Thursday, June 22, 2006

I am NOT shetland wool!

Woke up freezing at 4am this morning. J painted the new cupboards in the study last night and the fumes were so bad we left lots of windows open. Unfortunately, the temperature dropped dramatically overnight and it felt like winter in our bedroom - so bad I got up and found some winter pyjamas, waking J up in the process. Then I couldn't get back to sleep so I dug my booklight out and ploughed through Angels and Demons. I was sure I'd read it before. Must be getting Alzheimer's. I've got Needled to Death next in my book pile - a knitting mystery. I love my booklight; there are times when it feels like a life saver, well, sanity saver. My sleep patterns are messed up due to the fibro. I used to think I was mad, but after my diagnosis I started to accept it and try to manage it the best I can.

I've been playing around with a couple of yarns from the stash. I have some fingering weight silk and angora in cream and some Garnstudio Silke Tweed in a brown that looked nice in the shop, but shouldn't go anywhere near my skin. They are proving difficult to find something to knit into. This time it's not just a colour problem (as it was with the beige blob), because I love the texture of both individually and they are nice plied together. Maybe an Elsbeth Lavold vest with celtic cabling?

Sometimes I give into temptation and take blog quizes. You would think that I would have learned more from all those teenage years spent working through Cosmopolitan magazine personality quizes, but, apparently, I am Shetland Wool. I'm a bit disappointed as I was hoping for alpaca or angora or cashmere - you get the picture. I don't hate Shetland, I just find it a bit scratchy and itchy.

You are Shetland Wool. You are a traditional sort who can sometimes be a little on the harsh side. Though you look delicate you are tough as nails and prone to intricacies. Despite your acerbic ways you are widely respected and even revered.
Take this quiz!

Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

I found this quiz on Elizabeth's blog. Her plant photos make me so jealous, but I'm planning to use them to justify my campaign for a new, better camera.

In the meantime, I nipped out today to see what was happening in the garden. This grass (Stipa Heavy Metal, I think) has just burst into flower. I love grasses; they're such great value in terms of filling spaces, movement and sound.

We're also trying toremember what these are. We gota lot of summer flowering bulbs in a mixed bag last year and just put them in to see what came up. J loves a bargain. Pretty, too.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Work gets in the way of wool

Gratuitous picture of Little Red Rubster, my niece, to kick off with. No reason, other than she's wonderful. The youngest in our family by 14 years!

My World Cup knitting had to take a back seat last night due to a pile of reading comprehensions. It's the end of year tests for the Year 3,4 and 5 students so it's all hands on deck to get all the papers marked before the data clerk comes in to process all the marks. School leadership is all about data at this time of year. When I was a child the summer term seemed to be all about sports days and concerts and daisy chains and trips. How things have changed. I see more stress related illness and teachers in tears during the summer term than any other time of year. My job is a combination of Mum and team captain at the moment - making sure we address the core business of school whilst making sure all my bairns (colleagues, not students) are ok. Weird age dynamic in our school. At 43, there's only the boss older than me - he's 60 and the next colleague is in her early 30s.

I'm stash enhancing in preparation for the summer holidays. I'm planning to make Bombshell from BGK, having joined the Yahoo group and I can't get the specified yarn (Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb), which is a shame because it looks lovely. But boy, is that stuff pricey!
Anyway, I'm going to use Debbie Bliss Cotton Angora in this nice sludgey mint colour.

Yes, it's green and I don't really do green, but I liked this. And this:

It's Moiselle, by Wendy and is a mix of a thick wool single and a shiny ribbon yarn. Comes in some lovely colours, including greens :)

We're trying to find out what this is. Any ideas?

The leaves look like aquilegias, but the flower was a surprise. We gathered the seed last year, but can't remember from what or where. Doh!

We're pleased that our white tradescantia is flowering now. Looked a bit wrinkly and sad a couple of weeks ago and we were worried about some kind of blight.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

I couldn't resist

I have too many UFOs as it stands: J's Rowan Denim sweater, the tape yarn Shapely Tank and a pair of socks. Actually, that isn't too many UFOs, is it? I'm actually feeling guilt about consigning the beige blob to the frog pond. (It's still in the shallows, I haven't frogged it yet).
Well, that's my justification for having cast on a scarf in a lace pattern with the yarn my Secret Pal sent.

