Thursday, December 29, 2005

More snow pictures

Like a good Cambridge photographer, I went out in the cold to get those romantic shots of favourite sites in the arty snow.
I want to make a hat on a circular needle and, despite the fact that I have a gajillion needles, I don't seem to have a short circ in the right size, so the route we took led to the yarn shop, past this Victorian pillar box. Too bad it was on the shady side of the street, but at least the snow hadn't melted out of the little lines!
The first place we checked didn't have the right needle, and although I had a gift certificate there, I didn't feel quite ready to commit to any yarn just then, so we moved on to the other place in town to get a knitting needle.
We passed this Elizabeth II space-pod pillar box, with just a bit of snow on top. It's streamlined, see, so no little niches to catch the snow. And facing the wrong way to catch snow on the gigantic cipher!
Onward to the post office, where I had to mail our absentee ballots for the upcoming Canadian election. And there we found this little pillar box, which really is a box on a pillar, and not a box shaped like a pillar, so I don't know if it has a special name!
The post office is near Robert Sayle, which, as I breathlessly announced yesterday, was having a sale. I found the right kind of needle, and then just had to pass the big bin of half-price wool. I got 3 skeins of Debbie Bliss Maya, two green variegated and one all pale blue and grey and misty, pearly coloured. I imagine a buttonhole bag, when I get back to my nice washing machine!
Also I snagged all the poopedy green Merino Chunky, which should make a nice vest for me, but probably not a full sweater with sleeves. I got a few balls of other colours, too, some grey, a dark green and a black. And Arthur, fun-loving guy that he is, chose some Rowan Cotton Tape in bright orange!
Stephen did ask if this yarn purchasing was reasonable, given the limited time we are staying here, as he doesn't want to transport "surplus" wool home. I pointed out that there is no such thing as surplus wool. I don't think he was convinced...
On the way home we came down onto Midsummer Common, and saw these valiant souls trying to sled, in an inch of snow on a 10-foot slope. Remember a few Winter Olympics ago, there was a British ski jumper? It's no wonder people laughed, if he got his start like this....

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Snow day activities

Here we are frolicking in the snow yesterday! It was not a lot of snow, but it was good and sticky and made great snowballs and piles to smash, and what more do we need. It mostly disappeared through the day, but more fell in the night!
If one shops for postcards and calendars of Cambridge scenes, there's always one of some snow, but never very much snow! I bet the pros were out in force getting the new picture of the chapel lightly dusted. My guys went out in search of thrills, but found that the town, lately so jammed with shoppers from the neighbouring area, was practically deserted. All the college stuff is closed up and the students have mostly vanished, so the few tourists in town have nowhere to go.
And of course, we had all our new toys to play with at home. You might have thought the favourite present would be the truck or the building toys or the half-knitted front of the Weasley sweater*, but I think Arthur liked the Cambridge Monopoly game the best. He whupped his parents totally in one afternoon. Arthur and I played and knitted for a bit, we took a break for a bit, played for a bit, and then, just before the complete rout, I handed over the game to Stephen, who oversaw the demolition of our entire fortune. (Those red cards in front of Stephen are all mortgaged!) Arthur had three of the transportation cards (instead of 4 railroads, there are the train station, airport, bus station and the Backs, for the river traffic) so that the rent on each one was 100 pounds. He got the cheap properties and quickly built hotels, since he kept landing on Free Parking and raking in all my tax money.... Oh, the misery of it.
But I could console myself with a cup of tea from my new teapot. Looky here! It's a hexagonal Victorian pillar box teapot!! Who would make such a thing? It's lovely!
I also got a gift certificate at the yarn shop, and ... oh, a Cambridge Monopoly game. Arthur and I spotted it one day, but didn't buy it. Then Arthur and Stephen saw it, and got it for me. Then Arthur and I were back in that street and I suggested we get it for Stephen this time, but he hemmed and hawed and suggested we should pass... you never know what might turn up under the tree... And then I lost so miserably.

*I made a valiant attempt at getting both initial fronts done on the kids' Weasley sweaters, but with them home from school for a few days before the 25th, it was pretty hopeless. I have now finished Elaine's front, and am well on the way on the A, but then, of course, I have backs and sleeves to knit! Their birthdays are coming...

