Sunday, 20 December 2009

YARN!!!!!


My first attempt at spinning yarn...... :-?

Friday, 18 December 2009

SNEEEEEEEEEUW!!!


Well, it has been snowing today, prompting cries of 'Sneeeeeeeuw!' in our house! It was covering the ground properly almost immediately to make a soft and sort-of crunchy layer about 2cm deep (probably deeper now but there is no way I'm going outside to check!)

It has been a good week since my last post; that was last sunday I believe, so I have had a full five days of hecticity and now I can begin to chill somewhat though not properly just yet. I am going Christmas shopping on Sunday (mistakenly believing, like last year, that it will be a lot quieter in Newcastle on a Sunday!!) and then food shopping to get the Xmas week's food on Wenesday, the day before Xmas Eve!! In between there will be another day in town plus a mad dash to the Post Office and around the doors locally delivering cards. Local cards for local people!! No doubt about it, I will need to write myself a detailed schedule - also on daily stick-it notes! The good thing is, this year, for the first time in a while, it is just going to be Rob, Josh and myself - and the Catses of course - all of us, at home, on our own, cosy family Christmas; nice and quiet and relaxed! The week between Christmas and New Year's is when we will have people round: possibly Jonny and Madeleine, Pam and Martin (?? - would be nice), Kim and hubby and their little girl, maybe Anna... and actually I think I am meant to be going bowling - some Co-op thing - on New Year's Eve.

Speaking of Co-op stuff, the December meeting/Christmas Party was pretty good! Well, the meeting was awful, as there are currently 'issues' we have to think about, issues, basically, of co-operability and so forth. Not for this blog though. The party was good - well, I thought so, and as many people did not leave until after 3 a.m I presume that I wsn't the only one who has a good time. Jerry was a star, we went shopping in her new car - which she said she had bought in the auction for about £300!! If only I could actually learn how to drive without almost crashing!!! We went to Morrisons, which is where I shall be doing a lot of shopping from now on, as I can walk there over the Moor then get a cab back. I thought we had got too much booze, but - and I still think this is unbelievable! - apparently 7 bottles of wine, a huge bottle of cider, a bottle of vodka, 4 cans of bitter, 4 cans of stout, and 24 little bottles of bier blonde was almost not quite enough for 9 or 10 people, one of whom (me) wasn't really drinking, and two of whom left fairly early!! The wine ran out first, and so people started just drinking whatever, and inevitably the conversation degenerated - mostly due to Beefy's one-track mind and love of toilet humour!! I lost count of the number of times he mentioned his bowel movements, his hairy bum, his pierced ****, and -----'s 'Fossil Fanny' (I won't mention the name in case they ever read this and are embarrassed or I get done for libel). I was almost on the floor with laughing so much and could barely breathe at one point. Even before the meeting ended(yes, it was maybe a bad move to offer people a glass of wine during the meeting...) certain parties were drunk!

But all-in-all it was a good night - I think the Co-op ought to have more of these social events! We don't live communally, but it's nice that we are involved, to whatever extent - some more than others - in each other's lives. And I am really really glad Hev decided to come round, and I'd like to think we managed to cheer he up even a small amount. Poor lass; not only has she lost someone she really loved - even if she couldn't really admit it at the time and often had a really rough time because of his issues (and I can certainly empathise with that because I was with D for three years) - but she is also having to deal with her little girl's grief at having lost her Daddy. I simply cannot begin to imagine what that must be like.

Well, after the party, I haven't really had much I've had to do this week. But I did receive the gorgeous wool fibre I ordered from the Etsy shops, and here they are in all their wonderfulness:


The two photos above are the one from Shunklies and the two photos below are the one from Amy's Rainbow - colour: Cassis, which will become something for me!! Probably mixed with some other colours which I shall buy in the New Year.


And I've discovered another couple of gorgeous Etsy shops too: Lime Green Jelly and Wonderful Wool, so watch this space -LOL!! I hve finished Saartje's scarf at long last - just need to fix the second lot of tassels on and maybe stitch a couple of those gorgeous little flowers with the mother-of-pearl buttons in the middle. Then I can spend Saturday spinning, and continuing my Cold Mountain scarf. By the way, the new Knitty is out and I'm sorry to say I am very disappointed.

I bought a few books with my Whatstoner's gift cards, but I haven't been impressed on the whole with the selection of books on knitting in the store in Newcastle. I think they had about a dozen - maybe seven different titles; they were mainly the sort of books non-knitters would buy a book-loving knitter as a gift without really understanding what knitters look for in a knitting book. for instance, those sort of 'idiots guide to knitting', and that sort of thing. no real pattern-filled books or stitch dictionaries etc. Rubbish. But i managed to spend all but about £16 and I'm saving that for when I inevitably see a book I simply must have, as usually happens when I have no spare money. I did see a book I think I'm going to buy for Sara: 'Mog's Christmas', complete with CD, and at the minute it's on a 'Buy one get one free' deal. I was also tempt6ed - as usual - by the expensive stationery, but I do actually have pretty much ten years' supply of Paperblanks and Cavallini notebooks, so I had to drag myself away for the rather delightful little notecards and so on. Newcastle is crying out for a decent book shop, somewhere which doesn't just sell the pulp currently being promoted by the min publishers.

I could go on forever about my dissatisfaction where that is concerned but it's after 2 and I do want to be up early tomorrow to get some milk, so I will bid thee good night.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

COUNTDOWN TO SOLSTICE AND CHRISTMAS!!


So....here we go! It's Sunday evening, 13th December though it is after midnight so its really the 14th; we have 7 days until the shortest day, the Solstice. People don't always realise, in their weekender and Glastonbury 'Experience' part time hippyness, that the Solstice itself is NOT at dawn on the day in question, but at the sun's highest point on Midsummer's Day and lowest point on Midwinter's. The traditional Winter Solstice is however traditioonally celebrated at dawn on the day after the shortest day because in olden times when people did not understand why the sun rose/set, they realy thought the days were getting shorter because the sun was going out. They would leave fires burning all night in the hope of persuading the sun to come back,,and next morning, when it inevitably did, one again, rise, they were so overjoyed that they had persuaded the sun to return that they partyed big-time. Most cultures and religions have some kind of Lights festival at this time of the year, we need it to get us through! Then along came the Christians and said we don't want you celebrating these Pagan beliefs any more, but we know you need something at this time of year, so we'll brig Christmas forward a month or so and you can celebrate it on the 25th , just after the old Solstice. Of course, the Pagans still continued to celebrate the anual return of the sun and so that's why we still have lots of candles and lights and so forth. It has nothing to do with Jesus. As for Santa, well, yet again we have the wrong date! As we in this family know, Saint Nicholas - Sinterklaas - comes on the 5th of December; but we have got him mixed up with 'Father Christmas' (who is not really Santa at all) Father Christmas may well come down the chimney but he is not Santa Claus!

So what are we celebrating in any true sense of the word? Well, we are not Christian so we are not celebrating Christ's birth - Christ Mass. We may celebrate the Solstice in that it means the days, from then on, are going to get lighter (even though it is not that obvious) and I have always liked the house being full of candles. I like to think of it as marking the begining of a new cycle, though of course it isn't the beginning of Spring yet. So think what it is that we celebrate is being together, the fact we all belong to each other, which of course so many people do not have. a chance also to reflect on how fortunate we are compared to the vast majority of the world's population; and eve how lucky we are compared to so many in our own country, a so-called civilised country in the 21st Century which still nevertheless has great inequalities.

I won't go on about my socialist beliefs; as I've said before this is not a political blog, it is meant to be lighthearted. But most of the inequalities I refer to are caused directly by greed, which translates - because of the greed for money - into capitalism. So many people face the festive season with nothing, while so many have more than they can ever use.