This is a lousy picture, because the light is too dim for no flash, but flash causes whiteout. It's a lovely yarn to handle and is making a snuggly scarf. The pattern is a simple 4 line lace. I think it might be called arrowhead lace. It's worked over multiples of 6 + 1. I cast on 25 stitches.

Row 1: Purl
Row 2: K1 *yo, ssk, k1, k2tog, yo, k1 (repeat from *)
Row 3: Purl
Row 4: K2 *yo, sl2kwise, k1, pass2sso, yo k3 (repeat from *, k2 at end of final repeat)

It has rained all day - probably not enough to water the garden properly, but enough to keep us out of it. The kind of weather for sitting on the deck in sweaters (or a snuggly scarf), drinking lattes.
This sempervivens lives there all year round

As does this beaded lizard we got from the Danby show a couple of years ago.

I've been looking into the history of the lemontop - not finding much beyond references to Pacitos in Redcar and Stockton. Found a lovely list though: 101 reasons why it's great to live in the Tees Valley. In at number 12:Eating a lemon top while walking along Redcar beach.

I'm personally giving thanks for 58. Never having to suffer a hosepipe ban thanks to 200,000,000,000 litres of water at Kielder Reservoir. and 86. Food innovation - grateful chocolate lovers can give thanks to Billingham-based Johnson Matthey for its development of the catalyst which makes chocolate melt in your mouth and not in your hand.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Postie's been!

It's here, it's here! After a worrying time wondering what was happening with the post my Secret Pal's parcel arrived this morning - beautifully wrapped in silver, purple and green. Inside: a wonderful selection of items with an Irish theme. Thank you for putting so much thought into this.

The yarn is Space by Tivoli and will make a lovely soft scarf. (My favourite colour combinations too). There are some gorgeous stitch markers with beautiful purpley glass beads too. My Secret Pal has talent as well as good taste; speaking of which, chocolate bunnies! The solid perfume is lovely too - heather and moss, sweet and green smelling. Thank you so much, I was thrilled (and relieved!) to receive this package.

It has been so hot today - too hot for knitting outside even, but poor J has spent the day building wardrobes in the study to house more of our stuff. Lots of space for yarn and craft things :)I was so glad a friend was helping him and not me. We don't DIY well together. Too much swearing and shouting I'm afraid. Very much a Mars meets Venus thing, I think. Also, one day of sawing and using power tools costs me four days of fibro flare up these days so better to keep away on any number of levels.
He didn't get finished until late and when we went out for a short drive this evening the day was settling into a misty but warm thick haze. Very twilight zone. Feels like thunder on the way - I love a good thunderstorm.

I was sneaking around the garden very early this morning, trying to capture some of the plants in our front garden. The sun only gets there in the mornings, but everything is trying very hard for us.
This is the one of the most recent flowering irises - Old Gold, I think.

And another, a flag iris which was miserable in the ground last year so J stuck it in a pot and spoke kindly to it.

Last Autumn we bought a couple of old fashioned rambling roses and put them against our trellis screen. They smell gorgeous but become overblown and drop quickly.

The tallest of the scabious love the heat and soften the hard standing for the cars beautifully.

Knitting pictures soon. I am still debating frogging the San Fran Shirttail. The colour is depressing me and what seemed like a subtle mix of shell and driftwood now just seems beige... oh dear. Feels nice though, so I'm wondering about finishing it and dying it. Problem is, I'm just not enjoying it as I hoped I would.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

To sleep, perchance...

It's a little cooler this evening, so I'm hoping I sleep a little better tonight. We took advantage of the cool after a little rain and went for a walk down by the Tees.

Yep, definitely need a better camera. The white blob across the river is the Middlesbrough FC stadium - The Riverside Stadium.

The Transporter just fascinates me. When Auf Wiedersehen Pet had the storyline about the Transporter being dismantled and sold to the USA our nephew, who is a policeman down there, was innundated with calls complaining about the scandal! "Look outside your window madam. Is it still there? Good. You see, it's just TV!"

