Wednesday 31 October 2012

Crafty Photo Scavenger Hunt: October

Jen at Timballoo hosted this month's CPSH.

Maybe kind of an odd one, and definitely not this country, but this -


This was Sunday morning in Tignes. Quite a shock as it had rained most of the day Saturday and only snowed a scant inch by the time I went to bed!
Anyway. As the weather has been getting chillier and the nights drawing in (which, by the way, I love) I have been more inspired to knit than ever, and also to experiment with new recipes for cakes and warming soups and stews and the like. No chutney this year, sadly, though I could do that at the weekend.

Something I Made
My very first sock!


It has been long in the making. I started it as plane knitting when I went to Malaysia in November, 2010, and had got as far as turning the heel by the end of summer 2011. I decided another Christmas could not pass without these socks to wear.

I'm spoilt for choice here this month so I am cheating and including three! Here's me, cosied up in my Antifreeze balaclava on the funicular down from the glacier...


This really is the perfect thing to wear under my helmet when it is especially cold. Really need to knit myself a new one now I have cracked how to do the face hole properly, though.
And here's Mr Z, looking considerably cosier than me! - and wearing my hat.


And finally, a pumpkin spiced soy misto in Starbucks this afternoon - perfect for waiting out today's squally weather.


The current window in Kitchens, a favourite cookware shop in Bath.


I am thinking of buying a Kenwood Chef. I have some money leftover from the summer exams, even after I have paid off the credit card, but it is a big splurge and I am sort of waiting to see if any unexpected bills arrive.

Motifs: Hallowe'en
I couldn't resist getting some Hallowe'en specific supplies from Kitchens...


Enjoyable topics, thanks Jen! Looking forward to next month.

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Tuesday Ten

I must admit that I have been struggling to regularly come up with a topic for my Tuesday Tens. I feel there are a finite number of times you want to read about things I want or random things I am thinking. However, time is ticking by and I am not going to make 127 posts for the year* by not writing anything at all.

I found this blog, Artsyville, through Sally - a handy "List It Tuesday" prompt that I am shamelessly stealing for the purposes of Tuesday Tenning, assuming I can't find something else to talk about.

Ten Little Jobs I Should Just DO

1. Put the cardboard outside for recycling. It makes the house look so messy.
2. Clean out the fruit drawer.
3. Replace the plastic screen protector on my phone.
4. Mark those last 7 assessments.
5. Take down Mr Z's birthday cards.
6. And dust underneath where they were.
7. Clean out the fridge.
8. Pick up that book I requested from the library.
9. Pay off that credit card - the money has been sitting in my account since August!
10. Order some more protein powder.

With thanks to Aimee, proprieter of Artsyville, and fingers crossed you have weathered Hurricane Sandy.

* Truthfully, even though I set a NY resolution of more than 127, I can't resist hitting the same number four years in a row.

Monday 29 October 2012

Notes from Tignes, 3

I awoke, and blearily looked out of the window. The window was misted over, I couldn't see, so I moved closer and rubbed my hand across the glass. No change. Ah - the world is white! It had snowed lightly all day on Saturday but hadn't settled much; not even enough to conceal the cow pats in the neighbouring field when I went for an afternoon tramp to stave off boredom. But it was persistent I guess - there were 4 or 5 inches of the stuff everywhere, at 1800m. I guessed the glacier would be shut again.

After breakfast we waited for news. First, the funicular was shut. Then it was opening at 10, but 10 came and went without remark. I started to lose hope, but at 10.30 it opened and we all hurried to get into ski gear, with extra thermals because it was -17 at the top and still snowing.  After adventures with snow chains and a lot of de-icing, the hotel manager got us to the funicular by 11.30 and we made our way up. Curiously it was not as cold at 3400m as I had expected, though still too cold for these shenanigans:


These boys smelled  strongly of beer and I really questioned their wisdom, coming to the top of the cable car. Presumably they went down in the cable car again because the only other way down was via piste and they wouldn't have made it 30m. The powder was roughly 2 feet deep, and drifting. Perfect for skiing!

I managed to get a few good runs in before it was time to return for my shuttle to the airport. I fell once, when I got too close to the edge of a piste and hit a drift of powder undisturbed by any other skiers....that always feels a bit magic, being the very first person across that stuff. And when I fell in it, with the usual and ski-exclusive "Huh!" noise that always accompanies a ski stopping whilst I continue to travel, it was like landing in a marshmallow, though less sticky.

I had one hairy moment when I tried to cross to an alternative piste, only to realise there wasn't one and had to struggle back, a creeping horror of avalanche dangers at the back of my mind. However, it was a great last day of skiing. Bring on New Year.

