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Monday, May 25, 2009

If you go down to the woods today

Felix and I went on a lovely walk on Bank Holiday Monday.


Felix walking through the very lush and very damp clover meadow.

Felix said that we might see deer in Holton Wood so we took care to be very very quiet as we walked through and saw a grand total of one fawn. Then we walked out of the wood, with voices back at full volume and saw this:

Deer near Holton Wood

A whole herd of deer - there must have been at least 30 nibbling on the crops at the edge of the field. I managed to snap a couple of pictures from a distance before they got the wind up and headed for the woods.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


I can't think of a nicer way to spend a lazy Bank Holiday Saturday than a wander around the gardens at Blenheim followed by a cup of tea and slice of cake on the terrace.

Views and Postcards of Blenheim

Water gardens at Blenheim

Terrace at Blenheim Palace

Rose garden

I reckon it'll be about a fortnight or so until the roses start opening - I'll keep you posted.

Smells like summer

For me the smell of Soltan is the smell of summer and (hurrah) this weekend has been hot enough so far to have necessitated slapping it on in liberal doses. It hasn't prevented me from going a bit red in places but nothing like the redness incurred whilst playing korfball* around this time last year.

I've been outdoors all day at the OGWSD Art Weeks exhibition spinning and watching other people dyeing and (I have a new hobby) needle felting.

Needle felted daisy

It's great fun except when you stick the needle in your finger - ow! Unlike most fibre-crafts this is not one to do whilst watching the telly. I needle felted some daisies/daffodils onto some purply/red felt and later turned it into a camera case.

Needle felted camera case

Now that I have the basics - a big sponge and a viciously sharp (and barbed) needle - I'm keen to try embellishing lots of other things so don't be surprised if you notice that all my belongings have been customised to within an inch of their lives.

The big event of the day was that Chris and Linda of Red Hill alpacas brought 3 of their herd - Sonita, Amy and Jacita - over to meet us. Everyone was very excited to see the beautiful animals.

Red Hill alpaca

Red Hill alpaca

No wonder that everyone wants to have their own alpaca - they're just so cuddly. Sadly there's not really room for one on our balcony.

* turns out if you spend all day with one arm in the air looking skywards your neck will turn very red - even with sunscreen.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

To my new socks

soft yarn
after ten days
I have socks

Liz Thompson 2009

Hee! Haiku (Haikus?) are fun.


Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A.
Yarn: Sweet Feet sock yarn from Artist's Palette yarns
Needles: 2.5mm
Ravelled: here

This makes 8 pairs now - better get working on that button for the sidebar.

Monday, May 11, 2009

On your marks, get set ...

I'm working hard on my preparations for the Great Manchester Run which I'm taking part in this Sunday on behalf of Mind, the leading UK mental health charity. Mind runs helplines, drop-in centres, counselling, and many other services for the 1 in 4 people who are directly affected by mental health problems as well as their families. I'm aiming to raise £150 to help them in their work.

So for training I went for a 6 mile run on Saturday, I biked 8 miles into work this morning, I've got another 6 mile run tomorrow and ... I baked two huge chocolate cakes.

Chocolate cakes

Don't worry, they're not for me. The idea is to get my colleagues in a good mood tomorrow before asking them for sponsorship - I hope it works!

I'm afraid I can't offer chocolate cake to all my online friends (we just don't have that kind of bandwidth) however I do have something to tempt your generosity.

the Grand Prize

the grand prize

Clockwise from top left: hand-made (by me) pincushion, 1 skein Colinette Jitterbug sock yarn in Dusk, hand-made cupcake badge from Sumptuosity of York, 2 skeins Misti Alpaca Laceweight in Merlot, hand-crocheted (not by me) flower brooch, and finally a copy of Alterknits by Leigh Radford.

All you have to do to win all these knitterly goodies is to sponsor me online at (secure online donation site) and then send an email to thomasinaknits AT yahoo DOT co DOT uk to let me know you have done so. Once the sponsorship deadline has passed I will draw one winner from the emails.

Competition officialness

1. The competition will close on June 17th 2009. This is the day by which all sponsorship money has to be submitted. The drawing will be on June 18th 2009.

2. I will assign each entrant a number according to the order in which I received their email. The winner will then be chosen using a random number generator.

3. I will contact the winner by email after the drawing to find out their postal details. I am happy to post to anywhere in the world.

Finally, if you have blogs of your own I'd be really grateful if you could send people this way. All this lovely stash has got to go!

Train essentials

I tend to bitch a little bit when confronted with a train journey that takes an hour longer than usual due to "essential rail maintenance" but really there's a lot to be said for a journey that takes 6 hours door-to-door. All that concentrated knitting time does wonders for progress.

These are my train "essentials". OK they're luxuries really but I find they're what I need to spend the best part of the day on the West Coast mainline without getting too wound-up.

Train essentials

Please note how my train essentials are colour coordinated. They even matched my raspberry coloured cardigan (although not the white t-shirt, at least not until I dropped a blodge of cherry yoghurt onto it).

Cold drink: at the moment I really like M&S's not-from-concentrate apple and mango. It even counts as one of my 5-a-day too.

Greek style yoghurt with cherry compote: my absolute favourite thing. I am constitutionally unable (it would appear) to pass a Simply Food M&S without buying one of these. I don't think this counts as one of my 5-a-day.

