An elegant sufficiency

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

My turn

It's my turn for the next pair of socks, which are simple stocking stitch, because I'm off to a stitch and bitch on Thursday evening and I've discovered that if I try to do both at the same time, I often find the knitting suffers. Anyway, it's a while since I knitted up any Opal yarn and I'd forgotten what fun it is.

Some friends and family are getting handknit Christmas presents, and to complete the theme, I've used yarn rather than ribbon to tie up the parcels. A good excuse to get out some of the new toys - sorry tools - from the collection.

First, the flower loom. Have had this one years and don't use it much, but it's easy-peasy and does make quite a good flower.

The Pompoms were made using my new Clover Pompom Maker/Set a Fabriquer des Pompons/Fabricadora de Pompones/Herstellungs Set fur Pompons. I bought two pairs of different sizes and tried it for the first time today. The grey pompoms were made using the yellow one.

I know it's easy to make pompoms using cardboard rings but to be honest, I always find that a bit of a faff and seldom bother. The little Clover tool made it so easy, though, I think I shall be attaching pompoms to everything. I love the playful touch!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A little gem of a corner

We loved this little corner opposite the harbour in St Mawes and wondered how many similar place still exist? As we waited for the ferry to Falmouth on Sunday morning, we watched the crew take out a gig from this building, the boathouse of the Roseland Gig Club.

How interesting that the petrol price could be painted on the pump, rather than shown using sticky lines which enable the garage owner to increase the price in seconds. I'd not mind paying 2/3d a gallon today though - Mark just did the calculation for all the youngsters out there who don't do pounds, shillings, pence and gallons. It works out at two and a half pence per litre.

No wonder it's sold out.
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Cornish Textures

From top left: a Cornish stone wall contructed in a rather different pattern from our Cotswold walls; the rope on the deck of the small ferry to Falmouth, beautifully coiled; the jaggy rocks on the seashore, exposed at low tide; a heap of rope and net by the harbour wall.
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Hotel Art 8 - Cornwall

I realised that I haven't yet posted photographs from our weekend in St Mawes and thought priority should be given to the next in my Hotel Art series. This little collection (all originals, it seemed) were to be found in our smallish room - treasures, every one. I'm sorry that I have no artists to attribute these pieces to - must remember to ask questions and make notes next time.

This stood on the windowsill and was one of several differently sized examples to be found throughout the hotel. Not all ammonites.

This oil (?) painting hung above the bed head. Not my favourite piece but a pleasing palette.

This amusing drawing was on my side of the bed and for some reason reminds me of my friend Grumpy's work. I can imagine her stitching something like this on her sewing machine.

These last two pictures were hung together above the chest of drawers with a table lamp in front of them. The frames were very different from one another and yet the ensemble worked very well indeed.

I should (could) be braver in my hanging arrangements!


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Bath time

I read this morning that yesterday, Friday, is known as Black Friday in the USA, because it's the day when the retailers know if their sales are on course for the year and if targets will be met. We did our bit for the retail sector yesterday and did a little Christmas shopping in an historic setting if not the most seasonal of weather.

Mark wanted to know why it was decided to decorate the city by hanging giant moustaches above the streets?

Good job we went early - this was the situation at 11.30am the same morning. Suddenly internet shopping is an attractive proposition!

And just to prove that I can motivate myself at times, look what happened with no nagging whatsoever!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Starting conditions

No, this isn't a picture of the shoe heap in my wardrobe, but it's not far from the truth.

Reading messages from a couple of friends this morning makes me realise that I'm not alone in needing to have a clean slate before I can begin a task. That clean slate might mean an empty ironing basket (unlikely) or a completed Sudoku puzzle in today's paper (hmmm....nearer the mark!) Right now, I really need to sort out my wardrobe and get rid of some things to make room for clothes more suitable for the autumn/winter which finally seems to have arrived.

Today, I'm posting my intentions, in the hope that it will give an added incentive to get things done. After I've been to the dentist this morning, I'm planning to come home, get the Christmas Cakes in the oven (yes, they are still to do) and then sort out my wardrobe.

And I give you permission to nag me. (Unless your name is Mark, that is!)

(and the ballet shoe pile was in a display in the Millennium Centre, Cardiff when we were there recently. All shoes are autographed and looked a little the worse for wear!)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Finishing stuff

With December looming, it felt quite good to finish a couple of things which have been so very nearly done for the last couple of weeks. First, Mark's socks, which have turned out pretty well. I knitted them following the pattern in Sensational Socks and particularly like the heel, which is traditionally worked but Charlene Schurch's addition of a garter stitch border alongside the picked up "seam" is something I will try to remember when I knit other patterns. I think it works very well.