Last night was terrible - it was unbearably warm, a burglar alarm was going off and on down the road so often that at one point I was thinking about taking a ladder and a hammer down there and 'fixing' it myself. I never sleep very well at the best of times - a consequence of the fibro, but light AND disturbed sleep tends to give me vivid nightmares. This has been exacerbated by reading Predator, the last Patricia Cornwell in paperback.
I don't really know why I do it. I love mysteries - Reginal Hill, Sue Grafton, Val McDermid, Kathy Reichs, Karen Slaughter, Ian Rankin - but Cornwell's last few have disturbed me more than I have enjoyed the books. I must be getting old. Can't handle movies or TV where people are tortured, murdered etc, especially children. Anyway, I'm hoping for a dreamless sleep tonight.
On a much, much happier note, I'm really pleased with the Ample Bloglist response. Check out the sidebar list of links! I'm so jealous of the interesting titles, fantastic work displayed and feel so privileged to have a peek into other people's lives. I love the whole concept of the blog. It's like a treasure hunt or a mystery tour.

Speaking of which... I'm intrigued by the concept of Geocaching, which is: an entertaining adventure game for gps users. Participating in a cache hunt is a good way to take advantage of the wonderful features and capability of a gps unit. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do is if they get something they should try to leave something for the cache. I'm intrigued by the idea of knitters joining in and leaving skeins of yarn in the cache!


Have had a couple of queries about the Lemon Top. Must be a local phenomenon. We usually get ours from Pacitos in Redcar. It's a vanilla icecream cone with a blob of lemon sorbet on top. Can't find a picture or a link on Google. Will just have to make J buy me another one soon and photograph it.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Struggling for title which wittily links football and knitting...

Another mad week at work - the extension to the Infant building is nearly ready to have work start on this interiors. It would be plain sailing if we weren't also tring to teach Infants in this building. Small children and construction sites are a tense mix.


32 degrees in the back garden this afternoon. This is the view I have of J most of the time during the Summer. He's either working or assuming this position.

Sometimes he's just a disembodied voice from within the greenery - you'd think it would be hard to loose a man who's 6 feet 5 inches, but it isn't at the height of the growth season.
It was so warm that the ice plant (a relative of the mesembryathemum, we think) from Lanzarote felt right at home.

Irises are doing spectacularly well this year. We divided most of them up last year, so that has helped.

I sat on the deck, trying for a bit of shade and cast on another Shapely Tank. This one's in Schachenmayr Aurora Color, which is a cotton/acrylic tape yarn. The colourway is Berries and Cream - it looks a little more subtle in real life than this photo. I'm making good progress on the San Francisco Shirttails but, true to form, as soon as I start a sleeved sweater there is a heatwave, so I thought another Shapely would be useful.

This made for good World Cup knitting this afternoon as England V Paraguay was less exciting than we had hoped. Towards the end of the second half there was a knock at the door. Who comes visiting during the final moments of an England World Cup match? My boss...Made him watch the end for punishment and so he'll have some credibility with the Year 6 boys during Assembly on Monday.

Went for a walk on the beach this evening to catch some cool breezes. Made J buy me a lemontop for nostagia's sake and managed to drip lots of it down my tshirt. I just Googled both lemontop (and lemon top) and Pacito's and got nothing in the right vein. Hands up who else's childhoods included lemontop cornets.

Trouble with a camera that fits nicely into a handbag is the crappy zoom. Time to invest up, I think.

Lots of people affected badly by pre, during and post football booze and sun this evening. Spotted quite a few staggerers around town and noted some rather erratic driving, which is worrying.
The other bizarre World Cup phenomenon is that everyone is dressed as a footballer today - in shorts and an England shirt. Problem is that nylon shirt+ 32 dgree heat = unsurmountable task for anti-perspirant = some extremely unpleasant body odours wafting around. Let's hope everyone gets their shirt washed before Thursday.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A good life

Back to work again, but actually feel rested. It's a very different experience from last year when we had so many things to prepare for and complete during this term that it almost drove the leadership team into the ground and at each others' throats. A horrible time, best forgotten!