Hot drink: tea from Costa. I admit that £1.60 is a ridiculous mark-up on a cup of tea but I do like that Costa charge the same amount for their large tea as they do for the small. It's only extra hot water after all.

iPod: in very worn Kid Classic case (must make new one). I tend to listen to audio books, podcasts and radio dramas rather than music as I find them more absorbing which seems to make the journey pass more quickly. Hurrah for BBC radio 7 (this week I will be mostly listening to Cold Comfort Farm). Yesterday I was listening to Sparkling Cyanide (a pressie from Felix) which was still going strong when I reached my front door.

Knitting: Hedera by Cookie A. This pattern is working up just as quickly as Monkey. Must be the Cookie A. magic.

Sitting in a comfy chair with a cup of tea, an audio book, a yummy yoghurt and my knitting, watching sunlit countryside flash by. It's almost the perfect Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Slight change of plan

Sacre du Printemps toe

I got this far with the Sacre du Printemps socks before deciding that the gauge (even after going up a needle size) was far too tight. I still want to knit this pattern (albeit with finer sock yarn) but for the moment - riiiiiip.

It only took a few minutes on Ravelry to find the perfect alternative pattern, Hedera. It's pretty, straightforward, another Cookie A. pattern and it was even originally knit in Rowan 4-ply soft.


I've been wanting to knit this pattern for ages, ever since receiving a pair for Sockapalooza 4 and even more so after seeing Megan's. Once I've completed these and the current pair of Monkeys my sock drawer should be fully replenished and I can maybe get on with a bit of Christmas sock knitting - less than 8 knitting months to go, guys!

At last she recollected that they had been travelling ...

I don't really have a very connected post about our weekend in Derbyshire but I thought I'd share a few of my favourite photos.

On Sunday we went for a walk on the moors. This is my second attempt at this photo, on the first one the camera was being blown about so much that the boyfriend ended up half out of shot. Note the yellow GPS device. Useful for knowing how far you've gone, how far you still have to climb and, most importantly, keeping the bloke amused when his legs start to get tired.

Axe Edge Moor and Three Shires

"the wild and untamed beauty of the peaks" I suspect that that's a quote from the 1995 BBC adaptation of P&P rather than from the novel itself (which I don't have to hand) but it's rather fitting nonetheless. View from Axe Edge moor.

Axe Edge Moor and Three Shires

Goldfish in the Buxton Pavilion where we went for a late lunch after our walk. I was a bit underwhelmed by Buxton itself (although our B&B was gorgeous) but the pavilion and the gardens are very nice. I really like the way that the fish which were the intended target of the photo are so much less distinct than the reflections on the water.


Hello Pemberley (aka Chatsworth). You can't (at least I can't) go to Derbyshire without visiting at least one of the Pemberleys (the other one is Lyme Park over near Stockport). You can't access the steps on the left which featured quite heavily in the film as they're roped off, probably because otherwise there'd be a constant stream of Elizabeth Bennet wannabees posing on them and no one would be able to get past.


Fancy pants chickens at Chatsworth. We met these hens just wandering around the gardens having engineered a bold escape from the hen run. You can't see it very well in this photo but they really do have feathery trousers.

Chatsworth chickens

Sleeping lion in the sculpture gallery at Chatsworth. I think this guy had a bit part in Pride & Prejudice. They still have the resin bust of Matthew McFadyen there as part of the Chatsworth in film exhibition but I felt that taking a photo of that would be a bit fangirly. I did do a genuine double take when I saw it though.

Sleeping lion

Friday, May 08, 2009

Twelve Monkeys?

Given that I'm now at seven and a half pairs I might as well go the whole hog. Now I just need to sort out a blog button and hope that knitting 12 Monkeys doesn't actually bring on the apocalypse.

the fastest socks in the (north-)west

Having made that pledge I am taking a little break from the all Monkey diet with this charming pattern.

Sacre du Printemps

It's quite exciting to be knitting a sock where you actually have to read the instructions for the toe. I'm knitting them in super squishy Rowan 4-ply soft. A bit too plain for Monkeys but perfect for the delicate cables in this pattern.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Must knit more Monkeys

According to Ravelry this is my seventh pair of Monkeys and I've just cast on (by which I mean I'm five repeats down the leg) pair number eight. It's like a sickness.

Derbyshire monkeys

Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A.
Yarn: Undyed sockyarn from Blue faced byed by me using Super Cook
Needles: 2.5mm
Mods: none - why mess with perfection?
Ravelled: here

These were my travelling socks for our trip to Derbyshire (check out the photos on flickr) last weekend and they were just perfect. The pattern is compelling enough to make the miles in the car just fly by* but memorable enough that you don't have to juggle a chart as well as the map and so readable that you never lose your place. You can knit them whilst walking around, whilst waiting to be served in the restaurant, whilst watching a film in French with subtitles**. They're like the Swiss Army knife of socks, handy in all situations.

Which is why I grafted together the toe of the seventh pair and immediately started the long tail cast on for the eighth.

Summer Monkeys

I think I love these even more! The colourway just screams summer. It's the colour of sorbet and azalea bushes and rose gardens. I feel warmer just looking at them.

* I tried to tell the boyfriend how utterly satisfying it is when you get to the last row of the lace repeat and make the last two purl stitches disappear but I don't think he quite got it.

** If you haven't seen Priceless yet I beg you to - I loved it!