muddy fields, they get to have camp fires and chop up wood with axes and whittle things with knives and go for midnight walks in the woods. Etc. Much more to Princess's tastes, especially since she's been camping since she was a few months old. So she has dumped the Brownies without a backwards glance and become a Cub, lol. She's even learning to play football (which she doesn't much like, but hey-ho) so she can keep even with the boys. Actually she's very fit and sporty with a mean killer instinct, so the boy Cubs aren't getting away with much, has to be said!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

St Abbs Wool Festival #2.

St Abbs....a view of the harbour from up the hill a bit. A very typical looking East Coast harbour of around these parts.

This is a rear view of the memorial to the Eyemouth fishing disaster of 14th October 1881, where 189 men from the small fishing communities of Eyemouth and neighbouring St Abbs and Burnmouth were lost at sea. I couldn't get a clear shot of the front without falling off the cliff, but basically you see the women and chidren standing on the harbour sea wall, hands to their mouths and looking out to sea with horror on their faces. Most moving.

The Wool Festival was great fun. It's not a big hall but it was stuffed to the gunnels with wool, fibre and other wooly things. I went there feeling I had more than enough wool in the stash at present but of course this doesn't mean fibre, does it?

From left to right..

Two 100g braids of superwash Blue Face Leicester colourway "Shepherds Warning", from Spinning a Yarn. Not my usual sort of colour choice but they spoke to me, so I had to buy them really! I'm looking forwards to spinning these up to see what happens with the colours.

Two 100g braids of Peregrine 75% merino, 25% nylon in pinks and what my daughter would call "girl blues". From The Yarn Yard. Basically it had my little Princess's name written all over it, lol.

Two 100g braids of 70% alpaca, 30% BFL, also from The Yarn Yard. Scrumptious and sooooft. It's a while since I spun alpaca even in a blend, so yum.

One 100g braid of a brown/orage/pumpkin sort of colourway. Peregrine from The Yarn Yard again.

And that's all I bought, actually, apart from several cups of tea and a home-made scone. Quite restrained of me but really, 700g of fibre is a lot of spinning!

I did take a wheel of course. Actually I took three, the Louet S10 to loan around, my Mazurka to spin on and the Wind Wheel to show off. But I didn't take the Wind Wheel in after all. Too crowded. I'm not precious about my wheels normally but the Wind Wheel isn't mine and we were in quite a busy corner. Still it was an ideal corner for visibility, given it was by the doorway to the tearoom so I tucked my elbows in and got talking. Anyone who knows me also knows I do love talking about spinning so I was in my element.

I was spinning on my recently mended Kromski Mazurka. Notice the drive whorl is a tad paler? I did a muppet thing one night when I was tired and tried to unscrew it the wrong way and wrecked it. Fortunately Joan and Clive at The Woodland Turnery can deal with this sort of thing in their sleep, so the Mazurka is as good as new.

There were a LOT of people at the festival, old friends, new ones, virtual and never-met-you-before ones. It was great to see you all but if I start looking you all up and doing links I would be here for paragraphs. So I'll just content myself with saying that yes, it's lovely to go and fondle the yarns and buy new fibres, but what I really go to these events for is to see you all and have a good blether, really.

Final picture..The Yarn Yard stall, later in the day. There was a lot more than this when the doors opened, I think!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

St Abbs.

I went to the St Abbs Wool Festival today. Lovely event....small but beautifully formed and an absolute treat to see so much interesting yarn and fibre at a local event.

I have fibre (of course) and I have photographs. I also have the sleepies, so I'll save the first two for tomorrow's blog post.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Not what they used to be.

I was in the big city today and unusually, child free and with an hour or so to spare, so I decided to go and have a trawl round the charity shops near Surgeons Hall. This used to be one of my favourite ways to spend a Friday afternoon when I had my first baby and no car...I would get the train into town then walk with the buggy up to Hubby's office, take his car (so he could go out for a few pints after work) and go to the supermarket on the way home. Between the station and the office there were seventeen charity shops and as a newly skint single income family with a horrid mortgage and a new baby, charity shops were great places to get all sorts of things. I really enjoyed the Friday runs. The shops were always full of treasures and in these days, 14 years or so ago, charity shops were really cheap too.

Anyway I do go to a lot of charity shops even now, though the financial pressures have eased off a bit as the interests rates dropped. (15% back then, argh...) I get garden and camping clothes for the kids, odd bit of Lego, interesting bric a brac, books etc. Yarn and needles too and even a spinning wheel once! Our local shops are still well worth going to.

But the town ones? What happened? They are all half empty and what stock they do have is often 50% bought-in goods. I've got no problems with buying Fairtrade, you understand, but I do expect the majority of items to be donated ones in the Oxfam shop for example. And the prices! Some of the prices are getting close to what you would pay for similar new items. I know that a lot of the bigger chains of charity shops invest money in refurbishing up shops and presenting goods in a way similar to normal shops but really, it's getting too much. And, you know, a lot of the donated stock was looking pretty tired too. Lots of bobbly old t-shirts and acrylic jumpers.

Was very disappointing. I was hoping for some of the old treasure-hunting excitement and I got nothing. Bah. I had to settle for the excitement of Sainsburys instead. Is it because there are less people donating in town areas, do you think? Or more people using the charity shops in these credit-crunch times?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

A small rant and a Festival.

