Monday, 15 May 2017

Scenes from the Classroom #30

Me: So, year 11, how does this work with the study leave, then?
Them: We don't have to come in for the half day before an exam from now on. But some of us might anyway.
Me: OK, so I will plan lessons in case you are in, then. I will be teaching the lesson if you are here or not, so assume you can always come in. I will probably teach to an empty classroom, if you are not here.
H: ...will you Miss?
Me: Er, no.
K: I can actually imagine you doing that, though.
H: We should try to catch her doing it.
Me: I won't be doing it.
K: You can say that, but I can definitely imagine it.

Happy to see that my passion for the job has made an impression.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Weekend WIP

I've been working on this for the past couple of weeks, since Wonderwool, testing the pattern out.

Now I'm into acres of st-st, it's going pretty quickly - I was only 2 rows past the join yesterday morning and I've barely touched it today. I'm just about the join the 3rd skein.

The yarn has great drape and is really soft. It also has a quality to its colour that really elevates it: it almost looks like it shimmers and it's definitely on the blue side of grey. Blue steel, if you will.

I might promote it to bus knitting this week, to get the inches on the body. I want to lengthen it a little on what she suggests (of course) so I need to go for another 8 inches or so.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Weekend WIP

I've been knitting up some angora I bought from Fivemoons in 2013. This is the last of my Fivemoons stash so getting it on the needles meant I felt no minimal guilt about buying some more from her at Wonderwool this weekend (coincidentally, our fifth anniversary in the bunkhouse).

That's just the teaser, because I wanted to show off how luscious the yarn is to begin with. I have been hankering after an angora sweater for a very long time, probably since CanaryKnits made an angora argyle and shared it on her blog and that is coming up to a decade ago. This yarn is a slightly sturdier angora than the one she used, being blended with 40% merino and 20% nylon, but it is still pillow soft and knitting up with a gorgeous halo.

I chose the Elizabeth I pattern from Alice Starmore's Tudor Roses - a delightful book probably more suited to a coffee table than actually being knitted from, simply due to its enormous size. Since I'm just reading Bring Up the Bodies and teaching y13 about Elizabeth I, it seems fitting - this really has been the year of the Tudor. I added a few extra rows before I started the centre panel, of course.

The shaping looks wildly feminine here - it's exaggerated by the curved hemline. The 20 extra rows should have added about two inches to it but may have exacerbated my usual yarn chicken situation: I was already about 100m short on the yarn requirements for the XL. However, the sleeves are very full and long, and I may attempt to adjust them. We'll see.

I have made great gains on this in the final week of the Easter break, and am about 26 rows away from dividing for the armholes (what you can't see here is that I am knitting it in the round instead of in pieces - while I'm sure the side seams would give it a better structure, Starmore points out that Elizabeth's clothes would have been expertly made and if she'd ever seen me sew a side seam I think she would insist I avoided doing it on this garment, for the sake of historical accuracy). I'm finished one skein and am now knitting from a mixture of two more, which looked worryingly different in the skein but aren't looking too different when knitted up.

Unfortunately I now need to lay it aside as I'm test knitting a top down raglan v neck sweater for the designer of this sweater I knitted last year. Hopefully that one will be quick and I can get back to the bunny.

Friday, 7 April 2017

February skiing

Since I'm about to go away skiing again, I thought I should write a bit about the ski trip from February.

I had it in mind that I might end up going on the trip. I don't know why. I consciously kept February half term free, until about 10 days before when I realised with mild dismay that I had no plans. Then, the experienced skier member of the ski trip staff had a bereavement and couldn't go. I'm fairly sure I wasn't the first person they asked, but I was thankfully the first to say yes. That was Monday afternoon and we left Friday morning.

It was somewhat liberating to not be running it, I have to say. I was a bit worried that I would end up being THAT person ('On my trip...') but I think I managed to avoid it. I brought my favourite bits with me and kept my mouth shut the rest of the time unless I was asked. The trip leader, a woman of 26 years' experience, obviously did not need my help but there were a couple of occasions when I was able to bring my experience to assist her. I'm hoping I impressed her enough to be invited back.

We were skiing in beautiful St Johann in Tirol, just outside Kitzbuhel. I haven't skied in February for years and I'd forgotten how great the snow is, even quite low down. It was quite a gentle resort and we had a day out to a nearby mountain on the border with Germany.

