Archive for September, 2008

Catching up

Posted by on Sep 17 2008 | Crafty things, Cultural Things, Delicious Things, General Ramblings

Oh boy, there’s just too much catching up to do.

The I Knit day was fab. I had a lovely time, met some lovely bloggers (including Luke!), had a lovely lunch with my mum and ChicwithStix, bought some lovely yarn, went to The Yarn Harlot talk which was, yep, lovely. Stephanie very much lives up to all the lovely things you read about her on other blogs. Then I met up with my lovely friend Ceri, who I don’t see anywhere near often enough, and we went off and had lovely coffee and then lovely dinner and dessert desert cake.
It was pretty much an all round lovely day.

I finished my Hemlock Ring Blanket and it’s keeping me very warm at the moment. All the details are over at Ravelry. I used the pattern as collated by The Rainey Sisters, and worked the standard size throw. It’s ended up 44″/112cm in diameter. Big enough for a lap blanket, but I’d go bigger next time, although I’ll need a longer cable for my needles. The knitted bind off looks great but took forever, so next time I’ll also need to brush up on my crochet skills as that would be much, much easier.

While I was in France I made a Baby Surprise Jacket. I love it. I love the pattern, and I love the yarn I used (Rowan Wool Cotton). I still need to sew up the seams, sew in the many yarn ends and find good buttons, but there are a good few months to go before it’ll get any wear so there’s no great rush (it’s for my neicephew-to-be).

At the moment I’m working away on a Clapotis for me, a February Baby Sweater for the neicephew, and a small off-blog project. (There might be a few other things kicking around too, but I’m talking about projects I’m actually interested in knitting right now). I think it’s time to start swatching for another sweater for me. Winter’s coming, and it ain’t getting any warmer. I think it’s time to try fair isle.

I’m very excited that this coming Saturday is knitting group. I miss everyone. It seems like ages since I went along. Tonight I was in Borders just as my closest group was starting, but I was tired and hungry and hadn’t been home after work so I didn’t stay (that’s also why I never manage to make it). Anyway, yes, Saturday. I’m looking forward to it.

I’m frustrated with the weather. The sun came out on Saturday afternoon, and it was lovely, but it hasn’t been seen since. That’s why my photos are so bad. It’s always grey here.

I’ve been twittering a little as teaandcakes: is anyone out there? Knitters seem to mainly plurk I know, but I think twitter’s the one for me.

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Some observations…

Posted by on Sep 15 2008 | General Ramblings

Getting back into a routine after the summer is tough, but good.

I’ve probably said this before, but I hate the gym. It’s boring. Swimming and a session in the steam room I can handle, even enjoy, especially when I have both to myself like the other day. The main gym bit though: Boring. Listening to knitting podcasts on the cross trainer just made me want to go home and knit. Running to Father Ted entertained me a little (and I’m convinced Mrs Doyle was wearing an Elizabeth Zimmerman prime rib hat), but really, it’s dull. Trouble is that it rains all the time here, and it’s dark when I’m home, so running outside isn’t a regular option, and. Oh, sod it, I just hate exercising. I do it, and I kind of like the feeling when I have done it, but I don’t enjoy actually doing it. Takes the whole bleeding evening up too – it was 10 when I got home from the gym, now I’ve had cheese on toast for dinner which kind of makes going to the gym a bit counterproductive, checked my emails, and it’s almost bedtime, with no knitting done, no housework done, no relaxing done, and most importantly: no tea.

To all the media people expressing surprise that during the credit crunch recession people are still buying €7000 rolexes, designer handbags, and pieces of art that Damien Hirst thought up but didn’t actually make: These people are rich. Recessions don’t affect them in the same way as normal people. You’re just rubbing it in. Please stop.

I have to rip back a sleeve on a baby cardigan due to a really stupid mistake. I don’t want to, but I’m going to.

My hemlock ring blanket is finished and is almost dry. Pictures etc coming soon.

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Holiday Reading

Posted by on Sep 10 2008 | Books

A bit behind I know, but I’m slowly catching up. Being back at work after a long holiday and getting back into the routine of getting up in the morning and getting out of the house and then not arriving home until relatively late and trying to find the energy to make dinner and do washing, and usually failing – well, it’s taking a bit of getting used to.

However, onwards.

In France I read four excellent books, all very different, and all written about women by women. It was interesting.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton was some easy going fiction to start me off. I sort of enjoyed this – what attracted me in the first place was that I felt that the author had visited the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, and after reading the book I’m pretty sure she had been inspired by them. It was well written, and interesting, but I’m not mad on stories that have a self satisfied plot twist that’s visible a mile off, and this sort of did. I found everything wrapped itself up a bit too nicely for me at the end. It kept me interested though, and was a nice easy going book for the beginning of the holiday.

