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Sunday, January 31, 2010


Yesterday I went over to Ellen's place for the Oxford Bluestockings 4th great annual wool wind-off and yarn swap. It was lovely to see Lara who came over to Oxford from London, and also Katie and Clare who came over with their babies. I'm especially pleased that Katie came over as she brought an absolute pile of Sublime Angora Merino for the swap and I managed to score 8 balls in oatmeal - just enough (I hope) for a sweater for my Knitting Olympics project.

Angora Merino

I'm weighing up a few different sweaters at the moment. I know from Felix's experience with this stuff whilst knitting the hourglass sweater that it pills like b*****y if you knit it at the suggested gauge so I want something that is knit on 3.5 or 3.75mm needles. I'm currently dithering between a Coraline and some sort of seamless lace sweater of my own design.

The second item picked up in the swap was nearly 100g of Jaeger Matchmaker Merino 4 ply in two shades of lilac and raspberry. I'm planning to knit a tam with these, probably to the same dimensions as the beet heid as that fits so perfectly.

Jaeger Matchmaker Merino

Thirdly some Regia sock yarn in dark brown. I've got a little bit of lime green Regia left over from knitting Nancy Bush's birch socks so I think I could stripe it with that for some smallish socks.

Regia 4 ply

And finally, a ball and a bit of Louisa Harding Kimono Angora in a green/yellow/orange colourway. Not really sure what I'll do with this, probably some fingerless mitts - either for work or for next year's present basket.

Kimono Angora

Really, the swapped yarn is a bonus. I had a lovely afternoon knitting with friends, eating cake and drinking tea, I got rid of some stash yarn which I had no idea what to do with, and got some lovely new yarn for which I mostly have definite plans.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Marathon girl - Week #1

Day #7 (long run)

Distance: 9 miles
Time (total): 01:15:14 hours
Average time (per mile): 08:22 minutes

One week gone, thirteen to go!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

They're knitting in the wrong place!*

I perpetrated a massive knitting FAIL this evening. When I started the sleeve of my current sweater-in-progress on Monday morning I didn't have the right needle to work the turned hem at the cuff. No problem, I thought, I'll just start with a provisional cast on, knit the cuff later and then graft the two ends together. So this morning once the sleeve was the correct length I cast on the cuff and I was ready to start grafting in the pub this evening. I put both sets of live stitches on the needles, joined in a length of yarn and started grafting. Everything was looking great until I got about two thirds of the way round and realised that I had a lot of sleeve stitches left. Like 30 more than were remaining for the cuff.

sleeve FAIL

&*#$@*! No idea how, but I grafted the cuff to the shoulder end of the sleeve. If it wasn't quite so funny I'd have wept. I left the mis-grafted cuff in place just long enough to share with you guys. It's still a workable plan, I just need to concentrate this time around.

sleeve FAIL

* see Raiders of the Lost Ark

Monday, January 18, 2010

The big reveal

If the arrival of the snow was like magic then its departure is like magic too, albeit of a slower, more messy variety.

Another ploughed field

After three and a half near solid weeks of white it's pretty fabulous to see what's underneath again.

Flooded field

I just couldn't resist taking these snaps from the train as we rushed by fields saturated with, if not colour, at any rate hue. Well, at least those that weren't just plain saturated with water.

Blurry trees and flooded field

These guys have the only white stuff I'm interested in right now.

Flock of sheep

Saturday, January 16, 2010


You'd better hurry if you want to enter Felix's Snowcase competition. The snow is vanishing fast!

snow case entry

I am wearing 8 Ravelled items to keep me warm in the chilly weather.

1. beet heid tam
2. skeget flip-top mittens
3. giant moss stitch scarf
4. sleeveless sweater
5. minimalist cardigan
6. Tapestry legwarmers
7. Grasmere walking socks
8. Pomatomus socks

I'm certainly warm - but do I have the WOOL FACTOR?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Winding up Christmas

I love slightly belated Christmas gifts, they're like a bonus. These, from Lara which I found in the post when I got back home after the holidays, and from Felix when we finally* managed to exchange gifts at Sticks'n'String on Tuesday, have an avian theme running through them.

Firstly from Lara I received these lovely little rubber stationery stamps (featuring an owl, a perching bird, and a squirrel) and two very cute badges (which I'm wearing today). My collection of knitting-related button badges just keeps on growing.

Christmas pressies

Then from Felix I received a whole goodie bag of pressies

Christmas pressies

Some lovely British fibre to be spun and knitted up into my British sheep breeds handspun blanket (started, but apparently not really blogged about, at Woolfest last summer).

Christmas pressies

A fat quarter** of fabric with little cardinals*** printed on it, a felted pin cushion, and a very sweet little owl brooch. I think the pincushion looks either like a bird's egg or a shiny treasure that you'd find in a magpie's nest.

