Thursday, 30 November 2017

Monthly Musing - November 2017 - Feeling the Cold

“I don’t need my coat,” small daughter assured me, “I’m not cold.”  It was early in the morning, there was frost on the ground and she was on her way to school.  Of course, this was my cue to launch into full Mum mode:

 “It’s freezing!”
“Look at the thermometer, you can see how cold it is!”
“You’re going to make yourself ill” (this one’s not strictly true as you can’t catch a cold from being cold but I always like to throw this one in)
“Everyone else will have a coat on” (usually, “everyone” is the reason for anything happening – “everyone” has got the latest whatever it is, “everyone” else is going, “everyone will look at me” so it’s often a good as a last resort)

 “Don’t worry about me,” she said, breezing out of the door, “I don’t feel the cold.”

As I get older, I am slowly learning that there are times that you can tell someone something till you’re blue in the face and they still won’t listen.  It’s as if you become invisible white noise in the background.  We’ve all been on both sides of that one, closing our ears when it suits us and doing our best to relentlessly hammer home the point on other occasions, frustrated with ourselves and the other person as our words fall on deaf ears. 

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Knitting socks with Arne and Carlos

Quite a few people wondered what I was doing at Black Sheep Wools last week when I arrived for the latest Arne and Carlos workshop - their sock masterclass.  "Don't you already know everything about socks?" I was asked, on more than one occasion.

I do know a lot about socks, this is quite true, but I'll also be the first to tell you that I don't know everything.  When I was much younger, I used to worry that I didn't know that answer to every question that I might be asked about something I enjoyed doing, but now I know that not knowing the answer to something is just an opportunity to find out more - there's always more to know about everything!   And this was a lovely opportunity - it was great to see Arne and Carlos again (twice in one year!) ... 

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Happy things

What's made you happy this week?  For me, it's been ...

💕  walking with the dog 

Even when the weather is a bit rubbish and I can hear the rain on the windows before I get up, I know that I'll feel better once I've been out with the dog.  It's the time in the day when it's just me and my thoughts (and one eye on my daft hound), there's nothing to do except put one foot in front of the other and somehow, with the rhythm of my footsteps, everything falls into place so by the time I get home, I'm ready to face the day.

It doesn't always feel like it sometimes, I have to say, with the rain dripping off my nose and the dog choosing the wrong moment to disappear into the bushes for what feels like an eternity, but I do know that whatever the weather, the fresh air will work it's magic and by the time I get home, I'm in a much better mood.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

From sheep to socks - sorting fleeces

Warning - this post is sheep-heavy! :)

The weather was pretty rubbish for the whole of the half term school holiday that we had here in the UK a couple of weeks ago, and in the rolling Lancashire hills on a Tuesday morning there was more cloud than hills to see.  

Small daughter and I were on our way to meet Kate from Northern Yarn and Wendy, who writes the excellent website Yarnsub, to help sort out fleeces ready to go to the mill for this year's Northern Yarn Poll Dorset Lambswool spin, and it felt as if we were driving right into the clouds!  I was delighted that Kate had asked if I'd like to go and help, and was even more pleased when small daughter showed such excitement at the thought of coming along too.  Perhaps my woolly obsession is starting to rub off on her at last! :) 

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Remembrance Sunday

"The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance
of a great example"

Benjamin Disraeli, speech to the House of Commons
1 February 1849

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Knit all the socks!

And here we are at another weekend.  Not many to go now before Christmas, I have been reliably informed by small daughter who keeps waving her wish list at me.  It's different every time I see it, so I'm hoping that she makes a decision as to what she'd like soon!  I'm doing my best not to think about Christmas just yet although I will have to make a start, especially as it's our turn to host the family dinner!  Anyway ... on the 11th of November, I will talk to you about other things for now ... 

First of all, thanks to everyone who came along to Winwick Church Hall last Saturday for the knit n natter.  There were 25 of us which is a pretty big group, and it was lovely to spend time with so many crafty people!  There was also some fabulous cake which people had brought along and it was all very sociable and I am definitely going to organise another one in the New Year - probably February as that can be a rather dismal month and we could all do with some knitting and cake to cheer ourselves up :)

On the subject of knitting, I couldn't find a particular circular needle the other day and I wanted to cast on a new pair of socks from some lovely new yarn that I've bought.  Convinced that I'd managed to lose it, I turned the house upside down (ignoring comments from my husband about this not happening if I was a bit tidier) and eventually realised that all my needles were in WIPs.  Oh dear.  It turns out that I have an embarrassing number of half-finished sock pairs - no, I'm not going to tell you how many but let's just say it's in double figures (actually, it was quite a revelation as I didn't know I even had that many sock needles!) - and I really need to do something about it.  

This is the yarn that I wanted to cast on ...