We have a warm, comfortable home - it is a real home with a feeling of contentment and love, There are Animals lounging about, content that they do not have to go outside in the cold and happy that they have a warm lap to jump onto.

There are young adults, boys who have turned into men and not too badly either and I am partially - if not mainly - responsible for the fact they are happy, well-balanced, bright, articulate, compassionate individuals, they are good to be around and Christmas with them is a time of year which feels special. so for us, Christmas has to be about Home and Family and being thankful for the small things we have that make life just a little easier than it is for so many.

So...the countdown has begun. a week til Solstice, just under two til Christmas. This year, Christmas day is a Friday, which means all the boring days that comer after are got out of the way over the weekend and so it is little different from a normal Bank Holiday weekend. The worst years are those with a mid-week Christmas....do NOT get me started on those!

I am rushing to meet the deadline for posting parcels to the Netherlands, so the Uiterstegrachters get their dododjes in time! The hold up is that I have yet to finish Sara's sjaaltje, though it is a matter of a few rows and of course the tassels for that end (as I have already attached the tassels for the top)


Every year at this time - usually this exact time actually; about ten days before Christmas because a week seems like it's pushing it and besides there are the crowds to think about and two weeks means you have too long to wait afterwards - I have my annual trip to IKEA!! The usual purchases are small rugs, lamps, light bulbs for non-English lamps, scented and tea light candles....bits and bobs......last year it was a new sofa and futon, plus lots of lampshades and I almost bought a new rug....This year Rob came with me and we chose a new rug; I had planned to buy a Vitten but they were out of stock so I noticed and bought a large Flokati which is smaller than the Vitten but the same size as our current rug, so that's fine.

For the catses, their very own sheepskin rug, a beautiful soft thick pile of fluffy warmth for them to sleep on. I bought a cover for the sofa and a larger throw for the futon; cushions - which, back home, Josh pronounced to be 'gay' but Rob and I like them - for the sofa; thick cotton rugs for the kitchen to replace the long one I dropped the appelgebaak on a few weeks back and has never been the same since (plus all the spilled cat food stains etc.....yeuch! I wanted to replace that very quickly!); clip-onto-bookcase lamps for the boys; anti-slip smiley faced puddle-shape mat for the bath; small chrome pedal bin for the kitchen; and the piece de resistance: an apple corer/segmenter!!

I really like going to IKEA but you have to plan it in advance, choose the right day and time of day, know what you want so you can completely ignore and thus hurry through irrelevant sections, and above all allow yourself a good few hours because time flies in there and you wil need a break halfway too. We were in there about three hours, and it was just right.

The best thing was, it all cost less than my original budget, because even though I bought many things which were not on the list, the rug we bought was half the price of the one we were going to buy. so I didn't need to use my checkbook, which I only took for emergencies anyway. Rob was keeping that for me with strict instructions not to allow me to go over the top and buy things we really really did not need, yet it was he who tried to persuade me that what the cats really need is a 7 feet high rattan climbing 'tree' with little perches and hooks to hang toys from. Yes, they really need encouragement to jump about at height, clawing whatever they are sitting on.....in any case the thing cost £67 so that prohibited the purchase anyway, though he almost had me convinced! While we were waiting for the cab to take us home Rob suggested that perhaps the cats' psychic abilities had been astrally projected, and that they were putting these ideas into our heads. how else to explain my decision to buy them a £30 sheepskin rug all of their very own?

So, once home I decided to put everything in its place apart from the sofa and futon covers, which I shall do on Tuesday before the party. I have put the old living room kilim rug - which I refuse to part with as it is a genuine piece of IKEA history (it was framed and on the wall when the place first opened, and later put into Bargain Corner) - in the kitchen; the gabbeh is now under the table and the tatty old striped kilim (el cheapo as it is cotton not wool) is being chucked. The new rug looks lush in the front room, and the catses loves their little sheepskin rug!

I have made a schedule for the next two days because otherwise I will do nothing. so tomorrow I will chuck out the rubbish and chuck in some laundry before I go to work (early start) I'll come home at 12 - thank goodness I live 5 minutes away - and take the washing out before going to do the shopping for the co-op Christmas party refreshments and also for us. That done, I shall clean the bathroom, which is actually clean but the shower screen is a bit watermarked. On Tuesday morning I'll hoover upstairs then I'll start prepping the food; after lunch I'll then put the covers on the sofa and futon, and hoover downstairs. By then it will be time for anyone who's coming to help with the food to arrive. Sorted. Having a written list is the only way I can get things done these days. So anyway, watch this space for goss from the party later this week.

I haven't blogged for a while, but there is so much to catch up- on, for instance my birthday, which funnily enough meant I became one year older in the space of one day! I got some nice presies, the usual, by which I mean nice usual: smellies, chockies, gift cards for Whatstoners.....Rob bought me a book I've wanted for a while, "Ordinary Thunderstorms" by William Boyd and it is brilliant! I also treated myself to gorgeous gorgeous merino from two Etsy shops: BFL fibre in 'Cassis' from Amy's Rainbow:


And Kettle-dyed Superwash Merino Tops from Shunklies in gorgeous purples and pinks:


Of course, these are not yet knittable yarn, but I have bought a spindle to spin my own yarn - hopefully not too thick! I am still going to be buying gorgeous laceweight merino and wool/silk/cashmere etc. blends for my lace projects; these handspun yarns will be to make things like scarves and gloves and maybe felted stuff.

So watch this space!!!

Monday, 30 November 2009

A WALK AROUND THE GARDEN

Yet again I didn't blog for millenia! I have been too busy knitting, doing laundry, giving the cat his medication......and gardening(again) It has been a day of several weather types, it's like they are all trying to compete for some sort of award. This morning, Snow even put in an appearance, then Rain showed its ugly face, but Blue Skies finally chased them both away. Nevertheless I still ended up with boots so absolutely caked with thick loamy mud that I could barely lift my feet!!

Anyway...I've had a fairly good week considering my friend Seasonally Affective Disorder has come to stay (uninvited as per usual) However, this year I have a Secret Weapon at my disposal, thanks to Fiona who is researching S.A.D. as part of her PhD. AROINT THEE, you SAD knave!! (Notice how I have immediately made S.A.D. male in gender? Funny, that....)

So...the garden....I suppose you have to be a glutton for punishment and not to mention pretty mad to choose to work outdoors in November. But the fact is, as soon as you are through that gate you enter some kind of parallel universe where everyone is really lovely,it is impossible to be in a bad mood and the sun always shines! Well, two out of three ain't bad, but it sure feels like the sun always shining and like the sky is always a perfect shade of blue. The garden is hidden behind a set of gates along the little road to the side of the house. When you enter, you have a big wall to the left and a stone building to the right, so there is no hint of what's to come. As you get to the end of the wall to your right there is an archway and suddenly you are at the top of a short set of steps.To either side of the steps are stone-walled flower beds which have been carefully planned so that there are always flowering plants, as well as lavender and heathers, and several small varieties of fruit bush. These stone walls continue along the length of the garden on one side of a stone path which leads all the way up to the top of the garden. On the other side of the wall, down the steps, is the bottom part of the garden. It has two polythene tunnels (usuallyknown as 'polytunnels') running the width of the garden. At the very far side are some compost bins and a storage area with huts and a shed. Between those and the path, running along parallel to the road,with its back wall forming the boundary that the gates sit in, is a small building which houses a lounge,small kitchen and a shower room. Between the building and the sheds are several vegetable patches with Things Growing in them.

