Sunday, January 31, 2010

I did say almost

I   wanted to put the Christmas cards I made this year into my online scrapbook. I bought matt brown card blanks with envelopes from paperchase, then made a six pointed star template of holes to get the snowflake shape when embroidered with crochet cotton. I was quite pleased with the effect.


While digging out the photo I found this snap of an early Christmas present to myself. The stitch patterns are genuinely intriguing and I'm excited about having a bash. Need to pack off a few more FOs first though.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Definitely almost the last post about Christmas

Christmas duties have been dragging on a little late this year, owing to one half of dans entire family going on a four week cruise over the period. Last weekend was the first time to see them since they got back , and the first opportunity to pass on their Christmas gifts. (I admit that if we were hyper organised we'd have had everything ready to give them before they left - but seriously, we'd barely even imagined Christmas was on the horizon that first weekend of December, never mind shopping for it!).

However, this did present me with the ideal opportunity to snap the christmas wrapping for this year - because the pre-christmas wrapping was too close to the events to actually have time to think about that kind of thing. I'm obsessive about wrapping presents and it gets worse every year. This year saw the arrival of double sided tape (because selotape is ugly) and decorative pom poms.



And now I get the chance to store a few links for my favourite homemade wrapping decorations for future use:
- A super quick pom pom tutorial (I kept mine loose and shaggy rather than trimmed)
- Quick paper flowers (easy even without the pro-scissors)
- German paper stars (which I stuck on all the gifts the year before)
- I made the labels up in Adobe illustrator using a tag template I'd made previously and some random eps images of russian ornamental designs I downloaded a while ago.

The presents included a second scarflet for Dan's mum (which I think she appreciated), and I'm now cranking out the third for myself. I really recommend this pattern. Although if your making a choice on yarn, my vote goes for Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran (red) rather than Rowan RYC Cashsoft Aran (purple). Not that I ever would have thought it possible, but the extra 2% cashmere in the Debbie Bliss seems to make a difference. It's less shiny looking and seems to have a better haze and touch. It also holds it's ply better when being worked making the stitching look neater (to me at least).



Wednesday, January 20, 2010

rooting for spring

Grace and patience have left London town with the snow it seems. I was back on my bicycle this week for the commute after bad weather stopped play and I was almost squashed last night and this morning by white vans. Nobody wanted to give any room if it interrupted their journey for 10 seconds. Half the problem on Monday night was other cyclists in a traffic jam. I'd moved through the jam to turn right onto a side road (and I was indicating too) thinking it would be easy as everyone was stood still, when a bunch of them (clearly irritated by a girl being in front of them and their far superior cycling skills) had followed me and then proceeded to overtake me on the right, trapping me where I was so I couldn't turn and then was left marooned in the middle of the road once the traffic started up again. Horrid. With a bit of luck they'll all evaporate again when the New Year fever to be fit dies off.

The downside to cycling in January is the cold. Specifically my face. Once you get moving the body is self warming, and I have some heavy duty (albeit ugly) gloves for my fingers. But my face! and ears! Currently I'm contemplating knitting some sort of giant snood/balaclava that goes over my helmet and covers my ears and chin. The only wool I have for that is black though, which doesn't seem very safety conscious. What I need is some sort of reflective yarn for stripes... it exists, but I've no idea how to get hold of it. There's always the ear warmers I guess, but it still leaves the problem of my face. While I'm on the subject of knitting cycling accessories though, I could also make some handlebar hand warmers to match.

V&ADecode in the courtyard

So, moving on from weird cycle knitting, the weekend was pleasent one - spent in a fug of cider and ale in our favourite public house. Also managed a trip to South Ken and the V&A. The intention was to see Decode, but we got there too late in the day and it was sold out (boo). I think the torrential rain and dark skies might have forced everyone indoors in pursuit of enlightenment. Still, we had entertainment enough in the new galleries, which are pretty fabulous - stolen from space that used to be outside the building and housing a complete medieval staircase and half a house frontage

V&AThe light boxes are movement activated and reflect your image back to you in LEDs. As you watch they turn back to white.

V&AOne of the new spaces inside the V&A (what used to be the sculpture gallery).

I even had a little toddle down the garden path, looking for bulbs coming up after the snow thaw. A few promising tips are flashing green - signs of daffs, tulips, bluebells, grape hyacinths and snow drops. So I'm now gunning for spring and hatching plans for veggies. I want tomato seeds from and must remember to use this discount code

(this post was brought to you by a brief moment of silence and solitude in the office)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A big day

Today is a big day in my scientific life. I feel I should mark it in some way here. This is the front cover I made for the journal that my article is published in. They didn't use it, so I might as well stick it here as anywhere!


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Catch up

So, having not blogged the knitting for so long there's a reasonable amount to catch up on. Having actual free time over Christmas meant I got some serious action in - which is quite unlike me!


First up, baby kimono from Mason Dixon knitting book the first. Which is a great little pattern, but I screwed up my seems (below) so I'm going to have to rip that out and do it again before it makes it's way to niece the second.

bad seems

Next, baby denim jeans for nephew the first. I finished a leg over the christmas break but I had to abandon the project halfway to switch to more pressing gifting matters (for receivers old enough to notice if they didn't get a christmas present on time). Reasonably quick, but all the extra knitterly details in the construction, whilst making a better finished garment, produced extra construction time I hadn't allowed for.