Beep, beep, last minute announcement!! Cambridge knitters, Robert Sayle is having a wee sale and they have Debbie Bliss Maya for £4.50 (or was it £4.25?) and Merino Chunky for £1.45!! Rowan All-season Cotton, Cotton Tape, and another bin of decent acrylic, but I got stuck in the really nice stuff and couldn't spare a moment for the pretty nice stuff! Not much left, but run over asap! I just hopped in for a 40 cm circular 4 mm needle, and found myself quickly losing control....

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

It's snowing, it's snowing!

Hey, it's 7 am, still pretty dark, but I just wasn't sleeping and so got up. When what to my wondering eye did appear, but SNOW!!! Lucky us, the milkman has made his way through already. There's a good half-inch out there, so traffic will be snarled any time now. Pics of us all frolicking sure to follow!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

All the festive stuff

You can't find real snow around here these days, but Arthur and I lucked into this guy! Not very convincing, is it? Ah well... We know what a real snowman should look like!

And here is our little wee tree, decorated with handmade stuff, found objects (you wouldn't believe how many bike reflectors fall off bikes around here!) and a few charity shop baubles. We had to go on a quest for candy canes. We went to several shops which had sold out, and we were told by the sweet shop in the market that if we got there early on the weekend (last weekend!) there would be a couple of boxes, so we did manage to procure some, but it was a struggle. The postman has been delivering packages, so the space under the tree is filling up!

No snow, rare candy canes.... But we successfully made Midnight Brownies for Santa, so all will be well. (And baking brownies at least disguised the smell of Stinking Bishop, which is very hard to contain. We're eating it as fast as we can...) I've got brussels sprouts, wine, ice cream. All systems are go. We just have to clear a path through the living room so Santa doesn't trip over anything in the night!

Happy Christmas to you, and we can all celebrate that we've passed the solstice and the sun is coming back!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The stinkiest cheese in the world

Thanks to all my Frappr folk.
Some expected faces, and some completely unfamiliar!
It's great, but I need more! Go on, add yourself!

We went to the cheese shop today. Usually we buy
whatever takes our fancy at Tesco, but lately
Stephen's been eating stilton and liking the stinky
blue cheeses. So Arthur and I thought we'd get him
something special, and went to the specialists.
We got a fine bluish brie-ish thing that I can't
remember the name of. It's quite nice, and pictured on
the right. (You'll find out why they are all wrapped
up in a sec!)

And then my eye was caught by
something called Stinking
! Not blue, but who could resist? Apparently Wallace
and Gromit like it
I should have googled it before I opened it! The most
pongy cheese in these islands, says one report. Smells
like old socks, says another. Apparently they make
cheese, then "wash" it in
, which is pear cider, made from Stinking
It actually tastes not bad, if you can get it up to your mouth without fainting from the smell, but I wouldn't take it to
a party... And I don't think I can keep it in my fridge for too long!

And what does Stephen think of it?

Hmmmm, not bad!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Sign my map!

Check out our Frappr!
Well, it is time for me to join in. Everyone else has a Frappr map, and now I need one too. You can help me out here. Just click on the little Frappr box, and it will take you to my map, where you find your location, type in your name, and put a pin in my map. Then I can see just who is reading this! It'll be sort of like Christmas cards!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Two events, one photo

Things have been hopping around here. Arthur and Stephen are out at this moment on some secret mission, and I had to run upstairs quickly and without attracting any attention when the postman delivered something to me this morning. Such fun!

Last night we went to the college children's Christmas party. There was a treasure hunt and limbo dancing, and Father Christmas himself arrived, with Rudolph helping with the baggage. Then the buffet! How ... unvegetabley! Sausage rolls, pork pie, cheese pizza (this is English pizza, with maybe edam cheese or something) and sandwiches -- egg, tuna, cheese, ham. There were some cherry tomatoes for garnish, and I guess experience has told them that the veg don't get eaten, but it was a bit pork-heavy to my eye. But what the heck, it's Christmas... And then we got entertained by Steve Sausage! who was a laugh a minute, and the best part was he let all the kids (and adults!) play with all the stuff! Arthur walked on funny wheels, while tossing a juggling pin from hand to hand! Elaine "tightrope walked," going on the wheels holding a baton horizontally for balance! Stephen got to show off his juggling!! (And decided he should learn to spin a plate on a stick if he wants to really wow his first-years.) And I clapped and knit a square and juggled a bit, but not so that anyone could really see!

