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


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' 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 ironic is that?

But 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.

Sunday, 25 October 2009


Another lazy weekend!

Anyway.... I was raking through my stash of lesser yarns, which I bought before I could knit very well and therefore had not discovered the more gorgeous yarns. Mostly Rowan and Debbie Bliss bought for the colour (purples and occasional pinks) I really must have a de-stash, now that I have discovered Juno Fibre Arts, Spindlefrog and Amy'sRainbow on Etsy, which are all UK-based sellers of yummy hand dyed yarns, and they cost more or less what you would pay for the same weight in, say, Mirasol or Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn. I am very much into the ides of supporting small businesses and also it does mean you have beautiful yarns which are pretty much unique, colour-wise. I do love making socks, and scarves are something I want to get into knitting too - particularly lace patterns. So the Rowan -most of it - and virtually all of the Debbie Bliss (apart from the pink Soho, because I'm going to knit a scarf for Saartje) are destined for EBay.

I found some Rowanspun in a lovely pinky purple lavender shade, 10 skeins of it. I'm using it for a Baktus - actually, a lacy Baktus - which will be great for when I'm at the Garden (although I won't need it in the polytunnels!) But the rest of the knitting month will be taken up with some more socks (Mirasol Hacho in DoubleFuschia), finishing off Kernel, and - when the skein of Elvincraft 2-ply I bought arrives - starting a version of (Jane Araujo's)Nightsongs, which Lisa (Red Lisa) has written instructions for on her blog; and she has also been kind enough to give me some much-needed help and encouragement! Aren't the folk from the Knitting Community fantastic?! Really, if I was just plodding along on my own, sans internet, there is no way I would have made such amazingly quick progress with my knitting learning.

So...I've knitted the first 15cm of the Baktus and I'm happy with the result so far:

I've had a fairly good weekend - Mik came over for a couple of days and we went to see Lance at the Duke of Wellington, which he has just bought. Lance is a cellarman of over 20 years experience, particularly with real ales and beers, so he will make the Duke a really popular place to drink decent beers! I opted for a really nice scrumpy, 6 percent...."So it begins" said Lance when I told him what I wanted. And only bout five sips later I understood what he meant!! I don't really drink alcohol because of the effect it has on my overzealous immune system, so my tolerance for booze is way down. What this means is I get drunk very easily, and earned the title "Shandy-Drinkin' Mackem" on Friday!

As for Kernel.....oh buggering blast! I was doing so well; onto the 3rd pattern repeat of the main section's chart, and it was going along really well, and so easily too. Enough variation between rows to keep me interested and still simple enough to knit without difficulty. But on one particular row I suddenly noticed that one of the SK2P's was not in the right place. You know,you get that little sort-of-diagonal 'bar' across, underneath those stitches, and up till then these has all been lined up directly above each other, mainly at the apex of several SSks and K2togs. I had only knitted a little way across that row so unknitted that row and re-started it. Same thing again....GRRRRRR! I unknitted again and counted the stitches....there were still 49, so that wasn't the problem. I tried again, going v-e-r-y slowly and it happened again! I unknitted and tried one last time. This time I got almost to the end of the row and noticed the penultimate repeat's SK2P was 'out'...not only that but I had somehow gained several stitches which couldn't be accounted for....WHAAAAT? No explanation other than a Kitting Gremlin. Normally, if I have made a glaring mistake I can see where and how and correct it,but I counted along from the beginning of the row and all my stitches appeared to be the right I frogged the whole lot, yes, right back to nothing and started again from scratch! Because,you see, I never did learn how to do that thing where you simply stick your needle in the stitches several rows back and only undo the mistake rows (and with lace it would be impossible anyway). So, I have started again and am now back to where I was when I took the photo in my last blog post! Oh well....

I've 'balled' two skeins of Mirasol Hacho - Double Fuschia - ready to start some socks when I get back from work tomorrow. I think I'm going to make some Starflower from Jeannie Fanihi's blog, because they are a bit more challenging than my normal choices but still accomplishable (is there such a word?) They have small cables which I can do sans cable needle, and they make a fab star pattern. crucially, the pattern works if you knit the socks top/cuff-down rather than toe-up. I really hate toe-up the method as the cast on method seems unnecessarily fiddly, and I can't always find toe-up patterns with charts that work if they are 'upside down'. Knitting top-down, then grafting the toe stitches,ismuch easier and hassle-free and I will stick to that for now at least.

SIGH.....So much yarn, so many patterns, so little time to knit....