Next on the list was The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs Beeton by Kathryn Hughes. Yep, Mrs Beeton of Household Management fame. The author hadn’t had a lot to go on for a detailed biography, but had filled in the gaps with historical background information, educated guesses and details of other family members and it made for a very interesting read. It was also interesting as a history of publishing, as that was Mr and Mrs Beeton’s business. For example, Mr Beeton was a partner for a while to Weldon, who published Weldon’s practical needlework, the source of a good few vintage knitting patterns.

Now, I’d started Cunt* by Inga Muscio before we went away but only just. The sub title is A Declaration of Independence, and that’s what this was. A fantastic feminist book, I found this hard to put down, and very inspiring. I’d like to be able to give a copy of this to every woman I know, but I lack the courage to do so. I’m getting more and more interested in women’s issues, and this was a great starting point. Many years ago I took a first year university course on feminism and philosophy, and had a few arguments with people in seminars, and I identify as a feminist, but I haven’t done much academic reading in this area and I’d like to do more. I’m open to more suggestions if anyone has any.
(*Psst! It’s just a word, don’t be scared.)

Finally, I moved on to The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. I’ve only recently got into Margaret Atwood (mainly after reading The Handmaid’s Tale, see getting into women’s issues, above) and it’s great. I love falling for a new author with a large amount of work behind them – the knowledge that there are many pleasurable hours of reading ahead is deeply satisfying. I lost myself in The Blind Assassin, which kept me wondering until the end (a more subtle plot twist). Wonderful characterisation, heartbreaking at times, and a beautiful tale of a family in layers that weave in and out smoothly, interspersed with completely different fiction within the fiction. Excellent.

I started The Forgotten Garden on the ferry over to France, and finished The Blind Assassin as the ferry back to Ireland pulled in to Rosslare. Very well timed indeed.

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Gone Knittin’

Posted by on Sep 05 2008 | General Ramblings

—- ?Sent using a Sony Ericsson mobile phone

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A fortnight in France (and a bit extra)

Posted by on Sep 02 2008 | Travel

This is the year of many holidays for me. It began badly, admittedly, with a trip to London cancelled at the last minute, but after that I was flying. Sussex at Easter, a weekend in Wicklow (does that count?) Bulgaria for a couple of days, back to Sussex and Cornwall, Bulgaria again, and then 2 and a bit weeks in France.

We took the ferry over again this year, which meant we could pack as much as we liked in the car, so I was able to bring plenty of books and way more knitting than I could possibly need. Irish Ferries have been making much of their new ferry for the Ireland-France routes, and it was indeed much, much nicer than the old one. It wasn’t really new though. It was new to Viking Line in Finland in 1987. 21 years later it’s new to Irish Ferries. Lovely though, and I do like being able to bring whatever I like with me on board and just sleeping through the whole journey.

For our first night we headed to Fontainebleau, to see the Chateau. We didn’t make it inside but the gardens were stunning. I can totally understand the revolution though. The place was massive, and incredibly opulent.

Then it was off for a week in our first Gite, a little way outside of Dijon. Here’s the link – I really couldn’t recommend it more. It was wonderful. Huge, beautifully furnished, comfortable, clean, a great location. Close to wine country (ok, we were in France, pretty much everywhere is, so more specifically the Cote d’Or in Burgundy), close to national parks for walking, and close to a few interesting but not busy tourist sites.

Next we headed off to Limousin, for four nights in our second gite. No link for this one. This was a bit different. It was absolutely in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the most rural part of rural France, in a beautiful setting.

A converted hayloft in a watermill, with windows the full length of the room and a lovely art deco style to the furnishings, overlooking a weir on a small river, this should have been perfect. It needed a really good clean though. There were a few too many spiderwebs for my liking. Also, that a mouse had been living in a former hayloft neither surprised nor bothered me, but the droppings not being cleared up did. Grrr. So much potential. Didn’t stop us having a great time though.

For our last two nights we treated ourselves to the Hotel Villa Cap d’Ail in La Baule on the coast. This hotel was just perfect. Beautifully furnished, lovely service – I would definitely go back.

So, what did I actually do? Well, walked some walks, drank some wine, saw some sights, read some books, knit on some knitting, relaxed, slept, drank great coffee, ate delicious ice-cream, and generally had a fab time. Lovely.

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