Thursday, September 29, 2005

So much to do in the last few days, I don't even have time to post! As is the case when life gets busy, though, there isn't really all that much to report - at least nothing that would not send everyone straight to sleep. Or does anyone want to hear about how I spent most of today writing job applications?


I thought not.

A few things have happened, though:

1) At long last I have a knitting group! Last week I got organised and finally dug the number of the knitting shop out that Diane from UK Handknitters gave me ages ago. I rang and went to the first meeting on Tuesday evening. Had a really good time, met some very nice people (hello Diane!) and I will definitely go again next week. It's a lovely shop too, so that is an additional bonus!

2) I have finished the mini project that I started when I had to frog my Hourglass Sweater sleeve. Have been wearing it today and 2 (!) people commented that it looked nice! :) Because I have no time I don't have a photograph of it yet, though. Maybe tomorrow.

3) I had a lovely lovely e-postcard from my Secret Pal. Thank you Secret Pal!! :) She (I'm just assuming that my pal is female because with the majority of knitters being women the chances are pretty slim of me having a male pal, but correct me if I'm wrong) also said that she is getting a package ready - I can't wait! :) I'm quite intrigued who she is. Apparently she is doing something with sculpture and drawing, which sounds very interesting...

4) I have finally washed the last load of the 3rd cut Kid Mohair. It looks lovely and fluffy and is just waiting to be carded and spun up. Now on to the 1st cut Kid Mohair and the Jacob fleece...

5) The drum carder is finished but now needs the carding fabric. We might go up to Yorkshire for the day on Saturday so if we do we could drop by Wingham Wool Work to buy it. We'll see.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Do you know what this is?

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It's the big drum of a drum carder that D is building for me!!

How fabulous is that?!

Ever since we went to all those yarn shops and bought those drop spindles in New England D has been fascinated with all things related to spinning. I am not complaining. :) There are currently several small kick-wheels in our lounge which all work, although they are still test models in need of improving (I have to remember to post some pictures at some point), and ever since I mentioned that I need carders he has been researching how they work and has been plotting to build one. Since we had a rather slow morning (came back from a wedding at 2am), we thought we'd take the Sunday off, and this meant that he was finally able to start building the carder. It looks great so far, so I will be able to order the carding cloth tomorrow!!

In other, more knitting related news - I had to rip most of my Hourglass sleeve because I made a mistake quite early on and, because the yarn is so smooth and has no colour variation that might distract from it, it was really noticeable. This left me with the urgent need to see some finished object, and I have started to knit something else with the Jaeger Kathmandu yarn that I bought the other day. It's coming along well, so I should be able to post a picture in the next few days. :)

Also, I finally got round to enquiring about the knitting group meetings in a LYS in a town near us (I got this info from someone at the UK Knitters Yahoo group) and indeed, they meet every Tuesday evening, so I'm pretty sure I'll go there next week.

Right, I'm off to work some more on my mini knitting project now.

Friday, September 23, 2005


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When I was a child, I used to have a tortoise called Elisabeth. It was before people knew how endangered these animals are and you were still able to just buy them in a pet shop. I was given Elisabeth for my birthday and she was called Elisabeth because my father then had an obsession for all things British and suggested that we name her after the queen. I'm not even sure Elisabeth was female, but I'm sure she/he didn't mind her royal name.

Elisabeth lived in a box in my room and I loved her dearly. In the summer I took her outside, where we had an enclosure made of planks of wood, which we placed on the lawn. Elisabeth liked this and used to graze for hours. In the winter she slept in a box filled with hay in the cool, dark cellar. She was tame and often stretched her wrinkly neck out so I could stroke it. She ate slowly, deliberately, and had a preference for salad, and she loved baths and used to get quite cross when I tried to remove her from the shallow luke-warm water baths that we sometimes provided for her.

Elisabeth was with us for several years, until, one day when she was in the garden, she made her bid for escape. She did so with the deliberation and strength and with the always surprising speed of turtles by hoisting one of her front legs over the wooden enclosure and pulling herself up. I know this, not because I saw her escape, but because I had seen it several times before. Usually, when she had toppeled over the enclosure, she would land on her back and I had to turn her over again, but not this time. This time she disappeared.

We looked for her for days, but she seemed gone. Eventually we gave up. It was only years later that I would hear from Elisabeth again. I was a teenager then and I still remember the day. I was coming back from school, when I met our old neighbour in the street, a nasty old woman who had loved to scare us as children. To my surprise she stopped me in the street and started talking about Elisabeth.

Elisabeth, she told me, had apparently, after her escape, fallen into her garden, which was on a lower level than ours and had lived there for a number of years, grazing in the summer, hybernating in winter. Quite amazing, when you consider how cold the winters in Germany can get, but Elisabeth had always been a very determined animal. Nasty neighbour, it transpired, had been very aware of Elisabeth's presence in her garden for years, and insisted she had told me - something she evidently hadn't done. The day before, though, while she was mowing her lawn, she had hadn't seen and killed Elisabeth. She thought I ought to know.

