Monday, 26 June 2017

Blue Monday

There are few things better than a shadey beach daybed with your bestie on a breezy August day. What a view! This was Vietnam, last summer.

Roll on the holidays.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Weekend FO


Pattern: Edgartown Light by Alicia Plums
Yarn: Triskelion Heulwen DK - about 4 and a half skein for the 44". It's 70% Alpaca, 20% Silk, 10% Cashmere goat, 100% yum.
Needles: 4.5mm and 3.75mm
Mods: Since this was a test knit, I made a few:
1. I lengthened the body by about 3 inches, as usual
2. I added some increases when the body got to 8 inches - 2 at each side every 11 rows, 4 times, just to give myself a little more room on the hips
3. I finished the neck with an icord bind off. If (when) I knit this again, I will start picking up for the neck at the bottom of the V instead of at the shoulder. This time, I broke the yarn and rejoined it at the bottom of the V to start the bind off, because I was a bit concerned the stitches would pull at the point and throw off the line on the front. This is drapey and plain, so not very forgiving of weird quirks and lines.

The sleeves are also accidentally longer than they should be, as I was supposed to start the cuffs at 15 inches but, by the time I'd finished the decreases, the sleeves were already nearly 17 inches long. As you can see, they're not too long, though.

Loving my neckline work, even if I do say so myself.

This is absolutely lovely and will be toasty warm and comfy all winter. I am very tempted to knit it again in a cotton blend I have lying around from Wonderwool 2015.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Blue Monday

I got one of these lacquered coconut shell bowls in Vietnam last summer. I don't like putting too much in it, because it's so pretty.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Weekend WIP


I reckon 10 more round on these and I'm done. All the ends are already woven in, too, so it really is within touching distance. They may be a little long in the cuff but whenever I think that the sleeves seem to come out shorter than I thought, so I will keep going.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Wonderwool 2017

After spending a chunk of my Christmas holiday reorganising and properly recording my stash, I was not in the mood for buying enormous quantities of yarn at Wonderwool this year, especially since I had only knitted up three of the things I bought last year. I had a little list: some black or dark grey 4-ply for a stripey jumper; something for the v-neck I am test knitting; and something from Fivemoons, because I was currently knitting the last of my Fivemoons stash.

Pleasingly, I managed to stick to my little list and not a great deal more. Here's what I got:

Five skeins of Triskelion , which is a luscious blend of alpaca, silk and cashmere goat. It is nearly all used up already, because I bought it for the v-neck pattern (tick)

Fivemoons - three skeins of charcoal grey 4-ply (tick)...

...four skeins of variegated purple DK (tick). Both of these were in the sale bin, hurrah! Bargains galore.

There were a few other bits:

I mean, obviously. This is by Hand-dyed by Kate for Sally. I might have added that last bit on but, come on.

I got these mini skeins (top ones pinker than they look; bottom ones earmarked for Mother Hand) to make some shawls, alongside this:

More luscious Triskelion. I know the lady who works the stall quite well and I'm sure she must rub her hands together gleefully whenever she sees me coming.

This was entirely unnecessary but just too pretty to leave behind. It was by Pook, which I initially misheard as Puke - totally inappropriate for the colourways but it did stick. They very cleverly had lots of samples knitted up and this was gorgeous as a shawl.

I got this our of Jenny's destash. I have such plans for it! Great big bundle of summer top promise.

No buttons. None! And I came home with money in my little bag. Though, the list does seem long now I have written it all down....maybe it's because they're mostly minis, that it feels like less.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Tuesday Ten

Ten Plans for the Summer

1. Massive lie in on July 10th. We break up two weeks earlier than everyone else, so this is obligatory.

2. Galapagos Islands. I'm going to cruise round them with a tour group and take pictures of as many different animals as possible. I hope to swim with some nosey sea lions. I aim to jump off the boat into the Pacific, but we'll see how cold it is first.

3. Machu Picchu. SO EXCITED! It's been top of my travel list for ages and ages. I can't wait to go.

4. Celebrating Peru's national day in Cusco. This also happens to be our wedding anniversary, steel, so I had better spend a little time shopping for a present to make it up to Mr Z, who is staying at home with the cat.

5. Doing bikram yoga in Lima. I thought it would be fun to try it in another language. I am hoping that, having now racked up about 80 classes, I know the spiel well enough to be able to follow it in Spanish.

6. Spending my birthday at home. I know, right? First time since 2012. My intention is to go to yoga in the morning and then go to knitting group with a cake. Or buy everyone cake, if we're in a cafe.

7. Italy with Mother Hand. We're going to Siena, where she visited last year but did not see much, due to reasons. Then we'll stay in Lucca for the end of the week and hopefully see the leaning tower in Pisa before flying home.

8. Work conference in Durham. Logistical nightmare because it starts the morning after we fly back from Italy, but I've never been to Durham so when school asked if anyone wanted to go, I was pleased to be able to get a space.

9. Tom's wedding in Wales. It's taking place on the coast somewhere. Excited about spending two nights away with Mr Z, for a change.

10. France with Tutt. We're looking at Brittany this year, but probably not camping again. I think Tutt had enough tent time last year.

Really excited by all of these plans and feeling very lucky. However, next summer I will be at home for most of it, due to new exam board job, so I have really tried to squeeze it all in this year.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Blue Monday

This cloud appeared over the top of the mountain on the last day of our ski trip to Sauze dOulx in 2010.

Like a huge flying saucer. I'd never seen a cloud like it before, though when we went and looked it up it turned out to not be too rare.

I'm plotting my return to Sauze d'Oulx, maybe as early as next year. Delightful place to ski.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Weekend WIP

I'm still plugging away at this sweater I offered to test knit, but feeling very guilty because the designer published the pattern last week and I am still on the sleeves. Shame, shame, shame.

I have finished the body, to which I added some increases and a little extra length - I think 2 inches more. I've also picked up for the neckline and knitted that. The pattern just says, pick up every stitch and knit it, but that made me a little nervous so I roughly measured the neckline and made sure I had about 40 sts either side of the V, which seemed to work out. This meant picking up every stitch and knitting 2 in every 3. I don't think I pick up stitches the same way everyone else does, but it works for me.

I worked my favoured icord bind off on the neckline and it looks very neat. I am pleased with it.

This term might be a little quieter, since I'm not doing the usual exam board work. So, hopefully the sleeves will be done quickly. She says, hopefully.

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.