The second fanfare was sounded as the (very long!) cast off was finished on the Swallowtail Shawl. A whole heap of mistakes in this one, some more noticeable than others, but it was a learning experience and I might add that there are fewer mistakes towards the end of the shawl than at the beginning! I think that next time I knit this pattern, I shall choose slightly smaller needles or less fine yarn. Knitting cobwebs never did come easily to me and I think that having more substance on my needles would have made forming the stitches more straighforward.
Taking this photograph of the edge alerted me to one area of potential disaster. Can you spot it too? (Off to find my crochet hook and a darning needle!!)

It is intended for the one and only person in the whole world who will think it's wonderful, however many mistakes there are in it. You can guess who that is.

(Good job there's been no questions about how the Christmas cakes turned out yet!)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Not much knitting

Having a really great break in St Mawes, Cornwall where the weather is unseasonably warm. Off to dinner now. Bye! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Did it!

Such a collection of ingredients can mean only one thing in this house - it's Christmas baking time. When I was teaching, the Autumn Half Term was the week to get such things under way and I still try to aim for that - though sometimes, like this year, those plans go a little awry.

I use the good old Delia recipes for both. I have my Nan's traditional recipe, but somehow, Delia's works better for me. Her Christmas Pudding recipe is so easy to do - not much more than assembling ingredients and leaving them to soak overnight, that I can't really bring myself to buy one. By making double the recipe, it means I have a couple of standby presents for an unexpected visitor or two as well (never known anyone to be less than thrilled by a
homemade pudding!)

We each had a stir and a wish, of course.

The right tea towel had to be found to cover the bowl overnight, too.

Next, the weighing of the fruit for the cakes. Again, I make double the recipe, which is perfect for our large hexagon tin and a small hexagon for Mummy. I got help to snip the cherries.

I think there might just be more than six tablespoons of brandy in there, too, but the Christmas cake is not a recipe for short measures.

Two covered bowls of goodness, awaiting further action. A busy day tomorrow means that they might sit for a couple of days - but all the better to soak up those flavours!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Got the urge

I'm getting into the Christmas mindset in spite of my reluctance to be swept along with a commercial timetable, and spent the weekend putting the finishing touches to two gifts. Have decided where the red smoke ring is destined, and have done a pair of Mrs Beetons for another friend (I don't think she reads this...) I now need a pair of more manly wristlets (got some fine Harris Tweed yarn for those) and I'll be well on the way down my list.

But then the urge to tackle some lace came upon me. I'd got myself a couple of skeins of Knitpicks Alpaca laceweight in Tidepool and some of their Options interchangeable needles (thanks for the shipping service, Jordi!) and I settled upon the Swallowtail Shawl from Interweave Knits Fall issue. The photograph is deliberately unclear - the knitting is riddled with mistakes, but after starting it and ripping at least three times, I decided to simply go with it and call it a practice piece. I've done eleven repeats of the bud pattern, the rows are getting long and I think I'm getting the hang of it and making fewer errors. Hope so!

The Knitpicks interchangeable needles are terrific and I will add to my collection sometime soon. The tips are nicely pointy, the cable is flexible and easy to manage, and the screw fastening is brilliant - no snag whatsoever. Can recommend them wholeheartedly and only wish they sent direct to the UK rather than have to bother Jordi.

At some point in the next couple of days I need to sit down and devise this years Christmas card and put together some invitations to our pre-Christmas do. This week is pretty quiet though, so I'm hoping to get the Christmas cakes done and a couple of Christmas puddings too. Oh dear...that C word is creeping in all over, isn't it?

We're off for a weekend break this Friday, to Tresanton in St Mawes, the perfect knitting and reading opportunity, even though we're there to listen to Schumann really!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

It was time... light the stove for the first time this Autumn.
It is the 2nd November after all!
It always comes as a surprise to find the warmth so comforting and how cosy it is to have that slightly woodsy smell permeate the house.
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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Meeting friends

We've had fun in the last 24 hours, ever since I brought home a Logitech Quickcam Chat as a result of a conversation with some online friends yesterday. Quickly signed up for a Skype account and was chatting to Sara in Sweden before I'd got the thing out of the box!

I've now chatted to Sara, to Maggie in Swindon and Mags in Wales - both separately and as a multiple conversation (rather confusing!). Isn't technology wonderful?

(Whilst writing that blog entry, I had a messenger chat with Penny in France too.....)