I think part of me still hasn't forgiven my neighbour.

I don't mind that Elisabeth lived in her garden for years. In fact, I bow to Elisabeth's resilience and strength and I am sure she was happy there, which is all I could wish for. To some extent I don't even mind our neighbour keeping this from me so she could hold on to Elisabeth. But what still fills me with something akin to horror is the callousness and outright cruelty of having to tell me years later, AFTER Elisabeth had died, killed by a lawnmower no less.

In any case, I have not forgotten Elisabeth and since then i have had a weakness for turtles. I love and admire their strength and resilience, their stubbornness and determination. I feel touched by their independence, by the fact that they are like little islands, self-supporting, carrying their own home with them. I feel drawn to their seeming calm, unconcerned attitude which gives them an air of wisdom, of watching the world go by; rocks in the current of time. They are wonderful creatures.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Secret Pal thoughts...

I've spent some time this morning, wrapping up and packing the first parcel to my secret pal. Quite exciting, really. I hope she'll like it.

Getting the gift ready made me think about how I feel about SP.

I've never been part of a secret pal exchange before, and the whole process still seems a bit strange to me. That I send a gift to someone but get one back from someone else without the chance to reciprocate by sending them something... I like looking at my secret pal's blog and trying to figure out what she might like - although sadly she doesn't update very often, so there isn't a lot of activity going on... I have also sent her a few emails to make sure that she doesn't think I've disappeared. Looking at the LJ knitting community and people's journals I get the feeling that there is so much anxiety about people dropping out, etc...

So how much are you expected to contact your secret pal? If she posted more often I would try to leave comments, but as it is, do I just write emails? Or postcards? My secret pal has left a comment here, so I know that he/she is out there, but I haven't otherwise heard anything. I'm not worried, but should I be?!

I think I will send my pal an email saying that I have posted something, just so she knows that a parcel is on its way. But is this what you'd normally do?!

Don't mind me, I'm just trying to feel my way through this unknown terrain...

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Earlier, I was walking through the pedestrian zone in town and I passed a shop that is called IRIS. It would be exciting to find a shop that bears my name, except, it's a clothes shop of the variety that has piles of clothes in containers outside, advertising them as 3 for 2. Looking at their window display I can also say with some conviction that the 80s are back.


You know, I think I must have passed this shop dozens of times because, well, every time I go into town tend to go this way. The shop is in a horrible little covered walkway. You know the type - concrete architecture ca. 1950, brown tiles on the floor, undefinable stains and graffiti on the walls, and the overpowering smell of urine hanging in the air. Why, you ask, do I choose come this way when I head into town?

Because the one and only LYS that I know of is in this walkway. It's not a very good LYS, in fact, it blends right in with the stained walls, the undefinable shades of beige and brown, and the stench of urine. It looks at home there. Inside, its a very similar time warp - brown carpet, not redecorated for fourty years. They mostly sell acrylic and wool blends, but also carry a bit of Rowan and Jaeger and sometimes there is interesting yarn in their huge sales bins. I don't normally buy anything there, which fills me in equal measure with satisfaction that for once I haven't bought anything and frustration that I haven't bought anything.

Today, though, I left with this:

Unfortunately the picture is useless in showing either the correct colours or texture of the yarn. Why did I bother?! Anyway, it's four balls of Jaeger Artisan in a pretty blue/green colourway, which I fished out of the sales bin, and three balls of Jaeger kathmandu, which are sooo pretty and soft and seem to be 4-ply - red, brown, orange, and some sparkles. Also reduced. How is that for unexpected hunting?! I think at least one of them is destined to become a One Skein Wonder. I've been hunting for some yarn to use for a while now.

After I had taken the picture of the yarn, I placed the bowl on the wooden chest we have in the bay window in the lounge, where it was promptly discovered by Kipper:

How ridiculous is that? It did look cozy though - in a very wobbly kind of way:

I'm feeling so sleepy today. I'm up, and I've had the obligatory two cups of tea, plus three crumpets, yet I'm still sitting here, barely keeping my eyes open. It doesn't help that one of my cats is curled up between me and the keyboard, snoring contentedly.

I think I might go into town today, just for an hour or so. I am getting all the little gifts for my secret pal together and I still have to get some things. Hopefully I can get the parcel in the post by the end of this week.

Other than that, there are no news. I washed some more fleece yesterday and apart from that, spent a mostly unproductive and frustrating day with household chores. Some little knitting on the Hourglass Sleeves yesterday evening, but that is it.

This is not going to be a great day, I can tell.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Self-Portrait Tuesday

More on the theme of Body Parts - an ear this time...

Check out the other entries on the Self-Portrait Tuesday Blog

Monday, September 19, 2005

Fibre Adventures...

