Sunday, 12 May 2019

Weekend WIPs

Technically this should be a FO post, but I need to weave in some ends and get it blocked before I will declare it FO'd.


Bonus toes in this one.

I bought this yarn at Wonderwool in 2017 and fully intended to knit them into this Spice Market for myself, but then decided to knit it as a gift for Mother Z, a decision I regret only more keenly since Fivemoons didn't have any mini moon sets on her stall this year - I can only assume she's not creating them anymore, which is sad if true. The colours are just lovely and blend very subtly. I am also a big fan of this pattern. It is written for six colours but I made it work for five without too much trouble - I think it is probably 12 rows shorter than it should be, but it's not exactly noticeable. I went up a needle size from the last time I knitted it so it should block out to have a nice drape.


Damn me and my altruism. I knew there was a reason I only ever knitted anything for myself.

I dived straight into my next shawl project this evening, a Bee Happy which will be a gift for Naomi, a colleague who's probably leaving at the end of the year. I wanted to get right on with Volt but I'm afraid that when exam season hits there will be no time to finish a shawl and I don't need a DK jumper for summer anyway (though I did wind the yarn for it today).

Once I've finished the shawl, I will be over halfway to my best ever yarn total for a year (2016: 8,163m) and it will only be halfway through the year. I might have finally found my knitting mojo again.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Sunday Selfie

I have been looking through my pictures and GoPro footage from Alabama and came across this accidental capture. I spent a lot of time shouting GOPRO TAKE A PHOTO at the GoPro, with limited success, so in the end I set it to image burst and took a dozen or so each time. This was a side capture and quite blurry but it was good early morning light and I was filled with pancakes and therefore extra cheery.


Monday, 29 April 2019

Wonderwool 2019

April has been a luscious month full of all sorts of treats. I started with a weekend of geeking out over history topics in London; then popped off to Alabama for a few days where I was thoroughly spoilt by the tourist board and their able helpers; and it's been rounded off with the annual visit to Wonderwool.



I've been looking back through previous years and realised I've been considerably less restrained than I have been for a while. I first thought I'd buy nothing. Then I aimed for some yellow to go with last year's blue, for a Volt jumper (a pattern I bought last year). Then I added something for a shawl for my friend Naomi to the list. Then the buttons for Mother Hand's cardigan. Then I burned the list and just went for it.

So..
Top row - two skeins of yellow from WYS, to go with the blue, for the Volt. The colours are spot on but the brighter yellow isn't quite the texture I wanted. Still, it was the best I could find.
Two projects bags from Siobhans Crafts. The woven one was made by Siobhan's friend using Siobhan-dyed yarn. It is the softest, squidgiest thing I found all day. I might have been tempted by a wrap if they're had one in these colours.
Three skeins of Coopknits DK and a pattern for some sekrit socks.
Second row - five mini skeins of Mr B's yarn from Birdstreet. They're local Bristol sellers. They had some lovely things. I'm going to match these with the red fivemoons, middle of the row, to make some kind of variegated shawl.
One the right, a skein of Triskelion Heulwen 4-ply from the sale bin. Just because. It's a nice neutral and so soft.
Third row - five skeins of Triskelion Hama Sport, also from the sale bin. I dithered for a long time over these, particularly because they had several colours and I couldn't choose. I found a pattern that will work, though, so it came home with me.
In the middle, another skein of Riverknits Starry Night BFL 4-ply - now I have three and can do a garment.
On the right, another wholly unnecessary purchase- 4 skeins of Giddy Aunt DK - but LOOK AT THAT BLUE. It almost glows.
Bottom row - Buttons for Mother Hand's cardigan. A gradient set from Riverknits - the display and the colours got me. And finally, a shawl kit for Naomi. She is a fan of the bees. They had a sample knitted up and it was the first thing I bought. The sample was sparkly but the kit wasn't she was very good and swapped it out for me when I asked. It was from Unbelieva-wool.

I'm closeish to finishing Mother Z's birthday shawl and then I'm a bit spoilt for choice. I think Volt first, then the sekrit socks (which should be quick) and then Naomi's shawl, though I really need to have cast that on before May half term, so perhaps I should begin with that.

We stayed in a new bunkhouse this year, near Tirabad, which had epic views.


There was a brutal storm on Friday night and it rained most of the day on Saturday. I was freezing. I really must remember to pack leggings next year.

Very enjoyable! Now, must knit more...