* earlier plans to exchange pressies having been scuppered by swine flu and snow.

** there's just something about the words "fat quarter" isn't there. It sounds like a lovely plump wodge of fabric just waiting to be made into something fabulous.

*** the boyfriend, being Catholic and not really into birding got quite the wrong mental image (mitres rather than birdies) when I described this fabric to him!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Responding to the Knit Signal

Just to say, if you've been shocked by the scenes from Haiti, want to help somehow, but aren't quite sure where best to donate to, then Stephanie Pearl McPhee (the Yarn Harlot) makes a pretty good case here for donating to Medecin Sans Frontieres. If you haven't already, please go and read her post.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A better class of snowman


Look, he has cherry tomatoes for eyes and the boyfriend is convinced that his buttons are made from jaffa cakes. We'll check in the morning if the birds haven't had them first*. We were convinced that the snow was on the way out and had been going about saying daft things like "Aslan is abroad" so we were rather surprised to wake up this morning to another couple of inches of snow, six lorries stuck on the hill out of town, and no buses. Still, there are bonuses to the extended cold snap like a surprise episode of Snow Watch in which the regular team discussed the effect that the snow is having on the wildlife and we got to see Simon King hop like a bunny. And there was a trailer for a new programme in March, Lambing Live, I'm very excited about the combination of Kate Humble and lots of sheep in the same show.

*ETA: Turns out they were Oreos!

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I headed out into snowy Blenheim twice today, once for an early morning run (the cross-country spikes really come into their own on the compacted snow) and then this afternoon for a walk with the boyfriend. I hadn't thought that the later walk could match the early run in the quiet park, when I had just the pheasants, sheep, and a low-flying red kite for company, but it bettered it.

The frozen lake was just stunning close up with the ice a dozen different shades of glassy green.

Frozen lake

Fishing stages


Then, as if that wasn't enough a white shape ghosted out from amongst the trees on the far side of the lake and we had the treat of watching a barn own hunting in daylight (it was about 3pm) for at least 5 minutes. It flew back and forth across the lake and even landed a few metres ahead of us on the path at one point. I knew that my chances of getting a picture (white bird, white background) were slim but I just kept clicking the button and I managed to get lucky (even more lucky than just seeing it, I mean).

Barn Owl

I can't tell you how privileged I feel to have had such a wonderful view of this beautiful bird.

Finally, we passed this snowy family on our way back home.


I think they're disappointed having read the sign (left) saying that the Palace and Courtyard aren't open to the public!

Loaf day

When it's a frozen wasteland outside you can't beat a bit of baking for creating a warm comforting fug in the kitchen. After we got back from our grocery expedition to town yesterday the boyfriend had his first go at making something from the Bread Machine Bible* that I bought him for Christmas.

Gingerbread loaf

Amazingly we had nearly all the ingredients to make golden gingerbread. We didn't have quite enough plain flour and not nearly enough soft light brown sugar but substituting self-raising and light demerara didn't seem to hurt it.

Gingerbread loaf

I mostly acted in an advisory capacity, lining the loaf tin and stopping him from putting the lid back on the golden syrup until I'd wiped the edge of the tin clean.

Gingerbread loaf

Since we were baking the loaf in the over rather than in the bread machine we had to be a bit creative with the time and temperature settings (especially as we were trying to start making dinner at the same time). We initially gave it 60 minutes at 120 degrees C (mimicking the bread machine settings) but quickly realised it needed another 10 minutes at 150 and then another 10 at 190 before it was done.

Gingerbread loaf

Despite this it turned out absolutely splendidly, a perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea.

* both bible and fancy LOAF tin were bought from Lakeland in Reading.

Friday, January 08, 2010


Back in the autumn I knit this scarf out of the last remnants of 6 balls of Rowan Big Wool which I'd bought a few years ago to make a poncho (I know, I know). I thought that it would make a very nice Christmas present for someone but then completely forgot to take it up to Bolton with me. Still, their loss, my gain as I realised last night that I had the perfect accessory to muffle up against the big freeze.

Moss stitch scarf

Things I love about this scarf: it's extra wide so I can keep everything warm from my nose to my neck, it's very thick so even a single layer blocks out the icy air, and it has pockets great for keeping hands warm and for throwing amusing shapes.

Moss stitch scarf



Not the conditions underfoot but the aerial threat posed by the foot long, dagger like icicles hanging from the eaves of our block of flats. I will not be hanging around on the way in or out of the building lest I be skewered from above.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Pull your socks up

I've been keen to knit some knee-length socks for myself for some time now. I did knit a pair of stripy knee socks a few years back but I'm afraid they kept falling down on the job.