Saturday 27 October 2012

Notes from Tignes, 2

Upon rising this morning I saw...nothing. The fog was so thick that the crane 200m away was invisible. I shivered and thought of staying in bed, but with only 3 days of skiing I didn't think I could justify it. So, I sent myself down for breakfast, thinking there might be news that the glacier was closed and I could let myself off.

No news. The weather report said it would get worse by lunchtime though, so, after discussion with Phil and Cathy, fellow guests, we decided to get up there asap. I went to my room to put on my ski clothes, slowly, not feeling it. I waited in the bar for the other two, balefully watching the rain pouring down outside. Phil and Cathy arrived, in sweats. "We decided against it today," she said. Slackers.

I wrestled on my boots with the air of a martyr about me and wrapped up in waterproofs, and we set off. As we went up to the funicular the rain quickly turned to snow and Alex, chalet driver, was unsure I would have an enjoyable time - to put it mildly. I tried to stay positive. "One run is better than no runs!" I intoned, gaily, whilst inwardly making plans to drink spiked coffee in the cafe at the top and regroup.

We arrived, and Phil and Cathy made for the skiwear shop. There was no sign the funicular was closed. Damn. Bluff called. I was as protected from the elements as I could be, but shivered in anticipation - there was enough snow to cover the slopes at the bottom of the funicular, let alone the top. I staggered towards the lift station. I'd gone about 10 paces when a coach driver called across to me. "It's shut!" he shouted, running his hand across his neck.

Saved at the 11th hour.

Friday 26 October 2012

Notes from Tignes, 1

Picture it, if you will. I am most likely, with my 10 weeks of experience, the worst skier on this glacier. Small children fly past me in racing leggings, bent double, clouds of snow flying up behind them. It's disconcerting. It's also snowing, quite heavily. I can't remember if I rewaterproofed my jacket after washing it in April.

The chair lift is up a slope. I sidestep this the first time but have to pause twice to catch my breath: at 3000m I'm wheezing like a retired coal miner. The Italian ski juniors, chic in all-white outfits, remove their skis to get to the lift and carry them on the chair. Good tip, I think. I do this the second time round, and don't have to stop for breath once on my walk to the lift. 

But then - ah. I have to get off the lift. Someone has placed a non-slip mat at a treacherous angle at the top. What were they thinking?! Anybody would think this was for skiers. I put my boots down, and for about half a second I slide effortlessly down, before my feet start scrabbling under me. In what seems like a stretched out moment in time, I remember this exact thing happening when gorge walking at Pencelli and how funny it must have looked. That time, I remember, I fell in the river.

This time is the same, without the cushioning water. Time speeds up again as I hit the deck hard, knees first, facing down the slope, skis everywhere. I scrabble for purchase but there's none to be had. I look up for help - none of that, either. I start to do an ungainly crawl to try and move into a position where I can stand, but then start hearing yelling behind me as those chic Italian girls panic at the liftkill in their way. Sacrificing the last of my dignity, I fling myself in a barrel roll to one side, narrowly avoiding braining myself on my skis (thanks, helmet) and they merrily clatter past me, "OK! OK!" and toddle off to the next lift.

This is the last straw. What, no help?! I briefly feel unable to stand ever again. All lessons henceforth will be taught from the top of the glacier via Facetime and Skype. A wave of self-pity rolls over me. I limply haul myself to the cafe, where a massive selection of toothsome cakes await, only, these salopettes only just fit and cake after only 2 runs seems unjustified. I sulkily order an espresso instead and decamp to a corner to take my jacket off. Turns out, I didn't rewaterproof it. Utter fail. 

But, if there was an award for feeling sorry for oneself, I would at least win that.

Sunday 21 October 2012

A little Sunday randomness

I came across this infographic when somebody posted the link on Facebook. It is beautifully put together and quite a revelation into which supplements are evidenced and which are not. Evening Primrose, for example, is right at the bottom but I've been looking at adverts in ladies' magazines for this for years; meanwhile Aloe Vera is somewhere in the middle when, from the reading I've done, there is no evidence to substantiate claims it is good for you. Some things I have never heard of!

Anyway, just a little something for amusement's sake. I am making a copy here, in case that link ever goes dead (though by then presumably the evidence will have changed) but please go and look at the real thing. Not least because you might actually be able to read it there.

This picture, of course, remains the copyright of its author.

Sunday 14 October 2012

Stash Enrichment

When I went to Get Knitted for Knatterers last week, I fairly fell over myself trying to get my hands on this yarn.


It is so chunky and luscious! There are a lot of vibrant colourways, too. Naturally these blues had to come home with me but they did share table space with the teal/purple mix for the duration of the meeting, as I hummed and haaed over which one should come home with me and what it might become.

It's Araucania Maipo, a yarn so new it had not made it onto Ravelry, as I discovered when I tried to look it up to see what I might knit with it. It comes with its own pattern booklet, which has lots of accessory patterns and a couple of garments if you fancy a splurge. Get Knitted are selling it for £8.95 a skein and it's about 50m, but I have a feeling that would go a loooooong way.