J and I worked much of the weekend turning the deck from a winter sanctuary for the tender plants in the collection into a summer habitat for people. I shall be spending most of my Summer here:

or here:

with occasional trips here for lunch:

There's some interesting discussion on AK list at the moment about what is a reasonable amount to spend on a hobby.
When I first learned to knit (30 odd years ago in the 60’s and 70’s) my knitting mentors used scratchy wools or more fashionable acrylics and that’s what I used too because that was what was around and no one spent much money on yarn – knitting, in my family at least, was still utilitarian. I got into knitting in a big way in the 80’s and spent comparatively large amounts of my unmarried wages on funky mohairs and crunchy cotton mixes. I discovered Patricia Roberts and then Kaffe Fassett and I was undone! I remember coming back from a business trip to London in the mid 80s, having found a late night yarn store in Covent Garden and having spent about a week’s wages on enough variegated thick and thin wool yarn to knit a long sleeved sweater for my then much less ample bod. I can still remember the pleasure I got from that whole experience. For me, knitting is about the process as much as the finished object. I think that’s why I don’t mind having several projects on the go at once and I like to keep my stash in a mix of clear polythene boxes in the storage room and a woven African basket by my sofa. I love to see the yarn; I love the choosing of yarn, the colours and textures. I prefer to use wooden needles because of the feel and the way yarn looks against them when on the needles. I guess, I’m trying to say that I spend what I can afford to on my hobby. I’m blessed that my current lifestyle and salary can support my interest in yarn, but the pleasure I get from a well-chosen project far outweighs the actual cost of the components and I certainly don’t knit now as may mum and nana used to, because it was a cheaper alternative to buying clothes. I agree with Rosie (whose Koigu Oriental Jacket is just fabulous and is on my wish list for when I’m ready to tackle a project of that scale), for me it’s priceless, it’s pleasure, it’s creativity, it’s art.

J and I are very fortunate in that we are, in his words, 'Boring b**t**ds' these days and don't go out drinking, partying any more, we don't smoke or stick our money up our noses. We buy yarn, plants and he collects maritime memorabillia. We're happy!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Mad dogs and Englishmen

Boy, I ache this morning. Paying for yesterday's enthustiastic rush out into the sunshine and the garden.

Feels like the Summer might finally be on its way today. 23 degrees this morning. I know because I was sitting in the car while J called at a couple of places to give quotations for work. Dogs and WIVES can overheat in cars in the summer! AND I hadn't brought any knitting and had to make do with an old magazine I found under the seat. Still, the day got better.

Bet there was some sunburn at the football! It looked very hot in Manchester. England's second victory in the friendlies before Paraguay next week. Great score too, but it should really have been more given the quality of the Jamaican competition. I'm quite enjoying the football, but the flags are getting on my nerves a little. It's not that I'm not patriotic - I like to see them flying from houses and other buildings, but I find the car flags irritating and distracting in busy traffic. Killjoy woz ere.

Finally took the winter panels off the deck porch after the footie and started to clear some space for sitting. I've never known J leave the perspex panels (which turn the whole back of the house into a big greenhouse to protect our more tender plants) on this late before. Just shows how odd the weather has been.

The aliums are finally full globes.

Another of the aquilegias we grew from seed from the Walled Garden is flowering. I love the cottage feel of these plants.

This choisya (which was supposed to be a dwarf - Aztec Pearl - but isn't) smells fantastic.

The shady woodland area at the bottom of the garden was a lovely, cool place to be yesterday afternoon. The clematis montana looks fantastic dangling from the trees against the almost black fence.

Every year we seem to move more and more towards purple shades in the garden. I don't think it's a conscious decision, just the colours we (I) like. J is still partial to bright oranges and pinks but tends to confine himself to annuals and small splashes of these colours.

Back to work tomorrow and I have done no work! Will have to spend today catching up and making sure j has done any homework projects/nagging him into starting them today.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Out of my comfort zone and back again

Britain is supposed to be metric. Everytime I look at kitchen units, carpets and any DIY material, the measurements are in mm, cm, m. However.

Today I went to a timber merchant to order the timber for the wardrobes that J and a friend are building in the study next weekend. I took j with me for moral support as I find these places quite intimidating. I can deal with angry parents, Ofsted, the Authority, most things, but put me in a builders' merchants and I come over all feeble and girly.

Anyway. we were armed with a schematic drawing and a list of quantities and dimensions so all we had to do was order and pay for it. Not so easy. This timber merchant sells in imperial measurements - "I don't do that foreign rubbish." Great! So after being patronised and made to feel totally stupid (actually told to send my husband in so he could sort it out!!!!!) we had to come home and remeasure in feet and inches. Aaarghh!!!! There was some swearing and cursing in the car on the way back. j just glowered behind his hair.