I came second in the race but I was pleased that I beat the really quite annoying rep. It felt like I couldn't get rid of her all week. I spent most of my time skiing with the top group, who weren't good enough to make this too much of a challenge for me, but I did find I covered more miles than usual. The instructor, Bob (a fellow Bristolian, would you believe it) taught me to carve....well, he tried to teach everybody to carve but the girls were a bit reticent about it. So, my skiing definitely improved.

I also found out my jacket isn't waterproof anymore, on the last day; I was so wet and miserable I sloped off for an early lunch and apparently Bob skied the whole piste again to check I wasn't prone by the side of it. Oops. In my defence, he had said earlier in the week that if I couldn't keep up, he'd just leave me behind.

We saw a couple of ski shows, too. These are delightfully cheesy affairs and there's usually mulled wine. Some of us got these at the first one -

One of the girls nearly lit herself on fire. That was emotional. It was one of the moments when I was able to intervene in an impressive way, though, at least.

Gorgeous views from my hotel room (managed to get a room by myself, too):

And there was even a dog. He slept on the corridor one night when there had been fireworks and woke me up at 4am. I had to run down three flights of stairs to let him out before he woke up the whole floor. My colleague Rachael had been quite graphic in her plans for him were he to do such a thing.

So many more stories I could tell! Greta, the least sympathetic ski instructor in the world; German army out on manouevres; a colleague getting airlifted off the mountain with an asthma attack; mulled wine in Kitzbuhel; good bus driver vs bad bus driver; #atmylastschool; the broken picture and the dustpan and brush 'from olden times'. This is a list for me to expand on in my copious free time. But, I'm up early to go off to another St Johann (in Pongau this time) so I'll sign off with a view from the lunch spot:

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Weekend FO

The first FO of 2017!

Pattern: Cable Yoke Jacket by Kyoko Nakayoshi
Yarn: Sublime Chunk Tweed, 19 balls
Needle: 5.5mm, 6mm
Mods: A few. I didn't measure the body, just kept knitting until it was right, so it has come out longer than it is meant to I think. I did a full band of buttons, too. I decided it would be annoying if I had my hands full and the bottoms kept flapping open. It meant I was able to use up a whole set of black glass buttons.
I also added a small phone pocket, which has turned out to be a little too short, in spite of my knitting it to what seemed an inch too long. No matter. I just need to remember not to bend over while my phone is in it. Famous last words.

I can't believe how long this took, but I was away for so much of February, by which point it was huge and heavy, that it's not really a surprise. I have been wearing it all today and it is snug without being overwhelming.

This has (a) been in my queue for donkey's years, (b) used up two stash items, one extremely bulky and (c) been my first go at mitred corners and this type of construction: knitting the yoke, picking up and knitting down. That puts it in at least three categories for this year's knitting challenge.

I have a bit of malaise about what to cast on next, though.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Where I am

Today last year, at around 6.30, my current boss rang me to offer me the job I started in September. It was fateful, because Mr Z had just suggested I open a bottle of prosecco so that he might have some wine with which to make risotto. "No, I don't want to jinx it," I replied, "although actually, I could just take a picture of it and put it on Facebook, and everybody would wet themselves." Within seconds, the phone rang and the prosecco became a necessity.

Just realised I shared this in a post last year; isn't it funny how some moments stick so vividly in the memory?

I jumped up and down whilst on the phone, to the point where Mr Z was doing the Ross-squeezy-hands gesture and mouthing CALM DOWN at me.

Well, it was a scary day because I had to quit the job of my adult life, but I can report that it is working out swimmingly, and I am having a great time. Today particularly, because I went to the pub with my colleagues and was plied with free tequila, because the live-in pub manager is observing in my history department at the moment with a view to becoming a history teacher. This is probably partly the reason for my feeling particularly pleased today, but only a small part.

I skipped February blogging, but in my defence, I was working every weekend. I managed to end up on the ski trip! Go me. More on that tomorrow, I expect.

Happy one year anniversary of taking the plunge to me.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Weekend WIP

The end is in sight with the cable yoke jacket. In spite of barely putting a stitch on it this past fortnight, I added two balls to the length at knitting group/just after yesterday, by which point the body measured a generous 42cm to the pattern's 38cm. Now I am in the process of knitting the button band, which is done using the unusual method of keeping the body stitches live and knitting them together with the button band in the round. I don't even want to think about how many stitches I currently have on the needles. No pictures, because it is all bunched up.

