Saturday, September 30, 2006

Now Autumn's fire burns slowly along the woods

and day by day the dead leaves fall and melt.
William Allingham

There's a definite hint of Autumn in the air here.

We've had mist and cold and then bright sunshine and T shirts out again. I love Autumn, it's my favourite season and I was bitterly disappointed when we didn't really get one last year. One day it was Summer, the next it was Winter. Hope that doesn't happen again this year. J is outside wondering if this is the last cut for the lawn. Probably not.

The big specimen grasses really earn their keep at this time of year when so many other things in the garden are overblown or turning brown. Can't remember the name of this one, but it's something Sinensis - Chinese.

I got my Sockwars Socks off to Kelly this week.. All I can do now is rely on the post to New Orleans being faster than the post from South Africa.

I frogged the original Twinkletoes socks as the hand was too thick and stiff and went with Motherlode in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport. DK still feels too thick for socks, in my humble opinion. Maybe Kelly can wear them with clogs.

Collected a lovely surprise from the post office this morning: my International Scarf Exchange pal's package. Michelle is faster than I am - probably due to the frogging of my original SockWars sock.

In the package was a lovely alpaca(?) scarf in purple and black. Michelle, from Colorado, says this is her first lace project. You'd never guess, it's lovely. Also in the package was a complete winter survival kit: chocolates, crackerjack, biscuits, coffee, an insulated mug, a handy tool 'for getting small boys out of horses' hooves' (as a friend describes the Leatherman range!) and a gorgeous skein of Socks that Rock yarn in merino. What an amazing ISE pal Michelle is!

Sockwars out of the way, I can now get the fringe finished on my pal's scarf and get it in the post.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Long time... blog.

Start of term hasn't left much time for reflecting on my days in the blog. I've missed it. I enjoy this space. I've also missed reading other blogs too.

How have I been spending my time? Well, I've been refining my knowledge of and skills in the Foundation Stage for some of the time. Children aged 3-5 - terrifying stuff! I'm much happier in the cut, thrust and debate of working with challenging 11 year olds. Still, it's another set of skills.

I've also been applying for Headships and a Deputy post in a(n even) bigger school. After having decided to leave it for a year, several posts that look ok came up surprising early. Early days yet; I'll keep you posted.

My 'baby' had his 15th birthday. Where did all the time and my waistline go? I'm not allowed to post a new picture of him, but this was the cake we had to celebrate. It's hard to wrap a new CPU and graphics card and keep it for the special day. What happened to tubs of Duplo and bits of Brio train sets? I'm getting old.

I have been knitting: nearly finished my International Scarf Exchange scarf. I'm very happy with its snuggliness and the shading of the yarn copes surprising well with the cable design I chose. I had thought it might be a bit busy, but I think it works. Hope my exchange pal does too. Pictures when I finish the trim.

After an odd start I got my SockWars sock underway this morning. I hate knitting socks with the thicker yarn and bigger needles, but I quite like the rib pattern. I'm in two minds about the process though. Reading the forum, it looks like some people are knitting with yarn I wouldn't want socks in. I'm not talking about colour, but some posters have mentioned 'yucky' acrylics etc. I don't really think that's fair. I'm using two strands of thinner, handpainted wool to get gauge. This is it after establishing the rib pattern. Not a brilliant representation of the colour, nicer in the flesh. I want the person who ends up with these socks to want to wear them, not throw them away.

Here's hoping we all get socks we like.
The garden is getting overblown and a bit battered by the variations in weather we've been having. The cannas are great value for money and effort as they inject a bit of the exotic into Autumn.

This one has amazing flowers and great foliage colour.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Just take a little off the top...

...and sides. We've all said it, haven't we?
We've been trimming a badly thought-through eucalyptus tree. When we came to this house 12 years ago it came with us in a half barrel and was 4 feet high. Now it's in the garden, too close to our house (and consequently that of our neighbours) and is taller than the house. A bad combination all round.

You can see that it was taller than the chimney of the two storey house.