Never mind. Two nice surprises in the post this morning. Received a lovely card from my Spoiler in SP8. Thank you - it's very exciting to learn that you are in Ireland and to read the theme you have planned for the exchange!

Also received a postcard from my Project Spectrum postcard exchange pal, Christine. Was I intimidated when I learned that Christine is an artist? Answers on a postcard...

I posted my postcard off last weekend, so I hope it has arrived safely. Likewise, the package I sent to my SP8 Spoilee this week. I get so nervous about the postal service these days having had some really bad eBay related experiences. Actually, I'm even more nervous having read my Spoilee's blog today as she is involved in lots of other exchanges and is very outspoken about what she does and doesn't like.

Made some progress on the San Fran Shirttail last night after a couple of false starts related to not having read the pattern carefully (again!) and am very impressed by the one-bite-at-a-time nature of the construction. It feels very satisying to be working in modules rather than endless stretches of stocking stitch on a project designed to fit my bod.

Here it is sunbathing on j's bed.

Our late cat, Spike, used to sunbathe and doze in that spot. I've been thinking a lot about cats lately. For a long time after he died (of old age, I'd had him for long before J or j came along) I used to think I saw and felt him around the house, but not for a while now. Every time I voice the concept of a cat J points out the scratched patch of carpet in the hall and the interesting birdlife in the garden he has invested so much time, effort and money in. I understand his point, but in the words of Billy Bragg 'wanting is no crime'. I even know what kind I would get and where I would get it from. How sad am I?

When I am an old woman, wearing purple and a red hat, I shall have another. In the meantime I settle for this:

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Big Bang

Woke up this morning and found a post it on my keyboard from j. He often leaves me notes - usually about not turning off his PC or an explanation about who ate the last brownie. This morning it was different. It said: "In case you don't know, ICI exploded last night. I watched it.' That was all. Slight panic - ICI is what most local people call the connurbation of chemical and petrochemical industries that centre in and around our town.

The morning news explained it all. Terra Nitrogen who inhabit one of the bits that used to be ICI around here had an explosion, fires and a full scale emergency in the early hours of this morning. The news footage showed flames taller than the cooling towers and eye witnesses could hardly be heard over the noise of sirens, helicopters and the emergency services shipping in heavy duty equipment.

J and I slept through it all. Admittedly, we both felt like we'd had quite a disturbed night, but J put this down to the fact that he'd been 'doing the job in his head' all night, which often results in me having a bad night too. The explosion, according to the TV news, rocked people out of bed up to 20 miles away. Perhaps I should mention, at this point, that the Terra plant is tastefully screened by small landscaped hillocks and some nice flowering shrubs 0.63 (I checked on multimap) miles from our house. Never again shall I complain about being a light sleeper.

(Photo from BBC)

When j finally got up - as we're on holiday, he's mostly nocturnal - I got the full report. He'd heard the bang, seen the fire ball, told everyone on Ventrillo and MSN, been involved in emailing photos to the BBC, had started and updated a thread on one of his fora ... but did he think to wake up his parents in the next room???? NO!


Other news:

Finished second Jaywalker and am disappointed to find that the weather is suitable for wearing them today.

I like them in this yarn, but have frogged the Shepherd Sport ones I started as they are too thick. Isn't it hard to take pictures of your own feet? I'm leaning so far over that my toes are gripping the carpet and making my feet look deformed and the socks lumpy.

Bought some Wendy Supreme cotton and started a swatch square for my San Francisco Shirttail sweater.

I think this yarn (which doesn't show up very well, it's a variegated mushroom and cream colourway) will work out well, although my sizing is out - need to come down a needle size, I think. Which is a shame as I don't have a 3.5mm set of wooden needles. It's my first attempt at a mitred square, so I'm quite pleased that it turned out squarish altogether.

Got some Fimo Slice 'n Bake off eBay in the post this morning. How clever is this? It's like Blackpool rock, with the design all the way through. I think this stuff might make really interesting buttons, sliced up and baked and if it doesn't work out I've only lost £3. If it works, that's a lot cheaper than some fimo buttons I've seen around.