Very small rant. Remember the building works we had done three years back? Well, the final inspection was done today for a very small but necessary piece of paperwork, and because of the lack of four bits of wood, we have failed to get this paper stamped. Now it's one of these things that would have been dead simple to do as part of the works but because the works have been completed, it's going to be more complicated to retro-fit the required pieces. I think I would rather throw myself off the roof than have to deal with the original builders again though so basically, we're going to get our 100% trustworthy joiner in to do it and suck up the bill.

But, you know, bummer.

On a happier note, I'm off to a wool and fibre shindig on Saturday, the St Abbs Wool Festival. . The Yarn Yard will be there, as will Fyberspates, alpacas, spinning, weaving and all sorts of wooly things for sale. Should be a good day.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The cats cried.

I'm not sleeping well these days. I've got problems with my back (long term thing), my joints ache in general and it's worse in cold weather and the perimenopause is adding in the usual sprinkling of annoyances. I wake up several times a night if I need to turn over from an awkward position, if someone gets up to go to the loo, if someone leaves a light on outside in the hall or slams a door or if I get a flush. Or if a cat comes in to sit on my head and remind me it's only two hours till breakfast and I'd better not forget, mmm? So in addition to all the above, I'm often very tired as well.

I've been working on some of the above. I don't like to have to take painkillers every night just to sleep but there are gels and exotic ungents to rub on various achey parts of oneself that do help. Bachs Rescue Remedy and the Sleep one help. Routine helps, plus going to bed a bit earlier! And I have bought some new fabric for heavyweight thermal blackout curtain linings. Intend to make that up today.

Last night though I decided to target one of the random annoyances, the cats. Da Boyz have plenty of favoured places to sleep in this house and they like to rotate round regularly, often several times a night. The tops of the two wardrobes in our bedroom are favoured spots but to get there they have to leap up on various cluttered pieces of furniture, or the telly, or climb the side of a hamper that lives on top of my wardrobe. Crash. Squeak. Thud. Clatter. And after that they like to climb over me, or under the duvet. And purr, or just generally strike up a conversation with each other or me. They are very chatty cats and like to share all the details of their doings with me.

So last night I shut the bedroom door. I can't remember when I last did this. There have always been children to listen out for or, back in the dawn of pre-history (ie before children) we lived in a flat so small that our tandem had to live half in the hall, half in our bedroom. Or to allow cats to come in and out. No longer. Consternation! They were locked out.

They cried. They howled. They pulled up half the carpet tiles in the hall in an effort to burrow under the door. They howled some more, head butted the door in an effort to force it open, scratched and cried. Then, after an hour or so, they went away. They came back at dawn when Hubby went off to work, but I surface around then anyway. However, inbetween I got more sleep than normal, so I think the closed door will be permenant.

I am a cruel cat mummy, yup. There is worst. Da Boyz are on a Cat Healthy Eating Plan at the moment too, poor wee souls. I took them both to the vet last week for their annual shots and check up and while Oliver was pronounced a perfect size, the vet thought Paws is getting a bit "roly-poly". Yes, this is the cat who arrived last year as a scraggy mass of matted dirty fur and bones. He has been making up for all these missed meals, apparently. So no treats, no extras, carefully weighed out portions and no feeding ad lib. Not entirely fair on Oliver who is a bit indifferent to food in general but even he has noticed the shorter rations and has started making sure he gets his share the minute the bowls go down, lol.

And it's cold up the attic, so it's not even worth going up there to sunbathe under the Veluxes any more, and the spiders have gone into hibernation. I tell you, it's a tough life being a cat round here at the moment!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

On the topic of spinning wheels...

On the topic of spinning wheels, I'm sort of vaguely thinking about buying another one.

Now to get this thought into perspectve you have to realise that at this exact moment I have nine spinning wheels in this house. I own a Louet S10, S20 and S40, a first generation Kromski Mazurka, a Frank Herring Saxony and a 100 year old Breton parlour wheel. I've also got the long term loan of an Australian Wind Wheel and I am looking after the local Guild Ashford Traditional and Traveller until the next meeting.


I think. (I always have this nagging feeling I might have forgotten one....)

So with nine wheels in the house you'd think that I didn't really need anything new, mmmm? Well...thing is, I recently inherited a very small legacy from a late cousin of my father's, who I did not even know existed. He died intestate and after all the legal kerfuffle got sorted the lawyers had come up with 22 relatives who were all entitled to inherit a portion of his estate. Twenty-two people is a lot, and it was a small estate, but nevertheless it was nice to get this wee cheque in the post last week. And one of the first things Hubby asked me was "So are you going to get a new wheel?"

TBH it wasn't my first thought but once it got lodged in my head it stayed there. I've never had a new new wheel, always second-hand, so it's a nice thought. And I've always liked these big Norwegian style wheels with the double table.

Like this one, the Kromski Polonaise. (Though not in that ghastly colour.)

Or the really classy Timbertops Leicester.

No hurry, just thinking. But if I want the Leicester by Christmas I have to order one now, to have it made.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Name that wheel?

Have a lookie at this.....(more pix on Flickr here.)

No, not mine, sadly. It was brought into the Haddington Spinners by an older local lady who was hoping we could help her with finding some information on the wheel. She'd inherited it from her granny and remembered hearing family stories about Granny spinning on it during WW1. Granny was a Yorkshire lass who had moved to Edinburgh when she got married and the wheel apperared around then.