At this time of year there really isn't much going on - the polytunnels are almost empty; in one, we removed the last of the beans a few weeks ago and took down the frames. There is nothing in there apart from some black polythene from the timber yard,put down over the soil to deter weeds and keep the little creatures who live in the soil from freezing. In the next polytunnel there are still a few courgettes and beetroot but they are 'finished' pretty much. That polytunnel also serves as a kind of shed; there is a workbench where the vegetables have been weighed and boxed for transport during the growing season, and where the hens' food is mixed. The hens themselves are housed behind the polytunnel; there are eight of them altogether. They are as free range as it is possible to allow them, given that there are foxes around. They have a rather natty wooden he house,which has a space underneath for them to shelter, a kind of ramp leading to their front 'door', and the inside is warm and dry with straw that is later removed and made into compost. Round the back of the hen house is a long hinged cover at about chest height. Lift this lid and you will find a long box divided into sections and lined with straw...if you are really lucky you might even find freshly laid - and still warm! - eggs, and these are taken out and placed in a box to be collected later by whoever has asked for eggs that week. The hens live a fairly carefree existence, pottering about in their enclosure, sitting in the hen house and clucking. They are fed on a mix of pellets, carrot scrapings and chopped up greens etc. Yes, hens do eat vegetables!

Walking around the side of the polytunel, past the henhouse, back towards the stone path, is a long single-storey wooden building. This is a self-build project completed couple of years ago, known as the Garden Rooms. It houses four small one-roomed bedsit style 'studios', a conference room with kitchen, and the offices of the Horticulture Project (Known as NE4 VEG) The studios are lived in by homeless men: recovering alcoholics and/or drug addicts. These small rooms have their own front doors leading out onto shared verandah which overlooks the garden. It's a kind of half-way house, as is the main house normally but at the minute the main house is undergoing major renovation work, so only the Garden rooms are currently occupied. Men can stay here for up to two years with support to gain qualifications and training, before moving out, hopefully to a more long-term accommodation.

Going along past the Garden rooms and back onto the stone path, you walk past the door to the conference room, then up onto a lawn. To the right is a small wooden decking area leading to the door of the Project's offices. Past that, over by the far wall, is a wild area and a small pond. at the very end of the garden is a long greenhouse - this has a heating system - and in between are two long vegetable patches and - separated from that by a stone wall with flower beds - a wooden seating area.

The main thing that strikes you, walking around, is that you could almost be in the middle of the countryside. It's very peaceful, with no traffic sounds or loud radios etc. Everywhere you look there are signs of Nature doing her work, just going about her business. Even when it's raining it doesn't seem to dampen anyone's spirits. It's like: it's raining - so what? It's only water and the sky will brighten again; it always does.

The only thing I feel sad about is that the hostel is men-only and so homeless women cannot benefit from the project. As I piled whole woody cauliflower plants on the ground and hacked them to pieces with my spade it occurred to me exactly why these guys find it all so therapeutic! and the food - cooked by the resident chef - isn't bad either!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

HAPPY!


What a happy day!
Apart from having a good night's sleep for the first time in a week, I am also feeling really cheerful. Thomas is much much better, so I am really hoping that when he goes back to the Vet tomorrow she will give him the all-clear.


Thomas slept all night on and in my bed, and this morning has eaten and had a long drink, and has also had no trouble wee-ing. He just seems a lot brighter, more like his normal self; he has been playing and running about and hopefully he can now get back to normal and not have to endure examinations and injections and having pills chucked down his throat any longer.


He is also back to his normal devious and trouble-making self where the other two are concerned. As I write, he has pinched Pete's space on the futon (marked by the Navajo blanket which Pete claimed the day we got it) Pete has returned from the kitchen to find his space taken and has jumped up on the other end of the futon. Thom is lying with his back to Pete, pretending to be asleep, but he is half looking around over his shoulder - with ears flattened -to see what Pete will do - if anything. Pete has sniffed Thomas from about a metre away, but then turned round and is now sitting right on the edge of the futon, facing the window with his back to Thomas and his ears flattened slightly (i.e in a bit of huff) Having reassured himself that Pete will not actually challenge him and has settled down on another part of the futon, Thomas has now turned round to face the fire and is now relaxing because he knows his space is safe. Pete is sulking. There is a three foot gap between them!


I love watching the cats interacting and their funny little mind games etc. Before we got Thomas, Spangle was the undisputed Queen of the house. Everything in it belongs to her, and she has to know what is going on at all times. She knows where everything is and never forgets where we put things (e.g a couple of weeks ago I looked around for - and found - all the ping-pong balls which had gone behind various bookcases and underneath sofas and so forth. I found about eight, and put all but one into one of the little IKEA chest of drawers next to the bookcase, which is where we keep occasionally-used but important stuff that has to be located easily. I promptly forgot about these other balls. However, the other day I was on the futon watching TV and I heard a scratchy-scrabbling noise behind me. There was Spangle pulling open the drawer, and as I watched she casually extracted a ping pong ball and started playing with it. HOW did she remember where they were, and how did she remember which drawer, out of a possible twelve, they were in? See what I mean?

Back in August 08, when Thomas arrived, a very boisterous 4 month old kitten, Spangle was incredulous! What an insult! Allowing this youngster to enter her home and go on the rampage, disturbing her peace and disrupting the household routine! Without her permission!! She was, to say the very least, highly offended. For about two weeks she sulked, looking daggers at me every time I had Thomas on my lap. Then, she tried another, more direct, approach: slapping him for absolutely no apparent reason every now and again. He started getting to know Pete, and Pete actually really likes him. They would lick each other's faces, and lie on the bed or sofa together.


Spangle continued to ignore Thom other than to whack him every time he got too close. As Thomas started getting older, he started fighting back. He is a big cat, and the other two - not having had a very good start in life before they were 'rescued' - are very small; Spangle in particular is very petite under all that fur. As soon as he was old enough he began trying to take over. He started actively seeking Spangle out to attack her, and these attacks were rather vicious. He was still young though and he didn't do any damage. When he was 6 months old he was neutered and this actually calmed him down. But he wanted to be the boss and Spangle continued - and still does - to defend her position! She has a hard job. Sometimes Thomas can be a real nuisance. And he is jealous!! If Spangle is being tickled or being shown any affection, Thomas will pounce on her and start fighting her. He cannot bear to see her getting attention! Spangle bears grudges and will often wait until he least expects it before getting him back. For example, if he walks past her she will casually whack him right across the face. Then chase him and do it again. If cats were humans they would be diagnosed with schizophrenia and locked up.

Last night I made two delicious Crumbles: one with apple and cinammon and the other with all manner of berries from the freezer, plus the remaining apple pieces. Josh declared the berry one to be slightly too 'cats' bum'(i.e sour - think about it) yet his plate was almost clean nevertheless. Rob had his apple and cinnamon crumble with Ben and Jerry's Belgian Chocolate Brownie (or is it Chocolate Fudge Brownie?) I had hardly eaten last week and so I had both types and a big chunk of B & J's too. Plenty left for today's brunch - ha ha!! It is almost a rule in this house that there has to be enough crumble for the next day. Josh swears by it as a pre-College breakfast.

On a totally different subject, I found this fantastic website the other week, called Colour Lovers. This site is the visual answer to Prozac for people like me who get their pleasure not from material things but from natural things, particualrly becaue of what their colours do to the brain. I look at the sky on a cloudless, crisp Winter's morning and that particular shade of blue, and also the way it fades from an almost lilac-blue higher up to the palest true Sky blue, create some kind of chemical reaction in the pleasure-feeling section of my brain. I cannot see the sky that colour and feel depressed or sad. The colours which really have a positive effect seem really difficult to reproduce, for instance it is hard to create them on a omputer screen,or rather if you do manage almost to create the right shade, it just doesn'tlook right or have the same effect. I have to see these colours in real life, in their natural state, on the right object. The colour which has the most positive effecton me is a pale-ish pale-but-bright purpley blue. I call this colour Sky North.


My other created colours are here. Mostly blues/purples, and combinations thereof! The site is great for messing about, trying to find your favourite and perfect colours. I'm sure there must be a more serious use for it, but i use it as a form of Therapy!