But... it was cold and dark when the kids and I left home to go to this event; all the taxis in town were busy so we had to walk; I was in a flap because I knew Elaine wouldn't want to walk all that way and I would end up carrying her... and I forgot the camera. So, no pictures. Sorry... But when we start up our family circus, we'll get pictures.

The other grand event was Elaine's school production. She was an angel, in a white shirt, wings and a halo. There were 4 classes involved, 5 and 6-year-olds, and the whole thing lasted almost an hour! Some kids acted in a little play about the family gathering for Christmas dinner, and they referred to the Christmas story, so some other kids played Mary and Joseph finding a room at the inn, some kids played the goats in the stable and so on. There were Three Wise Dudes in shades and shimmery sequinned capes, and a choir of angels. Here you can see Elaine's blonde head as they skipped through the audience up to the stage. Mostly I could see the backs of other parents' heads and a blur of kids on stage. Luckily when they got all the kids up for the grand finale song, the angels were front and centre, so I got some pictures of her waving her arms in an unfocussed mass of other angels' arms, but I don't really think it's necessary to show them. In any event, the kids had a great time doing it, and the singing was lovely, and it was a great accomplishment.

Two more days of school. Some knitting happening. Baking chocolate purchased. We've got everything under control.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

OK, Santa, we're ready!

Here are the four stockings. I finished the last one last night, mostly in the pub, with Liz and Anne, who has documented the whole affair, and Rosie and several others! I had enough of the red left for maybe half a stocking, so "next time" I would make each one a little bigger. But there will be no next time, really. Now we just have to figure out how to set them up for Santa. We have a brick fireplace-like thing with a square hole in it, which used to hold an electric fire, but now is just a hole. Poor Santa will have to come in through the front door, I guess.
And here is one of them with the buttons I got yesterday. I wonder if I should sew some of them on to make initials or other designs... I love sifting through bins of buttons and coming up with some gems, and I did just that in a thrift store yesterday, after a rather fruitless Christmas shopping attempt. I got the kids some clothes that they needed, but had no luck with the secret fun stuff.
Now, do you think I can knit those Harry Potter sweaters before the 25th? Do you think I should even try??

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Not just a knitting blog!

Now, lemme tell you, this is not just a knitting blog, no, not even just a knitting blog/ travelogue! We now offer you the cooking show portion of the blog!

Once, long, long ago, I bought one of those 101 Great Christmas Cookies magazines. We have a few favourites, but I bet there are about 95 recipes we've never tried. So I set the kids to look through and find something new to make. Ack, Arthur picked meringues! I love to eat them, but thought they were hard to make. And we have no electric mixer! Actually, we have the body, but I can't find the whipper part! So, we
set to work (after I cleared the dining room table of all junk, thinking all the while, "maybe I really am born to clean!") with a whisk and 4 egg whites. Who knew what soft peaks are, or stiff but glossy peaks!? Well, now I know we definitely got soft peaks, but I'm not sure we ever made it to "stiff but glossy."
But we did manage to make little white blobs, and put sprinkles on them, and bake them, and now we've just about eaten them all! So I guess it was a success all around! Next time, I'm waiting till we have a mixer, coz I injured my knitting muscles with all that whisking!
For our next trick, we'll make our fave molasses cookies, I think, if I can find molasses in the grocery store. If only I could find the Aunt Jemima aisle... So far all I've come across is golden syrup, which I used to love on vanilla ice cream, but I'm sure it won't work in molasses cookies!

On the knitting front, three stockings down, one to go!

(And Arthur had one heck of an omelet for dinner!)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Oh dear

I took this quiz twice, because who wants to be dishcloth cotton?! But even though I tried for snazzier answers the second time, I'm still dishcloth cotton. Also, I really think it's wrong, because never in my life have I been described as "born to clean"!

You are dishcloth cotton.
You are Dishcloth Cotton.
You are a very hard worker, most at home when
you're at home. You are thrifty and seemingly
born to clean. You are considered to be a Plain
Jane, but you are too practical to notice.

What kind of yarn are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Knitting in the pub

Here's some fun this Tuesday night:
Knitting night, Tuesday 13 December, 7-9pm, *new venue*, The Regal (Wetherspoons), St Andrews St, Cambridge. Warning for young (and young-looking) knitters: the door policy here is over-21s only, with bouncers who check id from about 7.00pm onwards. Inside is vast, so we'll aim for downstairs, right at the back (which is often, but not always, a non-smoking area). Tuition and yarns, needles etc available for anyone who'd like to learn.