I spent last weekend in Yorkshire with D's folks. There was also a BBQ and some socialising with friends we have up there, so no time for any knitting-related adventures. I managed to spin up some yarn though, that D and I dyed with Koolaid a while ago, much to the fascination of my in-laws. My father in law actually wanted to try spinning. He gave up almost instantly, but still!!

I was quite hung-over when we got back here yesterday, so the work that I had planned to get done yesterday afternoon got postponed to this morning. Instead, I managed to wash some of the fleece that Carolyn sent me last week. And I even have pictures! :)

OK, this is the unwashed fleece. I only washed a small part of it because I didn't want to risk dumping the entire load in water and accidentally felting it all. What you see here is Kid Mohair - 3rd clip Kid Mohair, to be precise - and even before it was washed it was lovely and silky soft, albeit rather stinky:

I picked the mohair over a bit to remove vegetable matter and very very caked bits. Then I got it ready for its wash. I used a laundry bag to contain the fleece because I was worried about a) loss of fibre in the sink, and b) my drains getting blocked. This means that I now need to buy a new laundry bag for my bras, but that's a small sacrifice to make. ;)

What I did was fill the sink with very very hot water - literally as hot as I could get it, and then I also emptied a kettle full of boiling water into it. I squirted in aproximately 1 cup of washing up liquid (after filling the sink so it doesn't produce to many bubbles), which I read you should use to get the lanolin out of the fleece. Then I placed the bag with the fleece gently on top of the water and dipped it in with the help of a spoon. It takes a while to submerge it, but it's all very exciting because you can literally see the lanolin dissolving into the water. Within minutes the water was beige...

I let the fleece rest in there for a while, then took it out and drained the water. Filled the sink again with hot water, placed the fleece in it to rinse it. After 10 minutes or so, I removed the bag again and drained the water away. I repeated this several times, each time making the water less hot so you cool the fleece down gently. For the last rinse I used cold water. I then removed the fleece, squeezed it gently while still in the laundry bag, then spread it out on an old dish towel, gently pulling the tufts apart, and left it to dry:

And this is the result - lovely, tufty, non-greasy, and white fleece. I will try to wash the rest of the fleece over the next week or so. :)

Friday, September 16, 2005


Do you see this?

Well, the photograph is a bit crappy, admittedly, but do you see what's in those plastic bags? It's fleece. Kid Mohair and Jacob fleece, sent to me by the lovely and generous Carolyn of Kids and Knits. Lots of it. From her own sheep and goats. Isn't she amazing? Thank you so much!!

The parcel arrived just half an hour ago and had me somewhat puzzled when our very nice but long-suffering postman asked me to sign for it. Then I opened the parcel and found the fleece and Carolyn's lovely letter and I was literally bouncing up and down with excitement. The cats thought I had gone mad as they were watching me from their safe spot on the windowsill.

All that beautiful beautiful fleece! I can't wait to start spinning! I'm not going to be around this weekend, but as soon as I'm back I'll get right on the case and start preparing it.

*bounces some mor

Carolyn, I don't know how to thank you enough - this made my day! I'll make sure to document every single step in the preparation of this wool and to send you some yarn!! :)

Yarn-swap thoughts...

The Hourglass sweater is coming along fine, and I've finished the body now and can start with the sleeves. In fact, I tried to cast on for them last night, but realised that I didn't have the right needle size. Drat! Also, the pattern requirements say 30cm circular needle. 30cm?! Do they even exist? I've certainly never come across them before. I've ordered some 40cm and some DPNs from Get Knitted, just to be on the safe side.

So now I wait.

And wait.

And work on my thesis.

And browse KnitPicks just to tortue myself a bit. I do this sometimes. All the pretty pretty yarns. And so cheap!

It's not fair.

Which makes me wonder. How about a yarn-swap? UK yarns against US yarns? Rowan, Colinette, Fiberspates against Knitpicks, Cascade, Manos del Uruguay? There must be even more pretty yarns on either side of the atlantic that are either way too expensive or difficult to get hold of at all. Would anyone be up for that? What do you think?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Knitty board yarn swap

A while ago, when I started de-stashing, I posted a list of all the yarns that I wanted to sell or swap on the knitty board and a lovely lady called Michelle contacted me to ask about all the Rowan yarn I wanted to get rid of. We decided to swap against some sock yarn and Romney roving as well as a drop spindle that she had and we both sent our parcels off. Well, yesterday, her parcel arrived here and isn't it fabulous??

Look at all that roving! And the drop spindle is HUGE. I can't wait to try it. Underneath there are two balls of oatmeal-coloured sock yarn and then she added a few surprises in as well - some teal-coloured sock yarn (2 balls) and a bar of handmade soap!! And thank you for the lovely letter that came with it. :)

Thank you so much Michelle, I'm over the moon with our swap!!