Even J, who has a real head for heights conceded that he would wear the safety harness, which must mean that it was very high. i don't do heights. Neither, it turns out, does the friend who was helping J. He did go up, but came straight down again.
I was on sawing up and running to the tip's composting skips with j. We did 5 trips without being to see out of the back of J's work car. It smells really nice now, though.

I shall take some 'after' shots when I find the camera again - it's had a fairly severe pruning. Our neighbour will be happy, it hung mostly over his side of the fence.
We'd take it out, but J's squadron of sparrows live in the ivy that clads it, along with the wren, the hoverflies, the clematis montana that hangs from it each get the picture.

It's been a good year for butterflies. we've seen lots that we don't usually get. J snapped this one this morning.

Must say, the frogs and hedgehogs aren't keeping their end up when it comes to slugs - just look at the state of the hostas!

I've made a start on my International Scarf Exchange project. I've exchanged a few nice emails with the person I am knitting for and I'm resonably confident (well, as sure as I dare be about making for a stranger!) that this will suit her tastes. I also wasn't sure about how well the cabled design I had chosen would work with the variegated repeat of this yarn, but I think it's working out well. It has a lovely soft handle. Feels odd to be making cosy scarves in 24 degrees though, but I wanted to get the scarf underway before SockWars starts.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I'm still around!

An age since I posted last - been surviving the first week back at school and things have been ok. I've survived teaching the Nursery and am allowing myself to feel not just hope, but optimism about the new Leadership Team. All good stuff! as a colleague would say.

Little knitting done this week. I've been working on a longstanding sock as a warm up for SockWars and have started and ripped out a scarf for myself three times. I have also got my International Scarf Exchange pal's details and have the yarn and pattern in mind.

A friend from work has had her baby - 4 weeks early, which is inconvenient, as I was giving myself 4 weeks to knit a baby gift. So, it's a pattern search this morning. I'm still favouring this:

The other evening J and I watched a dragonfly emerge from it's pupa (if dragonflies pupate) and fly around the garden trying its wings. We had a near miss as one of our local neighbourhood hawks swooped down and nearly got it, but having survived it retired to the safety of a prickly berberis to dry off.
This picture is the best I could manage without scaring it away with a flash.

I love the flowers that start to appear in the early autum: chrysanthemums (the favourite of many a Y6 spelling test) and dahlias:

This sea holly is a later flowering variety with tiny flowers. I love all the shades of blue, grey and silver in them.

We bought this miniature agapantus at the Gateshead flower show.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Small objects of completion

While I've been putting off making a decision about which of my bigger projects to finish next I've made a felted bag. It's in Noro Kureyon with tortoiseshell effect handles. I'm not enormously happy with the lining. I might have another go at that. The flash has done odd things to the colours here. It's actually much more subtle.

I also, finally, got around to stringing some of the Indian lampwork beads I bought on eBay ages ago. I'm pleased with the result. Again the flash has worked it's evil magic. The beads are actually my signature purple.

I was tagged:

Open iTunes/iPod or Windows Media Player to answer the following.
Go to your library.
Answer, no matter how embarrassing it is.

How many songs? 520

Arrange by artist:
First artist: 10,000 Maniacs

Last artist: Wyclef Jean

Arrange by song:
First Song: 10,000 Miles - Mary Chapin Carpenter

Last Song: Zombie - The Cranberries

Arrange by time:
Shortest Song: The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face - Bert Jansch

Longest Song: Knit Cast 22 - First Birthday!!!!

Arrange by album:
First Album: 1200 Curfews - Indigo Girls

Last Album: Workers' Playtime - Billy Bragg

First song that comes up on shuffle:Everybody Wants to be a Cat - Brian Setzer Orchestra

How many songs come up when you search for "sex"? 1

How many songs come up when you search for "death"? 0

How many songs come up when you search for "love"? 42

Arrange by play count:
Which is your most frequently played song? Just Like Heaven - The Cure

If you read this, consider yourself tagged!