Saturday, March 31, 2007

Started Something New...

...and changed a few things too, you might notice.

The back of the Spirit Tank is done. It is longer than I was expecting, but should be fine.

The pleasure I found at knitting something quite plain has worn off and over the last few days I haven't even picked it up, so have started something a bit more tangy, something I can swap with when I fancy a change of pace. The yarn is so so pretty that it has been nice just winding it up.

I am hoping that this will become a Bayerische Sock.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


I am not much of a collector, although I do have a tendency to hoard. Especially things like books.

I read the first three of Louise Cooper's Time Master series (The Initiate, The Outcast and The Master) as a teenager after my sister had been given them as a present by a lad who worked in the local bookshop who had a bit of a thing for her. I can't recall if my sister thought much of the books (or the lad) but I read them over and over and over, buying my own copies when she moved out - I have to add this in case she accuses me of still having her books!!.

Over the years since then I have collected the other two trilogies set on the same world, The Chaos Gate Triology and The Star Shadow Triology, which I have just finished reading. They are not the world's best fantasy SF books, but very enjoyable and escapist stuff, about a land where the gods of Order and Chaos vie for position as the deities of the mortals. I had a bit of a crush on Tarod as I was growing up... who am I kidding, I still do :) and re-read them often. If anyone is interested then The Initiate is the best place to start.

I got most of mine quite cheaply, picked up here and there for a couple of quid each, although the Star Shadow trilogy is out of print and some of the books are quite difficult to find. There are some listed for sale for really silly money out there, but it proves that you don't need to put in the legwork when collecting any more if you have the money.

I had missed out on a bargain when 'Eclipse' came up on ebay and was not happy when someone else got it but managed to get one ( I suspect possibly the same book) for not that much more, which I was prepared to pay when considering how little I paid for most of the others. I felt a bit guilty having ordered that book online and not carried on searching in second hand bookshops for the rest of my days. I like browsing, and there is much excitement to be had when you spot something you're after and gripping it tightly and carrying it around the shop with you in case anyone else should be after your find - despite knowing really that no one else cares. But my desire to own them and after searching (admittedly not hard) without success when I just wanted to read them won out and I paid up.

So I am almost done. There is just one book left. The Lord Of No Time is the short novel from which the Time Master books came into being and is pretty rare so if it wasn't for the internet, I doubt I'd ever find one by myself - and this otherwise impossible to find book will soon be mine for the princely sum of £6. Hurrah!

Now... I need to find something else to collect :)

Edited to add a pic of said book in it's new home. It is a 1977 first edition paperback, bit tatty around the bottom of the spine but otherwise in pretty good nick considering it's thirty years old (ouch!) and doesn't look read.

This pic doesn't quite capture my alarming lack of shelf space....these books are two deep....

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Pike of Blisco

All last week I had a hankering to go to the Lakes this weekend. Walking when there is snow on the tops and crisp cold air is brilliant - you just can't beat it. So we packed up and went camping. I didn't really get to walk in the snow, although there were tiny patches here and there in shady spots and some ice in some of the gullies, it was far too warm and sunny for any of it to last. But this was fine too! We had a potter over Pike of Blisco (705m) and round to Whorneyside Force (6 miles).

Lunch spot - with Bowfell in the distance

From the foot bridge looking over Oxendale

Whorneyside Force


Thursday, March 22, 2007


Well, planet gazing would be more accurate. The Moon and Venus just after sunset taken the night before last on the new moon. I am hankering after a big camera and a big telescope now, but it'll pass. It usually does.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Last Day of Winter

Thank you to everyone for your compliments about the shawl :)

So it will be Spring tomorrow, although despite the snow and cold of this week's parting shot, it doesn't seem to me as though Winter has made much of an effort at all this year. Today though I have been wearing my woolly cabled jacket in an effort to keep the cold out and Mr C looked very miserable indeed when he went outside and the cold wind was ruffling his fur up. It wasn't long before he returned to his favourite spot.

All I want is a room with a view...

I have decided on my next knitting project and begun making the cashmere that I bought on my birthday into the Spirit Tank Top from February's edition of Knitting magazine. The pattern is from the Twilley's Freedom Spirit Book, which looks like it has lots of other nice things in it, so I might buy that if this knits up ok. I was good and did my tension swatch, so am happy to sub this time.

