Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Christmas, Solstice, Hanukkah or Humbug

Whatever you celebrate, or not at all.

Thank you for reading my nonsense this year, I've really enjoyed sharing it with you.

I hope that 2009 brings good things to everyone.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Jetlag dishcloths and a gentle man.

Time is gradually slipping back into it's familiar ways and the brain along with it. For most of the week I could only be trusted to undertake the simplest of activies - eating sandwiches and making garter stitch dishcloths. There is a lot to be said for the simple beauty of garter stitch made into a cotton square, especially when topped with these lovely stitch markers made by Ravelry chum Wyndwitch.

I've woken up enough now to spin a little - this is a mix of shetland and rabbit from a local spinner and funnily enough, rabbit owner. I used some of my Kool Aid that was smuggled through customs from the USA to dye it and the mix of a darker shade of yarn with the zing of the Kool Aid creates something rather subtle. Or at least subtle-ish.

The gentle man of the title refers to Oliver Postgate, co-creator of some of the best childrens' television ever. He died some days ago and his leaving makes the world a sadder place. Thank you Oliver, for Bagpuss, for the Clangers, for Noggin the Nog, for Ivor the Engine and for all of the joy and imagination that you brought to my childhood. Here is an obituary in the Guardian, I defy you to read it and not wish that this man had been your friend.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Jetlag and Happy Memories

I am shimmering with tiredness. We flew home on Monday night, arriving in London Tuesday afternoon and finally home to Mog Towers on Tuesday night. Everything here is cold and frosty, such a contrast to the Californian sunshine.

There are so many stories to share and photographs to post that I couldn't possibly do them all justice. We had a wonderful time and felt right at home.

The inside of my fortune cookie from Golden Gate Park's Japanese Tea Garden sums it up rather nicely.

Monday, 24 November 2008

So Little Time

It feels like we should still have weeks to go on this trip but in reality we only have another seven days. A lot has been squeezed in so far. We visited Tom's Beau Pere -to-be in Ventura where the sun shines onto the sea, the phone rings with calls from Lebanon and  Paris and the garden is filled with healing herbs.  

I had my first Flickr meet-up with Christine who showed me the wonders of Lafayette and Walnut Creek, complete with yarn stores, patchwork shops and   ( view the photo large ) candy stores. She also made me a beautiful project bag which is just right for sock projects.

We ate soup in the cafes of San Francisco's North Beach,  revelled in the peace of the Japanese Tea Gardens and watched the passers by till our eyes were sore. This week we head off to Lake Tahoe for Thanksgiving and Tofurkey. I hear there is snow forecast - just like home! 

Saturday, 8 November 2008

10 Things I Like About You.

So, we survived the flying and the jet lag.  Immigration was slightly tricky as there had been some mix up with another ticket belonging to someone with a name similar to mine. This meant a visit to the Scary Immigration Office.  Luckily I passed and then made it through Customs without having my tin of shortbread confiscated.

Here are some first impressions:

1. Blue skies - lots of.
2. People in Oakland, especially women will smile in your direction if you catch their eye.
3. Blue Jays.
4. Hummingbirds.
5.  Raw food smoothies at Cafe Gratitude.
6. Post Halloween pumpkins still on porches.
7. Many bookshops.
8. At least one yarn store in walking distance.
9. A lovely light filled apartment.
10. So much good coffee I might never sleep again.

Best of all, we get to hang out with Tom and Lara!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Second Cousins?

I had great hopes for Socktoberfest but reality hit and I only managed two pairs of socks instead of the hoped for thousands. Two pairs more than I might have knitted without the 'Fest though. This pair are the least matching fellows I have ever made, lovely solid green Jawoll and the odds and ends of my Noro sock yarn. Obviously I could have fiddled around and made the stripes a little more fraternal but I thought I'd leave things to serindipity. Serindipity seldoms lets you down.

