Tuesday, May 30, 2006

England, my England

England V Hungary this evening and J is settling down in his footie watching chair. He only bothers with the internationals and I shall go and join him, while working on my second Jaywalker, in a moment.

Seem to have spent all day queueing today - queued in Post Office to post parcels, queued at recycling centre to drop off bags of stuff that emerged during Spring Cleaning Our Bedroom, queued at bakers for j's cheese straws and stotties, queued to get in the car park and then out again, queued on the phone to make a doctor's appointment.
Almost glad to get home to continue the big clean up. Sorted my wardrobe and bagged up a lot of impulse/eBay buys that weren't really working for me, shoes that don't work for me since my ankle accident and paperbacks we're never going to read again. Cleaned out so much dust I'm still blushing with the shame of it all.
Dragged j away from his online life to teach him a valuable lesson about how to change a super kingsize duvet cover. This is the view of him we usually have.

Was catching up with Toothpaste for Dinner when I found this.

Smiled as it reminds me of home sometimes, where conversation can veer from the psychology of MacBeth, to the rights and wrongs of the Iraq situation to monosyllabic grunts in a matter of seconds. Was I like that as a teen?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

I'm glad I spent it with you

Despite the Met Office promising a cold and wet weekend, it has been warm and sunny so far. J and I have been so busy lately and so tired much of the time that we decided we needed some time out together and went to Whitby this morning - early, thinking we might get some time before it got too busy. j wouldn't come as he had places to go and people to kill...Hitman Bloodmoney has just arrived....

Half way there I began to realise that this was possibly not one of the best ideas I've had in a while. Never mind, although it was getting busy and we had to park on the west side and walk across the bridge over the Esk, it was nice to wander around, have a coffee at Sanders Yard and do some shopping.

Went to Bobbins as always and spent a while browsing among the lovely things Pam and Dick have on display.The website doesn't do them justice - I liked the old one much better :)

Bought some Giotto to send off as a gift:

This colourway reminds me of the sea, kelp and crushed shells.

Got some Opal Cotton to add to the sock yarn stash:

And some gorgeous engraved shell buttons that just won't photograph well at all.

Visited John Freeman's studio and bought another print to add to our collection. When J is in the mood for shopping, he really likes to shop! Besides, we were celebrating the end of my NPQH! Can't say too much about Friday's Final Assessment as the principle is that candidates don't tell each other what the tasks entail. Like the masons, but no pinnies.

Escaped from Whitby as it started to get really manic and called at Perry's in Sleights to see if they had any interesting plants. 'We don't have to get anything,' said J. Yeah, right ! Filled a box with aeoniums, alpines and more siberian irises.

Then home over the moors.

The plant buying is worth it, though.

These are some of last year's new aquilegias.

J grew these cerinthe from seed, now they are everywhere.

This Pieris, Forest Flame was a gift from one of J's sisters and we did think it might be a bit loud (vulgar?:)) for our borders but it seems to be working really well.

J's new baby. He bought this tree fern 'in a sale' last year and it sulked in shock all year, but this year it's coming into its own. The top fronds must reach over 3 meters.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The bra that ate Billingham

Always in search of the perfect bra and inspired by the 'Hoist those girls!' concept from BGK I attempted to measure myself for a better bra and then ordered one online. Hmmm. There is room in each of these cups for my boobs, a change of clothing and a packed lunch. I could give up carrying a handbag and just use this. Unfortunately, my boobs sag to the bottom of these cups and leave an empty dimpled bra shell at the top. It's going back and I'm going to have to bite the bullet and go somewhere to be measured. Oh, I'm just cringeing at the thought of the whole process.

My last week of jury service. I'm in the middle of a case that has been adjourned as the prosecuting barrister is sick - literally vomitting - so back to work again this afternoon, pausing only to buy more shoes.

Only had time to skim through my post and write a couple of papers for a Governors' meeting, but it keeps the mounting panic, about things undone, at bay.

Soon be time to start panicking about Friday's NPQH assessment.

Posted my postcard for the Project Spectrum postcard swap off today. j has been trying to teach me Photoshop so I've used that. I'm more of a kinaesthetic learner when it comes to IT things. I have to have my hands on the keyboard and be doing.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Mmmm Friday.