I'll be knitting a chenille stocking... unless I have them all finished by then... Or maybe the denim sleeve, or perhaps a sock.... Maybe I'd better go out and get another project, perfect for knitting nights....

Friday, December 09, 2005

More fall colour

More lovely Cambridge scenery! Midsummer Common on your left.

The river has been full of action these past few days. A while ago I saw rowing eights full of people in costume: a boat full of pirates, one full of fairies with pink wings, one load of bunnies with big ears. Those wacky undergrads... And they've obviously been practising a lot, and the other day we counted 10 eights and a bunch of fours coming back down the river, looking as if they'd been racing -- or at least working really hard! Those early morning traffic jams under the bridge are all leading up to something!

I took these pictures today on my way to the grocery store on my bike, where I bought a lot of stuff and had to haul it all home in the bike basket. Usually if I think I'll buy a lot, I take my little wheelie-cart, but today I'd not planned on getting too much. However, a few 500g packages of pasta and a few cans of beans and a few other things, and I've got a lot of weight in that basket. It's like the front wheel has a mind of its own and it's quite hard to manoeuvre, and I was just hoping the wicker basket would make it home in one piece! Sometimes I wish I had a minivan! (No, not really!)

But this is what I get to see on my bike on the way to the store! Look at that colour! It's quite amazing when the sun shines on these brown leaves; they're so rich and coppery and shiny! And they go so well with the willows across the river.

Our few frosty days seem to have passed, and we are back to our lovely sunshine and 5 degree C days. One can go out in a big sweater, without an actual coat (and one day I'll make myself a hat and mitts and scarf that all at least sort of match)! Perfect winter, if you ask me. The kids are still hoping for snow, but I'm quite happy, thank you!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Misty musings

I hope you can see all the wonderful fall colours here. Much better in person, I can assure you. A lot of the leaves have fallen since, after all, it's December, but there are still these beautiful golds and browns and rusts and greens and olives and greys all over, with a Victorian pillar box to really liven things up! This was taken one day when I was on my way from the library (where I had to return Rowan Babies because someone had put a hold on it) to our college for lunch (Stephen gets a number of meals per month, and I was just helping him reach his quota). The college is not romantic and neo-Gothic or even Victorian; it was built in 1969 and has some quite uncomfy knitting chairs in the lounge. It does have family suppers, and we suspect that the Big Guy in Red will be at the December one. So, we like it.

We are gearing up for Christmas. I've finished one chenille stocking and I'm halfway through the second, and when I've done four, that's really all the knitting I have to do for Christmas. I'm also working on the denim (I'm making Solo for some random 2-3-year-old and am thinking about a pair of Blu jeans, too!) and my pondering about the Perfect Sweater has taken me in some funny directions. Somehow I've gone from making myself a nice wool cardigan from Yorkshire Tweed, to deciding on these for the kids*! Now, "deciding on" doesn't necessarily mean that I've got the wool or anything, but it's at least my present plan... It all started when I went to see the Goblet of Fire and got taken by this sweater and found myself wandering the web till I found Ron's great afghan. Anyways, the Harry Potter knitting just took my fancy, and although I'm one of the last moms to knit a Weasley, I think I shall order the kits and get on with them, and I'll just make myself my Summer Tweed sweater before the spring....

Oh, back to Christmas... We got ourselves a fake tree from a charity shop and hope to get it up this week. The kids are winding themselves up, of course. Elaine is in the school production. She will be an angel, dressed in a long white T-shirt (and we got a note asking if we could make sure she wears plain white undies on the day of the show! Show me a 5-year-old girl with plain white undies!). In Toronto the kids will be singing Frosty the Snowman and Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer, but here we get the full Nativity story, Away in a Manger, Silent Night and all that! Elaine likes to read the blog, and was quite taken when I mentioned Going Jesus, and she's always saying, "We're really going Jesus at school these days!" Yes, well... I can't wait till Easter.

And to end on a "smallish world" note: We had a little party, which was really only 2 other families and us, but with 6 kids in total it seemed to totally fill the house. One of the families are our neighbours, whom we met because their kids and ours ride bikes up and down. And we know the other family because in 1980-something the woman and a friend of ours from Vancouver worked together on an archeological dig here in England, and they have kept in touch. So, pretty funny connections. But, these people were talking, and our biochemist neighbours were talking to the biophysicist husband of the archeologist, and they know people in common (for example, another neighbour!) and it was kinda weird. Six degrees of separation indeed.