Think I'm going to use these buttons for it:

They are quite heavy so they need a heavy knit. The pattern only calls for a few buttons at the top and, after much dithering, I have decided I will go with the pattern, on the basis that I can always add snaps at a later date if I want to.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Weekend WIP

The black-or-is-it cabled jacket is growing.

I stopped knitting the body last weekend and did the sleeves so that I could be sure I had plenty of yarn; but then I found two more balls of it when I restashed so I don't think I have any worries on that score. I've got around seven balls left. I think I will carry on with the body for another two balls and then that might be it. We'll see.

This weekend I picked up and knitted the entire second sleeve, then ripped back and added length to the first sleeve, which was mysteriously shorter than I recalled when I tried it on. The sleeves are now the perfect length, which indicates that they will grow when I block it, but I can turn the garter edging back if that happens.

I have added a quick pocket, just by putting 14 stitches on a holder and casting on 14 more, which you can see in the picture. I'm edging this pocket with 10 rows of garter stitch so that it matches the cuffs,

It is very, very warm. Delightful to have snuggled in my lap. It is quite heavy now, though.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Operation Stash Organise, Christmas 2016

aka "Operation Make The Spare Room Presentable".

The poor old spare room is crammed with:
  • All spare bedding - blankets, pillows, sleeping bags etc - plus big pieces of foam that I use for blocking.
  • Leftover boxes of stuff from when we redid the kitchen. Eight years ago.
  • Remaindered craft supplies from when I used to do other crafts.
  • Clothes I don't wear anymore but don't want to get rid of.
  • Knick knacks I have bought on holiday and don't have a place for (the spare room is where I unpack).
  • Board games. 
  • All knitting books and magazines.
  • And, of course, yarn.
For guests, I think it must be quite a scary place to sleep. There's a towering shelf against the bed and precariously-stacked hat boxes of yarn, and nowhere really to put anything down. 

I tidied it up a bit ready for Mother Hand's visit; I had, earlier this year, been through the boxes of stuff she had been secreting in her loft since I moved out at the age of 17, of whose existence I was unaware. That cleared out a lot of stuff, but there were a few leftover bits I couldn't bear to part with so I had to find places for those as well. A lot of stuff went back into the manky plastic chest of drawers I had almost entirely cleared out.

As an aside here, the cat helped a bit in my endeavour by spotting the one photograph in amongst the stuff on the bed that I had put aside to keep, and vomiting right into the middle of it. Alas, that picture of me with my Guide Captain on the night I was awarded my Baden Powell is consigned to distant memory. 

So anyway, here was the stack of stuff after it had been tidied (I know):

This is just clothes and yarn, really. It took me two days, done a little at a time, but here is the resulting stack:

For a true comparison, I should put back the boxes of clothes but I am hoping to get rid of most of that, too, so I have left them down for now.

The great news is that I have managed to completely empty the enormous clear plastic box of yarn, plus the several bagsful that were balanced precariously on top of the mountain. As I resolved in 2016, all my yarn now fits into the hidey hole (which is only half as big as it looks, on account of sitting on the slant of the stairs) and the hat boxes. Also, one of those hatboxes just holds leftover yarn from projects I have previously knitted and delinquent WIPs, so that's not too bad. It basically all fits.

Well, ALMOST. Of course, only almost. I have not put away the Moonlight gradient kit I bought at last Wonderwool; I bagged up two carrier bags for swaps and donating; the enormous stash of Rowan Herring Tweed is still being wound by my heroic in laws; and I haven't counted any of the yarn downstairs. While I'd like to think this isn't a massive amount, I know that I have at least a bagful stuffed behind my chair that I'm trying to ignore.

But, anyway, progress. I was very strict with myself and made sure everything put away here was listed on Ravelry. Even the Cascade. This has had the depressing impact of increasing my stash by 6500m but I keep reminding myself that it was already there, I was just pretending it wasn't.

So. The challenge is going to be to keep it like this. For a while, I think my knitting choices are going to need to be informed by what is taking up the most space, rather than what I want to knit the most.

Full, brutal disclosure: my stash stands, according to Ravelry, at:
173 items (29 of which are buttons)
102,895m of yarn (ouch)

Realistically, at the rate I knit, this little lot would keep me going for about 15 years. I'd be quite bored by the end, but still. I might have reached capacity.
To try to keep myself accountable, I will update my stash at some point with the rest of the yarn I own. By the end of the year I would like to have it back into 5 figures.