Saturday, 27 September 2008

Santa's Little Helper

Patting myself on the back this week as the Christmas knitting schedule is on track and even though it's not yet October, I've got several presents on the go already:

This is another Wisp but in a soft and silky merino single ply, instead of Kidsilk Haze. I think it'll look even better once the lace pattern is blocked but I love the colour:

Next up is Porom, a new hat pattern from Brooklyn Tweed. I had to start this again as I was a complete idiot with the (simple, clear and fairly obvious) instructions for one of the charts. But fortunately Take Two is looking much better. It's in Felted Tweed, so not too heavy for a soft and slouchy hat:

The we have the garter stitch simplicity of the autumn scarf. This is in the lovely Lanark Tweed (one of the best yarn bargains on the net) and I'm particularly fond of the mustard yellow colour:

And bringing up the rear we have the Big One:
Only got the hem so far, but at least I've made a start. This is Jamieson's Heather Aran in Fresco, and is going to be seriously warm and cosy.
So, for the time being, I'm on schedule. Now, where's my three gold stars and a chocolate muffin?

Thursday, 18 September 2008


Woolly Stuff has tagged me for a meme - slightly scared as have never tried one of these before, but she's helpfully passed on the rules:

Link to the person who tagged you
The charming and lovely Woolly Stuff can be found on the right.

Post the rules on your blog
Which I'm doing now, so we're in that weird hall-of-mirrors, chicken-and-egg thing so somewhere in the universe this point is endlessly repeating itself in a quantum kinda way that's going to give me a headache if I think about it anymore.

Write six random things about yourself
Um, right. Random. That I can do:
  • White wine makes me horribly sick.
  • I am (overly) suspicious of cats. They think. In a plotting, evil genius, we're-way-cleverer-than-you kind of way. I reckon the Egyptians were onto something.

  • I believe storytelling is one of the most powerful and beautiful aspects of any culture.

  • As a teenager I wanted to be a forensic scientist/anthropologist.

  • I own three teapots. No, I don't know why either.

  • I was once in a school production of The Sound of Music and was told I looked 'the most nun-like', which is just what every 17-year old girl wants to hear.

Tag six people at the end of your post
OK, done.

Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog
OK, give me a couple of minutes and consider it done.

Let the tagger know your entry is up

I'm tagging:

My Fashionable Life

Prick Your Finger

A Boy Has Needs

Lolly Knitting Around

Fig & Plum

Knit and Tonic

Wednesday, 17 September 2008


A couple of days ago I had 40 (yes, really) skeins of yarn delivered to me at work. A guy there on work experience cast a quizzical (though, to be fair, non-judgmental) look and a co-worker kindly explained "She knits".

I bounded through the office, gleefully hugging the squishy stash of Jamieson's Heather Aran, with the added bonus that it had been on sale at a $1 a skein (I know, that should be a pound sign but this keyboard has a mind of its own and normally the fact that it likes to swap symbols and keys around with wild abandon wouldn't be an issue, I simply hunt for the schizophrenic key that has decided to become a pound sign, but in this instance it has eluded me - as far as I can tell no key, no combination of shift-influenced keys, no F5/alt/del wizardry can induce any of these keys into producing a pound sign. My computer tends to run a little hot and the prospect of it spontaneously combusting is not outside the realm of possibility, so I am loathe to antagonise it. I simply mutter under my breath, become increasingly frustrated and call it HAL when I think it's not listening. And don't even get me started on my non-existent modem signal...)

Sorry. A Rant appears to have snuck in there (isn't snuck a marvellous word?). Back to the good stuff.

So the lovely Jamieson's in Fern (a brighter green than the name suggests) and Fresco (a daft name for a great shade of greyish moss green) is destined for the festive season. One batch will be the sweater project for this year (not telling for whom) and the other well, to be honest, I'm plotting how I can syphon off most of it for an entirely selfish idea for me. Fortunately, I reckon there's enough for me to make several presents and then use the rest in a guilt-free woolfest for myself.

Naturally, my colleagues were a little bemused by my excitement so thank god for the Hoxton Knitters (that's the Hoxton-based knitting night, not some group of people I've claimed in a weird bout of self-promotion) who could share in my joy at the woolly yumminess and delight in my thrifty find. My family are kindly tolerant of my obssession and have no problem with knitting but nevertheless they don't knit and therefore they don't get it. Same with my friends at work. Which is fine, it's just so nice to spend some time with friendly folk who do get it. These are people who, when you're talking about how nice it would be to have money and not have to work, agree that the best part would be all the time you would have to knit. And you can say it and no one looks at you like you're slightly barmy. Instead they all nod enthusiastically and join in the wool-based fantasy.

They also understand the fact that you can never have enough yarn. It doesn't matter that I have 12 huge balls of tweed in three different colourways waiting to be used. Or a couple of balls of alpaca. Or a huge amount of Rowanspun that I should really frog from an ugly half-finished sweater and put to better use. A good analogy for non-knitters (or at least female ones) would be shoes - same principle applies: there's no such thing as too many.