The hat is Felicity, a free pattern found on Ravelry. A lovely simple knit but tricky to photograph without assistance. It is perfect for a person going on holiday. We have bags packed, an in house cat wrangler organised and all that is left is to fly for hours and hours tomorrow until San Francisco appears. Magnus as you can see, is not pleased at being left behind. He gets terribly car sick and it doesn't bear thinking about what might happen on a plane.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Rainbows and fleece.

The clocks went back an hour yesterday so night now falls with a great thump at about five in the evening. Time to close the curtains and keep warm. There might be frost on the roof in the mornings but our tomatoes are still ripening in the greenhouse. Feet have been finished and mitts have been made, a pair for Archie with less Frill than mine but the rest of the pattern stays the same.

It has been super rainy this weekend but the storm eased just enough to let this rainbow through, well worth getting soaked for.

I have almost finished spinning my first fleece, a gift from the lovely Julie and it is likely to turn into a cosy cardigan of immense proportion. One of my Spinning Guild gave me a Shetland fleece last weekend and on Thursday I met Kim who gave me two whole fleeces and a big bag full of mixed fibres. I'm not sure if spinners are an exceptionally generous lot or very clever people who want to lure us all over to the Distaff side. Either way, I have a lot of spinning to keep me company on the dark winter nights.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Season of mitts and mellow fruitfulness

Good things this week? Apple crumble shared with family. Mary Jane's Frill Mitts almost finished. Natural dye experiments with damsons, apples and nettles. And a touch of poetry.....

Ode to Autumn.

John Keats.

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'erbrimmed their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, -
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing, and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

The Princess and The Pea

Colin the joiner and his Dad are still here banging, sawing and generally making things beautiful. Sock 2 is finished and a new pair was started on Saturday in the esteemed company of Miss Frugality and Tattiebogle.

Magnus is making sure that nothing bad happens to the curtains while the windows are replaced. Either that or he is auditioning for the lead role in a fairy story.....

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Socktoberfest's first sock.

Literally the first sock because I haven't knitted it's partner yet. I was talking to Sylvia the jeweller this morning and she has a problem with making earrings - once she has made one, it is very difficult to drum up the enthusiasm to make the matching other. Sounds a lot like Second Sock Syndrome to me.

Here's to the next pair of socks ..... .or at least a friend for this one

Monday, 29 September 2008

I'm in!

Colin the joiner came today for the beginning of a week of banging and crashing. He and his accomplice are fitting new hyper warm windows, making a door and building a cupboard. There will be a lot of dust, flying glass and hanging around.

What did I think was the best plan to survive this? Knit a sock.

Then I checked out Lolly's blog and was reminded that it will soon be Sockoberfest. Last October I couldn't knit hold four needles at once, but this year I have moved on as a knitter and socks count as stress relief. Blimey, that's progress. Today I knitted half a sock and it's still only September!

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Warm Thoughts.

This week I have been nursing a chest infection, antibiotics have been prescribed and much grumbling and loafing around occurred.

I've been dreaming of soup and warm things. Rosehips? Saves you from all known germs!

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Berry Delusions.

I've noticed recently that so many of the yarns I'm knitting/spinning/dyeing have berry tones. This week I've been experimenting with natural dyes, on account of finding a good book in the library, one sleepless night and the realisation that there were blackberries in the freezer.

Unfortunately, instead of reading the good book properly, I jumped right in without proper instruction and came up with a pale imitation of what I had hoped for. Thankfully the result is quite beautiful and has already been earmarked as part of a sock. I had, however, hoped for something more resembling the berries I sacrificed.

I've learned my lesson, read the instructions and butchered Sylvia's Elder tree. I'm aiming for stronger results this time. The fleece is languishing in a pot of dye as we speak.......

On the knitting front, I finished my Febrary Lady Sweater. I loved the all in one process of knitting and already have plans to adapt it to make a jumper out of some acrylic aran that's been under the bed for years. I still think it might be a little too long but everyone else disagrees. Here is a picture to help you join in the debate. I'm always a little shocked when I see a photo of myself. There are no full length mirrors in Mog Headquarters and in my mind I'm still a lithe teenager. When did things become so..... well...... sturdy?!