Now I just hope that my parcel to her will get to her soon - I'm always a bit worried when I'm sending stuff internationally as I've had quite a few things disappear over the years - and that wasn't even overseas, only from the UK to Germany and vice versa...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Self Portrait Tuesday

My first Self Portrait Tuesday picture. It looks like I'm not the only one who has decided to use hands for this. Browsing blogs this morning while I drank my cup of tea I saw that Nikki Shell has not only posted a photo of her hands, but she has even put together a list of some other people who have gone with this theme. I'll just point you to her blog if you are in search of more pictures of hands, ok? :)

Monday, September 12, 2005

And some actual knitting content...

I know I'm a bit of a posting demon this morning, but don't worry, it won't last! ;)

It just occurred to me that I haven't posted a single picture of my current ufo - the Hourglass Sweater - yet, so I hurried away to take a picture to correct the situation. Knitting is fast and I've done about 12", and the Lang Fantomas yarn I'm using is soft and, although it sometimes splits a little, quite pleasant to knit with. Well, anyway, here she is:

And also, I was spinning some more a few days ago - this time some wonderfully soft yarn we bought at the Elegant Ewe in Concord, while we were in NE. I have no idea what kind of fibre this is, because I didn't think to ask when I bought it (was just attracted to the lovely soft fibre), but while spinning it I was reminded of the texture of HipKnits Silk yarn, so this may well be silk. It was odd to spin - quite slippery, and with very long, very straight fibres, so it made me try a different (new to me) method of preparing the roving. I split it lengthways into thin slivers of fibre and spun it from those.

This is about 40g of lovely smooth and shiny yarn, spun as a single. There are a few places where it is a little over-twisted, but overall I'm pleased:


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'The souvenir moves history into private time' says Susan Stewart in her book On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection.

I think a lot about all the little objects that make up our life. You see, that is what I am working with, what my PhD is about, at least in an abstract sense. And seeing how much time I spend looking at the small and seemingly insignificant, at detail, at the ordinary, it just follows that I had to start thinking about all those things we collect, meaningless in themselves yet vessels for memory, for a multitude of meaning inaccessible to anyone not in on the secret.

Looking at the website with the postcard secrets this morning, I have been wondering about all the disparate object in my life, the things that clutter my desk, grace my walls, that sleep in boxes and on shelves, full of secret meanings. We all collect things - photographs, souvenirs, little snippets of paper, objects torn out of their context.

How often do I find myself in an antique store, in a charity shop, at a car boot sale, looking, not at the value of things, but at the objects people have rejected, and the lives they have led. Objects carry meanings that over time become forgotten, misplaced, or altered, and looking at them, I can't help the curiosity about all that is hidden and inaccessible to me.

Objects are like the closed door in the castle you visit at the weekend - locked and marked private, and so much more interesting than the representative rooms with their expensive furniture and costly paintings. Endlessly fascinating, objects, like locked doors, lure us with their secrets, with the promise of something 'real' just behind the closed door, behind the facade of what we are allowed to see.

This is the start of a project that I am calling LOST AND FOUND. This will not happen on a particular day, but every week I will post about something found; some object, be it a photograph, a drawing, a random object, a poem - something apparently accidental. I am hoping that it will help me remember and treasure the memories locked up in those objects, the secret of their personal meaning.

Pssst! I have a secret...

I just stumbled upon this website: PostSecret. It is a community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously, on self-made postcards.

It's a strange, somewhat fororn feeling, seeing all those secrets, untold to the people they they concern or would matter to - snippets of other people's lives, lonely, and without context, like leaves drifting on a pond in autumn... It reminds me of the Won-Kar Wai film In the Mood for Love, where at the end of the film, the main character, Chow Mo-wan, whispers the story of his love for a married woman into a hole in the wall of an ancient temple, only to seal the hole up afterwards with mud, so his secret will be kept forever, abandoned and in the company only of all the other secrets by unknown people, sealed up and left behind.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Secret Pal 6 Questionnaire

The famous SP Questionnaire!

I haven't been informed who my secret pal is but it should be today or tomorrow... This is my first secret pal round - I'm so excited!!

SP 6 Questionnaire

1. Are you a yarn snob (do you prefer higher quality and/or natural fibers)? Do you avoid Red Heart and Lion Brand? Or is it all the same to you?

In some ways I probably am a yarn snob. I definitely prefer higher quality and natural fibers. However, I have also used cheaper yarns that I have liked, so there are exceptions to the rule. Overall, what is important to me is the feel and look of a yarn and I like it if there is at least some natural fiber content. Also, if it ‘squeaks’ weirdly like some acrylic yarn does (makes my teeth hurt), or if it looks terrible after washing it once, I probably won’t like it.

2. Do you spin? Crochet?

I’ve just got into spinning. When I was on honeymoon this month we visited several yarnstores in New England and amongst other things we bought two drop spindles and some roving. My partner is now obsessed with making the ‘perfect’ spinning wheel, which is great, as I get to try them out! I also bought a spinning wheel, just a few days ago, but I'm already in love with the whole process of making yarn.