Well, fairly generic wheel of the era, you might think? Look again. That drive wheel has 18 spokes and that's really quite unusual. Most wheelmakers go for 6, 8, 16...easy divisions of a circle. I mooched around the internet looking for information. Eighteen spoke wheels were common in the Hebrides and apparently were connected with the fact that a compass has 360 degrees ie 2 x 18.

So off I went looking for pictures and info on Hebridean wheels, assisted by the Antique Spinning Wheels group on Ravelry. One of them came up with this picture....

Not a bad match, is it? The turnings are different yes, but lots of the important bits match, like the way the pegs stick out undeneath, the unusual height of the treadle bar and the circular mount for the mother of all. Not twins but perhaps sisters? Or from the same maker at different times. The picture is from the front cover of this book, "Whorl and Wheel: A History of Handspinning in Scotland", by Su Grierson. The picture credits says it is a Dutch type wheel popular in the Isles of the Outer Hebrides and was photographed courtesy of the Highland Folk Museum Kingussie.

I have emailed my photographs of "my" wheel to the curator at the Highland Folk Museum, asking if they could please provide any more information on either wheel. I also emailed the book cover scan to the owner, K, and she came up with this nugget of family history.

My granny from Yorkshire was a doctor who spent all her married life in Edinburgh. During World War I she was employed by the armed services to go round Scotland to inspect the living accommodation for the women in the army and navy. ( Mainly to make sure it was a fair distance from the mens quarters I think!) Meanwhile she employed a girl from the Hebrides to look after the children at home and the girl may have brought her wheel with her. I will check with my sister to see if she knows anything more about this Hebridean connection.”

So there is a Hebridean connection after all, however tenuous.

Anyway, I'm finding all this sleuthing rather exciting. She'ss a lovely wheel, not small, not big, but she weighs a ton for her size and that indicates oak or similar, yes? The 18 spokes make the drive wheel massively heavy and it's not easy to get going, especially since the treadle is set unusually high. But once you get her rolling she spins like a caffeine-frenzied dervish, at what feels like 100mph. Yes, I'm pleased with myself that I got her spinning again after decades of being a mere ornament. Actually, everything important is there, she just needed a bit of oil and a tweak. A few knocks, yes, deep grooves in the flyer and looking at the underneath she’s been taken apart and reassembled several times, not particularly carefully either. Everything pins together with wooden pegs, but they look like they’ve been levered out and the wood has splintered. And the flyer has broken at least twice, or at least been mended twice.But given a good slather of oil and a bit of tweaking, she was still up and spinning within minutes. Old, yes, but still game!

Anyway,watch this space for more news, or feel free to add any suggestions in the comments, please! In the meanwhile, I'm teaching K to spin so she can use her Granny's old wheel. Isn't that lovely?, I'm not teaching her to spin on her 100mph wheel. What a comedown, eh? The woman owns a fine historic wheel with (hopefully) lots of history and she's learning on my battered old plywood Louet S20, lol!

Sunday, November 01, 2009


It's that time of year again, isn't it? Time for NaBloPoMo. So given that I seem to have really lost the habit when it comes to blogging regularly, I intend to join in for November again. I've managed to complete the month for the last two Novembers,though you probably were wilting with boredom by the end.

Anyway, to start you off with some totally non-knitting related blog fodder, here's a recent photo of Da Boyz. I was thinking of entering it on Lolcats but on reflection, I dread to think what some of the caption submissions might have been like. Yes, Paws does have a paw round Oliver's neck. They love each other very much, you know. Still doesn't stop Paws hogging most of the cat bed however.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Paws's paw.

I have just spent fifteen minutes chasing Paws round the house trying to get a good look at his paw. He is one hairy cat and has very hairy paws but there was a something growing out one of his toes, he was limping and every two minutes he was stopping to pick at it. I thought he might have torn a claw out or something. Still, he wasn't keen for me to look at it and kept on running for cover. When I did finally get hold of him (using a large towel for body armour) he still put up quite a fight and gave me a couple of good nips.

It was a sugar puff stuck in his fur.

So while I am very glad he's okay and that I'm not going to have to tale him to the vet, that's fifteen minutes of my life I'll never see again and I have two cat bites in my thumb. My knitting thumb at that. Pets, eh? Worse than the bloomin' kids!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Actual spinning content. Etc.

I bety you all sometimes wonder where the "spinning" part in Spinningfishwife is, some days? Well, I am spinning. And knitting. I promise. I'm just not very good at blogging about it. I'm not a fast knitter and I forget to take photos and I usually blog at odd hours of the day when it's awkward to just leap up and get a quick snap of a WIP. Anyway, it;s still summer and the focus is on camping, gardening and summer holidays. Which I also forget to blog about, but that's just me being lazy!

Anyway, when I came back from Amsterdam I decided to clear off my bobbins to make a fresh start in the new spinning year. I have been working on this and do have a pile of new skeins but I hit a problem when I stripped the whorl of my old Kromski in such a way that I couldn't get it off the flyer. So the whole kaboodle has had to be sent to the highly respected Woodland Turnery, where they are going to make me a new whorl. I hope. I also went to the Broughton Gathering the weekend before last. This is the event where all the spinning Guilds and other spinning groups in the south of Scotland gather once per year to basically spin, natter and eat cake, plus buying opportunities. The Yarn Yard was there, also Scottish Fibres and some of our independant fleece producers selling their prize winning fleeces. And there was a bring-and-buy stall as well. I bought a dozen eggs from someones pet chickens, a pound of home grown tomatoes and some tablet but the only fibre related buy was a spare part for my Louet S40.

