Sunday, December 30, 2007

Memories are made of this.

Been tidying up the sidebar of the blog - I wanted to make space to keep a running record of my progress with the books in the post below. I decided to get rid of some of the buttons from the knitalongs and swaps I've been in. It felt a little sad as so many of them represented really good experiences, but they were starting to remind me of girl guide badges or those patches from places you had been on holiday that you could get to sew on your (blue, quilted, nylon) anorak when I was growing up in the 70s.

They were aspects of the 70s that I'd be happy to forget. This, however, brought back some happy memories of school discos and Top Of The Pops.

I've been playing it in the car at a loud volume and singing along. Look out for me at the next set of traffic lights - I'm the one stomping in her seat to Sweet.

Anyone remember the Aztec Bar ? It, along with so many other blasts from the past, is in here. Fab book!

We've had a bit of a 70s Christmas. All that was missing was going to my Auntie Jessie's for tea and playing Newmarket for pennies or peanuts.... (Cue swirly camera effects and Jimmy Shand Danceband LP soundtrack)

I've been sorting through my stash and have decided to cast on Cherry Bomb in pistachio merino so I can wear it over a shirt.

That's two stash-busting projects on the needles at present as I still haven't finished my Chevron Scarf, but it's coming on well.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

To Be Read...

I'm going to skip New Year Resolutions this time, in favour of a few general aims: I want to continue to look after my body and mind, to try to knit up some of my stash and to read more books. I've joined the To Be Read Challenge.

This is my list of books:
1. Making Money – Terry Pratchett
2. Jingo – Terry Pratchett
3. To Kill A Mocking Bird - Harper Lee
4. Witches Abroad – Terry Pratchett
5. The Truth – Terry Pratchett
6. Carpe Jugulum – Terry Pratchett
7. Instant Confidence – Paul McKenna
8. I Can Make You Thin – Paul McKenna
9. The Good Husband of Zebra Drive – Alexander McCall Smith
10. The World According to Bertie - Alexander McCall Smith
11. Exit Music – Ian Rankin
12. Odinn’s Child – Timothy Severin

And my 'Alternates':
1. The Whale Road – Robert Low
2. The Wyrd Sisters – Terry Pratchett
3. Small Gods – Terry Pratchett
4. The Careful Use of Compliments - Alexander McCall Smith

If you're looking for an author recommendation for the New Year, we can recommend Nick Stone. J and I have both just finished this:

and we both really liked his first novel, Mr Clarinet.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

While the boys are downstairs killing zombies...

...I have begun on my stash reduction. I made a resolution, last year, to knit from my stash, but I only knit from it after adding to it. Spurred on, however, by the success of my Juliet from stash yarn I am giving it another go this year.

First I finished a pair of socks that have been lingering. They're Jaywalkers in Old Rose Cherry Tree Hill yarn. The yarn pooled oddly on the second sock even though the tension seemed the same.

Then I started on a Chevron Scarffrom Last Minute Knitted Gifts. I'm making it in Claudia's Hand Painted Yarn, in Boot Camp and Desert Dusk. I really like how it's looking so far.

I have added a row of small gold beads to the set up rows, but they don't show up here, alas.

We had to take our Christmas tree down today. It's much earlier than I would have liked - we normally wait until 12th night. However, it was shedding like mad, crispy (despite being watered) and nearly a third bald. That's what we get for eschewing the major gardening chains and supporting a local business. Back to Peter Barratt's next year.
J and one of the guys who works for him wrapped it in a dust sheet and took it down to the recycling compound. We can't be the only people who bought from this seller this year. J said there were quite a few trees down there already.

Fortunately, we still have some lovely Christmas flowers, gifts from colleagues at school:

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Finished work on Friday.
I was tearful as it was my last day before a secondment at another school that will take me away until next September. Realistically, I can't see myself going back so it was emotional. I've been based there for my whole teaching career. I'm glad I have the Christmas holidays to adjust.

Drove down to Whitby this morning to blow away the cobwebs.
It was certainly blowy! Alas, no snow. I thought there might be some on the dales.
At home it was 5 degrees C, but the temperature dropped to 0.5 degrees C over the moors as a freezing fog rolled down the dales towards the coast.

