Monday, December 29, 2008

Over to you, peeps...

I've signed up again for NaBloPoMo in January (you can do it any month of the year, it's just that lots of people do sign up in November...).

And it occurs to me that 40+ people a day access this blog (you do, I've seen the Google Analytics, and a couple of people have even mentioned it on Christmas cards); and I have no real idea what you like about it. Is it the knitting, or the random thoughts, or the pretty pics of London, or are you at the same events I am and wondering whether we thought the same thing? Or what? Part of the point of writing a blog is the whole wanting to know that "you are not alone" thing. I know I get more comments when I post about knitting (except for the car insurance people who are camping on the last meme post, and I'm getting rid of them...), but is that because it's the only thing you like, or is it just easier to comment on? I really do want to know!

I will be running a competition of sorts with nice prizes in January, too. Details on New Year's Day.

Edited to add: thanks very much for your comments, and please keep 'em coming.

A short walk to the shops...

I have knitting to blog; I have handmade presents to blog.
But Christmas isn't quite over yet - I still have one with Jan to go - and I've only just finished the last Christmas knitting and haven't gifted it yet. So instead, this is a set of photos taken on a small shopping trip I made at lunchtime today. I left work, and a bus had just gone, and I had a good sweater on, and my camera, and the day was fine if cold; so I thought I'd take pictures of what I see on the way to my local bead shop.

The bottom of Whitehall, looking at the Cenotaph; with a bendy-bus (yay, Wikipedia-thesaurus-management!) in shot. Unfortunately the white thing on the left-hand pavement isn't any form of fleece-bearing animal; it's some sort of plastic barrier which just happens to look like the back end of a goat...

The MOD building; all very white. Outside there's a statue to a Master of Strategy... (and how cool is it that you can Google "master-of strategy" whitehall and get an actual photo of the statue, once yours turns out to be a bit crap?)

This is Downing Street. Yes, I always imagine something glammer, too. It does have a nice Christmas tree; but both sides are currently sheathed in scaffolding... The No. 10 website is also still in beta, in a nice symmetry...

Horseguards. Left-hand one with sign in view saying "BEWARE Horses: nasty bitey kicky things, we hates 'em..." Sort of.

Right-hand one, ditto: but I had to collect the set...

I'd have tried to get the same angle and all, but the place was absolutely stacked with tourists. I'd naïvely assumed that because I was back at work, so would everyone else be - duh. Over the top of a cab, I took a picture of the next street across (Great Scotland Yard)

past the souvenir kiosk...
and then up to Trafalgar Square
St Martin in the Fields looking very lovely in the sunlight...

... and the fountains were in full operation alongside the Christmas tree and the menorah...

Edith Cavell's statue is next; always gives me the shivers on the way past...

and then the Coliseum, home of ENO...

... past the end of Cecil Court, which is a haven for print and antiquarian book dealers...

and past the very modestly named Catholic Truth Society (maybe I'm just being over-sensitive here because I am one - I suspect the abbreviation doesn't mean much to most passers-by)...

... before reaching the final destination.

Their website has been down for ages, and so I took a chance - as it turned out, although upstairs was open for business, downstairs, which is where all the wholesale/high-volume stuff happens, was not; and they didn't have enough staff to be running up and down the stairs. Next week, perhaps... Was very glad I'd taken the photos for this post to assuage my disappointment...

Just round the corner are the St Martin's Theatre which has been showing The Mousetrap for the last 56 years, and The Ivy (with the green awnings outside).

And then back to Trafalgar Square and the gates to The Mall

And then back down Whitehall. The view is quite spectacular, as long as you don't mind gazing at the arses of horses all the way back to Parliament Square...

Takes just about a minute over an hour to do the round-trip including taking photos...

The voyage was not entirely a wash-out on the shopping front, though... I picked up a copy of The Moonstone for next week's Kniterati group... Hope they're as friendly as everything else I've been to at I Knit, and it's a favourite book - no idea where my copy went!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas

Tiny Clanger is in mourning this year and has her black armband, but wishes you a happy and peaceful Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Surely not...

I am waiting, with some trepidation, for the other shoe to drop. It's all going entirely too well.