Saturday, 21 November 2009

OUT OF THE WOODS


Wow! I didn't blog since Tuesday. This is because I haven't had time and also due to being really stressed and anxious about little Thom, who didn't actually come home until yesterday! What ought to have been a one night stay went on longer because as they were about to remove his catheter on Wednesday morning, they found he had actually chewed it half out himself (Yes, as we all know, Thomas LOVE nothing better than to gnaw on things....a large stick, stray pieces of Playmobil from Sara's Christmas games, the toggles from his play tunnel, the lock knobs on his carrier...all bear his trademark teethmarks, as do many of my books. And he makes an incredibly fierce-cute snarling sound as he chews!!) So, they had to do a minor procedure to remove the other half, which was stuck, and they replaced it and kept him in overnight again. On Thursday night they removed it and on Friday afternoon the vet rang and said they wanted to see if he would now be able to pee on his own, but they thought he was getting stressed and many animals will not pee in a strange place (plus fussy Thom is very particular about which brand of cat litter he will use when he has to wee indoors) They said they would send him home and asked me to monitor him closely to see if he was urinating. However when I arrived to collect him the vet said not long after she rang me he had done a wee anyway, and after checking his bladder she said it was empty. She gave him antibiotic and painkilling injections and then said bring him back first thing in the morning just to check again. When we got home he was so obviously 100 times better than when he first went in; he immediately started greeting Spangle and Pete and rubbing his cheek against all the furniture; also against our legs. He sat in front of the fire and had a full wash. He had several wees. At dinnertime he had some turkey and some tuna. Then he settled down in front of the fire again and went to sleep.


This morning however he was licking at himself and going back and forth to the litter box for small wees. so when we went for his follow-up appointment the vet again checked his bladder and said it was only a tiny bit full, not even as full as it would be before a normal wee. To put this into perspective, it was the size of a tangerine. She said the reason he kept going back to the litter box might be because now that the painkiller is wearing off he might be a bit sore from the catheter. It must feel like cystitis (ouch!) Or, his urethra might be spasming a bit. so she said keep checking to see if he is peeing properly and give him some more of the painkiller this afternoon. If he is obviously worsening tomorrow ring the Heworth branch - the only one open on Sundays and only for emergencies - who might want to see him. In any case he has to go back to the normal one on Monday, and hopefully that will be that.

We are just going to have to keep our fingers crossed and hope.

I have started a scarf for Saartje, in Debbie Bliss Soho - pinks. The pattern is from the Frabjous Fibers recycled silk yarn free pattern pages. It looks really nice already - slightly richer/brighter colours than they appear in the photo - and it will definitely be Sara's style! She loves pink and it will go with her pink jacket.

Also on the needles is the blanket I am knitting for the cats in Patons Inca, with a Peruvian style bird design on Colinette Shimmer Five.
Chunky and warm, it is knitting up fast, and my intarsia skills are definitely improving. I have learned to wrap the not-in-use yarn between stitches so that there are no unsightly lines of yarn at the back. I guess this is the idea behind Scandinavian two colour knitting, so on the back there is a kind of reverse pattern, like a negative photo image. Again, the colours are more vibrant than in the photos. I am really pleased with the way the bird design has turned out!!!


Tonight I'm going to get on with my Cold Mountain scarf - I have ordered loads of seed beads in various shades of bluey-purple and purple, in two sizes, and a couple of really narrow crochet hooks with which to thread them. So I will be able to make some really gorgeous scarves etc!! I have an idea I will get totally sucked into the beading idea the way I have with lace!!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Thomas Is back At The Vet's

*SIGH*
Thomas went for his follow-up at the vet's today. when we got up this morning he seemedto have turned a corner, he was fairly lively and instead of just lying about sleeping he was up and about, eating a little and pestering us for attention as he normally would in the morning.

However, this afternoon at the vet's it transpired that his bladder seemed to be blocked again, which was puzzling since he has been weeing okay (and proved this by peeing all over the examining table!!) So, the vet said she would have another look and then monitor him over the next 24 hours. Poor little Thomas; he hasn't really had the best of luck, has he. It is so horrid when an animal is ill because they cannot tell you exactly how they feel and you cannot really explain anything to them. The house feels wrong with one less cat, and Spangley Spangle and Petit Pete are kind of pining for Thomas; Spangle has been looking for him and 'calling' and Petey has just curled up into a ball and slept all day. Amazing how cats become a unit, regardless of how well - or not - they get on with one another, and if part of that unit is missing then the others cannot function properly. Kind of a symbiosis thing.

But what can one do, other than wait to call the vet in the morning and find out what time to collect him? then we will have a better picture of what is going on.

I feel like my whole life - such as it is - is on hold; I can't make plans to do anything, can't think about eating,can't settle at all. And I am getting more and more exhausted because of the stress and especially because of all the to-ing and fro-ing. Even doing some shopping in town requires a couple of days' recovery afterwards normally, but haven't had time to rest after two or three journeys to the vet, with heavy cat/pet transporter in tow.

I have been thinking about what sort of scarf and possibly also matching hat to knit for the little Uiterstegrachter! I have some Debbie Bliss Soho - 5 skeins - in multi pinks and am waiting for a skein of Colinette One Zero - in Alizarine a similar variegated pink colour but brighter and slightly darker - which I grabbed on eBay. These will make a lovely chunky scarf and hat set in multi shades of her favourite colour! I might actually knit the scarf in the Soho, and use the Colinette to make some I-Cord spirally flowers to stitch on and use the remainder for a fringe for the scarf and tassels for the end of the ear flaps on the hat. The scarf will probably be a simple ribbed pattern, but for the hat I have found a pattern called Jayne Beanie on Yarn Zombie

I am watching Breaking Bad, which I have already seen online last year, but it is actually on British TV now so I can watch it on the actual TV. Earlier I watched Later with Jools Holland, and it was a really great show with Corinne Bailey Ray, Big Pink, a duet with David Gray and nnie Lennox, plus chatter from Roger Queen Taylor and Vic Shooting Stars reeves showing off his new book,Vic Reeves' Vast book of Knowledge which I will be getting Offspring #1 for his birthday. I steer clear from most celebrity books but this is his take on a sort of illustrated encyclopaedia!

So...I ought to be making plans for Christmas, hoovering the floors,making the bed etc and reading decent literature, but it seems all I can do is watch trashy TV- American at that!! Hopefully, Thomas will be okay and I can get him home and get back into some semblance of normality.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Thom-Cat update

A quick update on Thomas while I have a minute, he - and consequently I - didn't have very good night, he came upstairs and slept on my bed as usual but he kept getting up and changing his position ...very restless but cheered up a bit earlier this morning. He is still having to be fed water through a syringe, which he actually doesn't mind so long as the water is not too cold. I could not get him to take his antibiotic this morning as he repeatedly hid it in his mouth then spat it out.I did get him to take the anti-spasmodic pill, so at least he will be a bit more comfortable.

I have to take him back to the vet (the normal one thank goodness, not the emergency one miles away) on Tuesday and then the vet will be able to order the correct prescription food for him, as apparently this depends on the results of the tests they took on Saturday.

I feel totally ungrounded and unable to settle into my normal daily routine. don't know what time it is; I haven't eaten or drunk today, so I am going to do that now.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Poor Thom-Cat


Poor Thomas had to be rushed to the vet yesterday. He ws absolutely fine - or appeared to be - in the morning, but then early after lunch he started being very weird, limping and sitting on the shoes next to the hallway radiator, but keeping his bottom up off them, then he started wailing. I carried him to the sofa to try to investigate (thinking maybe he had a sore back leg or something) and he lay there trying to keep his back leg up off his tummy. I rang the vet and they said he should come in immediately but the emergency vet is at Heworth (across the river and miles away) conveniently :-(

When we got there the vet said his bladder was very full and there was a gritty substance coming out when she investigated his nether regions. So she reckoned he might have FLUTD and his urethra might be blocked by crystals in his bladder, and she said they would do a small procedure to unblock and flush it out then keep him in overnight. Awwwwwww,poor little kitty!! But she also said it was a good thing I noticed immediately because this can kill cats if it is not treated; their bladders can rupture and they end up with fluid in their abdominal cavity, which leads to infection, shock etc. The thing is,it is so easy to notice when Thomas isn't himself, because he just lies there and forgets about terrorising the other cats and the home!