I made a gorgeous tarte tatin/appelgebaak this afternoon; I mean it was just amazing! Somehow the butter and sugar had appeared to make the puff pastry into something which was almost cake! We ate it with Ben and Jerry's Phish Food and Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice creams. I might make a really big one for the Co-op Christmas Party.

Well, it's now way after midnight and I did intend to have an early night. I'm supposed to start about 9 or 10 tomorrow and I do want to get in on time.

Monday, 19 October 2009


Just a very quick update of the kernel progess so far. I've finished the edging and am now about 8 rows into the main chart. It is without a doubt one of the most pleasant patterns I have knitted so far - it just flows very easily from one row to the next.

If I make this my focus for the next few days it will soon be finished, but I only really have afternoons and evenings, and even then because it is Allocations week in our housing co-op two evenings are taken up with meetings. Mik is coming over from Leiden on Friday and expecting me to go out to Lance's new pub with him, so that is going to be another evening of valuable knitting time wasted on social life ha ha!

My toe is a lot better but I still can't really put much weight on it. I am due at the horticulture project tomorrow morning....

Natalie loved her new socks, and as predicted she said they were "made of epic win"....I do wish teenagers would talk properly and appropriately. for example when I tell Josh the dinner is ready, his reply is generally something like "Awesome!!"

It's well and truly Autumn now and with it has come the dreary and dreich weather we have to put up with in the late part of October. Dampness, mist-like rain, chill, foul skies the colour of dirty dishwater....not the lovely blues I normally associate with living up here. Oh well, it's nothing but S.A.D.from now until March! Great.....the only, um, consolation is that I will be spending a lot more time outside. Wonderful.....

Saturday, 17 October 2009


YEE haaa!!!

Kernel is lookin' good!

My toe is a bit better - more shades of purple that I never knew existed! Thom-Cat has been very naughty today, practically destroying the kitchen and the living room. Ten minutes later he was asleep and looking so sweet one would never believe it was the same cat. Aww, but he is a little darling really. How anyone can be cruel or neglectful to kitty-cats - or any animal - is totally beyond my comprehension. It just doesn't bear thinking about, does it?

I have knitters' block..I have absolutely loads of lovely yarn and I have queued stacks of Ravelry patterns as well as bookmarking several dozen from other sources. Last week I wanted to knit everything....this weekend I can't actually think what to knit. Either I find a pattern but haven't got a yarn I want to knit it with, or I really want to knit with a particular yarn and can'tfind a pattern I want to knit it with. For example, I really really want to knit a Baktus, but I can't decide which of my yarns to use. And I have loads of Mirasol Hacho in Double Fucshia, but can't make up my mind even what type of garment to knit. I love making socks but I've made 4 pairs in the past couple of months and at this time of year I am still in sandals so not actually wearing socks yet. (In fact I rarely wear anything on my feet at all, and the sheepskin boots do not come out for another month yet!)

Oh well, it will probably be a scarf knitted with the skein of Araucania Ranco in solid deep purple,because scarves do really make an outfit stand out and you can make a really basic load of long sleeved v-neck t's look fantastic simply using different scarves. I tend to buy layerable tops, from strappy vests through to long sleeved tees with v or scoop necks,and have a few nice blouses and cardigans, and all look nice either on their own or layered, with a scarf. A scarf made from the Ranco, or maybe a Baktus knitted with the 2 skeins of Donegal Aran Tweed....oh I dunno....!

Rob gets in from London this morning at some ungodly hour normal people do not know exist. I think we shall be seeing the Lady Natalia at some point so I'd better wrap those socks up for her.

I'm off to bed now - goodnight!

Friday, 16 October 2009


Thanks to our resident four-legged whirling dervish, I now have a broken little toe. Well, it sure feels and looks like it's broken! As usual he tried to exit the kitchen wrapped around my feet, but only after first launching himself at them from under the table and with no warning. The result was my foot smashing into the edge of the door with some force as I half tripped, half fell.
Last night the pain was so bad I was almost sick, and it swelled up to roughly 2.472 times its normal size. Today it is back to almost its right size but it is a wonderful shade of mauve/purple. I can walk, but it's sore. I don't know if it is actually broken, but I know from previous experience there is nothing that the hospital would actually do other than maybe strap it to the neighbouring toe and tell me to take ibuprofen - which I will do if it gets really sore again.