No court today so I've been back to work. It was nice to swap the agonising sitting around for my normal routine. Jury service hasn't been what I expected it to be. It feels like being delayed at a small airport for a cheap package flight. All without the benefits of duty free shopping or access to a Starbucks. My whole body aches from sitting on poorly designed seats for so long and there isn't anything I don't know about the lives of so-called celebrities from the magazines they provide. Trouble is, I don't know who most of them are.

We have had some really bizarre weather lately - last night it was 21 degrees C and then started to rain, a gale blew up and then hailstones 1cm across followed by torrential rain. The garden has really taken a battering, but I nipped out this evening to try to capture some of the springy lovliness.

The aliums are starting to flower. Their huge purple pompom heads are great gardening value as they last late into the summer and then we leave the seed heads on until after the first frosts.

The dwarf acer on the corner of the deck is coming into its own too - pity the day had got a little gloomy when I took this shot as the sunlight through the leaves lights up all the red tones.

More purple: these aquilegias are from some seed we gathered on a garden visit last summer. Probably the Walled Garden at Helmsley.

The knitting is coming on slowly this week. The artificial light in the jury waiting room is hard on the eyes and I've had a bit of a fibro flare up this week (stress and a combination of too much walking and then long periods sitting around)so all I have been doing in the evening is falling asleep on the sofa.

I became a bit doubtful about the Jaywalkers in the sports weight Lorna's Laces - it's the first time I've made socks in such a thick yarn. Was worried that they would turn out too big so I started another pair in a gorgeous yarn from Over The rainbow Yarns.

Actually it doesn't seem to be much smaller but the feel of the finished product (seems weird to call it drape in a sock) is better, in my opinion.

The new ebony dpns from Lantern Moon are gorgeous to use and I love the effect the chevron pattern has on the handpaint yarn.

Monday, May 15, 2006

My day in court

My bum is numb and so is my brain. First day of jury service and mucho sitting around and not much else. I saw much more 'action' the last time I did it (in the early 80s). Was finally selected for a jury at 3pm and can't talk about it - so that makes for an interesting blog entry, doesn't it?

There's a great cross-section of the registered electorate in the jury pool. It makes for interesting people watching, especially some of the outfit choices on display. What would make a person think:'Today I'm possibly going to be sitting on a jury trying a sensitive or harrowing case. Should I wear the crop top and ripped jeans or the knee-length capris and see through top?' Hmmmmmmm....maybe it's an age thing (mine, I mean) or maybe I'm just moving from being a left of centre libral to being a nazi.

Got some work done on my first Jaywalker sock, though. Wasn't sure what to expect or to take so it was an ideal project to stick in my handbag. Ran the usual gamut of comments: 'Isn't it cheaper to buy socks?' - Yes, but that's not the point, is it?

The Shapely Tank is finally finished! I'm very pleased with it, in fact I shall make a few more. It's a really good fit with the shaping at the bottom and waist. The scoop neckline is just the right depth and the armholes don't gape.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Project Spectrum has lift off!

While waiting to have blood taken at the phlebotomist yesterday I finally got Project Spectrum off the ground. Yea!

This is the Froth scarf kit that came free with the Rowan subscription last time. I've messed with it a little by combinging the sage green Kidsilk Haze that came in the pack with a ball of creamy beige Kidsilk Haze - I have two balls in each colour, so I could make Froth a bit longer if I don't get bored with the pattern. It also means I can use the beige, which is making the green look nicely misty, which I wouldn't normally put near my skin for fear of looking like one large beige blob! Wish I had the kind of colouring that could look expensive and sophisticated in beiges and creams.

It's going to be a quick knit (apart from all the frilling at the edges) and is definitely green! Project Spectrum anxiety is starting to abate...

...only to be replaced by JURY SERVICE anxiety. I have 2 weeks of Jury Service starting Monday (well, 9 working days, as I have my NPQH final assessment on the last day, but I'm saving that particular anxiety for next week). I've done jury service before - years ago - and must confess to having tried to get out of this session. Still, there might be opportunities for 'waiting room' knitting.