Well, he is back now and wearing a rather fetching transparent cone-shaped collar to prevent him licking his little winkie where they had a catheter. He does have FLUTD and the vet said his bladder was full of these stravite crystals and they had formed a plug, blocking the urethra, and so preventing him from peeing. He is now lying in front of the fire looking decidedly pissed off because instead of looking funky in his usual highly fashionable black and white skull and crossbones pirate design collar, he possibly knows he looks ridiculous in the veterinary collar. I have to take him to the vet on Tuesday to see how he is doing and to get some special type of cat food which is low in minerals (as normal dried cat food such as Iams actually has too much and this can be a major cause of crystals in the urine) I also have to give him more canned cat food. (The vet said to introduce him to it,but as he already has this sometimes it will be easy enough to switch over to that and the special dried stuff) It isn't just for cats with that condition and so it can be given to the other two too. At 7pm I have to give him a dose of this anti-spasmodic thing, which is because after having a catheter up his tiddler all night it will be a bit sore and the little muscles can spasm, which will make him think he needs to go to the litter box (which I notice he has been doing the past half hour or so.)

So...an evening of knitting with Thom-Cat sleeping on my lap I think. I'm knackered - after failing to sleep last night,then having to go on the bus and Metro to collect him then bring him back (he weighs almost 6 kg, plus his carrier, which is an aircraft-safe heavy duty one, weighs a ton too)On a more positive note, I have ordered this gorgeous limited edition Botany Lace from Wild Fire, to replace the BFL in 'plum' which when I received it just wasn't right colour-wise; the customer service is fantastic and I plan to buy a lot more from Vikki in future, as the quality is brilliant and of course each skein is unique. I am going to ask Dad to buy that fab Arctic Lace book for my birthday and this fabulous yarn will become a lovely scarf either from the book or the 'Iceland' wrap from KnitLab.

What I'd love to do is design my own patterns, very geometric, like Cold Mountain and Iceland, but I know it can be frustrating. I think I'd like to design it first on squared paper then work out which stitches would work best. There are obvious 'rules' such as needing to have an increase stitch for every yarnover if you aren't reducing stitch numbers....and so forth.It never ceases to amaze me what can come out of such simple stitches.

5p.m: I have given Thomas his painkiller via a syringe (not with a needle though) into his mouth, and also used that very convenient method to make him drink some more water. The other two kitties are very wary of him; a) he smells weird - of the animal hospital - to me, so to them he must smell really odd - not like himself at all; b) he looks very scary with his collar contraption on! I'm going to have to get a bigger one at the vet's on Tuesday because when he tries to lick/pull at his bandage the edge of the collar is right next to and actually rubbing against the very area it is meant to stop him licking on the back of his front paw, and it has been bleeding again. I remember one of my childhood cats pulling her stitches out after she had just been spayed, despite a similar collar.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

VALUABLE KNITTING TIME....

Yahoo! Avatars

At last, got into the swing of Cold Mountain - it's amazing I had time after allowing Yahoo Avatars to suck away an hour of my valuable knitting time! I didn't get in from work till10 past 10p.m - very eventful shift it was too: two arguments/fights and a deliberate tit-for-tat flood in someone's room while they were banished for an hour to cool off (culprits caught on CCTV after having the face to stand in the back yard saying "I wonder what's causing that leak?") which resulted in water coming through the light fittings and the fire alarm refusing to shut off. The alarm engineer had to come out, he has switched off the noise and is going back tomorrow once it has dried out. The police had to come out because the two flood-starters were banished but one of them refused to leave the premises. But it was an okay evening, everyone else was fine and I have met some good people, some women who have lived long long lives despite being younger than me....

Anyway, this is my Cold Mountain scarf so far - note gorgeous variegated shades:


I received my new yarn from Wild Fire today, but am disappointed. I asked her if the yarn was as deep as shown in the photo,or darker, because the last lot i bought from her was deeper than it appeared in the photo and I was really happy with it. I assumed that it would be,and she even said she would overdye it again to make sure it was a relly deep plum.Butwhen it arrived it actually seemsto have lost the lovely rich plum colour and now seems slightly darker in tone but the shade itself seems light and it has lost its richness. In fact it looks greyish. It's no darker than the heathery shade of the Elvincraft yarn used for the scarf (above). This is the original shade, as shown in her Etsy shop...see what I mean?


I have found the book recommended by the designer of the Cold Mountain pattern it's called "Arctic Lace" Also found,"Knits from the North Sea"
I do love that sort of Shetland lace, almost - or actually - geometrical, and with diamonds and zigzags etc. And it has been really brilliant learning to knit it and realising I can do so easily. Favourite designer at the minute - and probably for a good while to come - is Kieran "KnitLab" Foley!

Friday, 6 November 2009

AAAAAARRRGGGHHHHHH...MORE FROGGING!

Damnation! I was just about to start the second pattern repeat of rows 3 to 30 of Chart A of Cold Mountain and I noticed that halfway down there was a stitch that was hardly there...and when I investigated the stitches underneath it for about 5 rows unraveled, leaving a gaping bloody hole in my otherwise perfect lace! I have frogged the lot in exasperation, as it is too complicated to frog only back to that row and then try to pick up 69 lace stitches properly.

*SIGH*

Oh well, it's only 33 rows; I could've noticed it later and that would have been worse. I'm just really annoyed, because it was perfect and I hadn't made a single mistake (well, um, clearly I had, but you know what I mean!). I'm now going to cast on again and get stuck back into it or I will lose interest.

I didn't actually frog entirely to the very beginning; I left about ten rows and blocked it to see how much give there is etc. Bloody complicated way to do a swatch LOL!! There isn't that much give but there is enough that the finished lace will be opened up without widening the scarf too much. so at least something positive and constructive has come out of a crap situation.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

LAZYBONES - 12.57 pm


This is me at just before 1pm,having just woken up (can you tell?!)
I do not think I look too bad for an early-ish 40's year old who has just got out of bed, do you? also, you cannot see the silvery hairs that have begun creeping in. They are easily covered up by Lush's Caca Noir which is obviously the same colour as my hair so doesn't make a difference to the color, but does make it really shiny and also make it really stand out in strong light and does cover the grey bits HA! Mind you, the last time I did it I decided to see what would happen if I covered it with clingfilm (that's Saran wrap to you Americans) - as I have seen people suggest it would turn red. Oops....it came out a murky brownish colour, um a bit like expresso and I didn't like it one bit. I think it only makes a difference if your natural colour is lighter.

I think I look a bit pale today, could be the light - blinds are not fully open - could be the end of my flu thing which I had last week, or could be just that winter lack-of-sun thingy. But if you notice, I look particularly pleased (well,my default mode is content anyway) and this is because the postman brought me my lovely Limited edition Lace lambswool/cashmere yarn from Wild Fire Fibres....and it is even better than the photo suggested.

The yarn also looks a bit light in this photo (so it must just be the camera not dealing with the poor light in this room - it is a bit of a dull grey day, but what do you expect this far north in November?!) The yarn is so gorgeous and soft....and so I have ordered more - this time BFL laceweight yarn in the shade Plum but she is going to overdye it to make it even darker. What a star!!

