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Monday, May 31, 2010

Bursting out all over

How excited am I at the return of Springwatch!

I've even been doing a bit of Springwatching myself. I took these photos of damselflies at the edge of the lake at Aldenham Country Park on Sunday.

We noticed quite a few damselfly nymphs crawling out of the water whilst we were having our lunch and quite a few new emerged adults too, clinging to the concrete dam whilst waiting for their new wings to harden up.

Newly hatched damsel fly

There were also empty nymph skins just left lying where their former owners had crawled out of them.

Damsel fly nymph skin

And then I spotted this one guy with a little split across his back. I waited a few minutes and saw something absolutely miraculous.

Damsel fly emerging

You can't get anything more brand new than this and it's absolutely perfect, down to the tiny legs which have emerged from the legs of the nymph like fingers from a glove and just compare the milky eyes of this insect with the eyes of the slightly older damselfly above. Amazing.

Friday, May 28, 2010

One thing at a time

The other weekend I was mulling over what project I should start next, maybe a Coraline or Manu in Jamieson and Smith or a new spinning project (I bought a braid of Shetland in the Bay of Fires colourway from Megan at the last OGWSD meeting) when I suddenly realised I was feeling rather panicky, like my knitting work-load (knitting work-load!?) had become too much for me. Time to take a step back. Just because I'm involved in three biggish projects at work there's no need to replicate the situation in my crafting. This is my hobby after all, it's meant to be fun, and relaxing.

So for a little while I'm just going to be working on one project at a time - either until the current backlog of WIPs has been worked through or things calm down at work (whichever comes first!).

Jorvik sock

This does have its drawbacks of course. Not all knitting is suitable for all times and places. Making these tiny twisted stitch cables whilst simlutaneously trying to stop the chart falling off my lap isn't the easiest thing to do on the bus and I had to rip back two and a half rounds yesterday after omitting to make two sets of "KFBF"s (knit into the front, back, and front of the stitch in order to make two extra stitches) whilst knitting at the pub. Can't think why I forgot to put those in!

Jorvik sock

I do appreciate that this single minded concentration on one project at a time will make for rather boring viewing on the blog but fret not - it really can't last!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Brioctopus

I came home from a lovely evening out and dinner to find the boyfriend struggling with his second baking disaster in a week.

Brioctopus

Whereas the first attempt resembled a small boulder in weight, texture (and taste) this looked more like a many-legged creature clinging desperately onto its exoskeleton. Indeed, as I type the boyfriend is trying to hack it out of its non-stick shell whilst simultaneously swearing off ever baking again!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Too hot to blog

Path to Broadway Tower

But not too hot to stomp up to the "highest little castle in the Cotswolds" on Saturday and definitely not too hot to go swimming in Port Meadow on Sunday. Knitting has been going on and I'll tell you all about it - once it's cooled down a bit.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Just wow!

Have you guys seen this sweater? I love the concept, the oversized cabled cuffs, the loopy i cord hem, and just the overall fabulousness of it. Looks pretty cosy too, doesn't it?

Making it all better

Excuse the language but it has been a hell of a week. Entirely my own fault but I managed to book myself onto a two day course during a week in which I was more than ordinarily busy with my day job. So I have been making it all better by ...

  • painting my nails to match my current knitting project (yes, they're now bright red to match Megan's Redgum sock yarn)
  • knitting said project
  • buying a scoop of G&D's vanilla icecream with chocolate sauce on the way home
  • putting a good squirt of Bulgari on each wrist
  • phoning a friend for a chat
  • making and eating a mushroom risotto with blue cheese (everything tastes better if you put Stilton on it)
  • drinking a couple of glasses of Sauvignon Blanc
  • making Nigella Lawson's banana bread from Domestic Goddess (minus the rum, raisins, and walnuts) for tomorrow's guild meeting
  • watching four episodes of the West Wing season 4 back to back on the laptop whilst making risotto and banana bread - the Nick and Dave show is pretty entertaining but it doesn't come close to Bartlett for America - we bought our breadbox because it could hold a loaf from our breadmaker but it's also the only spare flat surface in the kitchen on which to rest the laptop

    Safe to say I'm feeling pretty good right now.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Five alarm Monkeys

Wellington sock yarn in Redgum

The heart wants what the heart wants. When Megan brought along a bag of her yarn to the pub last week I immediately seized on this skein of Wellington sock yarn in the Redgum colourway and when it came time to knit it up although I considered a number of lovely sock patterns (Baudelaire, Vampire Boyfriend, Baroque) I kept coming back to the idea of a pair of bright red Monkeys.

