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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Just a peek

Monkey socks

Can you tell I bought my new shoes specifically to show off hand-knit socks?

Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A.
Yarn: Merino Chubby Sock in Minty from The Knittery
Needles: 2.5mm
Ravelled here

If I were to knit another pair of Monkeys in this sock yarn (and it's not beyond the bounds of possibility) I'd try going down a needle size as these aren't quite as snug as they could be. Other than that they're just perfect and immensely cheering on an otherwise rather stressful work day.

Luckily I had the perfect relaxing evening at the Sticks and String knit night in Reading chatting with other knitters, eating delicious coffee and walnut cake and making good progress on my second Minimalist cardigan.

Minimalist cardigan

I'm not going to make predictions about how fast it's going and how soon I'll be finished as I did that the last time and a lot of ripping back ensued. Still I'm 7" into the back and I don't think I've done anything wrong yet.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


This isn't my sixth photo or anything but this is the sixth pair of Monkeys that I've cast on.

Minty Monkey

You might wonder why, when there are 295 pages of sock patterns on Ravelry, I've knit the same pair of socks 6 times but it turns out that, when it comes to socks, I'm a product knitter. It's very difficult when I go to my sock drawer and feel that I need more socks to cast on anything else when I know that I can churn out a pair of perfectly fitting geometric lace socks in under a week. And that's why I've already got the yarn lined up for pairs number seven and eight as soon as I'm done with these.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The lark's on the wing; The snail's on the thorn.

Felix's quilt

Actually the snails seem to be on peapods rather than thorns and it was nearer 2am than 7 when I finished stitching the binding on Saturday morning but it was totally worth it in order to have Felix's quilt finished in time to give to her at the opening of Love is Awesome on Saturday night.

Felix's quilt

The quilt is a stash buster so the fabrics were bought at various times and places. The sashing fabric is leftover from the Amy Butler skirt that I made last August, the blocks are a mixture of fabrics from the Quilt Room bought at the FoQ last year and the year before and from Hobbycraft in Reading and Bolton, some are even leftover from the quilt fabric that Felix herself bought for me. The backing fabric, which I adore, is yet more Amy Butler this time from Liberty.

Felix's quilt

I really enjoyed making the sashed blocks, they're very simple but very effective, it was very satisfying to use up all the bits and pieces leftover from three quilt and one skirt, and it was lovely to be able make this for Felix - it's made with love (which is awesome btw) and I hope it brings lots of joy!

Rather a barrow-wightish look

Waylands Smithy longbarrow

Cold be hand and heart and bone,
and cold be sleep under stone:
never more to wake on stony bed,
never, till the Sun fails and the Moon is dead.

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

On Saturday lunchtime I went on a fantastic walk on the Ridgeway near White Horse hill and Waylands Smithy longbarrow. We reached the Ridgeway via a very overgrown path and a snowy field where the only footprints were from the deer, hares and foxes.

The barrow itself looked very eerie and desolate in the snow and I couldn't get Tolkien's rhyme out of my head. Apparently you can go inside but I'd be much too worried about being grabbed by a barrow wight.

Waylands Smithy longbarrow

It was pretty hard going on the Ridgeway as the snow had drifted upto a foot deep in places and then frozen so we didn't push on to White Horse hill itself. It wasn't really the best day for viewing the horse anyway due to the snow.

White horse

I had to check against the pub sign in the village before I could work out which bits were snow and which were horse!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The boring part

There seems to be a boring part which has to be undergone before I can get to the next fun bit for nearly all the crafts that I practise. In knitting it's the swatching, in spinning it's setting the twist, in lace knitting it's the blocking. In quilting it's pre-washing the fabric and batting (especially the batting which feels really rough against my winter-worn hands). In fact there's a pattern here as all the boring bits seem to involve waiting for something to dry overnight (and often the next night too) before I can stitch with it. This is why, despite buying the backing fabric for the sashed quilt on Saturday I didn't manage to get around to any actual quilting until last night. The quilting flew by* and so now I'm onto the next 'boring bit' (OK, it's more meditative) which is hand-stitching the binding. There are compensations though as I get to sit under the quilt whilst I sew.

There are no pictures of the quilt yet as it's (hopefully) going to be a surprise for the recipient so lets have some yarn candy instead.

Merino sock yarn

I ordered this from Socktopus on Monday night and it arrived first thing on Wednesday morning. The yarn is Merino Chubby sock in Minty (left) and Merino Slim sock in Merlot (right). The chubby is only really chubby in comparison to the slim, which is very slim. Time to break out the 2mm Knitpicks I think.

* thanks to some advice from stitchers at Felix's knitting group before Christmas I sorted out my bobbin tension and there's nary a missed stitch or tangle.

Is that like some sort of black pudding kebab, then?

blood doners sign

Spotted this week at work inviting people along to one of the regular blood doning sessions. Given that I work for a fairly well-known academic publishing company I really hope that the NHS brought their own signs.

I really need to get back on the blood doning horse. I used to give twice a year until one of the nurses got a little too enthusiastic one time and I ended up with a huge dark red bruise in the crook of my elbow which meant that I wasn't able to pick up anything heavy with that arm for a week. It took a while to get over that, it wasn't so much the ow factor as the fact that the nurse strongly hinted that it was all due to my flimsy veins rather than her heavy-handedness*, and after I did get over it the sessions have always seemed to be at a time when I'm running a heavy cold.

