An elegant sufficiency

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Catching up - again

Had a slight blogging intermission this week, as I left my camera in a friend's car for a couple of days.

Both pairs of socks are progressing nicely. The green lace ones are on the generous side and with hindsight, could have been a little more snug fitting, but I'm not taking them out now. The toe up pattern is ok, but I'm not sure I care for the look of the heel turning.

The Koigu Crusoe socks have been taken out and reknit, following Sally's observations when she knit the pattern and found she couldn't get the things over her heel. Catherine, from the NYC SnB list made some suggestions, including the fact that there simply didn't appear to be enough stitches in the pattern - I wonder if the design was "worked down" to require just two balls of this quite expensive yarn? Still, I've cast on 60 stitches this time - more like the usual number - and we will see. They knit up quite quickly so it won't be quite the disaster if I have to unpick. But I shall try them on at every stage, just in case.

There will not be much knitting tonight, however. We have tickets.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Caterpillar emerging

When choosing the beads for Caterpillar bracelets, I felt a contrast in texture would be beneficial, and picked the yellow/pink/orange sparkly mix for the top beads in the pink bracelet. However, once I'd got going on it, I didn't think much of the twinkly fairy-light effect and reconsidered. Fortunately, my bead stash provided one or two alternatives, from which I chose a matte pinky toned replacement - a little safe, but more to my liking than the original idea.
Do you agree?

Friday, May 19, 2006

In case you think I was sleeping...

I seem to have had quite a busy week with a meeting here and there, a workshop to prepare for and teach and then the usual shopping and stuff. By the time I got home each day, I didn't feel much like being creative. Made up for that one way and another today.

Firstly, I finished the jaywalker socks for Mark the other evening. Pictures soon - they're in the wash already! This meant I needed another project to begin, since taking out the Trellis scarf, I had nothing on the needles at all. Got out the Koigu KPPPM I bought in NYC last summer and started a pair of Crusoe socks from Good, mindless pattern, perfect for a stitch and bitch session when I can concentrate on the important details (not the knitting!) Perfect pattern for this yarn too.

Next, the WI has a campaign about excess packaging in June, and I felt I needed to come up with an idea for those of us who don't like confrontation and wouldn't be happy creating a stir in a supermarket by unwrapping things at the checkout. So, armed with tips for making a crochet bag from recycled plastic carrier bags, I set to and began to make one.

This project needs serious quantities of plastic bags and it was very tempting to simply rip off a huge pile of them from the checkout in Waitrose this morning to take home and use for the bag. But that didn't seem to be quite in the spirit of the campaign! Since we normally do the "Quick Check" when shopping, I don't normally get any carrier bags at all, so I'm scouting around for them here and there. I'm also being picky (no surprise to people who know me!) and only want white ones with a bit of blue or green - so it's Asda or Waitrose, thank you, and that tip of red Sainsbury's one is coming out pronto.

I decided that one simple sock project wasn't enough for those moments when I need to challenge my brain a little more, so looked out the book I bought at Sewing for Pleasure a few weeks ago and settled on a pattern from there; my first go at knitting a pair toe-up. But mindless these are most certainly not! As you can see, I am trying hard on my chart reading skills, too.
In the midst of all of this, I thought it was time for another Caterpillar to emerge. After all, I hadn't got much else going on today...

It's Friday, too, and my friend Marjorie had sent me a good recipe for a Carrot and Ginger cake*. In between the knitting and the beading and the email and blogreading, I could soon whip a cake in the oven, couldn't I?

Oh, and whilst the oven was on, I thought I'd do a few cheese straws - Mark had felt so hard done by when I made his favourites for the cake stall last weekend and even threatened to buy them back, until I promised to make more soon. I took the picture quickly, before they all disappeared.

Back to work tomorrow for a few hours, but hopefully then, a quiet and relaxing weekend with plenty of new and inspiring projects to keep me quiet.

The words "boredom", "threshold" and "gnat" come to mind.