So, if you do not knit, imagine you have just found the perfect pair of killer heels, and they fit you exactly, and they match your favourite dress, and they give you legs the length of Erin O'Connor's, and they were on SALE.

And now you can share in my joy at 40 skeins of yarn.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Hometown Glory

I Knit Day and a visit from the Yarn Harlot have rather passed me by amidst the wedding road trip, but I've enjoyed catching up on events from the web.

The Yarn Harlot's blog of her trip was particularly great as there's nothing so pleasing as having an outsider recount their adventures in your hometown. Plus you are reminded of your own idiosyncrasies that seem so normal to you and bizarre to others (love her comment about when it started raining and how, apparently from nowhere, every Londoner simultaneously whipped out an umbrella - a few days was clearly not long enough for her to witness the truly schizophrenic quality of our weather and how every eventuality must be catered for at all times, thus every bag I own has been purchased on the basis of whether or not I can fit an umbrella and a spare jumper into it ).

As far as I'm concerned London is, quite simply, the best city on the planet (but then I would say that, wouldn't I?). Its history, culture, vibrancy, eclecticism, noise, contrasts, architecture, grime, pigeons, beauty and slight air of madness make it a place of constant discovery and surprise. But living here and seeing it everyday and cursing the Tube, the pollution, the traffic, can all too easily blind you to its delights. Hearing a visitor describe it in wonder is an important reminder of what a fantastic place it is. And there is something awe-inspiring to live in a city that has stood here for two thousand years and that has survived countless invasions, plagues, bombs and urban redevelopment schemes.

I've been slowly (very slowly) working my way through Peter Ackroyd's Biography of London and it somehow helps to dispel the lazy ambivalence I sometimes feel. However much a journey on the Tube may drive me crazy in the morning, there is something wondrous in pausing to think that it was built way back in 1863. Or that under Victoria station fossils fifty million years old were discovered. Or that there are about 40 abandoned, disused Underground stations littered through the city; crypts for a forgotten rush of travel and activity.

From below to above; I think it was Bill Bryson who said that when in London (or British cities in general) you have to remember to look up. As the Yarn Harlot found, it's only then that you really see the fabulous architecture and the details of the buildings which are otherwise often lost at street level.

So, had she had more time (and a less pressing need for buttons) where would I have directed Stephanie?

Well, I'm glad she found the National Gallery - one of my favourites and free entry to boot - but the British Museum is pretty amazing too. I defy anyone to stand in the Reading Room and not feel a rush of desire to pick up either a pen or a book (and I mean a solid fountain pen and a heavy, leather-bound tome).

Columbia Road flower market early on a Sunday morning is a joy, as are the sights and smells of Borough food market.

A walk along the South Bank takes in most of my favourite views and buildings and standing on Waterloo Bridge with St Paul's on one side of you and Westminster on the other is pretty special too.

Then there are the parks, the river, Liberty's, the 24 hour bagel shop on Brick Lane, the view from Primrose Hill, Daunt's Books on Marylebone High Street, the National Theatre, Tate Modern, and the jazz band that plays on a Saturday night at the Palm Tree pub.

I think I'm going to have to hit the town this weekend...

Monday, 8 September 2008

The Mile End Massive

And another wedding, this time my friend Henry, who was getting married in the lovely town of Ludlow in Shropshire. Unfortunately, it had been raining solidly for several days and after driving for 4 hours from London we were trapped by rising floodwaters:

Yup, that's one flooded road. And notice how the water is practically churning away as it gushes down the hill with alarming speed. It not only made the going a little damp, but also pretty treacherous, since it ripped out chunks of asphalt, leaving huge potholes hidden under the murky water. Waiting in a queue of traffic, trying to work out if we could make it into town or would have to turn back (and listening to horror stories of water 4 feet deep in places), we entered a surreal alternate reality as the whole thing turned into some sort of Monty Python sketch. A hearse pulled up beside us at one point (empty, thankfully) followed almost immediately by a truckload of sheep, a large tractor and a fire engine. This impressive comedy line up of vehicles penned us in one after the other until we finally managed to turn around and find an alternative route. At least 7 hours in the car made for a productive journey knitting-wise. And the trip was worth it when we arrived at our rented cottage:

A seriously lovely barn conversion, with plenty of space for all 8 of us. The wedding itself was even more lovely, and we managed to bag a quick photo with the groom - the Mile End Massive (or most of it) from days of old:
That's Henry at the back, looking very happy and slightly overwhelmed - and yes, we'd all had quite a bit of champagne by this point. Although it was only later in the evening that photos like this started cropping up:

Josh, on how to make ushers look cool. You'll be pleased to learn I have no photographic evidence of the dance-off that took place a few hours later, the I'm-not-really-drunk-and -I-can-do-the-splits contest, or the entire roast pig that was consumed the following morning (unbelievably delicious).
The following evening we were making the most of the cottage, with an enormous vat of stew, several bottles of wine and the joy of old friends round a big table:

University feels an age ago and it was a rare treat for us all to be together in one place for more than a couple of hours. And no, I'm not telling you the embarrassing student stories we re-told and laughed over.
What happens in the Massive stays in the Massive.