Last Saturday I went to an interesting event at the Dunbar Arts Hub. It is a sort of gallery and the focus is very much on showcasing the work of local artists but we spinners were invited to provide a bit of extra interest. Now I don't normally get drawn on the debate about craftwork v. the work of artists, but suffice to say that the artwork was in the front gallery space, which was bright and open and had a beautiful space facing right out onto the High Street We were squashed into a tiny back room with bad lighting and where no-one could find us unless they had actually come in to look at the front room exhibits. I thought this was rather a waste of us spinners...there's no denying the public pulling power of four spinning wheels going full tilt, and if the owner had put us in the front space she'd have had half of Dunbar in there. I did comment on this to her and got a brief lecture about how artists didn't like their work being diluted by being displayed next to craft work.

Oh well. She was a nice lady, if biased, and we spinners achieved our own ends by publicising the local spinning groups, raising awareness of the craft and getting to sit and spin and natter for three hours with free tea and cake provided. And the best laugh was though actual sales in the gallery area were nil that afternoon, as far as I could tell, one person who came in tried to buy one of my sample skeins which I carry around in a basket for demos. It was a small 5m skein of sparkly stuff that I'd had around for ages and she was a lovely lady who made embellished felted bags, so I did what the vast majority of us craftswomen usually do when talking to other craftswomen and just gave it to her. It's nice to have your spinning appreciated! Then I got a bit of cold shoulder from the owner, presumably because I'd just devalued the work of her artists a bit more, hmm.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Too much of everything. Or too little?

It's autumn. You can just feel it in the air. I was up the allotment about ten days ago and though it was warm and sunny you could just feel that edge in the air that meant it was no longer high summer. I was right too. The weather has really turned in the last week, despite it still being August. Cold days ahead.

One job that always has to get done as soon as the kids have gone back to school is turning out the wardrobes. Summer clothes have to be sorted out, judged on size, condition and possibility of wear next year and dealt with accordingly. Keep, pass on, charity shop, textile recycling bin at the dump? The Keep pile is always the smallest. Then I have to look through the storage boxes in the attic for each child, the ones where I keep the stock of larger clothes that I've bought ahead in the sales, kept from an older sibling or had passed on to them to wear. Only then will I go out and buy anything for the new season. Mean, moi? Of course....

Anyway once I'd done this I thought I'd better do my clothes next. I'm not supposed to outgrow clothes of course but I like to put the summer stuff away and pull the warmer garments out of their summer storage. This year though there is a problem...

A couple of summers ago I was the lightest I'd been for many years. I'd got my act together and lost about two and a half stone...thats 35 pounds for the US viewers. I was still fat of course but I was less fat, I'd gone down a couple of sizes and had to buy lots of new clothes. For the record I'm pretty boring in the way I dress, with jeans and tops the normal sort of everyday wear. but it was nice to buy new stuff. One summer later I'd put 7 lbs of it back on again, then I got a new Mirena fitted and put on another 10 pounds in the two weeks immediately after. The new clothes most emphatically did not fit any more! Since then I've put on another couple of pounds and though I've managed to stop this upwards trend and even reverse it a tad, I'm still 20 pounds above what I was two years ago at this point. Which is still 15 pounds less than my top weight, but it's annoying.

As I said I seem to have got a grip on it and I may even have managed to get going downwards again. In the meantime, there is the clothes problem. Practically nothing fits. I have quite a lot of nice stuff in one or two sizes too small. I have clothes that fit me now, a combination of leftover items not thrown out when I was still losing weight, which are a bit shabby, and a few items I've reluctantly bought as the weight crept back on again. So I decided today to have a bit of a wardrobe cull, to put away all the too small stuff and get rid of all the too shabby items at the same time as I changed over the seasonal clothes. I don't have huge amounts of accessable wardrobe space and I thought this would be a good way to free up some of this.


Yes, I now have wardrobe and drawer space. It would be fair to say I have Too Much wardrobe and drawer space. Thing is, I hardly have anything to actually wear at the moment, not for the coming winter anyway. I have boxes of nice clothes for both summer and winter, and a huge "out" pile but not very much at all that fits me! And I don't really feel like buying new clothes for the size I am.


Yeah, I know, go out and buy myself a few good basics that fit properly and that I feel comfortable in, to see me through till I lose the weight again. (Hopefully.) No point in feeling fat AND my clothes not fitting. But it's annoying, you know????

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Freecycle? Got to love it.....

I've put my old #2 trailer tent on Freecycle. #2? Yeah, even I didn't know I owned two trailer tents. Seven years ago I gave my 1978 Walker Viva trailer tent to a friend. Turns out it's sat unused in their garage for the entire time. (Bloomin' waste....) Now, they've decided to clear out the garage and wow, guess what? It's apparently been my trailer tent all along.

(In the meantime we bought another trailer tent, paid a lot of money to have the back gate widened enough to get the new one in there and I didn't give the Walker to thereyougothen last year when she was looking for a trailer tent. Because I didn't think I owned it any more, bah....)

