An elegant sufficiency

Sunday, January 29, 2006


I seem to have been knitting these particular socks forever and am quite bored with them, I finally finished off the second toe just now and am pleased to be done. They are straightforward socks, following Lucy Neatby's pattern in Cool Socks Warm Feet, with a short row heel. The yarn is Opal sock wool in Sugar Almond Lilac
They are - how to put this - a little snug. But safe in the knowledge that the Opal yarn gives a bit in the wash, I am hopeful that the fit will be perfect.

Secret Knitting

My aim to create something yesterday was achieved in a couple of hours of "secret knitting". Daniela Johannsenova produces a podcast called SecretKnitting and having listened to a couple, I fancied giving it a go. Daniela talks her listeners through a project, and by following her directions, I knitted this week's project: a flower. I should add that I had no idea what the end result ought to look like - Daniela doesn't post a photograph of the project until a week or so after the programme - that's the "Secret Knitting" bit.

I was quite pleased with the result - though I did need three or four false starts before I got to grips with the terminology! Daniela also suggested pressing each petal (she calls them leaves) but I chose not to as I thought the curly nature of the knitting made for a more lively end result.
Yarn used is a viscose-linen mix, "Filati di Gianni Versace", which has a nice crunchy texture, a bit of a shine and was an absolute pig to knit. Thank goodness I was not working on a larger project! I bought the ball as an oddment some time ago and will now put it with my embroidery yarns and not think of knitting with it again.

Early morning in Gloucestershire

Getting up to make tea at 7am this morning, I noticed a lovely sky. Inspired by Margaret's great photographs of where she lives, I stepped outside with my camera (Brrrr! dressed only in my dressing gown, so strong was my motivation to record the moment) and the result can be seen above. By the time I'd drunk my tea and looked again, it was light and the sky was clear blue. We're in for another lovely, clear winter's day!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Chilly, but warming up

Typical that today, when I'd planned some creativity of my own, our heating has broken and we are sitting, well wrapped up and concentrating on staying warm. The engineer has just been and fixed it, although everything is still only lukewarm and we are wondering if it's really fixed...

I wore my curlywurly scarf for the first time yesterday, to a tutor workshop I was teaching. Whilst looking for something to use to demonstrate the potential of the docucam I pulled my scarf into the picture, resulting in a collective "you must tell us how you did that". These were not craft tutors, either!

Fortunately I had the book with the pattern inside with me and I noticed several people making note of it later.

Of course, this illustrates that I don't practise what I preach. I always tell tutors and demonstrators to wear subtle, unremarkable clothing, with no distracting jewellery or features to take the concentration of their students away from the task in hand. (Yes, I have sat in a presentation, wondering if that button will hold fast for the whole event, or will it pop at an inopportune moment!) There was I, yesterday, wearing a scarf which had clearly piqued the curiosity of some of the audience, and which would certainly had me working out how to do it if I'd been on the other side of the fence, so to speak.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Out for the evening

Last night, Mark and I went to Birmingham Symphony Hall to hear the CBSO. Their conductor for the evening was Gustavo Dudamel, a wonderful young Venezuelan whose spirited performance left the audience (and the orchestra, it seemed) enchanted. Only when reading the programme did we note his age - 24.

Later on, whilst we were enjoying a late supper in Bank, he arrived with his wife and various members of what looked like the orchestra management team, to sit at the next table to us. Now, dressed casually in jeans and a sweatshirt, he looked every inch the youngster that he is.

What magic white tie and tails does for a chap!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A bit of Mozart

Mark and I really enjoy the BBC "Discovering Music" programmes and so I was delighted to have my attention drawn to a similar programme from WNYC, a New York Public Radio, about Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. It's on their Soundcheck page, right at the bottom, and you can listen live or download an mp3.

Fascinating - well worth a listen, whether Mozart does it for you or not.

(Photo taken on a trip to Vienna in October 1999 - spot the deliberate mistake!)

Monday, January 23, 2006

Raku vessels

We've spent most of this afternoon setting up the LooseEnds blogring, something I thought would be a piece of cake...but which needed a modicum of technical support. (Thanks Mark!) It now appears to be working, and in my role as "ringmaster" (!) I approved Helen (Textile Goddess) as a member with no problem. Trouble is, I was unable to approve myself! I made one or two small changes and am now a member of my own group. Perhaps Groucho Marx would have a comment on that?

So, in testing the ring, I surfed to the Textile Goddess and saw her Raku vessels which were very interesting. Do you think that the two potters (assuming they were made by different people) may have used a similar reference for the shapes of their work?

In comparing Helen's blog entry with mine, note the total lack of photography skills in my case whilst standing back and admiring her professional approach!

Blogring set up and ready to roll now, all applications welcome!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Hardly ornithology, but...

We often see a green woodpecker around the garden, and he was there again yesterday afternoon, pecking at the lawn for insects.

By the time I got my camera, he'd moved to the telegraph pole over the wall, but I thought it such a classic woodpecker pose, I couldn't refuse to take his picture, could I?

A change in the weather

Yesterday's view from the garden room door

...and today's

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Improving my mind

Browsing Waterstones, just after Christmas, I came across The Mind Gym: Give Me Time, a self help book about which I'd seen an article in The Times some days previously. I ordered it from Amazon, together with its mate, the original Mind Gym: Wake Up Your Mind

Each book has a code inside, which allows access to the accompanying website, where the exercises and quizzes can be completed online and the results stored.

Very impressive, rather interesting and, I hope, ultimately useful in enabling me to make more effective use of my time.

More at The Mind Gym

Friday, January 20, 2006

Knitting Olympics

The Yarn Harlot has come up with the idea of the Knitting Olympics which are attracting entrants from all over the world. I thought that Team GB might need a tail end Charlie, so have submitted myself for the fun and have set myself the joy of knitting a pair of Mrs Beeton wristlets from

Watch this space for progress.

Working with technology

Why is it, that however carefully things are prepared, when you try to do something in front of a crowd, a gremlin creeps in and mucks things up?

At the tutor workshop this morning, I was using the Docucam, firstly to project what I was doing (finger knitting) on to the wall, then to record the basic steps to play back. The projector was working just fine and there were gasps of amazement at this nifty bit of kit. But when we tried to project the short video clip onto the wall, nothing appeared but the Windows media frame with a black space where the image should be. All was working perfectly on the laptop screen - simply didn't show up on the wall. Huh.

Still, the workshop went well and people left happy and inspired I think. I hope.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Busy days

Really busy days this week, so quietly testing the process of writing the blog before going public, so to speak.

Was startled to find that I had offered to "entertain" the ladies at the meeting I'm going to in a couple of weeks time, by demonstrating some crafty thing or other. Now what to do? Maybe make a hedgehog book, or perhaps do some finger knitting? Will have to think about this one...

Tomorrow I'm off to Stitch n Bitch with the ladies at Coleford. Shall take along my curly whirly scarf which is coming along nicely.

Distracted again

I'm rather too easily distracted from that which I ought to be doing. This time it was by the interesting content at
Thank you Grumpy Shopkeeper, aka Sally!