Someone posted links to a fantastic set of sources for buttons on AK. I've been drawn to these, from As Cute As A Button
and am planning to order a set.

I'm also tempted by a set of topless mermaid buttons from Blue Moon Button Art. Definitely boobalicious.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Green for (no) go

I'm not coping very well with the green knitting thing this month - too many other things on the go. The Shapely Tank is coming along well - it was going to be a Tee but I've changed my mind as the Calmer Tank has been so useful. No photos as it's just the same as the other piece I showed earlier. I'm desperate to knit faster as there are so many things I want to knit at the moment. I want to knit lots of things from BGK - Bombshell and Lift & Separate for starters. Problem is I've got the patterns I ordered from Just One More Row and a new copy of interweave Knits arrived today. Knitting meltdown!

Haven't had as much time to knit recently due to work things - it's all starting to mount up again, just as I was starting to get a grip on things. We've had KS1 & 2 SATs this week, with early starts for breakfast club, late finishes for packing the papers and the usual 'interpersonal situation' in the team. I've been feeling a little better lately and have been working on being more optimistic, which breaks the habits of a lifetime, but it's still hard to think into the future - unfortunate in a job which is so much about forward planning.

Most of my green this month has been from the garden. Warm weather and some rain has made the garden explode - J spends every evening trimming and pruning and generally trying to contain it.
Tried to get elevated shots from j's window, but as I don't clean the windows the pictures are a bit grainy. Although they may seem slightly out of focus, it's actually just dirt - Mum would be proud of me!

Have heard from my SP8 Secret Pal, which was lovely (Thank you for the hugs!) and have emailed my spoilee. this is the most progress I have ever made as my previous one attempt at an exchange was hopeless.

I did knit up some Colinette Point Five I've had in the stash for some time. I don't really like chunky yarns as they aren't very forgiving on my chunky body, but I couldn't resist the colours in this and it's made a very cosy and spiritually warming scarf in a simple rib.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Blue Saturday

Little progress on the knitting front lately. Spent much of today reorganising the living room furniture to accomodate another eBay bargain. We love eBay. Bought two recling blue leather swivel chairs with beech stands and matching footstools for less than the price of a computer chair from OfficeWorld. Although we intended them for the study (along with last weekend's bargain carpet tiles - saving of £385!), when we picked them up they were less 'officey' than we had realised and J commandeered one for watching TV from - hence need for living room reshuffle.

J has been wearing this quite a bit lately:

It's a Rowan Denimknit sweater I made him a couple of years ago and, as promised, it has washed and faded beautifully, showing the cabling off well.

I think he's trying to shame me into getting on with this:

Pattern from Bobbins in Whitby. One of our favourite places (but not at the height of the tourism season!)

It is on the needles, well, it's cast on. But the yarn hurts my hands (whinge) and turns everything blue...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

It's not easy being green

More greenery - this agave was a gift from Peter Reid, the teacher who supervised my final teaching practice, back in 2000. It came with a plant tag that said agave hartlepoolis as it was one he had grown from seed. I should have put something in the photo to show scale - it's about a metre tall. This inspired J to give it a go and he successfully managed what we now know fondly as The Billingham Six. Hopefully, they will thrive as well as this chap.

I was thinking more about the hideous lime yarn I bought for Green May. I believe it is destined for the craft area at school! We're having new carpet and storage in the study, where my stash lives, disguised as boxes of essential household thingies. This means sorting and tidying so I've been revisiting some of the boxes and wondering how on earth I accumulated so much purple and natural tone yarn. The purple is easy to explain - it's my fetish, but I look awful in natural hues so they probably need a rethink. I keep being seduced by the wholemeal earthmother thing.

What I did find was these:

I was surprised to find any green, so these mixes certainly count for me. The larger wound balls are Cherry Tree Hill sock wool in greenish and khaki mixes (greener than the photo shows, the smallest balls at the front are 50g of the finest mohair I've ever seen; there is also a ball of Lana Grossa cotton/virgin wool self-patterning sock yarn and two skeins of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Clay, which has green in it so it counts!