I spent ages trying to find a tank pattern that I liked, the other contenders being Jo Sharp's from Knit1, Tori from Magknits and Ms Marigold from Zephyr Style, which I probably would have made if it hadn't meant buying more knitting needles - my one problem with Denises is that the sizes don't go small enough. I decided on the Spirit (although I still might change the neckline into a V like on Tori, but there's time to decide before I get to that part) because it has nice shaping and I had the pattern all printed out in a magazine with me on the sofa while my fingers were itching to get started. There were lots of magazines on the sofa with me at one point, most of them bought on a whim and most of them containing zero patterns that I would ever actually make but still my hoarding nature has made me keep them just in case.

It is always nice to make something very different from the thing you made last, so instead of being a chore the plain 2x2 ribbing is a bit of relief after the fiddly nature of the lace shawl and the plain stocking stitch section will be total mindless knitting. I intend to settle in with my knitting and the new version of Mansfield Park (not my favourite Jane Austen but hey any Jane Austen is better than none). I am interested to see how Billie Piper does as Fanny - I was sceptical having seen her slouching in the Radio Times, but I'll give her a chance.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Mother's Day Shawl

Mum's shawl is finished and ready to hand over when she returns from her holiday in Ireland (she said she was going this weekend for a friend's birthday, but I suspect the lure of the big St Patrick's Day celebrations!)

The border wasn't too bad once I got going and I am very pleased with the finished article; I can see myself knitting this pattern again.

Pattern: Shoulder shawl in cherry leaf pattern, Victorian Lace Today
Yarn: Posh Yarns Eva (2ply, 45% cashmere, 55% silk) in colourway Willow

I had plenty of yarn to do the full 15 repeats, and it is much bigger than I was expecting it to be, maybe because my first lace shawl (the Swallowtail) was so small. I think this is a better size to wear and will make a nice evening wrap for summer. The colour has grown on me too, it seems right for this leafy shawl.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Enough with the waffle

To make up for yesterday's ramblings, here are some pics that I took in the garden this evening. Looks like Spring is here :)

Viburnum (technically winter flowering, but it's still going strong)

Daff (obviously)


Catkins on my Twisted Willow (this is my favourite plant in the whole garden)

Sunset over Manchester

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The 10 Steps to Happiness

There is a new tv show starting, or possibly it has already started, called Making Slough Happy or something along those lines. I was reading the page on the BBC website about it where they outline 10 steps to leading a happier lifestyle. Being happy sounds good to me, so I read with interest and thought I would give it a go. This was last week. Over the weekend, I had dreams about arguing with people, didn't sleep well and woke up tired and grumpy - and then yesterday I had a busy day at work, nearly ruined dinner and make a BIG mistake in my knitting and got myself in a right foul mood, so things do not seem to be starting out in the right direction. I think I find having a whole list of things to do EVERY DAY quite stressful and feel a bit of a failure if I don't tick off each and every one. Feeling like a stressed out failure does not seem to be particularly conducive to me being happy, in my opinion, but from small beginnings and all that, so I shall perservere a while longer till I forget about it completely.

So here they are:

1. Plant something and nurture it
I have houseplants. I don't so much nuture them as let them take over, although admittedly they are all tough varieties like cacti, ivy and spiderplants that don't exactly need much looking after. The one thing that I try and try to grow on my kitchen windowsill is parsley but always without longterm success. I've just thrown some in the compost this last week. I still have some seeds, so I'll give it another go.

2. Count your blessings - at least five - at the end of each day
I started out forgetting to do this one completely. However, the last few nights I have said the same things and it could get a bit repetitive, but trying to think of different positive things is hard without resorting to being thankful that the roof doesn't leak and the boiler still works (for now, finger's crossed...)

3. Take time to talk - have an hour-long conversation with a loved one each week
Not a problem. My Mum could talk for England.

4. Phone a friend whom you have not spoken to for a while and arrange to meet up

This is easier said than done, most of my friends whom I don't see on a regular basis anyway are scattered far and wide across the country but I shall make more of an effort to keep in touch.

5. Give yourself a treat every day and take the time to really enjoy it
Hmmm, how to do without gaining a stone or crippling myself financally? Some suggestions have been: bubble baths (doesn't really fit into my helping the environment thinking but one now and then is nice), painting my fingernails, reading a favourite book and listening to a favourite CD. It has also been suggested that my treat could be watching whatever tv I fancied...(see point 9!) This week I have been recording films that are shown during the day to watch later on, as I am aware that there are many many classic films that I've not seen. Today, I have mostly been watching Zulu!