Anyway, it's still in passible nick with a few years left in it and we all wanted rid of it so...I've put it on Freecycle. And not surprisingly I've had a lot of responses. You have no idea how many single mums with seven kids (some of whom have disabilities) are out there! And they all want to try camping because they can't afford a "proper holiday". You don't use this expresssion to a die-hard camper, really...

There are a few more genuine responses, of course, and I am drawing up a short list because really, trailer tents don't suit everyone. Much as I would like to give it to the potter lady who wants to take it to festivals I know for a fact it takes two people to put it up. Best response so far though? This letter...

Hi there,

I am writing with regards to your trailer tent. Good luck picking as you will get an awful lot of requests- I reckon!

I recently advertised my caravan on Freecycle and received over 50 requests for it-
some polite some rather quite rude! It was going to be a very difficult decision until
I received a message from some lambers in the hills. Their caravan had been vandalised
and they were getting desperate as the lambing season was quickly approaching.

So really in the end it was a fairly easy decision. The caravan would withstand one more
tow and since the lambers would just use it year after year in the same location-they were the perfect choice.

I had bought the caravan from Gumtree for £100.00. It was a bargain, it was a 1984 Robin.
The cooker, fridge freezer and even the little radio all worked perfectly. The upholstery was
great, orange and brown flowers and looked almost new.

So, I cleaned the caravan inside and out and booked a space in a campsite in the west of Scotland to try it out.
This was for the school holidays in April. I then put a tow bar on my car-all ready to go!

The day before we were leaving my neighbour reversed into the caravan putting a gaping hole in one of the corners
rendering the chasis very unstable. He reversed into the caravan (in a pickup) while in MY garden stealing MY
wood! While he was doing this his dog killed my chicken. He apologised for neither incident! He did advise me though, he had really done me a favour
as the caravan was rotten inside. I didn't really see it that way, as you can imagine.

We go to a lot of festivals with the kids as my partner is in a band. The caravan we bought was for this purpose but it never even got one outing :-(
We would certainly put a trailer tent to good use as we are usually off to a festival every couple of weeks during the Summer. There still a few more this year.

We use 2 tents just now and we do cope- however a trailer tent would make festival life just that little bit better!

On the upside my dog did break into aforementioned neighbour's house while his dog was in season. This cost him £100.00 at the vets.

SO, this is my comprehensive reason to why I would like your trailer tent!

Many thanks for reading
Kindest regards

Is it a true story? One has a few doubts. But come on.... it has style, it has humor, it has plot and she's put a lot of effort into writing it. I think she at least deserves to make the short list, don't you?

Oh, yes, what's a Walker Viva trailer tent anyway, I hear you ask? This....

Anyone want a trailer tent? I am taking applications.....!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Back in the groove again.

After seven and a half weeks of holiday, the kids went back to school yesterday.


It's not that I don't love them and like having them around, you understand. It's just that having them with me what seems like 24/7 for nearly two months can get a little tiring. They're energetic and intelligent kids and don't take well to having nothing to do, so this must be provided. Yes they get many opportunities to just get on with things and make their own entertainment but you still have to provide some family activities, yup? Parental involvement and all that?

So we have had trips to the zoo and local country park and cinema. We have had three weeks of camping. We have had meals out and days out and friends round. We have spend quite a bit of time turning the garden into a play space for Princess and the assortment of small girls that live locally. We have had wargames and laser quest games and sports clubs and swimming. Sleepovers. Trips. Activities.

I am exhausted. Holidays? I need a rest!

Friday, August 14, 2009


I lost my knitting bag. Not my real knitting bag which is about one cubic metre in size and can hold small children, but my travelling one. I'd taken it with me to Amsterdam and had last seen it while packing up to come home.

It took me a few days to realise it was missing. We'd emptied the car first day back of course then on the next fine day after that the kids and I had opened up the trailer tent, stripped everything out of it including the canvas and cushions (they get stored in the dry attic over winter) and carried it all up from the garden to the house. There are still odd heaps of camping equipment all over the house. But the knitting bag? Nowhere to be seen.

Now I didn't care about the actual bag. It was a freebie with some toiletries I got from Boots and I've got two more identical ones. What I did care about was the contents.

Two sets of Boye needles.
The last five balls of Linen Drape for the sweater I am currently knitting. (Actual pieces were in the teeny bag I use in the car.)
One half finished Forest Canopy in KnitWitch silk.
One ball of sock yarn, hand dyed by me.
One braid of Yarn Yard fibre. (Yes I did take a spinning wheel to Amsterdam!)
The latest Spin Off.
And my sock knitting kit. Two sets of dirt cheap charity shop circs in two sizes but they are MY sock needles and fit MY hands and I can't knit socks without them, okay?

Anyway. Over the course of the week I searched and searched an searched for that bag. I knew I couldn't have left it in Amsterdam, that was one good thing. When you drive off a camping pitch you leave an area of flattened grass, nothing more. I'd have noticed a red spotted knitting bag sitting there, honestly. But could I find it in the house? The kids and I had stripped the trailer tent to the bare wood, almost, so it couldn't be still in there. It had to be up here and somehow got muddled in with something else I had put away.

