Saturday, April 29, 2006

The end of April

Today is hubbo's birthday. Too bad for us, he's in Toronto, but he will be partying with his mom and sister (who usually live thousands of miles away) and the Moth Man and family, coz it was Mrs Moth's birthday yesterday, and Moth Kid's birthday just the other day! Whoo hoo.

Here's a pic of the party going on in Cambridge, the May Day fair!

Yesterday I got some real mail! It was a card from Trek, thanking me for the prize I sent her. And the card was a lovely photo by Cara! Such multitalented folk we all are, eh?

Finally, we say farewell to orange and yellow! I'll be glad to be into green month! But although I have a wonderful green project in mind, I must finish some other things first. Really. But I had fun this month taking pictures of flowers and such, and I'll leave you with some gorgeous tulips from up the street.

Friday, April 28, 2006

A cool new toy!

I think I found out about this on Lolly's blog, but right now I can't reach Lolly's blog to make sure, because of some mess up.... You can see that my musical tastes sort of stopped around 1985, with a few somewhat later items.
Create your own Music List @ HotFreeLayouts!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Growing things

I had a lovely bunch of pictures and witty and important text, and stooopid old Blogger (with perhaps some "human error" involved) deleted it. This picture was all that remained...

It is fritillaries! Not in this case a butterfly, but wacky upside-down flowers growing in Christ's Pieces here. And do click and go see that butterfly, it's amazing!

I also must share with you our chestnut tree! Arthur picked up the sprouted chestnut one day on a walk, and planted it, although the sprouted part was a bit broken. It seems to have taken care of itself, and is now growing at a rate of about a centimeter a day! I'm a bit hesitant to set it free in our wee little garden, because it will one day get very, very big! (We hope!)

I'll cross my fingers and click "Publish" now...

This is very silly and could lead to trouble

My blog is worth $4,516.32.
How much is your blog worth?

Monday, April 24, 2006

In which we discuss some knitting

The jean jacket is done and on its way to its new home. The kid involved is not even one yet, and I made the 2-3 year size. Holy oversized: it almost fits Elaine! (Lucky I tried it on her; she discovered some ends that hadn't been sewn in!) She's not really holding her nose, but I think she's rubbing her eye??

I'm not sure what went wrong with fitting it all together. I read something wrong in the instructions for the back, I guess, and made the armholes too large, which started everything off wrong. I thought they looked very big, but since the denim shrinks, I couldn't be sure how it would turn out! Reason #27 for not bothering with the wee little indent for a drop-shoulder sleeve!

I also (ahem) never really swatched, but assumed that my Twilley's denim would be the same as the Rowan, and just maybe, I shoulda swatched!

Anyways, I hope it will be worn for years to come, even with rolled-up sleeves for several months or years.... I love the mismatched buttons.

I also completed another couple of hats for charity from my thrift store score. This fleshy, beige-like, pinkish ick is the ugliest colour around... Liz suggested dyeing it, but I think I'm not that committed to it. Two hundred-gram balls = one medium and two large hats. I had about 4 inches of green left!

My tea cosy is half-done. And my denim bag is all knitted just fine, but I need to figure out the lining business. Ack, sewing and cutting and all that stuff!

And just so I feel I'm doing my part for Project Spectrum, another yellow picture! Very scary!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Miscellaneous stuff and nonsense

1) The jean jacket has recovered. It has a collar and sleeves and buttons. I got some of the buttons for a penny a piece at Oxfam, but most of the ones I found there were too big for the wee little buttonholes, so I went and got a few more at Sew Creative. They don't match. I like it! Pictures to come.

2) While I was at Sew Creative I saw a box full of Regia stripedy sock yarn. I myself don't need any more sock yarn just now, but I'm glad it's there, just in case! I've noticed a distinct lack of neat-oh sock yarn around town.

3) Despite the fact that I don't really need sock yarn, I did get some plain green sock yarn. I have not really been doing very well at the orange and yellow theme of Project Spectrum this month, and was looking ahead to green month in May. Well, I used up my green Maya on the giant doily/ small blanket, and I used up my green merino on my Olympic project. So, I am green-less. I am going to make a pair of textured socks, and the jazzy stuff I have would not be suitable. I just have one adult sock to make first, and I've got a few inches done on a kid sock... Alison and I were talking the other day about how we sort of think we can whip up a pair of socks in no time. Not true! If there's nothing else to knit, or a deadline threatening, or no work or laundry or kids or anything, or you're on a train for 3 or 4 hours at a stretch, a sock is not a huge project. But these circumstances rarely exist! And one does need to make two.