*PS. I ordered these kits Wednesday online, and indeed, they put them in the post that afternoon and now, Thursday morning, they arrived! Nice wool with 10% silk, could be a bit scratchy, and I'm wondering if I can knit one by Xmas. Pretty sure I can't knit two. Will keep you posted.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Two just started...

My intention really is to get the number of things on the needles down to 2 or 3, but I decided that we need some Christmas stockings (or giant ankle socks) and so got some of that sale bin chenille for them. Here is #1. The yarn comes in big balls and I think I can get 3 or 4 out of the two balls, if I have the patience to knit them. Of course, we have stockings at home in Toronto, but it seemed silly to bring them. What the heck, we'll be able to choose next year which stocking we want to hang up.... I cast on 44 stitches (with sock yarn that makes a 2-year-old size, and it's about as many as I could fit on my dpns) and am just knitting a sock. Not one that would actually fit anyone, though.... Sort of short and wide... The main colour is more burgundy than hot pink, and the green more olive.

The other thing is a sleeve of the denim yarn. I have 7 balls of medium blue and 7 balls of dark, and this little jean jacket takes 7 balls for the 2-3-year size. I don't actually have a child that small anymore, but I think I can find one if I look around. We shall see how this works out. My washer and I have a rather poor relationship, and I'm not sure I will trust it with this stuff. I have to wash the pieces before sewing it up, and it will lose a lot of colour in that first wash. I might just take home a bunch of pieces and wash them next summer! Who knows, maybe the pieces of 2 little sweaters?!

Tonight, fancy Christmas dinner #1, with some colleagues of Stephen's. The season is upon us!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Two more finished thingies!

Here we have a scarf you know, and one you don't. The big blue one got finished this afternoon, at my new Wednesday S'n'B with Alison! First I knitted to within about 5 rows of finishing, only to run out of yarn. So I had to rip back to the middle of the previous triangle to finish it off properly. Argh. But still, it is done and lovely. I just don't know exactly what to do with it, since I need another scarf like a hole in the head. I think I know who does need such a thing, so it'll likely be in the mail shortly.

The other is what happens when Mommy is too keen. Elaine will be an angel in the school Christmas production, and she wears a long white T-shirt for a costume. She thought it would be nice with a golden belt, so I went out and got some twinkly goldie stuff and whipped up a one-ball wide belt/short scarf. But then the teacher says she doesn't in fact get a belt, and all the angel wings and haloes and whatever is all supplied. So, hmm, maybe I should add on another ball and make a scarf that is actually long enough... Decisions...

Monday, November 28, 2005

Guess where we went?

Yes, we hopped down to London over the weekend! We meant to go Friday night, but then decided we should really go to a family dinner at Stephen's college. That was good, because we met some other families with kids and found out about a chess club near here Wednesday evenings. But it meant that we were in a scramble to get out of here Saturday morning, and got to the train station as our train was leaving. No matter... We did get there, hand off our luggage (toothbrushes and underwear for 4) to Barry, and get to the big museums for the afternoon.

Stephen and Arthur went to the Science Museum, where they saw the real and genuine Puffing Billy, and the ladies took in the V&A, where we saw, amongst other things, Queen Maud's dresses. Also ironwork, musical instruments, pottery, textiles, paintings, stained glass, silver reliquaries in the shapes of heads (and guess what kind of relic they held?) and the coffee shop. And probably more.... It's an amazing collection of everything designed.

Here's Arthur and the Puffing Billy, and here's Elaine on the beautiful mosaic floor of the V&A.

Then, thanks to the miracle of mobile phones, we met the guys at the Natural History museum. We were a few days late to see the Diamonds exhibit! But still, we saw the dinosaurs, and you can't beat that. There was a real live T Rex! Well, ok, not really, but a motorized model of one, who growled and turned his head to and fro. It was grrrreat!

At the end of the dino exhibit, there were various cartoons speculating on the cause of the mass extinction. "Overwhelmed by their own dung" was a good one, but this one suggests cataracts. It's a terrible picture, but the big T Rex is saying "That's just great! My arms are too short to put my glasses on..." and the little guy in the corner says "And you've got no ears to speak of," as the rest of the herd stumbles around and off cliffs in the background.