* I'm happy to share the recipe - drop me an email if you'd like it

Monday, May 15, 2006

No needles involved

The weekend has been taken up in a flurry of musical activity and, though I did manage to knit a few rows of Mark's socks, I've not achieved anything worthy of a photograph in the last couple of days.

Mark sings with The Stuart Singers and on Saturday, they held their "fun day". My contribution was centred on the table in the photograph, and as usual, all cakes were sold for a very satisfying sum of cash.

Saturday evening, we went to a CBSO concert in Birmingham. A familiar programme: The Hebrides, Schubert's Unfinished Symphony and Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2. All finely played, no complaints - but it somehow didn't have the magic which makes the performance memorable.

Then yesterday, as if we hadn't satisfied our musical needs already, we enjoyed a singing day in a local village hall with Faith Watson. It was one of her "Singing for Larks" days and one of our friends is a regular participant. Faith was very impressive, her energy boundless and I can highly recommend the day for anyone - not just "people who sing".

"Proper" musical reports can be found here shortly (when Mark uploads them!)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Out for the day

Shortly after it opened, we discovered Daylesford, near Stow and over the last couple of years have left a fair bit of money in their till. Having said that, it is a glorious place, full of yummy food, beautiful people and simply oozes style. Whenever we have friends staying, it's the perfect place to go for breakfast, brunch or tea and I will admit to not being able to drive anywhere near the place without calling in.

So when someone told me that another, similar place had opened up near Chipping Campden, I was curious. I'd actually driven past the sign for Lapstone recently, but didn't know what was there. Anyway, it was a fine day today, so off we went, with the idea of having lunch up there and maybe going to Snowshill Manor or somewhere this afternoon and finding an essential English product to buy sometime during the day.

What a curious place Lapstone turned out to be! First of all, this is no Daylesford, even if, as we thought, the target market is similar. Set in open fields, the barns of an existing farm have been transformed into what could only be described as a shop and cafe, though I felt it aspired to be more. Imagine a garden centre without plants, a farm shop without produce - however stylish the things on sale (and yes, a note on our cafe table stated that everything was for sale) this was simply a gift, garden furniture shop and cafe in a field.

Picking up a brochure or two as we left, we discovered that it is owned by a garden furniture manufacturer, which explains a great deal. I expect it's quite popular with "ladies who lunch", but for us, we'll head for Daylesford again next time. Then we can bring home a wonderful sourdough loaf, a few homemade cookies, some great organic meat and a bottle or two of our favourite ginger beer!

On such a fine day, it was hardly surprising that Snowshill was heaving with people, so we continued down to Broadway and headed towards the source of what we were looking for. However, a parking space was there in front of us in the middle of Broadway, and we couldn't resist a walk in the sunshine.

The wisteria was wonderful, the stone buildings sat comfortably in the warm sunshine and only the tourists were there to spoil the view! We felt the doorman of the Lygon Arms (owned by The Savoy Hotel, London) looked out of place in his tophat and tailcoat, too.

Especially since this was the view he had to look at.

We didn't want an ice cream, either. Neither did we want anything from the Edinburgh Woollen Mill, the various shops selling a "country lifestyle" in the form of a Cath Kidston teatowel or Nigella mixing bowl. We wouldn't have minded a look around the art shop/gallery with interesting things in the window, but it was closed for lunch - it was 2pm, after all.

Instead, we drove off towards Pershore, for the thing we'd come for, fresh from the source.

Can you believe that yesterday, all that was available in our local supermarket was imported from Peru? How could we not go and find some of the best asparagus to be found anywhere?

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Trellis Scarf

Here is the Trellis Scarf this morning.

After several attempts to get beyond row three of the second pattern repeat, I finally gave up.

I knew that knitting 7 together would be "a challenge", but to work into those 7 stitches three times in lace weight cashmere? Hmmm...the third time the yarn broke under the strain I knew that I had made a less than wise decision in my choice of pattern, choice of yarn or both.

