Tuesday 14 October 2008

Autumn days, when the grass is jewelled

...and the silk inside the chestnut shell.

I remember thinking those lines didn't make great sense when singing that hymn at school, so perhaps I was singing it wrong then, and it's wrong now. Why was there a line about jet planes waiting in the air to be refuelled? Does that only happen in the autumn?

Well, it's autumn, anyway. It smelled very autumnal last week, the way the air smells when somebody might be having a bonfire many streets away and you can ALMOST smell the woodsmoke....but not quite.

I have managed to hold out in my resolve not to switch the heating on before the end of September this year. In fact, the heating still hasn't been switched on. I attribute this to the amazing toastiness of Bunnyland now that the loft insulation has been augmented, and the cavities have been stuffed with foam. There may be brick dust over everything. There may be unsightly cement-coloured spots all over the house where they didn't even attempt to paint over the holes they made. I may be nearly £400 poorer. But I am certainly warmer, and that's the important thing.

I can live an extravagant life now, you know, since I am sort of a published writer. I didn't think they would name me on the website, especially since they gave me a fat payment for the work and I don't get any kind of royalty, but it seems my name will be attached to this project everywhere it goes, which might some day include Amazon. There'll be something I wrote for sale on Amazon, how exciting is that?! Much like that nonsensical hymn, it takes me right back to my primary school dreams of being a successful authoress in my later years.

In the spirit of keeping warm, I am working on these thrummed mittens from the Yarn Harlot. I don't read her blog. I like bloggers who write a couple of times a week at most, and am not terribly good at keeping up with anything more frequent. Hey, if I've got the time to be reading someone else's blog I'd rather be writing in my own, right?

Anyway. Mitten!

And the crazy inside view...

They're so much fun. I'm totally cheating on the thrums, though. There's this crazy idea floating around knitting websites that thrums have to be pulled gently from their fellow fibres, teased and fluffed, made into loops, lightly felted between the fingers to seal the ends, and then twisted. NEWSFLASH! There are over 160 thrums in this mitten. So many, I ran out of roving. If I spend all that time making the thrums, the mittens are never going to be finished. They felt together when you're wearing the mittens anyway - this process was already under way, just from me agitating by turning the mitt inside out to look at them. So, they aren't going to fall out. The ones at the top I knotted to make sure. It was much quicker - I just cut the roving and knitted pieces in.

I'm sure I'm going to that special level of hell reserved for knitters who don't follow the proper processes, but since I always do a gauge swatch for any kind of garment I figure that buys me some good karma.

I suppose, also, that it's not traditional to do thrums this way. However, traditionally thrums were fleece coloured: they were simply undyed pieces of unspun fleece, all full of lanolin for waterproofing. So, using brightly coloured roving is already breaking the tradition. Might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.

I shall report back on how the thrums hold up to constant use. I'm going to Prague with school in 3 weeks, so I'll have the chance to try them out in the proper cold....assuming I finish the second one, anyway.

The Big Hat Project is also well under way. For some strange reason, I said I'd knit all my tutor group hats for Christmas. I must have been on crack that day or something - there are 22 of them. I'm onto hat number 5. They don't take very long, luckily - I'm using double stranded DK and 6mm DPNs so they only take about 3 hours. It's tough to find 3 hours together sometimes, but I always have knitting club.

Hopefully by the next time I update, we'll have a sink in the kitchen again. We haven't had a kitchen since the last week in August. I've sort of forgotten what it's like to cook a proper meal and not have to drain my pasta in the garden and wash up in the bath. Thankfully we finally have a floor and walls again now. Father Z laid all but about 3 inches of the new floor 2 weeks ago. Around midnight, Mr Z heard some weird banging from the kitchen, but couldn't see what it was. This happened 3 times - each time, the noise stopped when he went out there. About 10 minutes later, the cat emerged. How she'd got down the gap, we'll never know, but she was a uniform filthy grey for a week after.

We were slightly concerned the next day when Father Z finished the floor and commented that he hadn't seen the cat all day, but luckily she was hiding under the bed.

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