One week later, no knitting bag. I had run out of yarn for my sweater. I was desperate to cast on a sock. I cast on a sock using my Addi lace needles and Magic Loop. I changed to dpns. Not satisfactory. I had to find my charity shop sock needles! (Not to mention the other £200 worth of other things in that bag...)

Finally, when I'd looked in all the corners of the house I admitted I'd better check the trailer tent again. But how could it be in there? I'd stripped it bare. Plus Lad and I had battened it down for the winter, pushed it with some effort into an inaccessable corner of the garden and arranged two wheelie bins, a bench, a parasol and four pots of geraniums across the front of it. I didn't want to unravel that lot again.

I did though. And yes, there was my knitting bag, inside a locker which I had definately, 110% thought bare and empty. I was so bloomin' relieved I could have kissed it. Then I reclosed the trailer tent, pushed it back into the corner and re-arranged all the garden stuff in front of it. Took me an hour in total.

Then I went upstairs and ripped back the sock I was knitting and started it again on the right needles. And I was happy, lol!

Saturday, August 01, 2009


Got home from Amsterdam yesterday at lunchtime, and have been running around catching up with myself ever since. Hubby had a 3pm meeting so I had the kids, a grocery run and 8(!!) loads of laundry to do plus we had to go and pick up the cats from the cattery. They have both come home with sniffles, which is a classic risk of being in a cattery after living in a protected home environment I suppose. None of our outdoor cats ever got sniffles. Must be something to do with eating a fresh raw rodent once a day or something.

Anyway, Amsterdam was lovely and we all had a great time. I will blog about it later but only have one thing to say now...I am roller-coasted out for the year.

Other news? My needle biopsy came back 100% clear. The lump was an old small fibroadenoma, otherwise known as a "breast mouse" because it wriggles away when you go in search of it. Benign, and they are happy for me to go away and forget about it.


Today Lad and Hubby are off to some sort of wargames show. (Was vital we got home in time for this.) Tomorrow is the Allotment Open Day, so Princess and I are off up to the allotment after her karate lesson to see how bad the allotment looks after three weeks of total neglect. The courgettes/marrows will be the size of small houses, I expect. Never mind, lots of produce for the vegetable stall and I can run a little display of Emergency Weeding Technique tomorrow for the edification of the visitors.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Quick farewell.

Off to Amsterdam tomorrow. No time to blog. So here are three of my best pix from June, just to give you something to look at while I'm away.

Summer strawberries up the allotment. Plus girl. (She likes strawberries...)

Woolfest. Dazzling as usual!

And the Boys. Are they not adorable? Look at that cuddle! I'm thinking of putting this one on Lolcats. Any suggestions for a caption?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Good times and bad times - Pt1.

I've been a bad blogger recently. I have been doing endless amounts if blogworthy things, but do I post about them? Nope...basically I've been too busy doing to have much time or energy left to blog. Oh well...

However, there have been a few things lately which are compulsory blog fodder. Woolfest, the allotment, recent meetups, recent acquisitions and yup, some bad times. So let's do that one first.

I turned 50 last year so am now old enough to be called in for routine screening mammograms under the national breast screening programm. Everyone seems to have a horror story about these so I was not looking forwards AT ALL to this when I got an appointment for three weeks ago, because I've got big boobs and couldn't quite imagine how the squashing bit was going to take place without much pain. Well, it was fine. FINE. It did not hurt. Bit weird, but no pain.

The pain arrived two weeks later when I got a recall letter. They don't tell you why in a letter, obviously, apart from that you have something that needs double checked and that 7 out of 8 women don't need anything more than a second check. Which leaves the other 1 out of 8, obviously. My appointment was six days from the receipt of the letter and yes, I was worried.

Anyway I was there at 9am on Monday and yes, the mammogram showed I had a lump in my right boob. Tiny lump the size of a pea that even the doctor couldn't find manually but it was there. More mammograms, and an ultrasound. Then yet more mammograms because Pea was sneaky and kept wriggling off screen. A lot of waiting around....

Finally the verdict. The doctors are 99% sure it's a benign calcification. Nice word that, benign! However they decided to do a needle punch biopsy to confirm the diagnosis 100%, which was fine by me too. In half an hour or in two days? I went for the half-hour option.

I'm not saying this hurt either. Lets just say that being clamped into the mammogram scanner and told to stay Absolutely Still for nearly thirty minutes is the kind of experience that I don't want to repeat in a hurry. At the time, it was fine, if boring. But two days on I still feel stiff and achy and I have a really sore neck, ouch. I want to say again though for the benefit of anyone going for this DID NOT hurt. The bit that did hurt was when they rotated part of the machine and my thumb got caught in it, but that was my own stupid fault, lol.

Anyway, the doctors are happy to let me go off to Amsterdam next Monday for three wweks. They're happy to give me the biopsy results over the phone. They used the expression "confirm the benign diagnosis". They said "99% sure". I know the way oncologists tell you things and the words they use to qualify themselves every second sentence. I'm happy..well, 99% happy!

Normal service will resume tomorrow, or even perhaps tonight if I get the photos crunched down to blogging size. I never did show you the things I got from Woolfest, did I?

Oh, and go for your mammograms when it's your turn, ladies. It's less bother than a smear by a long way, and given that breast cancer is a lot more common than cervical cancer well, it would be daft not to go, surely?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Automatic watering and a felted cat.