4) Ok, here's something yellow.

5) I've used up most of my blue yarn on the denim jacket, so what am I going to do in blue month?

6) The spike contest... I have awarded a prize to Trek, for the best not-right explanation. I wish I could give runner-up prizes to the no-pee theory and the poke-out-eye theory, but a girl only has so many prizes lying around. Then there's the horse/hay theory. Hmmm. This is plausible, but only because we don't have a picture of these devices with the upward-pointing spikes. A horse would gore itself on the one at Bath. Since it was hubby's question, and since he is not yet satisfied, I think the committee on spikes can't really accept that explanation without a photo of a horse eating hay. Right. Just try googling "horse hay spiky iron thing" and see what comes up...

7) The fifth comment on the spiky thing was from Pixie, who is a quilter from New Zealand whom I have virtually known for almost 10 years! We "met" in the days before Yahoo groups or blogs or ... anything ... on a newsgroup list for people expecting babies, and might one day actually meet in real life!

8) I think that's all I have to say right now.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

What's wrong with this picture?

Look at this!

There's no way on earth I can fit that collar around that neckline. No Way.

I have no more of this yarn. None.


Plan A: rip out the collar, knit a crew-neck-ish jean jacket collar. Blah.

Plan B: knit the collar larger in a completely different blue. Ick.

I have no plan C.

I remember back in the 70s some guys had ripped the collars off their jean jackets... Or was that the 90s? Anyways, non-standard collars have been spotted. I'll go with Plan A and we'll see what happens. I'm now on a deadline with this thing. Not Happy....

Some hours later:
Well, I stomped off to get the kids from school, and a thought made its way into my head. Maybe it's not the one little piece that's the wrong size, maybe it's the whole front and back! Ah, yes, I got home and tried to fit the sleeve in the arm hole ... no way! So I've ripped back the front and back an inch or so and bound off the shoulders again. I suppose I should really rip back and start the neck shaping lower down... Film at 11...

Itty bitty pretty things

I thought I'd show you some pretty seashells I found in Wales.

Usually I try to discourage the kids from bringing home every nice thing they find, although we ended up with several rocks this time. So if they find a good shell, they bring it to me and I artfully arrange them all (this is what I call it, anyways) and take a picture for posterity.

These first two are in Llandudno, with the wooden pier. That is limestone with all the holes in it. Cool, eh?

And here we have some moss and grass on the dunes at Harlech. A gajillion colours here actually!

And some of the shells from Harlech beach. These had been turret decorations and windows on the sand castles, but when the castles were demolished, we tried to save some of the materials! The long straight thing is a razor clam and the bulb below it is a sea urchin. We found lots of clams with little holes in, but although they would look lovely around some little princess's neck, they stayed at the beach for someone else to find.

Oh, and I did some knitting...
One finished sock. This yarn is very nice to knit with, and the stripes keep one going, but it's not the most exciting knitting in the world. So instead of starting sock #2, I cast on this:

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Harlech: another beach, another castle

After our three days in Victorian holiday splendor, we made the trek across to the west coast of Wales to Harlech. I think the distance is about 50 kilometers. We studied bus timetables, trying to fit in the mill at Trefriw, trying to minimise the twisty turny roads, trying to get this distance covered in a day! Finally we turned to the train timetables, although I knew there was no mainline service all the way. That's because there is the Ffestiniog railway in the middle! So in the end we got a journey with no bus-sickness, and a real, live steam train, to boot. (And for whatever reason, Stephen's camera was on B&W mode, so we get this moody, steamy picture!)
Apparently if you take this train about a month from now, you'll find the whole route decorated with rhododendrons, but we were quite satisfied with mossy trees and daffodils and little lambs and old slate heaps. We did have to wait quite a while for the big train from Porthmadog to Harlech, and I think the whole journey took about 5 hours! (I don't have pictures of the lambs, but take a look at other Mary's lambs!)

This is what you see when you get off the train in Harlech!

And this is what you see from our digs. It was quite a climb!

We stayed in a lovely B&B run by a woman named Mary. She was thinking of slowing down the business, and so didn't put signs out on the street for casual passersby to find her place. This also meant that those of us with reservations couldn't find the place, but luckily the town is small, and through the miracle of the telephone, we managed to reach her!

Big thrill, the family room has bunk beds!! Of course, only one child at a time can sleep in the top bunk, so there was a tiny amount of squabbling... and mommy stays awake all night waiting for the kid to fall...