Five alarm Monkeys

Trust me, this photo does not do this red justice. I love how the variegation produced patches of colour rather than stripes and I can't wait to finish sock #2 so I can wear them.

Monday, May 03, 2010

What's on?

My needles:

Mitten cuff

Beginnings of a mitten in hand-dyed yarn with a butterfly pattern for the Oxford Guild of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers butterflies and moths challenge for Fleece Day next month. I overdyed some oatmeal coloured Bluefaced Leicester with supercook food colouring using cream of tartar as a mordant.

Revontuli shawl

Also a Revontuli stashbuster shawlette using one ball of raspberry Jaeger Matchmaker merino and some leftover Artist's Palette Sweet Feet sock yarn. I was thinking whilst walking to Sticks'n'String in Reading last week that I needed a chevron shawl pattern to use up some of my sock yarn odds and ends and then as soon as I arrived I saw someone knitting this, perfect! I've just got one repeat to go on this one, then I might start another with the rest of my oddballs.

The stove:

Mushroom risotto

Very exciting looking mushroom stock and sliced chestnut mushrooms for risotto for tonight's dinner. I'm cooking my first recipe from my new MasterChef cookbook. I'm not doing the truffled brie, alas. Even if I could afford truffles I don't know where I'd find them round Woodstock on a Bank Holiday Monday.

The ball-winder:

Handspun grey welsh

Handspun light grey Welsh fibre from Wingham Woolwork bought at Woolfest last summer. I've spun this at an aran/chunky weight. It should do nicely for the next four panels on my handspun British breeds log cabin blanket.

My nails:

Coordinating nails

I love it when my nails coordinate with my knitting.

And finally the TV: it's been an all-day Buffy-fest round here (with a short excursion out to the park for scone and tea).

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Camera clearout

Inspired by Felix's recent post here are a few shots from this weekend and last weekend.

Knee socks

Knee socks knit from Megan's (The Thylacine) Wellington sock yarn in the colourway Scarpantoni. You've got to love a sock yarn with enough yardage to get a pair of knee socks from a single skein.

Black tulip

Black tulips harvested from the pot on the balcony in order to clear out some space to plant new bedding plants on Saturday. It's hardly Jane Brockett's "tulip triangle" but these are very classy. I'm going to make a lot more effort with the balcony this summer - I really want to be able to see a bit of colour when I look out of the window.

Knights of Royal England

The Knights of Royal England at Blenheim Palace on Saturday.

Prizes

You might wonder why I would go through all the pain and hard work involved in training for and running a marathon. I have one word for you - prizes!

Quite apart from the medal, t shirt, and pre and post-race goody bags I got a bunch of other stuff from my lovely friends and the boyfriend.

The day before the race Lara held a lovely tea party for me with flowers, balloons, and mini champagne flute bubble blowers.

Flowers at Lara's

Felix brought me a pre-race treat that wouldn't interfere with my race preparation. It's a tiny sparkly cake pendant with a tiny fork to "eat" it with.

Good luck pendant

I also bought myself a pre-race present from Sisters & Daughters in Blackheath - I love this bracelet so much, and it goes a treat with my favourite Amy Butler skirt.

Bracelet

When we finally got home after the race I found that the boyfriend had bought me a little rose bush and put champagne in the fridge (which I then drank in the bath).

Roses

And then when I got into back work on Tuesday I found yet another present in my pigeonhole.

MasterChef Cookbook

A big thank you to my very thoughtful and generous friends and to everyone who wished me luck before the race or sent me congratulations afterwards!