Finally, another garden shot - it's looking really good out there are the moment. J has really got a good selection of spring plants mixed into the borders now. Last year he began the process of erradicating a badly thought through water mint from the pond. Although bits of it will probably reappear for years the other plants have a little more leg room now. I think this is a marsh marigold.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

I'll give most yarns a go - I like to try new things. I'm probably fussier about yarn weight than type. I prefer thinner yarns to chunkies.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

A the moment I use an old cardboard tube that once held a cross stitch canvas. It's old and tatty, but the right length. I keep meaning to make something nice to hold my nicer needles, but never get round to it.

3. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

I've been knitting on and off since a child. I'm not sure how I would describe my skill level - I can do cables, shaping, simple colour work.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

Not at the moment.

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)

I love cinnamon, berries, green scents and lavendar.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

Oh, yes! Unfortunately. I love chocolate, liquorice and cinnamon flavoured sweets.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?

I'm a beginning quilter, have just got an Ashford loom and used to embroider (not cross stitch), but something had to give!

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

Like all sorts of music and am always open to new things. Yesterday my car CD player was playing a mix Cd which included Robert Miles, Cranberries, Beach Boys, Crowded House and Counting Crows. The day before I was playing Puccini, before that it was Waterboys...

9. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?

Purple is my 'signature' colour. I love Autumn colours too.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

I'm married and have a 15 year old son. We keep lizards, two tree frogs and like to encourage as much local wildlife as possible to live in and around the garden.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

No ponchos for me please - I'd look like a Christmas tree! Love scarves, hats and gloves. Haven't tried mittens since I used to wear the kind my Mum attached to my coat with elastic.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

Like to make scarves, sweaters, socks and baby things.

13. What are you knitting right now?

Jaywalker socks in Lorna's Laces Motherlode, Shapely Tank in All Seasons Cotton, Denim Sweater for J.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

Yes please!

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

Depends what I'm making. Usually wood, bamboo if I don't have wood, prefer straights, but will use circulars. Don't really like plastic.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?

No, but I've had my eye on an antique one for a while.

17. How did you learn to knit?

Taught by Mum and Nana.

18. How old is your oldest UFO?

oh, heck - there are bits of ancient swatches in my stash, but I don't count them. Probably 2 years old.

19. What is your favorite holiday?

Love Christmas, Easter.

20. Is there anything that you collect?

Sheep, Wold studio pottery, spongeware ceramics, knitting postcards.

21. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

Subscribe to Interweave Knits, Rowan, Vogue Knitting.

22. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

Steeking, hourglass heels in socks.

23. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

Yes, I knit socks and wear a UK size 6.5, Euro 40.

24. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)

23rd April - St Geoge's Day.

To make the green come out again And spread on every side

A simple pleasure: now that we're back at work again the early waking has kicked in again, so I'll have lots of time to catch up with my blog - anyway, I read that the worst thing you can do with insomnia or early wakening is to lie in bed worrying about not sleeping. So this morning I got up and made myself a latte. Caffeine is not the obvious choice for such a situation, but it certainly makes the early morning bearable. You wouldn't believe how hard it is to operate a Gaggia quietly at 4:50 am!

The Shapely Tank is coming along well. I'm halfway up the back, having finished the front. I'm very happy with the Shapeliness of it. It's much better in All Seasons Cotton than my previous attempt in Summer Tweed. I've made it a bit longer for my slightly longer middle section too.

May's Project Spectrum colour is green, which is a challenge for me as it's not a colour I gravitate towards, but joining this was about pushing my own boundaries. I was inspired by this patch of euphorbia to buy some bright lime cotton/microfibre yarn for another tank.

Unfortunately, the yarn is brighter than it seemed in the shop and feels horrible to knit with. I have tried stabbing it into submission with a new pair of Lantern Moons and knitting a couple of, admittedly very small, swatches on different sized needles, but I'm struggling to feel sympatico with this stuff.

So, cheating a little, I'm including in the start of my green month a new addition to the mountains od greenery already in and around the house these new hyacinths - I wish this was a smell-o-blog - and a wine recommendation. This week, I am mostly drinking Zontes Footsteps Verdelho, named after the small, green grapes from which it is made.