Our first morning there, the sun was bright and the sky was clear, and we figured we should pass on the castle and head straight for the beach. First we had to get a roll of packing tape and do some fixing of the bat kite. Mary lent us some shovels and buckets and we were off.

When the castle was first built, in the late 13th century, the sea (Cardigan Bay, in fact) came up to the bottom of the hill. Now there is a huge amount of sand -- enough for the train line and the road and quite a bit of town and a golf course, where I believe I saw a man wearing plus fours! Then there are sand dunes piled up, and finally you get to a gently sloping expanse of sand as far as the eye can see! And perfect sand, too -- no mud here! The tide was going out when we arrived, leaving shells and sea urchin skeletons and various other treasures along the tide line. The kite situation looked grave, with several spiralling crashes, but when Stephen tied a bit of old plastic onto the tail, stability was restored and the kite flew perfectly for hours! We finally got tired of holding it and tied it to a post stuck in the sand!

Digging was begun in earnest. Arthur took his socks and shoes off to go into the water (yes, to go in the sea in April!) with the buckets. Elaine and I built castles which were adorned with all variety of seashells. As the tide went out, Stephen and Arthur dug a series of ditches (I first typed "stitches" ... this is a knitting blog, you know!) to drain the flats.
The kids took up "tobottoming," which is sliding down a sand dune on your bottom. We ended up spending all day there, soaking up the sun.

Around about 4 o'clock, the rest of the family was off in the dunes and I was holding the kite, thinking of taking yet another picture of the sky. We had decided that when it was time to go, I was going to wiggle the kite for a signal. This system, of course, depends on someone looking up, which no one was... I know this because suddenly there was a major structural catastrophe, and the tape holding the keel onto the kite finally gave way. Dramatic crash landing into the dune grass! Which no one else noticed!

We recovered it all, but that was the end of the kite, really. It served us well, flying steady for about 5 hours!

It was a good thing we spent that first day at the beach, because the second day was much more April-ish. A bit cloudy and grey, hardly any wind, much better for medieval castles!
This castle has less internal structure than Conwy, but it is picture-perfect in its design, with towers in each corner, a fine gatehouse where you can see the portcullis slots, chutes outside each tower for... whatever might have to go down a chute.... There is a good walk around the top of the walls, but we somehow missed the stairs that would take you to the top of one of the smaller towers.

Arthur and I did go up this wee internal
staircase! Click and you can see us, really.

And Elaine was dressed in style for any jousts that might take place.

As a matter of fact, the following day there were people in costume with swords and birds of prey, but we figured we'd had enough castles by then. We walked around the town, swung on some swings, and generally hung around till 2:30 when our train left.

On the final train ride, I finished the sock I had taken with me. Pics of that, and other miscellany, up next.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Farewell to Llandudno

Llandudno is full of amusements, like a pier with an arcade where you can throw away all your money. The first night we saw a truck arrive with a little teacup ride on the back, in preparation for the arrival of all the Easter tourists. There are shops selling rock (which is in fact candy) and naughty postcards and scarves with Welsh dragons on. We went back the next night and put some 2p pieces in this machine, occasionally getting the piles to fall over the edge. "Jackpot," we cry, collecting 40p after putting in a pound or so! We did manage to leave with "winnings" in the kids' pockets, and a good time was had by all.

The next day, which must be day 3, we went up the Orme, a big lump of limestone at the end of town. It's quite a hike, but you can take a tram up the steep hill. We saw the famous goats from down below, but didn't run into any up top.

Before setting off, we got ourselves a new kite, since when you are on top of a lump of limestone, you must have a kite. This kite was a batwing, made of plastic, and cost even less than the ill-fated Thomas kite. Lucky, coz it didn't last a second! The string was attached, the kite was poised to go, the wind came and ripped the keel right off that darn kite. We managed to catch all the pieces and the kite will reappear later in our story.

After looking around at the top, we headed for the Bronze Age copper mine. Elaine was very brave and trekked through the teeny little underground tunnels, even though it was pretty scary. Lucky we had hard hats, since we adults each bonked our heads more than once. The story of this mine is quite cool. Tons (literally) of Victorian tailings were removed with large diggers when someone thought they would beautify the area, and the miles of ancient tunnels and shafts were found. They had thought the old workings were Roman, but had to rethink when they found tools made of antlers and stone in the mines. My kids like to recall the sign that said that lots of the tunnels were worked by 5- and 6-year-olds. Pretty keen-oh. We had a cuppa tea and bought some pretty rocks in the gift shop.

