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Monday, 27 July 2020

Monthly Musing - July 2020 - Better with a friend!

It’s 6am on Monday morning (I know, far too early!) and I am wrapped up in my meditation blanket, listening to the rain outside the window whilst I focus on my breathing. Across the room, my husband is also meditating – we are together, but not together as we each take a few quiet moments before the day starts.

I know this might sound a bit “out there” for some – even the idea of meditation can cause very different reactions! – but we both get something immensely positive from our morning stillness and, best of all, doing it together makes it much more likely that we will do it at all.

I’ve never really got the whole “gym buddy” thing; the idea of a partner who shouts encouragement (or orders, depending on your preference) whilst you sweat away on a piece of equipment. I think that’s probably because I’ve never been a big fan of the gym – I’d much rather be walking outside or, even better, sitting at home knitting and preferably with a cup of tea and a shortbread biscuit. It all felt a bit too regimental for me, I didn’t like the idea of the pressure (I’ve never been very good at being told what to do) and if I am honest, I’m probably a bit lazy when it comes to that kind of exercise!

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Sunday again

Is it Sunday again?! 😀

I'm sitting at the kitchen table with big daughter; she's working away on her computer and I'm looking at the photos on my phone, getting ready to add them to my blog post.  "I can't believe we've got to the do the weekly food shopping list again already," she says to me, out of the blue, and she's right.  It's food shopping list day again!

So what have you been up to this week?  Anything exciting?  It's been a bit same old, same old here, much as it has been for the last few months, with the addition of endless rain and some gusty winds.  Even the dog hasn't looked too excited at the thought of going out of the door, but we have managed some walks between the rain showers and he's enjoyed himself once we've got outside.

It was lovely to get back to Bewsey Meadows near Callands in Warrington - this is one of the places that inspired my Wildflower yarn and I had forgotten how many of the flowers would be out at this time of year.  It was all looking a bit gloomy when we set off, but it was warm enough, and the colours of our surroundings seemed even more vibrant against the dull sky.

A photo showing a terracotta coloured gravel path through a meadow.  The sky is grey and the path is bordered by grass and trees

Sunday, 12 July 2020

July already!

And here we are, past mid-summer and rushing our way to the school summer holidays ... even though if you have school-aged children like me, they might have thought they've been on holiday since March! 

How are you doing?  Are you still OK, safe at home and perhaps venturing a little further these days?  We've been out and about a little bit, but not much; it still feels strange after all this time that it's becoming acceptable to do that and of course, we are still very wary as this virus hasn't just gone away.  I think it will take us a while to feel that it's OK to be outside again.

We've mostly been carrying on as before - work from home for my husband and me, studying from home for small daughter and big daughter has spent most of the last week on Cloud 9 ... 
we've been celebrating as she has graduated from university with First Class Honours!  We are absolutely delighted for her as she has put so much work into her studies and really deserves the grade.  She was hoping to go travelling in September but that's been put on hold now so she's going to start the Master's degree that she was intending to defer ... so many plans have changed for so many people ... and she'll see how the world is faring after that.  

It seems very boring after that to tell you that I've been knitting a sock!  It's the second sock in the Novita Aran yarn that I started a while ago and then put down as I had other things to get on with.  I've still got other things to get on with but I picked this sock up again last night whilst my husband and I sat and watched an episode of Jack Taylor on TV. 

A half-knitted sock in shades of turquoise, black and purple yarn.  The ball of yarn is to the left of the sock, and a completed sock is to the right.  They are all resting on a stone paving flag.

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Let's talk about ... short circular needles

It seems like a very long time ago now that I picked up my first set of short circular needles, the promise of my sock knitting being "revolution-ised" ringing in my ears and proving to be absolutely true - for me, at least!  

When I bought my 30cm (12'") short circular needle, that was pretty much the sum total of what was on offer.  I wasn't presented with a range of other choices as easily as you might be today, and when my needle first arrived through the post, it looked so unbelievably tiny that I had no idea how it was going to replace my DPNs.  I just knew, though, that this was the needle for me and I was determined to get to grips with it.  There was a slight flaw in this plan as I couldn't work out how to cast on and make it join (this might sound familiar to you!) until I realised that casting on with straight needles not only solved that problem but also stopped the stitches twisting.  I put my DPNs to one side and the short circular became my needle of choice.

I used this short circular needle as one of the three methods shown in my Sockalong tutorials.  The plan with the tutorials was always just to get people started knitting socks and I showed the needles that I used and how I knit my socks, always intending that the tutorials would be a springboard to discovering more.  It has both surprised and delighted me that for many people, the basic 4ply Sockalong sock pattern along with the tutorials has been enough.  There are so many fabulous self-striping yarns around these days that you often don't need any more, and instead of delving further into more complicated patterns, people have stuck with what works for them, and that's just lovely!

What I have noticed, though, is that people are investigating their needle choices more.  That will be because, since I wrote the Sockalong tutorials, there really is more choice, and also because the way we get our information through the internet has improved too.  It's second nature to many of us now to simply put our questions into a search bar and hey presto, we have a hundred answers to scroll through!  It's enlightening - and sometimes overwhelming - so I thought that this morning, I'd add my own thoughts to one of the questions that I see most often: what's the best size of short circular to buy?

Close up of three short circular knitting needles.  They are arranged in side, largest to the outside and smallest on the inside.  They have different tips (outside and inside are metal whilst the one between is coloured wood) and different coloured cables; gold on the outside, purple in the middle and green in the very centre).
Needle brands: Outside - Addi, Centre - KnitPro Symphonie, Inside - HiyaHiya
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