6. Have a good laugh at least once a day
I was given a Gary Larson Off The Wall calendar for Christmas, so this is pretty much sorted. On the rare occasions of it being a cartoon I don't get or find funny, I always have my forum friends to keep me entertained. There are quite often amusing things said at work, but generally that is more a case of laughing at, rather than laughing with, which probably doesn't help with the karmic (is that a word?) nature of this exercise.

7. Get physical - exercise for half an hour three times a week
Exercise. Yes. Well. I'll definitely do some tomorrow...

8. Smile at and/or say hello to a stranger at least once each day
I do this. I start conversations with people in shops. Strangers probably think I'm some kind of loony.

9. Cut your TV viewing by half
In these days of such dire tv shows as Celebrity Singing, Celebrity Mincing, Celebrities on Ice and Celebrity Bullying, this should be quite easy to achieve. However, I do like to knit while the television is on as background noise. I've listened to some audio books before and they were quite entertaining and don't require me to look up from my knitting so this could be a plan. I shall probably also fail to catch any of the program on Slough's happiness too, but this will be by accident rather than deliberate attempt to cut down on viewing time. It is also the Cricket World Cup this month, starting today, so I suspect that my tv viewing will be dominated by this for a while. I don't mind cricket at all, so come on England!! (We're playing our first game against New Zealand on Friday).

10. Spread some kindness - do a good turn for someone every day
I let a lady out of a side street while driving to work this morning and a little voice in my head piped up 'that's that one done for the day' bad is that?! I think I might amend this one to whenever the opportunity arises, rather than limiting it to one per day...

Wish me luck and spread a little happiness ;)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

"Just" knit on the border...

...famous last words...

I may be some time.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


This could be one of those 'what happened next?' quiz questions, but I'm afraid it's all too obvious. Happily, no damage was done and Mr C was escorted into the kitchen where some kitty biscuits took his mind off the entertainment in the other room.

The main body of my shoulder shawl is now finished and I have just to knit on the border. I spent ages rummaging through my knitting needle box looking for 4,5mm dpns to knit the border with, but although I thought I had some, I don't - or I have lost them. However, this morning, I was looking at the pattern more closely, and realised that it says 4mm dpns for the border, which I have! Hurrah!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


In honour of Pie Princess's birthday, we had pie!

Sausage pie, made with cumberland sausages, onion, apple, tomatoes, red onion chutney in a short crust pastry. Yum.

I even used the 'food' setting on my camera to take the pic...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Lunar Eclipse

There was a lunar eclipse last night and reasonably clear skies, so we decided to walk up to our local, which is on the edge of the moors and away from the streetlights, to take some photos after dinner (and a couple of drinks in the pub too, of course). It was quite windy and there was a steady parade of patchy clouds over the moon, which kept blurring over on the photos. By the time of the totality, the clouds had come over completely, but I managed to get a couple of almost decent shots ( I really should have read the camera manual beforehand as there was lots of experimenting taking place in the cold and the wind - brr!)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

March Already

Where is the time going?

I cannot believe it is a week since my last post and it is already March. It doesn’t seem like two minutes ago that it was Christmas and here we are, birthdays over and done with, the days are getting longer and Mother’s Day is looming up. I didn’t realise until earlier today that Mother’s Day is a moveable celebration, and always falls on the third Sunday in Lent, having to do with an old custom of visiting ones mother-church, or something. I think I prefer the idea of celebrating my real mother, something which has become more important to me in the last couple of years, after two of my closest school friends sadly lost their mums and my own had to undergo some very icky treatment for a serious illness.

Thankfully, Mum is fine these days and pretty much back to her old self. And for her Mother's Day gift, I am making the Posh Yarns lace weight into a very summery looking Cherry Leaf Triangular Shawl from Victorian Lace Today. It is a pretty leafy pattern with a garter stitch border at the moment, on to which the fancy border will be knitted afterwards. I’m on repeat 6 of 15 and so far, so good.

This last week has been filled with lots of activity, some bad, some sad, some middling, some very good (this was going to see Nine Inch Nails live at the Manchester Apollo on Sunday night, which was top class!!), but not much of it knitting related. So in order to fill up some space, here is a pic from this day three years ago, which was a leap year – and we had snow! This was taken on February 29th 2004 on the way up Fair Brook to Kinder Scout.