Stats first:

  • Projects on list: 19 (-1; arbitrary extra Turtle removed - self-imposed deadline...)
  • Projects actually needed before Christmas: 18
  • Projects started: 18
  • Projects finished: 18
  • Projects to finish before New Year: 1
  • Weeks to Christmas: 0.5

The three most recent finishes: Lorna's hat, finished 20 December (!!!) - one of Kim's Hats, from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts

Fiona's hat, finished 19th December; Fake Isle by Amy A. King.

Barb's Blowsey Ruffles scarf by Janine Le Cras, finished 19 December

Note shawl-pin. I said I was going to have to make one - I was intending to use Fimo - because I'd managed to lose the circular shell-piece from this Pryn pin, despite only taking it out of the bag a day or so before... It turned up at the bottom of a knitting bag (one of the many) just before I was reduced to Blue-Peter-esque mixing-Fimo-with-embossing-powder-and-hoping-it-didn't-turn-the-oven-toxic antics. This is the Dream in Color yarn I won at the Brighton Knitting Safari, so thanks, whoever donated it! It's really lovely to knit with.

So; I've finished the pre-Christmas knitting, it's wrapped, I'm packed, and while the house doesn't look particularly glam, it's decorated, and it's 1000% cleaner and tidier than this time last year. I know a lot of this is having had Friday and today off, rather than just the weekend like last year, but I'm waiting to find some Huge problem now. Like having forgotten to buy presents for some significant member of my family... There must be something.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

File under Miscellaneous...

As a taxonomer (and intermittent tagger of blogs), I'm a natural enemy of "miscellaneous". But some random things ...

First, the picture - the Clock Tower and buses (one bendy, one not) in Parliament Square on December 10. Christmas connection: you can just see the star on the top of the Parliamentary Christmas Tree between the two buses...

Next up, Neil Gaiman's lovely Christmas memoir from today's Independent. The only thing which would have improved it would be having an accompanying audio file of the man himself reading it...

Found that just after hearing my personal dream-team of Bill Paterson and Richard Thompson reviewing the papers on Broadcasting House (after a brief discussion about Jimmy Shand) and questioning the merits of a university education or home-ownership - they didn't actually come out and say 'and another thing, capitalism is a bit rubbish' but you felt it was only a matter of time... If they'd had Mark Steel as the third man, that would have made the trifecta but might have reconfigured the universe as we know it. However, they were on with Kirstie Allsopp, who I gather is Something off those housing-ladder programmes on the Telly. She is (sigh) going to be doing some series about making things by hand and has 'rediscovered craft'. Another one, eh. The only "helpful tip" given (NOT by Ms Allsopp, to be fair) was that you teach left-handers to knit by sitting opposite them. AARRGGGHH. (Yes, I mailed in; and was calmed down by the lovely David Tennant interview).

And the best LOLCat of the festive season so far is here....

Later, some exciting (to me) Christmas knitting news. Better go and make a shawl-pin (for reasons I'll explain later) and wrap some presents.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Portrait of a Lady

Sometimes you just need to post a picture of your cat. Particularly when your Dad has done some very cool image-processing-type-things to it... Full-sized version here.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


I should do a round up of this week; maybe tomorrow... and I've had such a good time knitting today.

But this year's Big Christmas Thing is finished, and if I say so as shouldn't, it's pretty good.
I present you, Miriam Felton's Cleite (another brilliant MimKnits pattern - interesting enough to keep your attention, not so complicated you can't memorise it after a repeat or two), with additional beading by me. I went for beads on the purl stitches in the pattern (every 12th stitch) and also on the points of the appropriate "feathers". I beaded for repeats 5-7. The first repeat I beaded, I went for every 4th row, the second and third I did every alternate row. I only did 7 repeats rather than 9 because my mother was 5' 2" at her tallest and is probably a little shorter now, and because she wanted something she could fold up into her handbag (and she requested the colour and beads...)

The yarn is a cashmere/silk combo by Violet Green - Heather was able to pass me on some of the (quite spectacular) yarn undyed; and although I had problems with the staple length throughout and the yarn snapping on me, I may well have exacerbated this with my dyeing technique!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Oliver Postgate

So farewell then... creator of Noggin the Nog, Ivor the Engine, Bagpuss and best of all the magnificent, and knitted, Clangers (Tiny, in her tutu, from last year's Christmas tree, illustrated above). They were brilliant creations, and a generation of us benefited from Postgate's imagination.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Beginning to feel a lot like Christmas...