3. Do you have any allergies? (smoke, pets, fibers, perfume, etc.)

Mussles and some kinds of pollen, and DH has a nut allergy, but that’s not really relevant, is it? Yarn with a very high Angora content makes me itch - but doesn't it do that to everyone?

4. How long have you been knitting?

I learned as a child, and then stopped because I thought it was boring. I got back into it about a year ago, through an online friend (LiveJournal), who tempted me with the beautiful socks she kept on knitting.

5. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

Yes, I have an wish list, but it's a bit chaotic at the moment... It’s here: If that link doesn’t work, you can also find it by typing in my user name, merkuria_lyn or my yahoo email address,

6. What's your favorite scent?

I love natural scents – freshly cut grass, how the forest smells after it has rained, flowers (lavender, rose, mint). Also, the smell of freshly baked bread.

7. Do you have a sweet tooth?

Not particularly. I eat chocolate and cake every now and then, and I have a weakness for my aunt's black forest gateau, but in general I prefer savoury foods and rarely get cravings for sweets.

8. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do?

I’ll try anything! Seriously, I have always loved drawing and painting, although now I get very little time to do that, I used to do pottery (before the courses that I used to go to were cancelled… grrrr), I knit, and spin, and am looking forward to trying to dye my own yarn and I am planning to teach myself how to crochet. I used to do quite a bit of sewing, and recently I have started re-discovering my love for fabrics. I am currently lusting over Amy Butler fabrics on ebay. ;) I also love gardening. Does gardening count as a craft?

9. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

I love opera and classical music, jazz, chansons, and pop. My music taste is quite eclectic. ;)

10. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?

I used to wear mainly black (to the extent that people used to ask me if I was in mourning) – it wasn’t an image thing, just simply habit, I guess. Since then I have been teaching myself to like colours, and although I lean towards more earthy tones I now rather like pink and berry colours too. Recently I’ve developed a love for burnt , spicy shades of orange. Colours I can’t stand – yellow, at least on clothes. I like blue, but can’t wear it - it seems to look rather odd on me…

11. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

Married, with two cats.

12. What are your life dreams? (really stretching it here, I know)

Oh dear. I’m currently in the last stages of my PhD, so finishing that is pretty high on my list of life dreams! Longterm, D and I are hoping to lead slightly more alternative lives, be more self-sufficient, maybe move out of the city somewhat, so we can keep some more animals. Overall, I guess my life dream is that of many people – to lead a good and fulfilled life in the company of people I love.

13. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?

I don’t really have one but there are plenty of yarns I love, or think I would love if I could get hold of them (coughKnitPickscough). As long as it doesn’t scratch or ‘squeak’ while knitting and is soft to the touch I’m not fussy, but I usually makes sure that the yarns I use don’t shed too much, so Angora, much as I like the look and feel of it, is pretty much out. Generally I love wool and silk. I used to think that I didn’t care much for Mohair, but that was before Rowan gifted me with Kidsilk Haze… Hmmmm. I am curious about yarns and will sometimes just decide that I want to knit something with a yarn that I think looks interesting and will then go and find the right pattern for it (rather than the other way round).

14. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

I’m not too keen on acrylics, but then again, I have used yarns with acrylic content and they were fine. Angora, because it sheds to badly. Otherwise, as long as a yarn feels good to touch and wears well I’m open-minded.

15. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s?

Sweaters. Lots and lots of sweaters on my to-knit list!

16. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

I enjoy knitting. I have knitted bags and scarves, and summer tanks, and some shawls and I have enjoyed knitting them all. Well, I was getting a bit impatient with Clapotis and the endless repeats in the middle section, but the same for every big project, isn't it? I am currently working on a Sweater and that is quite good fun too!

17. What are you knitting right now?

The Hourglass Sweater from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts. There is also an almost-finished Froth Scarf, knitted with some KidSilk Haze, and my nearly forgotten Cozy...

18. What do you think about ponchos?

Errr, not for me, thank you. I don’t hate them, and I’ve seen some that look OK on people, but I don’t think I want to make or wear one.

19. Do you prefer straight or circular needles?

No preference – depends entirely on the project.

20. Bamboo, aluminium, plastic?

Bamboo and aluminium.

21. Are you a sock knitter?

I have knitted a pair, recently, but suffered slightly from the 2nd sock syndrome. Overall I enjoyed the experience, though, so I’ll definitely knit more of them in the future. It allows you to use colours you wouldn’t use on any other item of clothing, and that alone makes it fun! :)

22. How did you learn to knit?

My aunt taught me when I was a child. When I started knitting again a year ago, I quickly remembered the basics, then taught myself the rest with the help of online knitting groups and the SnB handbook.

23. How old is your oldest UFO?

That’d be Knitty’s Cozy – which is about 5 months old now, I believe… Someday I’ll finish it.