Monday, 8 September 2008

Seedheads and spiderwebs

Things are changing over here, the sun is lower and the evenings shorter. The garden is backlit, flowers are giving way to seeds and if you stay still long enough a spider will spin a line on your shoulder.

Autum has arrived and the time for knitting warm things is upon me - with any luck I'll something to show next time........

Saturday, 30 August 2008

A visit to the Cinema of Dreams.

Last week I found myself in a magic world of beanbags, deckchairs and wonderful films. There were glitter balls in the cafe and you could pay for your ticket with a plate of home made cakes.
Dogs watched films about pigeons and children who were 8 1/2 could celebrate their Cinema Birthdays. Grafitti in the loos was positively encouraged, some of it deeply philosophical, some just honest, like the little girl who had written:

This is better than TV!
( But I still like TV. )

It rained like billy-o, there were two hour queues for films and only one loo for the ladies yet nobody grumbled. Instead they passed the time chatting to strangers and talking about the films they had seen, or wanted to see. Some of us worked on our knitting. This festival was sponsored by no-one, not intended to make a profit and was staffed by volunteers, from the projectionists to the lady who sewed all the bean bags. If a film was sold out, they simply showed it again.

Thank you to Tilda Swinton, Mark Cousins and all of the volunteers. I hope the Ballerina Ballroom surpassed all of your hopes and dreams. It was a fantastic place to visit and the cakes were lovely.

Friday, 15 August 2008

A knock at the door.

Sarah, a neighbour's daughter and her friend are there. The friend's family have a farm and the girls have been picking potatoes. Would we like to buy some? I agree and they go home, only to return with a huge carrier bag full of spuds.

How much? They ask.

Three pounds? I venture, unsure of the true value of potatoes.

Five pounds? They suggest.

Are they New Potatoes? I enquire further.

Weeel, they came out of the field this morning........

Eventually we weigh the potatoes and calculate the value according to some we already have in a cupboard which are conveniently sporting a price label.

The girls go home with six whole pounds. Haggling is obviously not my thing.

In other news - I made a quilt.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

A walk into the past.

My lovely school friend Sam is over from Australia and last week we had a day of travelling around our old haunts. First of all we wandered through the town Sam grew up in, with the obligatory stop for coffee and scones. Then we took the bus route that I used to travel everyday from school along the coast to my town. It was a bittersweet trip, there are huge gaps where much loved family and friends used to be and a sense of a time long past. A time of great silliness and larking around at bus stops, Mars Bar crispy cake eating marathons, brass band practice and budgies called Bimbo.

We spent all of our change at the funfair and I refused to go any of the scary rides. As a compromise we played Bingo for the first time ever which can only mean we are now old.
Along the beach where I spent many a rainy afternoon sulking as a teenager, there were families playing in the sand as if it were Benidorm and not Burntisland. It might have been foggy and littered with beached jellyfish but the seashore was filled with people. I don't often go back but next time I'll be sure to bring my bucket and spade. Hopefully Sam will be there too, with the Mars Bar crispies.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Abundance in small packages.

I've been spinning like a dervish this week. I know the sun is blazing down and Magnus is stretched out underneath the birch tree, yet the spinning bug bit. I have taken some lovely pictures but as the handspun is destined as gifts I won't post the evidence till I know the yarn has arrived at it's rightful home.

The redcurrants did me proud this year and they are waiting patiently in the freezer for me to buy a jelly bag and some sugar in order to turn them into redcurrant jelly. The bush was a sad little fellow found in our local Woolworths whose price had been reduced on account of the mould growing on the top leaves. I took it home, planted it in the right place and now I'm reaping the reward.

Another gift was this lovely lavender cat, made from Japanese fabric by my super talented SIL, Babs. It is intended for hanging in an inspirational place in Knitting HQ although Magnus would prefer it was left on the bed so that he can sleep fragrant dreams. I can just see him now, chasing after lavender scented mice...........