I also received some balls of Twilley's Freedom Spirit in the colour Desire, which I got on eBay for about £2.00 and which will do for a pair of gloves. I took this photo from a different angle and it has made a difference to the outcome - look at the difference in the colour of the tissue paper's purple colour in the two pics; the bottom photo shows more like the true colour, and the yarn shade is practically spot-on here too:


It is Thursday and I have a meeting at 3pm at the women's hostel where I am starting voluntary work next week. I'm going into Newcastle afterwards to replenish some essentials at Lush and Fenwicks. For the bathroom, we need some shower gel and shampoo, we normally get something like Happy Hippy and Tramp because they smell nice enough for me to find them acceptable but without being feminine because obviously Rob and Josh use them too. I desperately need some conditioner for my yak-like hair, which tends to coarsen up in the winter. While I am promoting Lush here I may as well mention that it is possible to buy old favourites which are discontinued for the stores but are available online. It used to be the case that they would only make a batch once enough people had put in an advance order, but they were so popular that they are now available all the time. My favourites are Narcotik and Happy For S.A.D. both shower gels, and Reincarnate, a sort of hair treat for dark hair. I need some ink for my proper pen too, as I am sick of using crappy little biros which make one's handwriting look like a school child's.

As I have spent so much time waffling on about - and looking up the URL's for - Lush products etc. I no longer have any more time, so I will have to leave it here and get a move on, as I am not even properly dressed yet! How blogging sucks your life away!

Oh....and it is 'Bonfire Night' this evening so we will have to put up with the noise of loads of fireworks.

LATER......I was right about the noise.

And I wanted to mention something that wants me to put my foot through the TV....it is the advert for the new album by 'The Soldiers'...something about this is somehow wrong. Serving soldiers basically taking advantage of the 'War Against Terror' (as governments of the United States of Amerbritanica call it) to sell records. Is it right to make money out of the fact innocent people are dying just so the West can control the oil reserves in the Middle East? Is this somehow hero-worshipping men who have chosen to do a job which involves killing and maming and destroying in the name of 'Peace'? The actual advert itself is so...what the Americans call schmalzy....it makes me want to pick the TV up and throw it through the window of No.10 Downing Street. It just shows how thick the majority of the conformist consumerist British public are, that they would disagree with the War yet still buy the album, which raises money for 'the wounded' (presumably British wounded rather than Afghani or Iraqi wounded?) The album I called 'Coming home' and I won't go into a psychological explanation about how this title in itself would be cathartic for a target audience consisting mainly of people who are unfulfilled and who use transient objects and material gratification to feel a sense of contentment and 'rightness'. Unsurprisingly it has its own website and the fact it is top of the list when you run a search for 'The Soldiers' and 2nd top of the list for 'soliders' basically says it all for me and makes me feel that there is something very very wrong with the world and that we have our prioroities completely skewed.

As I write I am watching Dragon's Den on TV, and I am absolutely gobsmacked to see one of the people pitching for money to develop a product which you attach to the bottom of a pram and which rocks the pram foryou.....um, isn't that what we have arms for (I don't mean to rock the pram but to hold the baby!!) How much time and effort is devoted to contraptions to save parents from having to hold or even touch their infants? I'm sure this is directly proportional to the number of children being treated with drugs for depression, ADHD etc. I'm sure there will be a future post dedicated solely to this on my blog soon, given that I am now going to be working with women who have - many of them - grown up in 'Care'.

I went for my visit at F.House today and my god, I knew it would be grim but I wasn't counting on being able to pick up so many of the vibes from those poor women. Yes, it is a 'safe place' for them, but although it is, essentially, their home, it is still, whichever way you dress it up or paint the walls a trendy colour or put a nice rug in the lounge, institutionalising them. Nicola, who I will be working with at first, said there is a real problem of getting the right balance, i.e letting them stay there long enough to try to get themselves sorted and for some get their heads together, but without them staying so long that they become dependent on the place and the staff and wouldn't be able to cope without it. I met a few of the clients, one woman about my age (but looking fifteen years older) and another who had only got out of bed to get her medication...and another who looked about 14 (but had to be over 18) who just looked completely shellshocked and bewildered at being there. But the staff are lovely: like me, down-to-earth and realistic with an (appropriate) sense of humour. I think it will be okay there and I might even apply for a full time position after my training in the New Year. Well, I was told the rules etc. and I start next Wednesday evening and will be doing Wednesday/Thursday alternately at first while I am still having to be 'shadowed' (due to CRB check not through yet as it has only been a week or two)

I am wasting valuable yarning time again!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

BROKEN TOE (AGAIN!)

What a day....!

I was down at the garden this morning. Really pleasant: lovely Northern Autumn sky - you know that sort of almost-but-not-quite washed out pale blue sky you only get this far north because of the 'blue light'; a nip in the air enough to rose your cheeks up (must replenish my supplies of Dr.Hauschka Rose Day Cream); no noise except the occasional cluck of the hens or bird song (I think Goldfinch); and good company. I really wouldn't mind working there full time in the future. Anyway, I got the keys from Yosin and gotmy attractive green overalls on and then went and got some bulbs off Mike to plant out in the wildflower area next to the pond. Incidentally the pond is looking very cloudy so I might look this up online and see if there's any obvious reason related to, say, the recent heavy rains. The soil in the wildflower garden is apparently 'too fertile' so it has a membrane under the top layer. I had to try and dig holes for the bulbs using this little plastic trowel and I wasn't really holding it right because I was trying to gouge holes out as it was really tough digging. I ended up with a blister.....

When we went for our lunch break I took my boots off and decided to put them outside as the doorway was - rather anti-Health- and-Safety-ishly - blocked by too many pairs of boots from the group of DWP Teambuilding Excercise volunteers who were eating their lunch in the 'conference room attached to and accessed by the office. As I went out, I tripped on the little metal lintel across the doorway and my foot went right into the edge of the door jamb and - in an uncannily perfect repeat of the incident a couple of weeks ago involving Thom-Cat- I mashed my little toe against the very edge of the door. YOWWWCH!! I ate my pizza (which was delicious and made by the resident chef) with my right foot in a recycling caddy (one of those big grey stackable ones with a half open front) full of frrrrreezing cold water. It did numb my toe sufficient for me to hobble up the street back home! But it is really sore now, although mustn't grumble as at least it has stopped throbbing. I spent the afternoon on the sofa covered by my Totally Autumn throw with Thomas underneath it, and fell asleep within minutes....adrenaline wearing off - endorphines kicking in (kicking! Ha! Get it?!) I haven't dared look at it, because it was bad enough earlier on today when I'd just done it,but at least it doesn't feel as bad as the other time. They say we have no memory of pain,but that is only partly true because we can tell if something is more or less painful than something previously.

Ive knitted a few more rows of my Cold Mountain scarf. and I've discovered more beautiful yarns on Etsy. Wild Fire Fibres has some more gorgeous lace weight yarns in blues and purples, and I have discovered another secret hideyhole of absolute epic win-ness, Yarn Art Serious.
Have a look.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Busy Busy Busy


Forgot to add this photo yesterday, it's the first twelve rows of the Cold Mountain scarf in the amazingly gorgeous Elvincraft Laceweight Merino/Cashmere 2 ply. It's so easy to knit, although it does look complicated at first glance of the (three!) charts, but it is straightforward enough as, so far, the pattern is all SSK's, K2Tog's and YO's - and the occasional KTBL, and the WS is straightforward P right across. The colour of the yarn is fantastic! You can really start to see the subtle variations in shade. This Winter, I am going to look fabulous darling, as I will be fit through work and I can accessorize my basic wardrobe of layered long-sleeved tops with all the gorgeous lace scarves I am making in divine colours.