Finally we were all a bit pooped after an afternoon of walking, so we made our way to a restaurant for dinner (bottomless frozen yogurt for the kids!) and home to K&B's. Barry is a big softie, who sees kids this close to Christmas and decides to get out the fiber-optic tree and put something under it! I wish we'd taken a picture of the tree, but since the thrill is in its slowly changing colours, a still picture does it no justice. Of course, the kids were delighted to get gifts, and they played reasonably quietly while the grown-ups had a glass of wine, and we all went to sleep....

Sunday we decided on the tower, and see, I took my knitting. We went to St Paul's, took the footbridge across the river, then took a boat back across to the Tower. Very fun. And lucky for us, some of the big attractions in London have put together a deal whereby you get 2-for-1 tickets if you've come to town on the train. Anything to discourage more cars! So, while forking over large amounts of money to the Queen, we felt we were getting a bargain... We saw Henry VIII's armour, old fireplaces and garderobes (kinda like toilets: seats with holes in, emptying out the castle walls... a bit draughty!) and piles of swords and muskets and gunpowder barrels. And of course, the crown jewels. That place is made to hold about a squillion people. They have winding paths for the tourists to walk along, and films playing of coronations, pictures of the orb and maces and the special coronation spoon... and in August, I bet you get to see them all 5 times, as you slowly make your way to the big stuff. But we went relatively quickly to the moving sidewalk that takes you past the crowns, sceptres, orbs, which are plastered with diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, pearls and whatever else twinkles and sparkles. Mere mortals are not permitted to take pics of them, and besides, I'm sure in the dim light, through glass, any pictures one tried to take would be awful. Elaine was quite taken, and we especially liked the teeny little crown Victoria favoured, since the others were too heavy.

Another big day. We retraced our steps back to Katherine's for a cup of tea, then grabbed the train to Cambridge, and back to real life here.

And now you'll have to excuse me, as I'm a bit behind with my Sudoku.

Late breaking news:
The nuts at Going Jesus have started the Christmas season with a look at tacky angels. Angels We Have Heard Are High! Don't forget last year's hilarious Nativity atrocities, and the Passion of the Tchotchke. Just don't try to look at them all at once, or you'll overdose for sure!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

I think she likes it!

Here it is in all its glory. The pink cotton cardigan is done, pearly buttons and all!
Here are a few lessons learned.

- If you want to be clever and start the buttonband stitches on the bottom ribbing, remember to make the first buttonhole.

- Another clever thing is to put a nice lacy bit up the front, but it might be a good idea to figure out how you're going to work your decreases in.

- There is a great difference between 7 sts/inch and 8 sts/inch. This sweater, for a petite 5 year old, uses the numbers for size 12!

And now, onto the next project, whichever that might turn out to be.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Waah, I need bifocals!

(Insert photo here of 40-something knitter peering over her glasses to sew in ends on a sweater knit with 3 mm needles.) Phew, this is crazy! Modeled photos of the pink cardigan any day now, folks. Just have to sew in a few ends and put the teeny tiny buttons on. I hope my daughter can put them through the teeny tiny holes. The buttons we chose were so small I just made yarn-over buttonholes.
And now I 've got that off my chest, I'll go squint at my work again for a bit!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Gifts of a baby blanket and body bits

Oh, my, what a lot of things to tell you!

Firstly, I want to show off this baby blanket that Sally and her coworkers made. A year ago, Sally was a lapsed knitter, who rediscovered the thrill when she contributed to the afghan we made for our school. First she made a bunch of squares for that, and then at the sewing-up party we gave out lootbags containing a couple of balls of yarn (that's called "redistribution of stash around the neighbourhood") and she went off and made a great scarf. So now she is roaring along, probably trying to figure out how to knit and ride a bike at the same time. I hear the gang is making another afghan at school this year, too!

Another person involved in the school afghan was Beryl, who now has this business. A breast cancer survivor herself, she knits breasts for women who have had mastectomies. She makes everyday ones in cotton, special occasion ones with eyelash trim, cashmere ones, plain ones, fancy ones, big ones and small ones. She also has a pattern on to knit your own breast, if need be. Check it out!

And more body parts: I recently learned that our neighbour John was in hospital to have a kidney removed. He was perfectly healthy and fine, and was donating his kidney to someone who wasn't! You can read about it here and here, and they are blogging the whole thing here. Sign those organ donor cards!