24. What is your favorite animated character or a favorite animal/bird?

What a strange question! Not sure about the animated character, but I love all animals. I have had both cats and dogs for pets (so no preference there), as well as a hamster, a mouse, two rabbits, two turtles and a parrot when I was a child – not all at the same time, though!! ;)

25. What is your favorite holiday?

We spent our honeymoon driving around New England on a Harley Davidson – that was pretty perfect. :) But any holiday in an interesting and beautiful location could be a favourite.

26. Is there anything that you collect?

Books, I guess. They seem to breed on my shelves… And yarn and fiber, obviously. :)

27. What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

Interweave Knits (if my first issue ever arrives). Rowan International.

28. Any books out there you are dying to get your hands on?

I love books. I love reading them, I love looking at them, and fondling them. I'm odd that way.

29. Any patterns you have been coveting, but haven't bought for one reason or another??

I'm a bit of a horder and I love patterns, even though there is no way I'd ever be able to knit all the things I would like to! I'm currently trying to restrain myself a little...

For future reference, the questionnaire is also in the side-bar to the right.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Let me introduce...

My LiveJournal friend, sock-knitter extraordinaire, and the person who got me into knitting (she has a lot to answer for...), the fabulous Say finally has her own knitting blog, Plum Tuckered!!

Go and have a look and give her praise for her beautiful socks. :)

Friday, September 09, 2005

Self Portrait Tuesday

I've decided to try this (see the button I have posted under 'KALs' in the sidebar). Nikki Shell and Yarnstorm are both participating, and I have been toying with the idea for a while. There is a new website and list now, and I am thinking that it just might be the thing I need to inspire me to experiment more with photography, to be more creative and to push myself - I've been ever so lazy recently and have worked on this hardly at all.

I'm not my favourite subject - if anything, I'm a bit photo-shy - so this is a bit of a challenge for me, but I'm thinking that this is a good thing. Challenge is good! :) The theme this month is 'body parts'. We'll see what I can come up with...

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Decisions, decisions...

I still haven't decided what I want to knit with all that Rowanspun DK. And to make matters worse, I bought some more, because I thought I might use it for the Market Square Sweater (IK Fall 05). But then somebody on the knitty board was kind enough to tell me the gauge (as my copy STILL hasn't arrived), and I think DK might be a bit too heavy. So, Rowanspun DK, what shall I do with you? Any suggestions, anyone?

And then, as if my DK dilemma wasn't enough to keep me occupied for the best part of this winter, I also succumbed to the lure that is Rowan's Bigger Picture:

You can see all the patterns in the booklet HERE.

Now, I'm lusting after Rowan Big Wool and Biggy Print. I would really like to knit this sweater:

And this one too:

And this cardigan looks soooo cozy!

And I think D might really like this sweater:

And they all look like they could be finished in about 5 minutes as well! I could knit lots and lots of them! Well, if I could afford lots and lots of Rowan Big Wool and Biggy Print, that is. That stuff is expensive. Maybe I should get spinning and just create my own yarn...

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Handspun and hand-dyed...

I forgot, I wanted to post a picture of my first handspun, hand-dyed yarn, all pretty now, in tidy skeins:

And another picture, for more accurate colours:

The red 2 sachets of Red Cherry Koolaid, and the skein weighs 50g.

The orange and green (orange again... can you see the pattern?!) is one sachet each of Tangerine (the orange) and Wild Watermelon & Kiwi (the green). The skein weighs 60g.

I'm pleased with the colours, in particular as this was grey wool, so I wasn't too sure how the Koolaid would take.

I have a thing...

Do you see this? Looks like one lonely skein of Rowanspun DK in Burnt Orange, doesn't it?

You are right.

I got it from my local Hobbycraft outlet this morning, spied it in a sale bin and pounced. This was quite a surprise to me because the yarn selection at Hobbycraft is usually pretty slim, and reductions are rare. This was not terribly cheap, but cheap enough that I couldn't resist.

Fine, no problem, right?

Only... the skein is not really all that lonely. It has 10 mates to keep it company. ALL the mates it had in the sales bin, in fact.

Add to that the unplanned purchase of 10 balls of Jaeger Shetland Aran in almost the same colour, that I talked myself into yesterday, and you have orange overload.

I better come out and just say it - I have a thing for burnt orange yarn. I LOVE the colour, want to cuddle, it, pet it, squeeze it.

This is a relatively new thing. OK, so I have this old orange crochet tank that I still wear in the summer, but apart from that my wardrobe is orange-free, I swear! But there is something so bold and warm and just plain delicious about the colour that lately I don't seem to be able to resist.

The thing is only, how many sweaters, hats, scarves, ... does a person really need in the same colour?!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Meet Lily...

... the Ashford Traditional spinning wheel. :)

D and I drove all the way down to near near Marlboro yesterday to pick up my accidental ebay purchase. It turned out to be a lovely drive down. We took the slow road there, lazily driving through pretty villages in the Cotswolds, and were welcomed at the ebay seller's place with a much appreciated cup of tea. They were interesting people and we sat around on their patio for quite a while, chatting about spinning, knitting, and travelling. She was a spinner and knitter, but has a wheel herself, so felt she didn't have the time to repair and look after another two wheels. Yes, you heard right, TWO wheels.