It's a blend of Alpaca, Blue-face Leicester and Teeswater from a new Scottish yarn company called New Leaf Yarns - and it feels gorgeous.  And the alpaca fibre comes from an alpaca called Nicky.  How could I resist?  Wouldn't you want to cast on immediately?  Even with an embarrassing number of half-finished sock pairs on all of your needles?  Of course you would!  And you would probably do what I did as well, which was to transfer one of the socks off the needle I wanted and onto stitch holders so that I could make a start.  Well, wouldn't you?!

This is how it's looking at the moment.  It's a soft rose-grey colour, a bit slubby in places but it feels very natural.  I've had a conversation with my colour-obsessed friend Lucy about this and it's unlikely she'll be casting on with this yarn any time soon, but yarns like this make me feel very connected to the places they have come from and I never wish that they're a bright colour.  It's a no-nylon yarn so there'll be a review coming up later in the year next year (blimey, is it really the time when I have to start thinking like that?)  In the photo, I think it looks like it might be a bit woolly and scratchy but it isn't at all - it feels as lovely knitted up as I hoped it would and I think these are going to be gorgeous socks.

I've finished the first of big daughter's boyfriend's ginormous size 14 socks too.  It actually wasn't as much of an ordeal to knit as I worried it might be, probably because I've had to do it in bursts so that he can keep trying it on.  I've got a different number of stitches at the cuff compared to the foot but the end result is a sock that fits him perfectly.  He's very excited about being able to wear them - the first pair of socks that are the right size he's ever had, he says!

It's really easy to adjust a sock to fit if you're knitting for feet that aren't a "standard" size (is anybody's foot a standard size?  That's what's great about handknits because they can be your size!) as you just use the stitch calculation for every part of the foot and adjust the stitches by increasing or decreasing at that point.  

I've also just about finished my Magic Mirror socks that I knitted in no-nylon Cuthbert's Sock from Whistlebare.  I bought the yarn last year at Woolfest and since then, Alice at Whistlebare has made the skeins longer which means that anyone with a recent Cuthbert's Sock purchase shouldn't have the problem which happened to me - I ran out at the toes on both socks!  Oh no!  

Luckily, Whistlebare have mini skeins of their Cuthbert's Sock colours and when I contacted Alice to ask her about them, she immediately and very kindly offered to put one in the post to me so that I could finish my socks.  

I decided not to go for the same colour because the colour probably wouldn't match, so I've chosen something completely different.  The original turquoise shade is Kirk Yelthom and the new pink one is Grubbit Law.  Pink and turquoise together?  Not some people's ideal colour combination but I like it!

There's going to be a review of this yarn next year too - so far I can tell you that I think it's the silkiest, shiniest yarn I've ever knitted with and I'm really looking forward to wearing the socks.  There's a large mohair content in the yarn which replaces the nylon and I did wonder if it would shed (in a way reminiscent of those 1980s mohair jumpers - they make me itch just to think of them!) but it hasn't at all and has been a pleasure to knit with.  The socks have knitted up slightly bigger than "ordinary" sock yarn too, which means that the yarn will go a bit further - even better now that the skeins are bigger too!

The Yarndale Sock Line socks are on their way to new homes now.  The first couple of parcels went a week or so ago ...

and more went out this week.  

I've got some more to pack up today - this has to be the best bit! - and I will probably still have some left over so I need your suggestions for places for them to go!  They don't have to go to big organisations - they just need to go to places where people can put them straight on their feet (such as local care homes, family centres, community projects) and the socks won't be sold.  I'll put the places that the socks have gone to up on the blog when they've all gone out so that you can see where they've gone this year.

Have a lovely weekend - the wind is whistling around the house again here so I hope that you are warm wherever you are!

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Monthly Musing - October 2017 - Hamster wheel

 A friend and her family have recently been looking after some gerbils for her son’s friend.  Gerbils are busy little creatures, always ripping up cardboard, racing up and down the ladders in their cage or rocketing round and around on their wheel.  They have fascinated my friend, who has never kept hamsters or gerbils before, and despite her claims that she’ll be glad hand them back, I am sure it won’t be long before her family has gerbils of their own!

I had dropped small daughter off to play at their house and my friend encouraged me to stop for a while to watch the gerbils.  “I’m finding it quite therapeutic!” she told me.  I used to keep hamsters when I was younger and they would also be very busy on their wheels, running faster and faster before deciding to get off and go and do something else.  There’s something about watching them on that wheel – mostly I joke about needing to hitch them up to the meter to save on electricity – but more recently, watching those little creatures running has felt more personal.  We’re all good at running on a wheel of our own making, faster or slower depending on the demands of life.  What we’re not always so good at doing is slowing it down once it’s going too fast, or remembering to get off once in a while.
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