These should do a bit better. Funnily enough it's when socks are too tight, rather than the reverse, that they fall down so I've made sure I cast on enough stitches for a nice elastic fit around the top of the calf.

There's plenty of yardage in Megan's Wellington sock yarn (in fact it could be named for the fact that you could knit a pair of welly socks from one skein) and I'm reasonably confident of getting two socks out of my single skein in the Scarpantoni colourway. However, if I don't quite make it I've got the leftovers in the Stringybark colourway with which to knit contrast toes and cuffs.

Long stockings

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Viewing the tapestries (reprise)

So what have I been knitting on this snow day? Legwarmers, that's what.

Stripy tapestry legwarmers

These tick several boxes - I'm knitting up stash yarn (in fact I'm knitting up Felix's stash yarn as she gave it to me!), I do need legwarmers, and I've got a little tired of having to reply to queries about whether I knit the sparkly silver lace legwarmers that I've been wearing to death recently with "no, they're from Accessorize, actually". These are knit from two contasting balls of Rowan Tapestry (see last December's post for my thoughts on this yarn). I'm very pleased with the appearance so far. There are one or two places where the stripes are rather indistinct but on the whole they look splendid and wonderfully cosy, not to mention being a very quick knit.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

snow plough

The snow plough might have been along the main road this morning but there was still no bus into work. After a short foray to judge the practicality of attempting the 8 miles into Oxford on foot I decided that it would be much better to take a day's leave to enjoy the snow, the cricket, my knitting, and a little bit of the Lord of the Rings on DVD.

The boyfriend and I made our usual trek into the park to check out the snow.

Richard with snowball

There were lots of similarly snowbound locals attempting some rather incompetent sledging down the hill. It's not great snow for sledging too powdery) which stopped me from feeling too envious about my sledge-less state.

sledging hill

After walking round the park and picking up some bits and pieces for lunch we headed home to enjoy the snow from inside. I had a lovely afternoon knitting and listening to the cricket which watching the snow on the branches outside.

Vanbrugh bridge

Monday, January 04, 2010

Hard frost

They're taking down the Christmas decorations at work. It's OK though because outside there's natural tinsel.

Rime frost

Every spider's web has been strung with spiky crystals and even the most mundane objects (top of a parking meter) have an icy crown.

Rime frost

I had another run this lunchtime where I wished I'd been able to take my camera along for your benefit. The frozen fields were the colour of sea glass and the river was a perfect blue mirror. At one point a swan flew low along it, its real and reflected wings together making a perfect O at the bottom of the wing beat. All the noises are clearer and sharper in the still air too, the quacking of ducks under the bridge sounds like the chattering of stones in a noisy beck.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Sprig driving gloves

I've been trying to start the year with a little preemptive destashing - I'm knitting up the leftover balls from the Sheep Yoke cardigan before I even get them home into the stash.

Sprig driving gloves

Sprig driving gloves

Sprig driving gloves

Yarn: British Breeds Yarns Blue Faced Leicester DK (just under 1 skein in Sage)
Needles: 3.25mm dpns

OK, they're not really gloves, not even really mitts - lets call them mittlets! But they are rather cute. For some reason I was getting a very vintage vibe from this shade of green - I kept seeing it against very red nails or lipstick. I think it's because Joan Allen has a headscarf in this colour in Pleasantville. Anyway I wanted something a little bit glam and the wrist strap and pearl button really do that for me. The design's not quite perfected but I'll put in some work on it when I get home and hopefully have something written up before too long.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Happy 2010

Happy New Year everyone - I hope it's fabulous for you all!

The New Year got off to a good start round here. I (fingers crossed) managed to book Felix and I into the classes we wanted to attend for Knit Camp 2010 yesterday evening - after a false start yesterday morning due to a confusion between a.m. and p.m. Still it's not like a wanted a lie-in after New Year's Eve! I even managed my first FO of 2010.

Glysse neckwarmer


[not really a great detailed picture of the item in question but it's a lovely shot of my new coat, and of the little birdy brooch which Kate sent me for Christmas!]

Glysse neckwarmer

[that's more like it]

Yarn: British Breeds Yarns Bluefaced Leicester DK (just short of one skein in Lilac)
Needles: 3.75mm long circular needle (magic loop)
Gauge: 24 sts and 32 rows in pattern.

It's not really enough of a pattern to write up at the moment but I've got some idea for it and if it works out I'll write up a pattern then.

In the meantime I've been knitting a pair of rather sweet little driving mitts. These just need a little pearly button and a right hand friend to be done.

Little driving mitts

Can you tell I'm a little bit obsessed with this two stitch cable on stocking stitch pattern? I'm really keen on incorporating it into an adult sweater based on Cirrus.