Then there was the anthro scarflet (photographed in fresh London snow a couple of days ago). I made the first one for my sister and I've just cast on an identical one for Dan's Mum. I liked this design in the shops, but I really liked knitting the pattern. A very satisfying neat result, as well as super quick. I didn't intend making one for myself, but I bought some wool in the sales to do just that in the end. I wear scarfs a lot and feel pretty naked without one when it gets too warm in late spring.


And finally, an improvised Wolf hood for my eldest niece, niece the first. I should probably, at some point, stop buying and making her things I secretly want myself, but I'm not entirely sure I can justify (or give space to) a collection of story books and matching accessories. She even looked pretty cute in it before she got too hot and had to take it off. We finally went to see Where the Wild Things Are at the cinema last Wednesday. I cried for most of the last 20 minutes, but I did enjoy it. It was a very complete world and absolutely nothing jarred as out of place, which is a huge achievement I reckon. So many films are spoilt by niggly things that aren't done well enough or don't fit and snap you out of your suspended disbelief at the crucial moment.


I also bought her this story book, which I saw first on Drawn!. Very very cool, but probably not to her taste really...

old lady

Well that list has made me feel a little better. My knitting efforts seem so insubstantial compared to a lot of the knitting blogs I flit through. One day I'll be rich enough to afford yarn and time enough to sit and knit fabulous things. Until then, this will have to do...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

May your embers still glow in the morning

scottish landscape

There's a lot of poetry on my favourite blogs at the moment. Elspeth Thompson's blog features "Twenty blessings" in her New Years post. The last line in particular:

May your embers still glow in the morning

resonates having spent the Christmas period with a coal stove as the 'central' heating - central because the stove stands in the middle of Dan's living room. Dan lit the fire every morning, a task much quicker and warmer if the embers still glowed. I was a chicken and stayed in bed till it thawed out a little.

And Kate Davies at needled had Wallace Stevens’ "The Snow Man", which I enjoyed a lot. I think I must always have had a mind of winter, I've been trying to go north for as long as I can remember. I'm not even sure why. It's very fortunate I have a Dan who can take me as far north as you could want to go without getting in a boat. Going to Durness during the big snow was so exciting and beautiful, it felt like some magic other world to me. Beach, ice, snow covered dunes, cliffs, frozen lochs and snow covered mountains as a backdrop - it was almost too much all in one place. With any luck, if our resolutions come to pass, we will be spending a lot more time there soon enough.

'm going to keep with the poetry theme that's around me now. Dan gave me this Ted Hughes poem to read while we were sat next to the fire one evening, because it reminds him of his house.

This house has been far out at sea all night,
The woods crashing through darkness, the booming hills,
Winds stampeding the fields under the window
Floundering black astride and blinding wet

Till day rose; then under an orange sky
The hills had new places, and wind wielded
Blade-light, luminous black and emerald,
Flexing like the lens of a mad eye.

At noon I scaled along the house-side as far as
The coal-house door. Once I looked up -
Through the brunt wind that dented the balls of my eyes
The tent of the hills drummed and strained its guyrope,

The fields quivering, the skyline a grimace,
At any second to bang and vanish with a flap;
The wind flung a magpie away and a black-
Back gull bent like an iron bar slowly. The house

Rang like some fine green goblet in the note
That any second would shatter it. Now deep
In chairs, in front of the great fire, we grip
Our hearts and cannot entertain book, thought,

Or each other. We watch the fire blazing,
And feel the roots of the house move, but sit on,
Seeing the window tremble to come in,
Hearing the stones cry out under the horizons.

frozen loch

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Christmas and New Year

Happy New Year blog! The period before Christmas was fraught and then followed by radio silence as we went on our Yuletide journey the length of the UK and back again. No t'interweb at the final destination, or mobile phone signal for that matter, so communication with the outside world was cut to a minimum (hurray!). To abbreviate the Christmas epic I've composed a photo essay of sorts that covers most of the bases. It starts with a map of our journey:

The journey North: point A, Home, 21/12; point B, My Dad's new house, 21-23/12; point C, Assorted Uncles, Aunts, cousins and a Grandma belonging to Dan, 23/12; point D, a kind friends house in glasgow where we stayed the night, 23-24/12; point F, the final destination, 24/12-02/01. The journey South (through snow): point E, fish and chips in Ullapool (very important), 02/01; point D, back to glasgow to stay in the kind friends house while they were actually there, putting up with us despite their jet lag, 02-03/01; point I, my brother, his wife and the teeny tiny baby who made it home from the hospital on the 27th (hurray!), 03/01; finally - point A, Home again!, 03/01. 1445 miles (According to Google)

The wedding that my Ishbel was knitted for was grand

and the wedding also featured a handsome man in a kilt

start of the road trip: my Dad's two donkeys in the snow

traveling north


Christmas Day
The view on our Christmas Day walk down to the loch

passing place

cowry shells

balnakeil beach
Balnakeil beach

furious Christmas knitting in action

Cat in the snow (yes they came with us...!)

New Year
the first moments of the New Year, a full moon and snow. We walked out to try and set off chinese lanterns, but the wind was too strong. The ethereal light was worth it anyway.

playing on the beach

wing mirror



the view down the hill to Ullapool (and fish and chips)


home again, with our new tankards to celebrate