It's hot here. To have temperatures of over 25'C in Scotland is pretty rare, I can tell you. Usually we're still wearing cardies in July. So it's a bit of a shock all round, especially to the veg patch. For the last few years we've practically been cutting drainage trenches round the veg beds in an effort to keep them from flooding.

This year however it's been very dry the last couple of months and the allotment is turning into a dustbowl. I've never seen it so dry, not at the start of July anyway. I don't normally water crops...I prefer to keep them sturdy and self sufficient. But this year it's different.

Anyway, after yet another hour with the hose last week I took a thought and went hunting in the shed. Eight years back one of our local DIY warehouses shut down and sold off a lot of their gardening stock f0r really silly prices, like the water butt I have for £1. I bought a lot of stuff, including eight rolls of "leaky" ie drip irrigation hosepipe, reduced from £18 per 15m roll to 10p, mostly because each roll had a load of useful hose fittings which are expensive. Me being me though I'd shoved it all in the shed and forgotten about it.

So now I have 120m of leaky hosepipe set up over my favoured beds on the allotment, linked together by short runs of scrap piping. It sounds a lot but really this only covers five beds so I've only put it on beds with thirsty plants. When I visit the allotment I connect up the hose end to the tap and hey presto, the beds water themselves. Cool, eh? I just wish I could put it on an automatic timer but that's not allowed. But it's a fun system. I have plans to extend it further next year and maybe link it to the water butts, but then again, it will probably rain solidly for the next five summers....

On a lighter note, Paws is really suffering in this heat under his huge bear coat. He lies in front of the fans and looks pained. Ollie, with his lightweight coat, is fine, but Paws has started to felt. He has really fine fur round his britches, it's obviously an area that gets a bit of friction and he's sweaty. Thus, he's felting. I do comb him most days but he's never been keen on getting his nethers combed (would you???) and now he's matting up. I'm keeping the felted bits at bay by a combination of clipping them out and combing the bits he'll let me comb, but still. A felted cat, lol. How appropriate!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Going Batty.

You have just got to watch this, especially the bit at the end with the nursery-inna-box.

Baby bats are given dummies/pacifiers? And they swaddle them! Who knew?

(Thanks to Fuzzarelly for the link.)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Woolfest 2009.

Yup, off to Woolfest tomorrow. I'm getting to be Head Prefect on the Scottish Fibres bus again. I enjoyed doing it last year because everyone turned up on time and there were no problems, but there's no denying it's a worry. What if someone doesn't turn up, they don't contact me and I have to leave them behind? Bad enough on the outwards leg but what if someone gets locked in a portaloo in Cockermouth???? Do I abandon them to their fate?

Fingers crossed.....

Anyway, I'll report back soon. I've packed my camera, knitting, sarnies and *ahem* a modest amount of cash. What am I going to buy? Well, the only thing on my list is a pair of sock blockers, but I'm sure I'll come back with more!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Ma boyz iz famush....

Forget bragging about the kids, my fur boyz just made the front page of I Can Has Cheezburger!

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

I submitted the picture a wee while back with my own caption but what I didn't know is that other members can recaption pictures and resubmit them. My picture got resubmitted thirty-six times to date, lol.

Have to admit, the front page caption is a lot snappier. Thanks, Lummox. My boys are now in the Lolcats Hall of Fame forever, lol!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The best laid plans....

Oh well, so much for my allotment plans yesterday. Around 11am I got a phone call from the school saying that Lad was throwing up and could I come and get him please? So that was me stuck at home for the rest of the day, ho-hum. All that get-it-over-with housework time wasted!I could have gone out in the morning and done chores in the afternoon. Oh leasst Lad is none too ill. There's some sort of bug going around but as long as he doesn't eat he isn't puking. he's a bit tired and grumpy, that's all. So he's home today.

I wasn't planning to go out today because Washing Machine Repair Man is coming back again with the final part for the tumble drier. I had to cancel a spinning group day because of this, which was acceptable, but last night guess what? I discover that Hubby is working from home today, which he neglected to tell me about in time for me to ressucitate the spinning plans. Bah. So now I'm at home with a grumpy kid and a Hubby who expected a quiet child and wife free day alone in his office. (Because I was supposed to be at spinning.) If I go out and leave him with WMRM and Grumpy Child he will get narked. If I stay in I will probably disturb him even more. AND because I thought I had a day stuck at home I have volunteered to look after Princess's Best Pal after school which means even more noise on his supposedly quiet day.

Domestic comunication? We haz itz.....notz...

Anyway, yesterday was not a complete wash out on the gardening front. I got some more pots planted up, and finished getting the late sown seeds into the propagator. Plus potted on the courgettes etc. I have a very small greenhouse but at this time of year it's worth its weight in gold.

It really is just a slice of a greenhouse set against a wall. Neat design though. I did think it would be more than big enough when I ordered it but with hindsight, I wish I'd got a double width one and put up with it sticking out into the garden more.

Not even enough room to sit or stand inside if the potting tray is in place.

Variety of courgette and squash plants. (As usual, too many, but they'll all get homes.)

Different tomatoes...

Sweetcorn. This needs potting on too. It's too early for it to be planted out.

Salad trays.

Potting tray/bench.

Potatoes left over from the allotment planting, in pots. These will not yield a lot but they'll be earlier than the allotment ones because of the shelter.