I omitted yesterday that the auction that I won was for two wheels rather than one. Not that it matters much, because one of the wheels is not complete, and comes without a flyer and bobbin. Otherwise they are both sturdy and functional, though and so so pretty!!

I think I'm in love... and so is D! He is fascinated by the simple yet ingenious mechanism of the wheel and when we got home he immediately set about getting one of the wheels to work. We spent the rest of the day on this, with me plying the yarn I had spun on my drop spindles and D watching and tinkering with the other, incomplete wheel. By the end of the evening he had it in pieces, which he is going to clean and then reassemble. :)

And this is what I did yesterday:

The second skein is the same type of roving, but not as good (it included all the rather bumpy first bits of handspun), so I used it to experiment with some Koolaid. I'll post a picture of the yarn when it's dry and you can see the colour.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Oh. my. god.

I have just won a spinning wheel on ebay.

I didn't even want to bid and I certainly didn't plan on winning.


Friday, September 02, 2005

Wanted to continue this report sooner than this, but D and I spent most of the bank holiday weekend trying to get the garden up to speed - more than 5 weeks (3 weeks away and the weeks before too busy) of not doing any work on it have left it looking like a bit of a wilderness...

But that's not what I want to talk about. Instead, here is the second part of the big report:

New England - Part 1

You know, this feeling when you go on holiday somewhere, and you think that you would like to live there forever? Well, I usually get that. In fact, the only time I didn't think that when I was on holiday was:

1) Scotland: Breathtaking countryside, sure, but it rained. And rained. And RAINED. And then it rained some more. So much, in fact, that the car was almost washed off the road once, when we tried to pass some kind of river that had started flowing right across the street. The whole 2 weeks we were in Scotland we spent in various states of being damp and shivering with cold. The damp crept in everywhere - the car, our clothes, the bedlinen when we got into bed at the various B&Bs after a long day of RAIN. After a week I'd had my fill. So did I want to live at the Scottish west-coast? HELL, NO!

2) Fuerteventura: This was our one and only last-minute package-deal. Never again. Of course we should have got suspicous at the mere name of the island - fuerte ventura, as in 'strong winds'. Yeah. It was windy all right. Not a good thing for a desert island, as you can probably imagine. Sand flying everywhere, sand in your clothes, sand in the apartment, sand in you sun cream, sand in your books, sand in your eyes. Still, I think I could have made friends with all that sand and wind, if the island had been beautiful. I kind of like beautiful locations - in particular when I'm on holiday. I'm funny that way. Well, Fuerteventura, at least in my opinion, is not a looker. As I mentioned, it's a desert island, which means that there is very little greenery. Instead it's mainly grey and black (the volcanic stone does that). The only plant that seemed to thrive was a kind of sickening-looking red fungus which tended to cover the black lava-stones. It looked a bit like those pictures I have seen of the surface of the moon. The whole thing was not helped by the fact that even though most of the island was supposed to be a nature reserve, everybody was using the countryside as a giant dumping ground for old fridges, old bathtubs, old cookers, ... You get the picture. Now, I would probably still have made my peace with the place, if there had been somewhere quiet and nice to read a book, but apart from a few tacky tourist resorts, the island was sorely lacking in infrastructure. And the wind made reading on the beach impossible.

This island was definitely not for me, so no house there, thank you very much! If you are into excessive sunbathing and surfing, then I'm sure this is the place, though - endless beaches and, because of the wind, fantastic windsurfing opportunities. Or so I'm told.

Anyway, this is taking me away from what I was going to talk about - New England. See, I usually get a yearning to move to a different place when I'm on holiday, so if it was totally up to me and not at all up to my limited cash, I'd have houses everywhere, from Italy to France, to Greece, to the Caribbean. But this does not take anything away from New England. So so beautiful. And at the same time so much variety. I think we had it all - the big city, beach living, costly and cheap, intellectual, hip, alternative, and some amazing countryside.

I think I'd best do this day by day, that way I will have a travel diary for myself as well...

Day 1
We flew via Dublin (was the cheapest flight we could catch) to Boston, so the flight was loooong. We arrived in Boston in the afternoon, though, which was good, as it left us with enough time to go to the hotel, then explore a bit and grab a bit to eat, before the jet-lag would claim us. We stayed in Revere that night, because this was close to the Harley Davidson Rental place where we were planning to go the next morning.

Revere is, well... retrospectively it probably isn't very exciting. It's mainly residential, from what we could see, although apparently it has the first public beach in the US. We sat there for a while that evening, just trying to come to terms with the rather overwealming last few days - the wedding, the Sunday breakfast, the flight back to the UK, the flight to the US. It was peaceful. I will keep that beach in good memory.