Went for a kind of introductory chat with the Director of Women's Services, at one of the supported accommodation houses - opposite the place I will be working. It is an ok house but the kitchen is typical of institutional residential care settings, regardless of how nicely designed it was. There is nothing on the surfaces or walls to show anyone lives there and half the cupboards are locked. The lounge is fairly attractive but doesnt look lived-in. The women there are attended 10 hours per day; it's secondary housing. The place I will be working at is staffed 24/7 and is the first non-temporary safe place most of them have been in. They come in from sleeping rough, from prostitution and related situations, from domestic abuse, drug detox and jail. It's the only organisation which will 'hold' a bed for someone coming out of jail or detox for example. The main thing I like about this organisation is the very holistic approach to supporting homeless people and dealing with the whole problem, of which for many being without a home is only a part. It is definitely looking more attractive to me as a long term career. Anyway, I will be going to meet the senior support officer at the place on Thursday and then will be doing two evenings per week.

Last night, I opened the back door to let Thom-Cat in...he had something dangling from his mouth and it was too late for me to shut the door again and make him stay outside. The 'something' was - yes, you guessed - another mouse. He really loves those mice! He let it go in the kitchen and as soon as it started running away he put his back paw on its back, although not openly paying it any attention. A few seconds later he let it go again, only to catch it again and carry it around in his mouth again. This process of torture, with the poor little mouse eventually becoming too frightened to run away or do anything except squeak, continued with me doing my best to try to get either Thomas or the mouse out the back door. After finally shoo-ing Thom, with mouse safely stashed in his mouth,out into the garden I shut the door. Half an hour later he was still at it, and after an hour he cried to be in again and this time the mouse was lying next to the doormat outside the back door, in an obviously dead manner. I let Thomas in but he was very hacked off at not being allowed to bring his new toy/friend into the house.

I am back at the horticulture project tomorrow, which I'm definitely looking forward to. It's hard work but rewarding, and the feeling of tiredness at the end of the day is a good one. I wonder what we will be doing tomorrow....watch this space....

Monday, 2 November 2009

BLUE SKIES,GREEN THUMBS

Today was my first real day working at the horticulture project. I have really enjoyed it! We have been picking beans, a rare variety called Cherokee Trail of Tears. Then took down the plants and dismantled the frame things. By then it was lunchtime and we were cooked a delicious organic vegetable stir-fry with roast potatoes; then a post-lunch tea break at the top of the garden where there is a deck and a pond and a wild area. On to the afternoon's work then,and it was back to the poly tunnels, this time to dig out some weeds and the remainder of the Rocket, then put some slug deterrent down and made a few hanging baskets. Finishing off with moving some summer plants to make room for some winter varieties. The guys I am working there with are Phil, the Manager of the whole project, including the Garden Rooms, and Mike, who has a lot of experience with things like the Healthy City Project and so forth. I've learned so much from him in such a few hours, but he doesn't lecture, he just tells you about things while you're working. I met some of the Residents,who live in the Garden Rooms - although it is meant to be rehab of sorts they are allowed to - and do - drink booze. The main house is undergoing extensive renovations so the men - apart from those in the Garden Rooms - have all moved out, and been accommodated in other places run by the organisation.
It's been a good day to ease into the job - not too cold (though it is windy) and the skies are blue, blue , blue! That gorgeous Autumn sky blue which goes from an almost lilac colour and fades right through to the palest of sky blue.

There are free range hens there, and a little black and white cat comes to say hello.


I got some yarn in the post, some Colinette Hand dyed DK. From eBay. It's gorgeous - lots of different colours, and will make a lovely pair of wristwarmers, from Knitty's later patterns of the season. But now I have to go and mail my own eBay sales, and get some groceries - things I would normally have done by now, but because I was working I have to do them now instead of putting my feet up and knitting.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

EATOMOLOGY


For many people, eating insects is a normal everyday occurrence, and in fact some insects are considered a delicacy. But here, the nearest one will get to insect 'delicacies' is this site, Edible.com - whose products I spied in Fenwick's delicatessen last week. That's D's christmas present sorted then. What got me thinking about eating insects was watching Charley Boorman on Beeb 2 in his latest 'By Any Means' series, whilst eating my dinner in a very working class 'tea-on-knee-in-front-of-TV' fashion. My come-uppance for such sloth was to catch sight of Charley putting a deep-fried cockroach in his mouth, just as I forked a piece of pasta into mine.....eeeeurccchhhh! I PROMISE to use the table in future!

D told me a story once, about when he was in Sri Lanka and someone was eating these big crickets. His friend dared him to eat one too. This is D we're talking about, and I shall need to write an entire post about him sometime to really do him - and this story justice - so of course he immediately put this cricket in his mouth and started chewing. When I saw the Edible display - of insects and other assorted products - D was the first person I thought of! I do miss him....

Josh goes back to College tomorrow after his 'Reading Week' and I am going to the horticulture project after my week off sick. I've got so much to do when I get back home after that tomorrow - post some yarn I've sold on eBay, hoover up downstairs, phone the local Council for a bulky rubbish collection, and do the household budget for this month in such a way that we have enough to put into the savings account at the end of November, and still eat and keep warm! It is definitely Autumn now, all of a sudden. It's cold, dark and at the moment pretty grey and damp. In short, typical Northern England weather. I can't seem to remember having a proper Summer this year. It was looking pretty promising in April, really warm, and May was hot, so I thought this was a sign of things to come and we would have a long hot Summer. But then it got humid for a couple of weeks in early June (I think) then that was the end of that. I only hope we have an easy Winter this time round. I don't mind bit of cold, so long as the sky is blue, but if we have cold and damp and sleet and all the really crap things about Winter - again - I doubt I can cope! Snow is all very well and good when you are 6 years old, and then it's lovely to look at when you're older, but apart from that it is nothing but an irritation. And what really annoys and frustrates me is the way every year Britain acts as though we have never before encountered the stuff. SNOW! Oh My God! Stop all the buses and trains and Metros! Close down the schools! And put the gas and electricity prices up!

The only consolation, in a month which is typically pretty miserable and dank, comes on the 17th when the Leonids Meteor Shower comes round again for its annual display of shooting stars. Apparently we are in for a real treat this year, with NASA predicting 'upwards of 500 meteors per hour'! (Which means around 8 or 9 per minute - one every few seconds) More about that on the night. Hopefully.

Well, I am now onto the second Express Lane/Hacho sock (that's the completed one at the top of this post - although you can't really see the colours because it was taken in artificial light and it seems to be difficult to photograph those purpleypinks without natural light) and last night I did another dozen or so rows of the Kernel scarf. I've noticed I accidentally missed out the garter stitch section between the two charts....oh well, it will look different from how it's supposed to. I might adapt the chart for the edging a bit and knit it straight after the chart at the other end when I get to it, because if I knit that end without a garter stitch section too there will be nowhere to graft a separately knitted edging section to.

Friday, 30 October 2009

I am not liking the Baktus

I just bought a gorgeous skein of laceweight lambswool/cashmere from Wild Fire Fibres - on Etsy - at what is actually a very reasonable price comparable with, say, Araucania. I'd rather support smaller businesses and have yarns which come in amazing colour schemes. I couldn't resist the colour, a rich deep bluey purple, and its name - Atlantic Ocean. It is so me.

After knitting halfheartedly several rows per day of my Rowanspun Batus, I have decided my heart isn't in it. I don't think it's the Baktus itself, although I do prefer triangular scarves to be made of thin, brightly coloured and patterned cotton or silk fabric rather than yarn. No, I have decided I just don't think that Rowanspun is right for this particular scarf. Also, I think the problem is, since I discovered lace, I need to have charts, charts, CHARTS!!!

So...unfortunatey the Baktus will be frogged. The rest of the Rowanspun is headed for eBay. I am gradually de-stashing my brand name yarns to make room - and cash! - for gorgeous handpainted stuff on Etsy and a few tiny yarn businesses.