The fog eventually caught up with us and was almost James Herbert-ish...

When the weather wasn't freakish, J looked like this:

He stands the same in every photo I have of him standing up. It's become a bit of a family joke as it reminds me of the "Heroic Stance" the actors are teaching George in Blackadder the 3rd...

Talking of things theatrical - Juliet, she is finished:

I'm pleased with how this turned out. Especially considering it was just cheap chunky yarn from my stash. It photographs badly. The flash seems to turn it blueish, whereas in the flesh it's a deep brownish plum (which explains why I have it on over a brown polo neck.)
I'll definitely make it again - probably in a tweedy aran yarn next time.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Mine, all mine

Arrived home to find a number of packages had arrived in the post. Not unusual at this time of year, as I do a lot of my Christmas shopping online and have it delivered to home. However, one package was actually for me today. It was my International Scarf Exchange 5 scarf from Marti in Seattle. Her blog was down earlier, but I'll try again later.

The scarf is gorgeous.

It's the Irish Hiking Scarf in Twisted. It's the softest merino yarn I've felt in a while. I love it.

Marti included some other goodies too:

Lovely lip balm, a mini-mirror, notebook, card and a really sweet needle felting kit to make a penguin. We love penguins here at casa-b.

Thank you Marti!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmassy at last

Finally - I'm starting to feel quite Christmassy now. The tree is up, I've nearly finished the Christmas gift shopping and it's nearly the end of term.
This week I am on KS2 discos duty at school. My colleague did Parents' Bingo Night, so it's only fair. There's marginally less sex and alcohol in the air on disco night, although there was one year when we found vodka in the Tizer bottles. Now all drinks are supplied by the school. You have to remember, our oldest kids are 11.

Tomorrow I will miss the Nativity dress rehearsal as I am visiting my new school to meet up with the Local Authority School Improvement Team. I'd rather be wrestling angels into tights and tying tea towels on shepherds.

We drove down to South Yorkshire today to visit my brother and his family and drop the Christmas presents off. R is two and a half now and thoroughly aware of the concept of Christmas. Great fun.

I knitted in the car driving down and coming back as J did all the driving. We overtook a Kia Sedona just before Ferrybridge and the passenger was knitting too. I should have waved my sock at her, but J had his foot down.

We're giving gifts from World Vision to a number of our friends this year. I'm making sets of homespun coasters to go with the 'blankets' we have bought via World Vision.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Well, I'm counting down to Christmas, counting down the items on my to do lists at home and at work and counting down the days until I leave my job to go to my new school.
I do try not to name my school on the blog as any comments I make here are my opinion as a private citizen and are not part of my professional identity (ok, so sometimes I might want to moan about my bos...:) )
My new school is on Hartlepool Headland - home of St Hilda of Whitby while she founded the abbey.
It's also home to the Official Ancient Headland Ghost Tour, which I must do sometime and Reg Smythe, creator of legendary comedy misogynist and wife-beater, Andy Capp. Hmmm...

I've also counted down 340 test papers I've marked for a project I'm involved in...self-inflicted, shouldn't moan...but I do...


I thought, for a horrible moment at the weekend, that j was too grown up.

We had a tradition where he and I would go out to have lunch and buy our Christmas tree. This year I bought it with J as j was in bed until the early afternoon and then had to prepare for an exam today and work on a film he is making.... So, I faced the fact that he isn't a child any more and got out the decorations. The rustle of tinsel had him emerging from his room and he did this:

Not too grown up at all, it would appear. And I'm very glad.


Progress on Juliet. It seems slow, but I have to remember that this is a top-down pattern and I'm onto the lace section now so things should speed up. I'm making the longer version. All that garter stitch was a pain. Maybe I won't make Einstein after all.

(On the subject of St Hilda and her links to Whitby - have you read The Whitby Witches, by Robin Jarvis?)

Saturday, December 01, 2007


It has been a really busy couple of weeks. Lots has been happening in terms of work and things are now decided so I can post about it.
In January I'm leaving my school for a seconded promotion to another school in town. The idea is that I go for 2 terms, but we'll see what happens when I get there. It's not going to be easy, I think. I'm feeling an uncomfortable mix of anxiety and excitement... more anxiety actually. I'm also stressed about leaving my current job. there are so many loose ends to tie up and there are only 3 weeks left. Three weeks that include all the usual things that a school does in the run up to Christmas.