And the last of my 50p per tray Pelargoniums and other plants for colour. I'll get them potted up today.

Oh well, on with the day...

Monday, May 18, 2009


It's an allotment day...or will be, if the weather clears a bit more. I don't like going to the allotment when its (a) raining (b) extremely windy or (c) bone chillingly cold. Which rules out a lot of days in Scotland even in "summer", believe me. Add in to the mix childcare, chores and the days I feel unwell then you end up with a very narrow window of opportunity for days up the allotment sometimes. However, today looks promising.

Gardening. Thanks for all the suggestions of things to plant. For these of you who suggested rhubarb, however, I give you a picture of my allotment rhubarb patch last month.

I think we can all agree now that more rhubarb is not required, okay?

Sweet Cicily I do not know. I will look for it in the big garden centre when I next visit. I do have Welsh Bunching Onions on the allotment, I suddenly remembered, so that's a good idea for a transplant. I also went to the small local garden centre and bought snapdragons and a curry plant.

Then I went to B&Q for some slabs, which were a bit of a shock. Last time I bought slabs they were 39p each. Now they are £1.59!!! Admittedly last time was ten years ago but still...anyway on a plus note I walked in just as they were loading up their "Reduced to Clear" plant shelves. I never thought of bedding plants having a sell-by date but apparently so. I walked out with twelve trays of plants, reduced to 50p a tray from between £3 and £6 a tray. Pelargoniums, Dianthus, Violas, Verbeneas and wallflowers. Not very food-y, but quite cottage-y. Princess and I planted up a few pots yesterday so we should have some nice colourful spots this year.

Princess also suggested a pink rambling rose near her play hut...this is an excellent idea, actually, as that section of wall is where the local neds/vandals climb over to wreck the garden and steal things out the greenhouse. I must see which variety of pink rambler has the longest thorns.

The weather is turning grey again which leads me to think I might have to go for Plan B today, which is housework, bah humbug. I have recovered from the awful trauma of the unexpected joiner but now that leaves me with no excuses between me and the decorating. Except the I have decided to go back to the Get One Bag Per Day Out the House system. I have made a good start with a box of videos to go to the Scout Car Boot appeal and an old cupboard to go to the dump, but I feel I might get more today.

Edit. I just cleared out the freezer and started to defrost the small back up one. And cleaned the microwave. Is that enough destashing/housework for one day???

Knitting? When? I haven't even managed to get to spinning recently. I had to cancel a much anticipated silk spinning workshop last Saturday because Dad and Lad were away and I couldn't find a babysitter for Princess. I have however found a pile of long neglected cross stitch threads and kits in the attic. Watch this space...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Never say...

Never say I'm not good to you. Here be lolcats, noms and balls of yarn. How much time can you waste in one day?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I have been gardening. No, not down the allotment! Gardening in the garden. Yes I have a garden...well, I have a space downstairs with the trailer tent parked on slabs and a playhut and the recycling. And green stuff. Grass, weeds, trees, that sort of thing. I used to like the idea of having a garden. Somewhere to sit out and read and burn sausages and such. Trouble is they're so terribly hard work. You have to do things like cut the grass and plant pretty things. Vegetables are plant them, feed them, weed them a bit then eat them. They don't have to look pretty or the colours match or keep them a certain length.

Anyhow, the grass/jungle was knee high so I got the strimmer out and started hacking my way to the greenhouse. The greenhouse is pretty tidy actually because I cleaned it out at Easter in time for the baby vegetable plants to go out there. Currently I have sweetcorn, six varieties of tomatoes, basil, courgettes and pumpkins growing in there. Nice and organised. It's only a little greenhouse but it was worth every penny my OH spent on it ten years ago. (It was my 40th birthday present.)

I only got half the lawn cut. It's not huge but it undulates around lots of things which have to be moved. The grass is so high I had to strim first, then mow to chop it up. If I can get my act together to cut it again in a few days it will come under control very easily but the problem is cutting grass (a) bores me to tears and (b) hurts my back. Hubby do it? Err, no. Hubby missed out on getting any traditional man genes such as the ones for gardening, DIY or doing the BBQ. In the eleven years we've had this house I do not recall him ever cutting the grass.

Anyway after I did half the lawn I started stripping out weeds from the beds. Most of these are feral geraniums which are trying to take over the entire world so I had to dig them out. I've decided that if my strengths lie in growing vegetables I might as well grow them here as well. I'm going to make a second herb garden, (got herb beds on the allotment) with a few more aromatics and non culinary herbs. There is a bronze fennel there already, survivor of ten years of sporadic weeding. I have potatoes in pots so have planted a mint barrel, chives, borage, oregano and thyme. I've also put in a small strawberry patch and some heartsease.

I've also got four lavender bushes to plant. I've got three apple trees, a pear tree, climbing roses, white lilac and several clematis on the walls. What else? I'm feeling a bit skinflint at present so it's got to be something I can either take cuttings from allotment plants or have in the seed box. Hmm. Two types of lemon balm, garlic chives, coriander, dill and some basic salad leaves? Climbing beans? I know...a blackcurrent bush. I have a self seeded one growing great guns in entirely the wrong place in the allotment. Princess would like that...And a few aggressive flowers. Nasturtiums, Californian Poppies, Poached Egg Plant and Calendulas.

Any other suggestions? Got to be a bit cottagey/food/herbal sort of thing.