We ate that evening in a Chinese restaurant we passed by, and had our first experience with American portion sizes. We'd ordered a meal each, but what arrived could easily have fed a family of six or more. Of course we were asked if we wanted to take the rest with us, and we did, but of course we didn't have a fridge or a microwave. Cold Chinese take-away is not good. ;)

We woke up early the next morning (jet-lag kicking in...) so we got some coffee and doughnuts at the 7/11 around the corner and took them back to the beach. We sat there, watching the beach come alive with joggers and people walking dogs. I can't remember when a simple cup of coffee and a doughnut have tasted this good...

It was still early, so we took some time walking around the neighbourhood, but there is really not much to tell. We were still so dazed, because of the flight, our jet-lag, but also because of everything that had happened during the last few days. It takes some time to come down from all that. So we just wandered around aimlessly for a while, then grabbed our bags and took a taxi to the Harley rental place. :)

I'm not really a biker (at all). I don't ride a bike, and despite the fact that D is quite heavily into bikes (in particular trial bikes), I have hardly ever been on the back of one of his. Despite all this, though, I associate the US with Harley Davidson bikes. Not as in 'everybody rides one', but I've always wanted to tour the US on a Harley, which is why I agreed to do this for the Honeymoon. D was obviously delighted, although he was also quite nervous because those are huge bikes and we are both rather short people... We were upgraded as well, because the bike we wanted was due for servicing, which meant an even bigger bike (it also meant that we had more storage space AND A CD PLAYER, though, so I wasn't too cut up about this!!), so we took it very very slowly that first day. Drove out of Boston and south, towards Plymouth, which was to be our first stop.

I think that trip was the first time it really sunk in for me that we were on honeymoon. It was sunny and warm, and the Boston skyline looked amazing as we drove over the bridge. The Harley was more comfortable than any bike I'd ever sat on, our luggage was stored in the saddle-bags on either side, and I felt free. It was like flying! No PhD, no work, no family, no wedding-planning,... just D and I and a Harley. :)

We arrived in Plymouth in the early afternoon. We'd booked a B&B here and the place was amazing. It's here - Whitfield House - and it was an old building, apparently built in 1782, and located just minutes from the harbour, in the second oldest street of Plymouth. It looked so beautiful - all the rooms were furnished with antiques, each looking different. Can you imagine that our bed was a canopy bed?!

Whitfield House garden and back of house (and the Harley):

Our room:

Plymouth is a beautiful place. Apparently it gets very quiet in the winter, but it was vibrant with life when we were there. Thousands of visitors come here every year to see Plymouth rock, which is supposedly the granite rock onto which the Pilgrims stepped after they arrived here on bord the Mayflower. The town itself is pretty and built in what I soon recognised as a typical style of New England.

A picture of the street parallel to the one our B&B was on:

I was rather unimpressed by Plymouth Rock, which looked to me like a glorified pebble, but I enjoyed the seafront, harbour and town, and we visited both the Mayflower II, which is a replica ofthe Mayflower, and Plimoth Plantation, which is a reconstruction of the Pilgrim's 1627 settlement. Both were very interesting and the replicas were well done. Thus, Plimoth Plantation for example authentically re-creates the settlement including everything in the village, costumes, implements, artistry, etc. There are even animans which have been bred to be very similar to those which the Pilgrims had. Similarly, the Mayflower II was informative and the exhibit was well done.

The Mayflower II:

We spent three days in Plymouth, and, enjoyed every minute of it. In the evenings we usually got some fresh fish from one of the places by the harbour and ate it by the water front, and we even managed to go whale-watching, something I'd very much looked forward to doing!

Plymouth Harbour:

Whale Watching:

Other than that, we took a day's trip to Cape Cod and Provincetown, but I think this has to be the subject of the next post, because the pictures are not on the computer yet!!

To be continued...
I've updated the list of yarns to swap or sell with some more stuff - looks like I'm on a roll now!!

Also, I've finally started with the next part of my report. New England - Part 1 will be up later on today. :)

In more practical knitting-related news: I'm alternating between working on my Hourglass Sweater, for which I am continuing to half follow the pattern and half making it up as I go along to fit in with my gauge (we'll see where that gets me...) and spinning with my drop spindles. I LOVE spinning. It's meditative and quite satisfying, and I can't WAIT to dye my first lot of handspun yarn.

Right, back to work. More later!!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

There will hopefully be a bigger update later (and I'm still planning on finishing my write-up of the honeymoon / yarnshop tour of New England), but for now I just want to say that there is a new section in my sidebar: Sell and Swap!

I've been meaning to de-stash for a while now, because I desperately need more space in my office, but it's hard, I'm telling you. I get attached to things and even if I know that I'm never going to knit with a yarn, I find it difficult to say good bye... There will probably be more, as I manage to distance myself emotionally, but for now, this is the stuff that really needs to find a new home.

Anyway, have a look and let me know if anything interests you. :)