The pattern states:
7 into 5 cluster: K7tog and leave these sts on the needle, yo, knit the same 7 sts tog again and leave them on the needle, yo, knit the same 7 sts tog once more and slip sts from needle - 7 sts dec'd into 5. In preparation for working the cluster, you may find it helpful to purl the 7 cluster sts very loosely on the previous row. If necessary, use a crochet hook in a size smaller than your main needles to help draw the loop through for each k7tog.

I didn't actually pull the whole thing out, but cast off the knitting so far, as evidence that I could knit that pattern, if I wanted to, but that I chose not to be faffed. Failure isn't a comfortable outcome in this household!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Playing with the weavettes

As promised, here's the result of the first try out with the Weavette. I got two - a 2x2 and a 2x4.

Here's the 2x2 using leftover yarn from the multidirectional scarf I knitted last year.

One 2x2 and 4 2x4s later, this is Jordi's bathroom floor. (Well, not quite - hers is original Art Deco, is black and white and the joins are neater!)

And this is my latest knitting project: the Trellis scarf from the Interweave Knits mag I bought last weekend in lace-weight cashmere from School Products, NYC. I chose a relatively small lace project to start with, so that there would not be 100s of stitches to take out if I were to go wrong.

I can't say that I find knitting three times into the same 7 stitches very easy though.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Is it true that calories don't count when you eat standing up?

Found this in M&S this morning. I know such things are not special if you live in a city, but when you live in the country they are treasure!
Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 05, 2006


I finished knitting the French Market Bag last evening, and had plenty of yarn left over - I probably could have knitted the body of the bag another few rows deeper, but there we are - I couldn't bear to think about having to rip the handles out because I didn't have enough wool left.

I couldn't wait to put it into the washing machine and see what happens.

Here it is drying in the sunshine, after two washes at 6o degrees. The Manos del Uruguay yarn shrinks far more than the Noro Kureyon.

As you can see, it's a glorious Spring day in the Cotswolds!

Weavette's here!

In an amazing demonstration of excellent customer service, the two Weavette handheld looms arrived from Purl this morning. Already had to have a play and am very excited by the potential of these little things.

Pictures later.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Unpacking - confession time!

First was the inspiration. We always seem to make our first stop at Barnes and Noble, wherever we land. After a long flight, there's nowhere quite like it for keeping us awake as long as possible!

Some things had been on my list for a while. Heaven knows what a customs man thinks when he opens up my suitcase to find so many bleach pens. This time, Tide-to-go was an additional find. I think there might be a more interesting use for it beyond removing stains? We will see.

Next on the list was to look at the Amy Butler bag patterns. Fortunately, that stop at Mood fabrics meant that I have a few bits of fabric to try.

It's too much of a challenge to leave a yarn store empty handed - School Products (two hanks of laceweight cashmere), Seaport Yarns (four skeins of sock yarn) and Habu (two cones of ever-so-ever-so-fine yarn and the two ditzy bitzy oddments) all had plenty of temptation.

As did Purl, although there it was these small, hand held weaving looms which grabbed my attention. Sadly, on getting back to the hotel, I found both boxes empty, so they are posting them on the me. A variation on "have it sent round" perhaps?

(Entertainment of the day: spelling out my rather complicated address over a crackly cellphone line. I have confirmed by email in the hope that the odds of them arriving safely will be increased!)

Last but not least, Toho beads on 6th Avenue, where I planned another couple of Caterpillar bracelets.

(BTW, I hope the green dye comes out of the white starched linen tablecloth in the Upper East Side restaurant, after I returned to my place having washed my hands whilst wearing the original Caterpillar!)

Finally, the wonderful treasure shared amongst friends. Look what Jordi had collected for me! I promise to post the results of my dyeing session.

Home again

Had a great time in New York this weekend, walking the streets, concert going, meeting up with friends and eating out.

Oh yes, had a little shopping to do too.

First stop, Saturday morning, was the Folk Museum, where there was a fantastic exhibition on - loved it!

But of course, we just had to take in other delights here , here , here and here.

It was a great weekend, the weather was fantastic and the company terrific. The hotel beds were amongst the comfiest we have ever slept in, too. At least we were more comfortable than David Blaine who is in the crystal ball here, outside the Lincoln Center.