This was the view on the village green yesterday morning when I ventured out. [Note that unkempt woman in huge hand-knitted sweater, pyjama trousers, thick socks and Crocs taking photos of the view from her house elicits no comment from fellow villagers wandering past to the shop for their papers. If we were in Ambridge they'd have called the police. (I have just noticed that if I were actually in Ambridge, which has a village green the same shape as the one I look out over, I'd be sharing Woodbine Cottage with Christine Barford. Who has basically disappeared from the cast. I now worry that she's buried under a pile of yarn somewhere in my back bedroom rather than taking the well-deserved retirement I'd assumed...)]. Enough of this.

This was the view in roughly the same spot in the evening... the Christmas lights are here, and it all feels very serene and in control...

I cast off the Big Christmas Thing. That's one for the next couple of days' posts - I spent way too long on a train tonight to edit photos...

But today, I got an unexpected Christmas present. Alice, from Socktopus, mailed me as a result of this post, and let me know there was suddenly a space in next year's club because someone had had to drop out unexpectedly... So I'm signed up to another sock club, this one with a shared blog, rather than one you can just leave comments on, and with Official Extras. Very exciting. Especially as the invite arrived the same day as my annual performance-related bonus (for more or less the same amount!)...

Weekly Christmas knitting round-up:

  • Projects on list: 20 (-1)
  • Projects started: 14 (+1)
  • Projects finished: 12 (+1)
  • Projects to finish: 8 (-2)
  • Weeks to Christmas: 2.5 (-1)

All under control. Honest. Maybe not the one that needs to be posted the day after tomorrow, but after that...

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Book Meme

Lifted from One of Wibbo's New Blogs : couldn't resist once I realised three of my five favourite novels were in the list (To Kill a Mockingbird, Germinal and Wuthering Heights) - the two which are missing are Gaudy Night and The Power and the Glory).

This meme is originally from the Big Read. Apparently they reckon most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here.

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Underline those you intend to read (I'm going to asterisk these - Blogger doesn't like underlining)
3) Italicise the books you LOVE.
4) Post your list so we can try and track down these people who’ve only read 6 and force books upon them.

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. The Bible
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - J D Salinger
19. The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald*
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma - Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini*
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres (tried, and gave up!)
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel (tried; gave up)
52. Dune - Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones’ Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville*
71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses - James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray*
80. Possession - AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Yarn Shop Flirt

It's been a strange few days. Not least because of a couple of horrendous transport delays which meant I got only a couple of hours' sleep on Tuesday night due to arriving home after a long, long time on Royston station platform in sub-zero temperatures, and spent a long time on my home station platform this morning...
On Monday evening I was at Stash in Putney for one of their yarn tastings, this time from Artist's Palette Yarns. Just looking at the colours was excellent, but we got these fabulous little bags of sample yarns for our very modest yarn-tasting fee; and there was fizz and there were cookies...

Juliet was lovely. And she's only been dyeing since Easter... I am furiously envious of her use of colour.
Last night and tonight I was back on my usual beat at I Knit. Last night, my feeble excuse was to collect a ball of Tonks; and tonight I picked up a copy of Gerard's book (and got it signed)... Highly recommended - I think there are at least half a dozen things I really want to knit from it... And here's the man himself, with Dawn and Yvonne...

It seems, transport-wise, that nights I spend knitting = good trains, and nights I attempt to get home early = bad trains. This could work out expensive...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Holiday creep...

I realise that some people are keeping on top of their holiday knitting by trying a combination of sheer optimism and a reckless taunting of fate. That's not the way it works round here - spreadsheets are my friend... (That and finding a gift in the back of the cupboard under the stairs which means I don't have to knit one...)

The weekly roundup (as it was on Sunday night)
  • Projects on list: 21 (-1)
  • Projects started: 13 (+1)
  • Projects finished: 11 (+1)
  • Projects to finish: 10 (-1)
  • Weeks to Christmas: 3.5 (-1)


The good news is that the Big Shawl is only 42 rows from completion. And the bad news is that I'm now down to about 3 rows an hour for that, now I'm beading every alternate row...

Well, I'm off here for the next three days. Not sure how much concentration I'll have for blogging after that! I'll be the one picking up #8 black beads for my black shawl on the 0745 train... please avoid jogging my elbow on the way past or my 0.75mm crochet hook may find its way somewhere painful...