Which is why I restricted myself to taking a photo and smirking.

* I know, I know, they're fine people doing a sterling job.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Schoolboy error*

mismatched socks

Can you see what I've done there? No, it's not a trick of the light, one sock really is longer than the other. I cast off the second sock at lunchtime, held it up for Aliki and Cathy to admire and promptly realized that I'd missed out an entire cable repeat. If it was a matter of a miscrossed cable or two I'd leave it but even a knitting novice like the boyfriend can tell when one of his socks is too short!

* as Motty would say.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Oh, the weather outside is frightful

The upside to me and the boyfriend waiting nearly an hour in the cold this morning for a bus that never materialized* (apart from my almost finishing his second sock) was that by the time we gave up and got back to the flat for coffee and to pick up the car keys the postie had dropped off three or four more birthday cards and a very exciting looking parcel which turned out to contain some gorgeous Spindlefrog roving from Lara and Katie. It's sooo pretty.


The cards contained vouchers for John Lewis from my aunt and uncle and for Socktopus from my twin brother. I've just used the voucher to order a skein each of Merino Slim Sock in Merlot and Merino Chubby Sock in Merlot and Minty respectively from the Knittery.

There was even a reward for making it into work as I was very excited to find a Crabtree and Evelyn bag on my office chair and even more excited to discover that it contained fat quarters rather than handcream - cheers Aliki!

fat quarters

I'm torn between making another quilt (because two on the go at once just isn't enough) or something else that I don't have a superfluity of like place mats or cushions.

* whilst I quite understand that a big smash on the A34 might delay a bus running on the A44 I really don't understand how it can make it disappear entirely.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

How to build an igloo (or what we did on our snow day)

First, find some snow,

build up the walls,

carefully construct the roof,

Richard's igloo

admire from all angles,

Photographing the igloo

then sit back and relax!

In the igloo

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Oops - didn't mean to drop off the radar for quite so long there. I've had lots of posts planned about all the stuff I've been upto lately and then just not quite got around to posting them.

Since I last posted I have mostly been ...

... spinning up singles. Artist's Palette fibre bought yonks ago in Great Malvern spun into a dk(ish) weight singles. Inspired by Megan I fulled the yarn and it's turned out rather well. I'm thinking a lace scarf or cowl would be nice.

singles on bobbin

... eating lardy cake at Huffkins in Burford. I hadn't tried lardy cake until a week last Sunday but can confirm that it is exceedingly good. So good, in fact, that it's a national treasure according to The Times.

lardy cake

The boyfriend and I always seem to end up in Burford when we go out in the car. Some might argue that this shows a lack of imagination but Burford is lovely, has free parking, an abundance of tea-shops and a great cookware shop where I encouraged the local economy by buying pastry cutters.

... quilting. After seeing this quilt on the blue blog on Monday I was seized with a desire to try sashing. I rushed home, did the hoovering, and then started sorting through all my fabric stash. After three hours of University Challenge, Masterchef, and The Bourne Identity on ITV2 I had half the blocks and all of the sashing cut out. By Tuesday (after Masterchef and the Bourne Ultimatum) I had all the blocks done and had started stitching. I'm very excited about all the lovely blues and greens in this quilt - I think it's going to look fantastic.

quilting in progress

Just a teaser photo as I intend this one to be a present.

... knitting socks. I didn't quite manage to finish both of the boyfriend's socks in time for our anniversary dinner on Wednesday (8 years is handpainted merino, right?) but at least they should be done in time for Valentine's day. I was going to knit the boyfriend socks by 'flatmate Alice' but my yarn (Colinette Jitterbug in dusk) was too much of a heavyweight so I've knit something a bit similar but a bit different.

boyfriend socks

... running. 9 miles on Sunday, 5.7 miles on Tuesday, 4.5 miles on Thursday, 5 miles on Saturday. At which point I pulled something in my back in a completely stupid way* so had to miss Sunday's 12 mile run. I spent Saturday and Sunday knocking back codeine and rubbing on ibuleve and drew amused glances on Monday as I kept refilling my hot water bottle at work - luckily it was a snow day so most people assumed I was cold, rather than that I had bad period pains! Today I ditched the hot water bottle and broke in my gorgeous new running shoes (thanks Mum & Dad!) by running the same 5.7 miles as last Tuesday. The back's feeling a bit sore now in consequence but nothing I can't hack!

new boots

... having my birthday early. I was up north this last weekend for the Bolton vs. Spurs game. Lots of lovely presents including new running shoes (above), gorgeous chocolates from the Orton factory (below) and three points for the Wanderers. And I got a scrummy cake.

orton chocs

... taking photos in the snow. The snow which blanketed most of the country gave Oxfordshire a big miss and we only got a dusting. Still there was enough to make the tropical palms in the Parks look pretty incongruous and to make me feel smug about wearing appropriate footwear both today and yesterday. My Brasher hiking boots may be overkill in half an inch of snow but at least my feet were warm.

keble college

ice fountain

* I coughed whilst bending over - I said it was stupid.