I intend to knit a pair of mittens with it. I am thinking of experimenting with a slipped stitch pattern, perhaps a herringbone tweed I remember from one of my very first knitting projects. I want them to be long so I am going to use a skein for each one. SPLURGE!

Monday 8 October 2012

Weekend FO

Drumroll please...

THE FIRST CROCHET (dun dun duuunnnnnnnnn)


Pattern: Cassia by Amanda at the Natural Dye Studio
Yarn: Lang Yarn Jawoll Magic Degrade (link to shade card)
Hook: (!!) 4.5mm
Mods: I added an extra motif onto each row.

Having claimed I was going to learn to crochet for about two years, I have finally done it. I don't much care for it, but I am glad I have finally finished this; I bought the yarn immediately upon seeing the sample Cassia crocheted up at Get Knitted and it has taken this long to get round to it. Estimates suggest this may only have been a year ago, so not as bad as I'd feared.

Sadly mine is not as beautiful as my original inspiration; my flowers are a bit spindly, perhaps the victims of overblocking. The mismatch in motif size has at least blocked out and hopefully the flowers will gain a bit more roundness with wear.

I do so love the colours. This is a poor phone camera pic in artificial light but I don't think even a good picture would do it justice.

Goals for October

I really should make an effort to do these before the month is a week finished.
  • Complete a run/walk effort of at least 7 miles
  • Attend 8 classes at the leisure centre (got to make that membership work for me!)
  • Begin knitting Christmas jumper for Parpy Jo's son
  • Finish first sock, cast on for second sock
  • Knit at least one of a pair of mittens that I can wear whilst driving (people seem baffled by my intention to drive in the thrummed mittens so perhaps I had better have something thinner)
  • Plan and deliver a kick-arse set of assemblies based on David Rudisha being an inspiration
  • Create a draft outline of what I'm delivering at that session I have to deliver on outstanding lessons next month, that is looming much too fast
  • Be absolutely amazing at skiing...I am off to Tignes in two and half weeks
That's quite a lot, but half term is coming up and if I'm not going to succeed I would prefer to fail at a big list than fail at a small one, like I did last month.

Sunday 7 October 2012

Fave Friday

A little late again, forgive me.

This week my favourite things are the curtains I mentioned in my Monthly Goals round up post. Here is a picture of them.


Naturally trying to capture curtains in good light is always going to be problematic, but you get the gist. The two pieces of fabric were slightly different in shade but it's not as obvious as it seems here. I had them made fully lined and they are attached by rings, so they are dark and make a pleasing rattling sound when being opened or closed. Mr Z and I have lived for years in twilight, because the £12 Ikea curtains didn't really require opening to let light in, and I was very resistant to net. However, now opening and closing them has become a daily pleasure.

(Good grief, what have I become...)

I got them made up by a local seamstress who looked at the fabric doubtfully but measured it up nonetheless and then said, when giving me the price (which was half the price of the smaller John Lewis curtains we had made for the bedroom nine years ago), "Well they'll last you forever, which is just as well, because nobody else would want them." Thanks!

The fabric came all the way from Ceylon. Did I mention that? It has the odd stain which adds character, I feel, and can't be seen anyway due to the drape.

Curtains. My favourite thing. I am definitely not in my 20s anymore, Toto.

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Tuesday Ten

Ten Thoughts During a Spinning Class

1. (Before) I really, really do not want to go spinning. I haven't been for a month and it is definitely going to hurt.

2. (On the way there) Oh dear, they might have run out of bikes. #pleaseletthemhaverunoutofbikes

3. (On arrival) Oh GOODY, bikes left. OK, I can do this. Why is the girl next to me wearing so much blusher? Is this the 80s?

4. (During the first song) Hmm, this is not as hard as I remembered. I am keeping up! I am not dying!

5. (During the third song) I'm euphoric! Wooooooooo! Why did I stay away for so long?! This is amazing!

6. (During the fifth song) Wow, this one is quick. My legs hurt a bit now. I just managed to go over on my ankle but I dare not stop to tighten the cages. Maybe I should get cleats. Oh good grief, more jumps.

7. (During the sixth song) OK, well it was nice while it lasted. I kept up for a lot of it.


9. (During the actual last song) It's not good telling me to give it all I've got. I gave it all I had last song. There is nothing left. I am spent.

10. (On stretching) Why do you always put the light on while we stretch? Can you not see I am best viewed in semi-darkness while in this state? And you, with your leg up on the bike for the calf stretch, stop being so pretentious. Put your foot on the floor and bend over more.

First class back since August and actually, on the whole, it was easier than I expected. Those very sporadic runs and all the squats with the 30kg bar must be paying off. Totally training for Rio.