Back down at sea level, we discovered the other beach! Llandudno is on a little isthmus, with the posher beach on one side and the rocky beach on the other. Over the years, people have piled up the white rocks (bits of the Great Orme, one imagines) into circular fort-like things. Arthur loves a fort, and found wood to make a seat, piled up more rocks to keep the wind out and generally enjoyed the engineering and lugging of heavy objects.

Finally we said farewell to Llandudno and headed off to Harlech on the west coast. Since tomorrow the kids are in school and I won't have to fight with them for computer time, I'll finish my story then! I shall leave you now with another Llandudno pillar box, this time a Victorian number with complementary red Mini.

PS. Results of the spiky-thing contest to be announced shortly!

Monday, April 17, 2006

We're baaaaack!

After many hours of hanging around and more than 6 hours in transit, we made it home last night from our Welsh travels. Never try to get out of a tiny town on a train on Easter Sunday... The one train of the day stopped at 24 places between Harlech and Birmingham! And we still needed another train to Cambridge!

However, we didn't have to drive, so let's not whine about the trains...

We picked two places to go in Wales, both of which provided castles and beaches. After dragging the kids through the Louvre on our last jaunt, we figured outdoor pursuits were needed on this holiday.

Llandudno, our first stop, was a Victorian seaside town with a pier and decorative ironwork all over the place and a million billion hotels. If I were the type to take a picture of every cool bit of decoration I saw, we'd be here all day, I tell ya. This is one of the few ironwork photos I took -- it's on the pier. And they have great postboxes in Llandudno, too! We saw Victoria, Ed VII, George V and VI and EIIR.

Harlech has a big imposing castle on a big imposing hill overlooking a beautiful sandy beach, which has only appeared over the last 500 years. We spent one whole day making sand castles, digging drainage ditches and flying kites on this beach.

So here's the play by play.
Day 1. Take the train.
This took most of the day, getting us to Llandudno around 4 in the afternoon. We found our B&B, with a nice family room at the verrrrryy top of the large Victorian hotel. I think we counted 54 steps up.

We found the beach and pier and a mondo George V post box. Oh, okay, I'll show you now. Wikipedia says it's a wall box, freestanding, but really... look at that bobble on top! That's not something you see on a wall box. That's a super special thing!

Day 2. Conwy Castle.
We took the bus to nearby Conwy to see the castle, which still has lots of internal structure, even roof arches in places. It was a kind of wet and blustery day, and when the guys went up to the top of the towers, they got buffetted in the gusty winds. There were lots of spooky staircases and fireplaces in the middle of walls (where there used to be floors!) and latrine chutes and other ruined medieval stuff. We discussed battering rams and catapults and how to make a decent seige engine. A pretty darn good castle, I'd say.

We zipped from the late 1200s to the Elizabethan period, and went to Plas Mawr. These naked ladies hold up the ceilings throughout the house. There was an exhibit about medicine of the time, and a list of common complaints and their cure. If your baby has a rash, you put a frog in his or her mouth until it dies. If you think your husband is bewitched, look in his eyes, and if you can see your reflection, he's not. Just so you know...

There is also a beach at Conwy. At Llandudno there were a few stones, a few shells, and a nice sandy beach. At Conwy, there was a bit of sand at the top of the beach, and then lots of mud. Perhaps we should have read this sign before venturing down to the beach! Even if you don't read English or Welsh, there's an actual skull and crossbones, warning of impending doom.

Arthur found a beer glass, covered in muck, and had to take it to the edge of the water to wash it off (it's now in my kitchen sink, awaiting another wash). His shoes were coated in slime.

We also tried to fly a kite here. Stephen and Arthur had gone in search of a kite before the trip, and found a pretty cheap one with Thomas the Tank Engine on it. I'd say the Thomas crowd are not very discerning when it comes to kite design. This one would look great pinned up on a kid's ceiling, but flew about as well as a steam engine would...

It soon ended up in the water! Well, I said, "oh dear, there goes the kite," but the guys had to follow it along the shore, hoping it would end up at the little dock where they could catch it. They dashed across the mud and the kite floated past, but lucky us, there was a man in a little boat who offered to chase it further. I think he took pity on them, once he saw Stephen... Yuck.

These trousers must be somewhere, too, awaiting a wash. Hmmm. And I've already done 3 loads of laundry today. Must go find them...

That seems to be all the blogging I can do today. Stay tuned for trams, trains and more castles!