Sunday, 29 November 2020

Deck the halls with FOs and holly

The pandemic has given me a lot of opportunities for poring over my Ravelry queue this year and I was inspired to get my hands on some Big Softie off ebay and get on with knitting myself a door wreath for the festive period. Then I made the mistake of posting about it on Twitter and got a request for one, but since it takes all of 4 hours to finish and I bought 10 balls of Big Softie, and since the request came from Yul and Me'Julie (if you happened to read this blog back in 2002 you might remember them) and they've had a horrible year of it, being pub landlords, I decided to oblige. 


Pattern: Hampstead Wreath (Rav link)
Yarn: Sirdar Big Softie, now sadly discontinued. 
Needle: 10mm
Mods: On the first one, on the left, I knitted 14 repeats of the cable instead of 13. The result was a bit too oversized for the pipe lagging - Wilko's only had 15mm lagging, so I stuffed one length into another to get the girth. So, on the second one, I cut to 13 repeats, as per the pattern, but narrowed the width by 2 stitches on each side, resulting in a slightly more stretched cover. I believe the third time will be the charm, when I will probably reduce by one stitch each side and knit 14 repeats, but who knows when I will get round to that? I think knitting two in the space of a week is probably enough. 

Now just to decorate, but how? I'm thinking a big glossy red ribbon bow and some fresh holly and mistletoe, and the toy robin that Krupskaya keeps trying to destroy. 

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Weekend WIP

This sweater has been a long time in the WIP pile, for no good reason. Yes it is 4-ply and yes there were short rows and yes it has a few texture rounds that knit like 1x1 rib, but it's not THAT many texture rounds. I think I'm going to fall back on our excellent reason for why anything is anything these days, which is, we are in the middle of a global pandemic. Please let this be the middle and not still the beginning. 

Anyway, good news - I finished the body of the sweater this weekend. Just the sleeves to go, and some sort of pick-up-and-bind-off neckband. I'm very pleased with the fit and marvelling at how the v neck was created just through the shaping - so clever. 


Naturally my thoughts now turn to the next project(s) and I'm thinking of a bunny jumper for my niece (I dreamt about this last night, and in my dream I had accidentally knitted the whole jumper in stripes without any bunny ears and also it was an adult size and fit Mother Hand, so I'm not sure what that was all about), a couple of Christmas wreaths for gifting and a colourwork jumper using some of my oldest stash yarn. We will see what I pick up when the sleeves are finished cast on. 

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Scenes from the Classroom #40

 Y11: Oooofff urggghhh it's soooo hot in here

Me: You think this is hot! My dad lives in Las Vegas and it hasn't rained there for 154 days!

Y11: Wooaahhh, that's ages!

(A minute or so passes)

T: Miss, does that mean your dad hasn't showered in like....150 days or something?


It's like a gift that keeps on giving. 

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Scenes from the Classroom #39

I'm not well-known to most of the younger students in the school. Sadly my timetable is really top heavy these days, so they don't tend to have me as a teacher until they get to GCSE, meaning their only interaction with me is as a grumpy cover teacher or when I'm on duty. Plus I'm, yknow, me, so it isn't unusual to find that students are a bit nervous around me when I start teaching them. 

By lunchtime on Friday, when I met my year 10 class for the first time, we were also all exhausted: new term tiredness compounded by months of lockdown. So I wasn't surprised when they were really quiet. But I was surprised when they stayed really quiet, for an extended period of time. I can't wander the room anymore to check on them, so I had to ask, instead. 

'Year 10, are you being this quiet because you're exhausted, or I'm terrifying?' I stage-whispered into the room.

'It's about half and half, Miss,' someone whispered back. 


I expect we all slept well on Friday night. 

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Scenes from the Classroom #38

 It's been a while since we had one of these. I'm sure it's because I have forgotten to share, rather than fewer funny things have happened. 

Today was my first lesson back with a full class, since March. It's day 6 of the new year but there has been a lot of faffing and fortunate timetabling which has meant a respite, although I get grumpy when I have to spend too much time in school without teaching - what's the point? 

My first lesson was with my y11 group. I had two y10 classes last year but gave up the nicer one to a colleague, on the basis that this year would be long and catching them up would be difficult. The class I kept would have coped a lot less well with the transition to a new teacher, I feared. But, in the past, they have been hard work. There are a lot of them and a small number are not very nice to each other. I have to say though, that it was a joy getting them back and I gave myself a telling off for being negative. 

At some point in the double lesson, I showed them kitten pictures.