And what have I been up to? Well, yesterday I had a bit of time between haircut and school pick-up (oh, must take a picture of my new do!) and so was browsing the charity shops (thrift stores, for the non-English) and found a nice lot of straight knitting needles (all with red bits, as it turns out) which look very lovely in my jam jar on the table, and a whole load of old pattern pamphlets, for 10p each. Unfortunately yarn that appears in these shops disappears very fast!
I took pictures of a lot of them, but Blogger is being very slow and uncooperative this morning, so I shall leave you with this gem and save others for later.

And a late addition: The pictures of the Knitted Wedding are up on the Cast-Off site. I'm in this one, if you look very carefully at the crowd directly behind the bride. Black shirt, blue flowery headband, next to Katherine in pale blue. A bit lame, isn't it, to search oneself out in a group photo like this? And in this one, you can see the little ring pillow I made for the affair. Not wedding coloured at all... but it was fun to make. Thanks to Kay for pointing this out!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The pile of knitting

I was reading Rachel Matthews' new book in which she mentions one of the world's fastest knitters (Wendy Moorby, at 245 stitches in 3 minutes). I clocked myself for a minute and got about 30 stitches! Not in the running at all. Maybe if I got faster, I could get through all this stuff! So now I want to sort out what all this stuff really is! Am I really getting nowhere on lots of projects at once?? Let's take stock...

First, we have the very nearly finished pink cardigan.
You can maybe see that I have started the button band, and really have a day or two's work to finish this properly. I even have the buttons! Get on with it!

Then we have a sock. I don't think socks really count, because one should always have a sock on the go, n'est-ce pas?
But this is sock number one, and so I really should finish it and start sock number two, because after that, I get to start a whole new colour of sock yarn! Rewards for good behaviour are important...
This is good pub knitting, but I guess I just haven't been going to the pub enough lately.

And the multi- directional scarf. I often knit this when I'm out, when I don't want to have to concentrate or worry about colours or patterns... I have been known to knit straight across, missing my short-row mark, but it is easily fixed.

I'd say, no hurry on this one, but it can be easily got out of the way with another trip on a train!

Ah, the denim... Oh, Kay, what shall I do?? I like the idea of this a lot, but I really don't like knitting with this dark, string-like yarn! This is a pseudo-cable pattern from a sweater by Annie Modesitt in Interweave Knits from Fall 2005. It looks cool but I think I will rip out all I have, and then knit with a ball of light and a ball of dark together, and make a bag. That's about idea 763 that I've come up with for this stuff.

What's next? Ah, The Sweater That Makes Me Sneeze! This is so wonderful, I just love it! But I have to knit it away from home, because it really does make people cough and carry on. I have almost finished the main body piece, then I have to knit two sleeves and attach it all onto a yoke. I have high hopes for this baby, and will take it out more often.

Next we have the actual beautiful sweater for ME! (TSTMMS is destined to be a gift, but it's a secret.) This is Rowan Summer Tweed, and because it is silk, it has that silky stinkiness... But that'll pass, right? I think I was crazy to start with the diamonds, but if I just decide that I will sit and knit for an hour, say, I can make reasonable progress. It'll be a bit wild, no? Must make more time for this one.

And here we have the easy way out, the thing I actually pick up when I have a moment. A bunch of squares. Most of the wool was found on sale, and I've sort of settled on a bit of a scheme for a blanket, but mostly I just find a square I like in my book of squares, and set off. Easily accomplished, no muss, no fuss. My present goal is to see what it looks like when I've got 36 squares, but I think I have enough wool for a much larger blanket.

So, that's what's on the needles here. If I just finish all this stuff, I'll be doing great. I have to remember that I have to pack it all up again next summer to return to Toronto! Today I think I was very noble and restrained, and I walked away from the sale bin at Sew Creative, where there were several balls of Rowan Chunky Cotton Chenille for £3 a ball. Unfortunately, there were only 3 or 4 balls in each colour, and I thought it best to get outta there before I got another pile of lovely but projectless yarn!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Water, frozen and not

Once upon a time, when we lived in Santa Barbara, but were preparing to move to Toronto, we were sitting at our dining room table in our rented condo, and it started to rain. It hadn't rained for a long time. The roof was not capable of dealing with this situation, and little drips soon came in and dropped right onto the table where we were sitting. We had just decided not to buy a really nice house we'd seen in Toronto, and here was proof-positive that renters rule, because all we had to do was call the landlord and put a pot on the table, and our job was done. It was someone else's problem to call the roofers!