Mostly I'm afraid of leaving 'home'. I've been at my current school for 7 years now.

I'm also going to need thermal vests.My new school is here:

It's almost an island and the school is separated from the North Sea by one row of houses.

So - this might come to work with me too:

It's Juliet, which has been slow knitting as it's a top-down knit in chunky yarn and weighs a lot after socks!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Shine on harvest sock

My Harvest Sock Swap package arrived from Maggie.
She sent some lovely things: Pumpkin Cookies, chocolate, tea, hot cocoa, a really nice knitting journal, winter-scented candle and the yarn is wonderful.

The sock she included is this one:

I love the colours and am looking forward to having a go at doing the second sock.

The pattern is Aurelia.

Thank you Maggie!!

Thursday, November 22, 2007


I found this in my stash:

The plummy colour isn't showing up correctly here - the flash has made it look much bluer. Nevermind.

The timing was just right as I was going out this weekend to look for something to make the Juliet knitted waistcoat in. I've been wondering about this pattern for a while, but the beauty of Ravelry is that I've had chance to see it on a variety of body shapes and sizes.

I'm optimistic it will work, but if it doesn't it will have been a quick knit anyway. I cast on a couple of evenings ago, but no pictures yet. It feels hard on the hands to be knitting with something so heavy after a long period of socks and lightweight yarns.

I finished the first Cherry Tree Hill Jaywalker: here it is looking lots brighter than it did on the train last week.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

OK, it's personal

...Blogger just hates mac! So, I'm writing this post on J's PC. The one with the crappy Z board keyboard that j broke so he swapped it with his dad's. How does J put up with this?

Anyway...trying not to let the inconsequentials get me down and moving on.
This sock and I went to London this weekend to take part in a marking pilot for KS2 SATS - tests at the end of Primary School for all 11 year olds - and we were very tired when we got back.
Here it is looking grey and limp in a GNER standard seat. I looked very much the same.

When we got back this parcel from Deb was waiting for us.

It's a coffee swap package and it made me very excited. I ended up being allocated two swap partners in this year's coffee swap and things were getting so complicated that I decided to just sit back and enjoy being involved in both swaps. Deb lives in Riverbank Ca, which looks lovely. So much nicer than grey Teesside at this time of year. I do hope my parcels arrive with Deb and Natalie soon. I posted them 2 weeks ago and this can be a tricky time in the postal world. Oh, for a Moist Von Lipwig round here!

Deb truly spoiled us (I say us as all those sweets you can see disappeared in various directions as soon as J and j saw them)with gorgeous items. The coffee - from Ritual - is delicious, there is the most amazing kaleidescope to help make creative colour choices with yarn and talking of yarn:

I'll have another go at photographing this in better light, but it's Shimmer from Knitpicks. I know just what I want to try. It's this. Apologies for the fact that it's a Ravelry link, but I can't find it anywhere else.

I love this too:

Deb works on Rennaisance Fairs (not fair, I want to work on Rennaisance fairs too!)and this mug was made by another crafter on the fair. I love blue studio pottery. So much so that I have shelves like this:

This is all from the Wold Pottery at various points in its history.

Thanks again Deb!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Blogger anger

Do I detect another 'improvement' that makes it impossible for me to upload photos?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Is it only Wednesday?

4am and I can't sleep, although I'm really tired.

Monday - Trip to Teesmouth Field Centre with our class. Great fun and lovely to see so many of our student engaged and participating. Reflected that I should maybe have a door fitted in my classroom and teach half of them outside. It was bitterly cold and so many parents sent their children in dressed for a walk on a spring morning - not prepared to face the evils of the North East Coast in November.
Took some wonderful pictures, but this isn't the place to show them. We have to be so careful with children's images. It's sad really.

I had to leave the trip at lunchtime to go to the funeral of one of our school Governors,an amazing lady.