Chorus: What are their names?
Me: This is Lenin...
T: LEN...LENNON?
Me: No, Lenin. 
T: Whose that?
Me: He was a Russian ruler. And this is Krupskaya...
T: KRU..KRI...KRIPSKAYA?! What...who...who names their cat Kripskaya?
Me: I do. Me. I name my cat that. 

Meanwhile my student of Georgian heritage was hysterical with laughter, being pretty much the only one who has heard these names before. 

SO nice to get back to it. I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about how nice it would be not to work anymore but this ignores the fact that, actually, it is quite nice to work, too. Though I wish I didn't have to work right now, but those Politics quizzes won't write themselves. 

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Things I learned in lockdown

We're back in school now, trying to work out how to manoeuvre around the new distancing rules. I remember realising early on in lockdown that Covid was not going to just GO AWAY one day but that, much like that niggling pain in my foot that began as something that hurt when I walked, it would just slowly fade away until, one day, you realise it's not there anymore. At the time I decided it was going to be intensely irritating and I was correct. So I'm irritated, but also pleased I was right about it. 

During lockdown I started a list of things I had learned but I only put two things on it. I didn't think I learned much. Reflecting has made me realise there are a few things to add.

1. You can use a cafetiere to froth milk for a latte (definitely my number one discovery). You heat it and then pump the filter up and down through the milk until it froths. Jenny from knitting group pointed out that this is unhelpful for anybody that doesn't have two cafetieres; apparently you can also put it in a jar and shake it until it foams. Anyway, I can make my lattes at home now which is exciting. 

2. Isle of Wight Tomatoes will ship you a box of their delicious tomatoes in 2-3 days. If you order more than £25 of produce, they will ship them for free. What a time to be alive. I really hope they don't withdraw this service. 

3. I don't wash my hands anywhere near enough and I touch things I don't need to touch. I cannot stop touching my face and I gave up trying very quickly.

4. I need more sleep than I get on the regular. I'd started waking up some time between 6 and 7, 7 days a week, all year round, excluding after very late nights, even if I went back to sleep; I'd therefore concluded that I was naturally meant to sleep for 6-7 hours a night. This is not the case. 

5. I could probably do very well living in the middle of nowhere, actually. Mr Z and I have the constant tension of me wanting to live further into a city and him wanting to live in the middle of nowhere, which is why we live in the worst of both worlds. Spending weeks on end with only a once-a-week visit to the supermarket was surprisingly calming, though. Online gatherings are sufficient. There's mail order for everything. So, maybe. 

6. Those beds-of-nails mat things really do work if you've got a sore back. The Shakti Mat was my first inappropriate lockdown purchase (I wish I could say it was my last - much like my first year as a senior examiner, the hours I spent glued to my computer meant that I bought a lot of things I really didn't need). I still can't quite manage to lie on it with bare skin for more than about 30 seconds, but it got rid of my too-much-sitting lower back pain pretty tidily.

7. If you've got stubby eyelashes and you really want them to grow, Revitalash really works. It's expensive. I bought it because there was a stonking goody bag on offer from Cult Beauty with a fairly high minimum spend. But it was worth it. And if it lasts 6 months, as it claims this tube will, that works out to be about 70p a day. Yes it's a lot, no matter how you pitch it. 

That's probably it, actually. I also learned how to use Zoom and MS Teams, and worked out the perfect position for napping on the couch, but these are all pretty trivial. 

I hope you learned some good things in lockdown, too. 

Sunday, 30 August 2020

Weekend WIP

 


I picked up this yarn at the Flock gathering back in November. It's Mr B's Hiddlestone 4-ply, a merino nylon blend. I haven't really gone for flecky yarn before but this had an irresistible combination - grey yarn, purple and peppermint green flecks - and I had recently queued a pattern that had been knitted with a flecky yarn, so it came home with me. 

The pattern is Candy Shop (Rav link) and it's a v-neck. 'Oh, you're knitting another grey v-neck?' I hear you cry. Yes. I have a type. This is my type. We all thought it was blue, or watermelon-themed things, but it turns out that this is my most commonly knitted garment. 

This is an interesting v-neck because the whole thing is knitted in the round from the very beginning, with the front dipped lower first through short rows (so far, so ordinary) and then through cleverly placed raglan increases. The need for double stitch markers has driven me a little bit bonkers and I quite often forgot to slip the stitch in between the markers every other round, but luckily this is easily rectified. I finally divided the sleeves today so I am looking forward to it maybe going a bit quicker now. 

At some point, the disparity in the length at the front/back is evened out with short rows, which should provide some interesting knitting. Four-ply jumpers are time consuming, but I have to admit that they are the ones that get the most wear in my wardrobe.