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Weeknote: 31/3

Knitting:
I've been furiously working on Mother Hand's cardigan. Last weekend I bit the bullet and cut the steek; this week I have finished the second sleeve and picked up and knitted the button band. The knitting part is finished now (in the nick of time, though not in time to send it for Mother's Day) - I just need to weave in ends, block and add buttons. And figure out what to do with my steek edges. In spite of my efforts at crochet, it has not held on the colourwork sections. Weirdly, it's fine where it's just plain knitting, but the ends on the colourwork sections began escaping almost immediately and caused me some issues when I was knitting the button band. In some cases I've pulled all the ends together in two bunches and felted them together with my fingers, but I don't really want to do that with all of them, because it some cases the ends are just about holding. I think I'm going to need to work out a way of sewing the ends over without it showing on the other side. Headache.

BUT. At least I have attempted a steek and the v neck came out fine.

Going to:
Not really anywhere this week, but last weekend I went to Sheffield to catch up with Jen and speak at a conference. Jen is moving to Edinburgh very soon so it's probably the last time I'll see her in Sheffield. We went to a Take That tribute with a three course meal. It was...an experience. They weren't very good as Take That but it was a fun night. There was plenty of this.


The conference went well. I spoke on the topic of ethnic diversity, which made me very nervous (a lot of people have Opinions) and I was also quite freaked out by the number of people who seemed very excited to meet me. The words 'idol' and 'fangirling' were thrown around. I was uncomfortable. I literally just turn up, teach and sometimes write/speak about it - I've just been doing it for a long time. But it was really nice that people were so friendly and my talk went down really well, so that was good. I got a lot of love online and almost no criticism so I am going to chalk that up as a success.

Last week I went to a lecture and out to dinner with my friend Vanessa, who I work for at the exam board. Always an interesting evening. She's one of those people that makes me think really hard about things. This weekend we've had a two-day exam board meeting online. There are definite negatives to doing it this way but the positives are that I got a lie in on Friday and I got loads of chores done - washing, bed stripping, shopping, grass mown, hallway tidied and hoovered, kitchen clean. Just think how nice it would be if I worked from home all the time.

Entertained by:
I've finally watched Fleabag, at least the first series. Since I loved Killing Eve so much and it was written by Phoebe Waller-Bridger (Bridger-Waller?) I thought I should watch the series she wrote from scratch. It is very, very funny, whilst at the same time being quite tragic. Her relationship with her stepmother reminds me of my relationship with Father Hand's second wife, who never forgave me for running up a gigantic phone bill when I stayed at her house.

Not much reading has been happening. I've been too busy with the knitting.

Baking:
Elaine, a colleague at work, has decided to go vegan for the good of the planet, so I made an effort to provide a vegan cake last week.


I used this recipe, purportedly the best vegan chocolate cake recipe. It was very good. You wouldn't have guessed it was vegan. I used Trex instead of butter but I also bought some Stork, which I will try next time. The buttercream was missing something but now I think about it, I wonder if that might have been a little salt - I usually use some salted butter in buttercream, alongside unsalted, usually because it's what I've got most of hanging around. It looks lumpy in the picture but that's because I spread raspberry jam in the middle and mixed some more into the buttercream. Elaine likes raspberries and my attempt at quick homemade cheery jam ended up a smoky mess on the stove when I got distracted by an email.

Next I'm planning to try an Earl Grey and lemon vegan cake. I'm keen to try something using chick pea juice.

Feeling:
Pretty good, considering I'm staring down my 13th work week in a row. I've got some amazing things coming up at Easter - next weekend I'll be in London on a teacher fellowship and the weekend after I'll be in Alabama on a free review trip. I can't believe my luck. Then it's only five short weeks until half term, with two of those being four-day weeks, and then it's basically the summer holidays. Right? Just that pesky little exam marking job in between. Lordy. I hope it is a bit easier this summer. The portents are positive.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Weeknote: 17/3

Knitting:
I have motored through the first sleeve on Mother Hand's cardigan. I'm just about the start the ribbing, so it will be finished today. I might then try to crochet the front edges ready for steeking, since I've got a long train journey next weekend and I think knitting the second sleeve will work better than crocheting steek edges.

Unfortunately, though, I'm currently playing a game of 'If you were my crochet hook, where would you be?' and the rest of today and tomorrow are all taken up with online meetings, so I will need to be doing something to it during this time. The second sleeve might appear quicker than the first.

My thoughts already turn to the next project. What should it be? I feel like I should knit up some of the 4-ply I bought for scarves at the previous Wonderwools. I'll have a month, though, between (hopefully) finishing this project and going to Wonderwool, which encompasses a school holiday, and I keep going back to Milou and also Thermal.

Going to:
I had a busy Tuesday. I went to a lecture on Tuesday, from a woman with a Jamaican dad and a Welsh mum, on the difficulties her dad had faced growing up in Jamaica and then coming to the UK. It was a really powerful bit of storytelling and has given me lots of ideas for how I can adjust my curriculum at school. Then I went on to the ballet with Parpy Jo. We saw Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake. Jo was surprised to discover we were seeing Swan Lake, since we say the ENB's version in November, but being Matthew Bourne is was very different - male swans, lots of hissing. Near the end of act 1, a mouse ran up the steps next to me which was a bit distracting, but other than that, it was an excellent ballet.