Tuesday - must have spent 4 hours of my working day unravelling a friendship problem that had escalated into something more complicated. On top of the usual plate spinning, juggling and trying to do a good job of teaching... at least my missing wolf has been returned to me... don't ask, he's a puppet. Did I tell you I do puppets? Only at work.

Then...'an opportunity' has arisen to do another job, similar to mine, in more challenging circumstances, in January. It's come from somewhere, a bit like an offer from Don Corleone - one you can't refuse. Trouble is, it definitely wouldn't be on my list of top 10 most wanted appointments. Oh, well. Oh, Hell!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Cutting out...

...well, mainly cutting out...

I've had a student teacher, working in the class I share with a colleague, for a while now. Her placement ended last Wednesday. While she was lovely and caring and very hard working - as most student teachers I have ever met are, the classroom (and the children) has frayed a bit around the edges. We had to work very hard for the last two days to re-establish our brand of focus and attention to detail.

We have a challenging class - mostly boys, mostly Special Educational Needs, mostly well below age-related expectations of attainment. But they are great fun and very rewarding most of the time. I love to see the progress they are making and to see how mutually supportive they are becoming.

Anyway - we started a few new themes this week and launched the Big Write across school on Friday. While I love to start something new there is always the tons of support materials and resources that need putting together.

So, I've been writing, designing, printing but mainly cutting out...

Have I been reading too much Terry Pratchett lately?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Weekend at last

Finally the weekend and we can relax. J is having a whole week off as he's really tired. I worry that he overdoes things, but at least he seems to be able to recognise that he needs a break before work wears him down completely. He had a birthday this week - 53 years old. He's not really bothered about birthdays, but we were chatting over our breakfast latte and both gave thanks for the fact that he's around to see his birthday.

Changing the subject totally...
I love this yarn. It's Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Merino in Old Rose.

I'm knitting another pair of Jaywalkers. It was an easy pattern to start on the train and J felted my last pair with his enthusiastic approach to laundry.

Butternut squash was plentiful at the organic farm today. I made butternut squash and roast red pepper soup. Excuse the lack of glamour in presentation, but I just loved the colour so much.

Monday, November 05, 2007


Going to Birmingham today for a conference tomorrow. Couldn't find a train that would get there in time tomorrow morning and there are no airlines that go there from our local airposrt any more. Don't want to drive as it would mean hitting Junction 6 of the M6 at 8am.
What a performance! I used to travel a lot in my job, but I decided to stop some time ago and this simple, small overnight trip has me unsettled.

I'm off to finda small knitting project to take with me.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The waves that plunged along the shore

A fabulously crisp and bright day for a walk on the beach. The sea was quite wild and very noisy - just how I love it.

I had the wrong handbag with me for the outfit! Not enough time to swap over so I was left carrying a smart work bag in my sweats - how daft. It's just one of those silly little things that bothers me.

J got some bargain Universal Winter-Flowering Pansies while he was at the organic veg place. He's planted tubs of them up for the drive - they will really brighten up the front when everything else dies back.

I'm ridiculously happy today - having got a new pair of boots! Just love boots! This company does amazing boots - great for gals like me with fat legs, although I do believe they cater for every size!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

By all these lovely tokens...

There's a definite chill in the air now and we're starting to see signs of Autumn in the garden. I was worried that we'd go straight from green to brown and dead, missing out the beautiful middle bit.

This is how J 'wraps' the deck for winter. The deck has a plexiglass roof all year round - so we can sit outside in a typical Northern Summer. In the Autumn he adds plastic panels to the wooden frame, enclosing it all except a doorway. When the Winter really sets in, if it snows he adds a heavy-duty polythene sheet over the doorway. It means all his tender (and expensive) specimens survive even the harshest winters.

The maples are turning.

The quinces are fruiting.

The Copper Beech is, well, copper...

I have finally found something that works with the large quantities of rather fuzzy aplaca I bought.

It's another attempt at the San Francisco Shirtail from Just One More Row. I like the way it's working out.

All of my winter swaps are safely off in the post: Coffee Swap, Harvest Sock Swap, International Scarf Exchange. The parcels have been travelling to and from work with me for a week, but I've kept missing the post office opening hours. At least they're all on their way now.