I'm almost finished the first of the Mirasol Hacho Express Lane socks. Easy pattern to remember. I added an extra purl stitch at either side of the chart to make 16, as I needed to cast on 64 for a cuff-down sock (I HATE toe-up socks) I am not following the pattern but simply using the chart. The generic sock pattern is adapted from Monkeys. Hacho is turning out to be quite thick for socks, I like Chirapa for ideal-weight socks,but since it is now cold here I reckon I'm going to need thick socks, sheepskin boots or not! Time to put the sandals away. I live in them from April to September - when I go outside, that is, as we are very much a barefooted household.

Tomorrow is Saturday,a very gezelig kinda day, with late coffee-drenched breakfast and the Guardian. I will finish the socks then do a bit more of Kernel - I can imagine making something similar with my Atlantic Ocean yarn....oh,so much yarn,so many patterns, so little time!

I am re-reading "The Road" partly because the film has at long last come out. Not here - yet. But I can't wait. I've seen some trailers and am a bit disappointed,partly because the Boy is older than I imagined from reading the book - just the way he talks and so on should make him about 7, but in the film he looks like 10-ish. And one major difference, which I feel is important, in the book the Father never actually points the gun at the Boy he wonders whether he would be able to do it if the time came - and he does tell the Boy at one point to use it if he has to,and tells him what to do. But it is a major theme in the book that he possibly does not have it in him to do so himself. also, in the book they get out oif the cannibals' house before they come back - in the film they are stranded in the house (leading to the gun-pointing incident) and have to sneak out undetected. Well, it's always the same when you read a book - and particularly when it is a favourite and much read and re-read book - then it is made into a film (or 'movie' - CRINGE) and the film doesn't live up to your images from reading the book.

I have just put a dent in a bag of toffees.......

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Socks - yes more....

Another rubbish photo, this time of my partially knitted sock in Mirasol Hacho. Yes, I think it is definitely a bit thick for socks,maybe,but the Winter is coming and we all need nice warm socks in the cold months, right? By the way the colours are far more vivid and much brighter than you can see from this photo. Just think of the fruit part of a delicious mixed berry crumble; it has blackberry, redcurrant, raspberry, blueberry, blackcurrant and just a teensy touch of cinnamon!

I have so many W.I.P's at the minute and I don't know whether to knit a small amount of each every day to avoid boredom,or concentrate on two projects now then when I have completed one, pick up another of the others. This way I am always going to have two on the go. My original idea to have a larger (or more 'tangy') project and a smaller one at all times was probably the best. I am doing some of the Kernel scarf every day and that's great - it will be finished soon and then I will start Cold Mountain. I'm going to finish the socks and the Baktus as my smaller projects.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

DREICH!

Before anyone calls the RSPCA, the above is NOT MY FAULT!!!!! Yes, it is a photo of a very wet kitty,but he insisted on going out when it was drizzly, and as soon as it started to rain he was up on the window ledge and I got him straight back in again! Awwwww!!


My lovely Elvincraft 2 ply merino lace est arrivee! Fabulous!! The colour is just divine. Although it's too dull to photograph outside so I had to take the pic in the kitchen and so it isn't really possible to see the true colour and the little variations in shade.I'm thinking actually instead of ruining it by knitting an ambitious lace shawl which has about 4 charts, I might knit another Kernel because I love that pattern; also, I am more likely to wear a scarf than a cumbersome (if fine) shawl, because that's what I like. I just love gorgeous scarves.

However....I have just found - on the fabulous Knitty - a lovely wrap called Cold Mountain, which I can easily adapt (fewer pattern repeats) to make a lovely lace scarf about 150 x 45cm. The colour of my lace yarn and the name really match, and Arthur's Hill can sometimes feel a bit like a cold mountain at times!

Funny, if you go down south, they just do not use the word dreich at all, it isn't in their vocabulary except as something they might read in a book. The word itself means everything at once about a day like today: wet, miserable, drizzly, grey...... I have been interested for a while in the fact that a lot of the language and dialect up the Northern coast, particularly here and further north to Scotland, resembles Scandinavian and also Dutch langauge. Dutch can sometimes sound a bi like someone speaking a mishmash of Germand and Norwegian with a Scottish accent. We talk about 'bairns', 'gannin hyem', 'hooses'....my Grandad used to call me 'lang'en' which is actually Norwegian for 'long [or tall] one'.

I would love to shove the Geordie accent in Nick Griffin's face and ask him if he is going to send us all back to....where? Norway, Denmark, Rome, Holland? Or, as someone on QT pointed out, send us all back to Africa, which is where we began our evolution. After all, white skin and pale eyes are simply an evolved response to the reduced need for melanin, the brown pigment that protects us from the UV rays of the sun in really hot places. A pigment that many white people encourage by going for sun bed sessions to make them look brown.....how ironic is that?

But yeh...you would think people would have realised by now how dangerous and insiduous fascism can be. Propoganda, fear, ignorance....this is a 'good' climate for Griffin's racism to be able to spread, because the uneduacted or simply ignorant just see immigration, migration and asylum-seeking as one and the same, without thinking about the reasons behind why people come here. Can you imagine what would have to happen to you and your family, what would have to be going on around you, for you to even consider leaving everything - literally everything - behind and risking your life to travel halfway across the world (and not in a comfortable plane or ship either); and can you even begin to understand what circumstances would lead to someone choosing to take their children on such a dangerous and uncertain journey, destined for a foreign country, and with no money? We complain about how crap Britain is and how lousy the Government is etc etc but we are actually very well off, in terns of money and other factors. We can go outside without worrying about being shot; our children can go to school - or not - and we do not have to pay for healthcare. we can say whatever we want about the (unelected)Prime Minister, about the way the country is run, we can protest if we are not satisfied and we can teach our children whatever we want to, all without fear of being jailed or tortured or even disappearing. If we are ill and cannot work, we do not starve, and women whose children's fathers are not with them are provided for. Children without parents are given shelter and - in most cases - are protected from harm. We have enough - more than enough - to eat. We have a roof over our heads, regardless of income. Imagine having none of the above. That is why people seek asylum. They are not given hundreds of £ of taxpayers' money per week and they are not given homes which would otherwise be available for British people. The accommodation available for asylum seekers is usually with private landlords who win contracts from the government. These asylum seekers are not allowed to work, so they are not 'taking our jobs'. There are plenty of jobs for British people. If someone is granted asylum and given the right to stay in Britain they have to seek permission to work. The sort of work they do is generally poorly paid and 'casual' - not the sort of work British people would perhaps wish to do, such as cleaning toilets in a hotel or picking vegetables for £3 an hour. They are limited in seeking work by the fact they cannot move around the country as we can if we wish. The people targeted by racists as 'taking our jobs' etc. tend to be people from the E.C who have the right to come where to work, as we do to work in their countries and often do. Does Griffin have an opinion about, say, rich middle class people who drive up the price of housing in idyllic parts of France or Italy or Czech and who have gained skills and qualifications here, paid for by the taxpayer, and who now use those skills to make a living and benefit their new country of residence? And why does he himself look slightly tanned?

I dont want to make this a political blog so I have tried to keep it simple, but there are so many more different things to consider and the majority of Griffin's supporters are, sadly, poorly educated, knee-jerk reactors, who would blame immigrants for a rainy day! They are entitled to their opinions are of course, but I am sure the BNP is well aware that most of the people who agree with them are poorly informed and do not really understand much about the complex issues around immigration and economics and so forth. Racism, however it is dressed up, is destructive for everyone, and it is absolutely stupid to talk about 'keeping Britain British' after 3 or 4 generations of welcoming people from all over the world - people whose descendants have now made their homes here,put down roots, had children and grandchildren - many of whom are mixed race. In my view the UK as a mixed race society is fine.the problems which arise from a multicultural society do not arise specifically from that fact, but from people's attitudes and their unwillingness to co-exist with their fellow human beings. People are people. It is a no-brainer.