The rest of the week has been quite quiet. Last weekend I got 10-year-drunk at Rachael's housewarming party so I deserved a quiet week.

Entertained by:
Everything is pretty awful at the moment, news wise and entertainment wise. The Michael Jackson revelations. The R Kelly series. Ed Stafford playing at being homeless and getting lied to by a bunch of crack addicts. Brexit. The voting and chaos at Parliament has been entertaining to a point but then I remember that we have to continue to live here. Our daydream move to the Pacific Northwest becomes more tempting by the day.

Mostly I've been entertaining myself by looking forward to nice things coming up. Sheffield next weekend, for possibly the last time since Jen is moving to Edinburgh. Three fun weekends away in April. Summer holidays and days out. Maybe a little ski trip with work friends at Christmas.

Feeling:
In general, frustrated at not getting enough work done but also not doing enough work. I think it's long-term tiredness from being away over half term. I'm hoping to really nail it this week coming. We'll see.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Current WIP

I'm annoyingly falling out of the habit of the weeknotes. I must remember to keep doing them.

However, it gives me an excuse to post this midweek, when I've finally cast off the body.


The brown looks darker than it is.

I'm pretty happy with it, though just concerned about sizing, in spite of plenty of reassurance. I'm OK at judging whether something is the right size for me but guessing what will fit Mother Hand is a different matter, and I didn't want to ask what her size was because it's a surprise. However, once steeked and blocked with a button band, I am 90% sure it will fit OK, and if not - wider button band.

Please note it's a v-neck. She isn't that narrow across the shoulders.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Weeknote: 2/3

Knitting:
I've continued to work on Mother Hand's cardigan. It's been going well this week, after I had most of a week off it while skiing. I optimistically took the smaller needles with me on the ski trip in the hopes that I might reach the ribbing, but added a sum total of two rows to it during the long hours on the ski trip bus. When will I learn? Considering I started knitting to entertain me on the ski bus, I don't do a good job of knitting on it these days.

Anyway. I've got about 40 rows of body left, then ribbing, then sleeves. Then the scary business of cutting the steek and adding the button bands. It would be great to finish this for Mother's Day but I am not sure. I've got a lot of things to do between now and then.

Going to:
I quite deliberately went to ground this week. After returning from the ski trip last Saturday I wanted to give myself a nice, relaxing week. I had a parents' evening on Thursday and then drinks out on Friday with a colleague who was visiting from Canada; a couple of quiet drinks turned into me tearing myself away at 8.30, just before I became drunk enough to stay out. I don't think that would have counted as a nice, relaxing (end to the) week.

Working on:
I've been busy trying to finish up some work projects this week so this has replaced the 'entertained by' because there hasn't been much of that. There's not much good on the TV and I've not found myself much able to settle to reading. I think this is because I can see the end of a couple of tasks and I'm really hoping that once they're done, there will be a break in things. I actually turned down a summer examiner job before half term....although I did apply for another, but it remains to be seen whether they will offer me a contract.

So, this week has mainly been spent finishing off the support worksheets for my usual publisher, which will be the last job I do for this commissioning editor before he retires. I also found out I got a place on a teaching fellowship I'd applied for next month, and that the free history teacher trip to the USA that was provisionally planned for the middle of the Easter break is definitely going ahead. Lots of fun things coming up!

Feeling:
Busy, but not as tired and over-worked as I'd feared I would after spending the whole half term on the ski trip. The weeks leading up to it were so desperately fraught I think it would be difficult for it to feel worse afterwards, tbf. Hence the lack of weeknotes, when I'd been doing so well! I'm trying to think what fun things I did in those missing weeks.

I went to London for an exam board writers' day that took place on the top floor of a building next to the Savoy - amazing views. I went out for dinner with friends Ali, Kath and Parpy Jo, where we consumed too much alcohol and managed to outlast several other parties of diners whilst laughing raucously and endlessly. I wedged in quite a lot of non-school work. And there was skiing, of course. Skiing was lots of fun with only a few issues, none of which involved hospital visits, thankfully, but in the week before I had to deal with no fewer than four students who looked like they would be dropping out; two actually did drop out (one medical, one just 'didn't feel like going'...), one dropped out but then came back in (parent claimed she'd never cancelled; I went to the gym and did ball slams until the people downstairs banged on the ceiling) and the fourth came along and had a whale of a time, but not without a lot of drama ahead of time. It was almost more trouble than it was worth. The snow was exceptionally good, though, so the skiing made up for the drama.

How is it March already, though? I need to work less and notice more.