But alas, we did become homeowners, and almost the first thing that happened was the shower leaked into the kitchen. This time it was our problem for sure, and we found out that the whole structure under our fab bathroom was soaked and rotten, and that cost us a few grand.

Then, we had a deck on our roof, and that was old and rotten, and so we took it down (tossing boards down from the 3rd floor into the alley!). The roof was now exposed, and unbeknownst to us, water was leaking in. Finally we noticed that the bathroom ceiling (yes, the same bathroom!) had a sort of saggy look to it, and when we poked it, the whole thing collapsed in a sodden mass of gyproc, insulation and rainwater. That cost us even more money.

Then, one day, more water came pouring into the kitchen. I can't even remember what the initial cause was, but when we went to turn off the water pipe, we couldn't, because the previous plumber had neglected to put a little valve on the pipe under the sink. Lucky for us, this was just before our grande renovations, and we somehow kludged it up temporarily until we could spend even more money...

We had reason to remember all these water-based adventures last night when Arthur was in the shower and water began to drip into the living room! The caulking around the tub is not sealing, and so that's another little job... At least it seems little, and it's probably easier for us to do it than wait for someone else, and after all, we've got experience with these things now....

And, for the frozen water, there was actual frost this morning! Last week we didn't even have the heat on! Arthur was thrilled -- I guess it was almost snow-like. He went out and tried to scoop up the crystals of ice off the grass. Lucky I made those mitts, eh?

I'm sure the sun'll melt it all away and we'll have another lovely fall day. Yesterday Arthur and I went to Lammas Land, played on the playground a bit and wandered along by the river. It was a bit chilly, but nothing a sweater and hat couldn't cope with. The trees are looking wonderful and the sky was clear blue. The punters are mainly gone but, up our end of the river, the college rowers are out in full force, with traffic jams of eights under the footbridge. I just hope this fine weather, frost and all, lasts a while before the grey winter rains set in!

Friday, November 11, 2005

43 days till Christmas?!

Yessiree, it's almost Christmas. You can go here to see exactly how long you have! I don't usually knit gifts for everyone on the list, so my Christmas panicking has little to do with knitting. I have to mail stuff across the ocean this year, which means it all has to be arranged soon.

These mitts will be for Arthur, and since he might need them soon, and mainly since he's watched me knit them, they will not be a Christmas present! The mathematicians among you (moth-watching, knitting mathematician, anyone?) will notice that the stripes go 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, and off the end. This is the Fibonacci sequence, which just means you add the previous two numbers together to get the next number. And the clever ones will also notice that the stripes are reversed, which is just for fun and has no mathematical significance... They are for an 8-year-old guy with kind of big hands, but the pattern/wool situation here means they are made with the number of stitches for the size 2 in my book. Rowan Magpie on 4 mm needles instead of Canadiana on ... I don't even know what...

I just bought this book by Rachel Matthews, of Cast-Off fame. Must find just the right yarn to make a red cabbage, I think. I was looking for a Faroese shawl pattern, but got distracted....

Thursday, November 10, 2005

This is not my kitchen floor

Very few of you have ever seen my Cambridge kitchen, but let me tell you, it is "cosy" or perhaps we could just say "small." So if one leaves the dishes for a day or two while one is entertaining or dealing with sick kids or just not feeling like doing the dishes, well, it silts in pretty fast! But right now, it is sparkling, you can see countertops all over, and the floor is pretty darn clean! (This is the floor of Ely Cathedral, which I am glad I don't have to wash.) I stopped right where the kitchen floor ends and the carpet in the dining room starts (who the heck puts wall-to-wall carpet in a rental house's dining room!) but I had to leave something to do tomorrow! Or next week... It's hard to keep a house sparkling given things like this: the closest place to plug in the electric lawnmower to do the front handkerchief of lawn is upstairs. So after you've got little cut grass bits all over your feet, you have to go up the carpetted stairs to unplug the machine. One can indeed take one's shoes off, but still bits of grass get up the stairs.

And now, unless I get carried away and try to do laundry, too, I have time to go find those Thursday afternoon Cambridge knitters I've heard of, before going to get the kids who will mess up my kitchen in a snap.