Thom-Cat has also taken some kind of dislike to my father's new suit, particularly the elbow area, and launches a full-scale SWAT attack on it at every opportunity,involving clawing it with all four paws at once as well as biting it while making a nasty kitty snarling sound (the same sound he makes when chewing pens that he steals before they re removed from his lethal jaws)

Rob is, once again, in London for an anti-sci-fi-based "religion" demo, or "raid" as they call it. I do agree that it isn't a religion but a cult and that some - most?- of their methods and beliefs are highly questionable, but nothing would make me don ridiculous clothing and get up at 4 a.m. just to make my point (unless it was environmental or something, but even then, the ridiculous clothes would definitely be a no-no)

Thursday, 15 October 2009


....which I've been knitting for Nat. For some reason Ravelry's photograph uploading thing is playing up again. (It won't let me upload anything purple and now it won't even try to upload anything...) So from now on I'm going to put all my relevant photos here.Which I usually do anyway.
Yes it would be lovely to arrange them more artistically and aesthetically attractively (wow! - the alliteration!!) I might ask Rob to make me some of those sock holders out of some of the wood he has clogging up the cupboard under the stairs in the kitchen.

I did another - um - two rows of Cherie Amour last night. The problem is,it is so boring at this stage,only two rows to remember. And when I follow the chart properly, instead of the way I had accidentally been following it (with the ssk's and the k2tog's swapped round) it actually doesn't look right to me. The lines in the pattern seem to point the right way in the section with the wrong stitches, but after my corrected rounds last night they look odd. So I've decided to go back to the original - wrong - way because after all it is going to be me who will have to wear it.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009


Congratulations and gefeliciteerd, me!!!!

After a long break due to illness and complete air-headedness, I now have a job - which actually involves a couple of different jobs!!I am working for a charity called Tyneside Cyrenians, a leading homelessness support/rehabilitation charity which supports homeless and vulnerably housed people to re-integrate back into Society by providing supported/semi-independent living accommodation,training and also rehab for alcohol/substance misuse.

Also, amazingly, due to sheer luck and being in the right place at the right time, I am able to train and get my NVQ certificates 2 and 3 in Social Care, starting in January!!! I was thinking of trying to get funding to do this, but on Monday the co-ordinator mentioned she thought there was funding available for some volunteers to do this through the work they will be doing and some of us put our names down. She just rang me earlier today to confirm I definitely have a place. I need the NVQ 2 and it helps to have 3 too, to get the type of jobs I really want to do once I have enough experience of this type of work. I have felt for ages that I really want to do something of true value in the community - actually within my own community - because of course I am passionate about communities and mutual support within one's own community etc (which is why I am also so pro-co-operatives) I felt really drawn to work with people who really struggle and I really believe I can make a difference in people's lives.

For one job I will be working with clients who have in the past been homeless and sleeping on the streets and who are perhaps now living in supported accommodation; they - some of them - are learning horticulture skills at the project - literally round the corner. There is about a half acre of organic gardens where they grow organic vegetables and fruit and also keep chickens. They have poly tunnels too, which I have always wanted to use. The types of seed they use are -most of them - 'Heritage' varieties, i.e they are or were in danger of dying out but thanks to these proj4cts around the country are now being saved for future. These skills give these clients valuable life tools and experience; some of them can gain qualifications - right up to Degree level - in Horticulture and other related subjects. Not only that but it means they know how to grow their own food and become partly self-sufficient, something which is going to become much more essential in the near future, as prices rise and it becomes more difficult to obtain good quality food. On another level it gives people true independence,self-reliance, autonomy etc. (where previously they only had the illusion of these things??) and essentially it gives them self-confidence and a feeling that they do have control over their own lives etc. For me, it is a chance to do a dream job and get an essential qualification at the same time, as well as working in beautiful surroundings. I feel blessed, and privileged and truly humbled. And it will also help with my own knowledge of organic growing and allow me to gain useful skills. I intend to ask for a digital camera for my birthday, or something towards it anyway, so I can take some photos while working at the Horticulture project.

The other job will be based at a Women's Services Centre about half a mile away, so also local and therefore also enabling me to work in my own community. I will be 'shadowing' one of the experienced support workers and they want to increase the number of activities the women can do while they are at the centre (which in turn leads to them becoming more interested in perhaps doing courses and eventually gaining qualifications, as well as learning skills) One of the things they want to be able to offer is crafts sessions, and because I wrote on my application that I had run a mums and kids crafts group in the past and also done a lot of crafts-ish stuff and also enjoy arty stuff and also knitting, the co-ordinator asked if I wanted to do this with the women. OF COURSE! I can also be involved in thinking up ideas for these sessions. But as well as doing this crafts stuff and other activities during the day, I will be doing some evening work as well, because they are quite stretched in the evenings, staff-wise, and desparately need volunteers and I happened to mention that a lot of my free time is actually in the evenings. The other thing about evening volunteering is that if I get a full time daytime job (which will not be for another 6 months or so,but it is an aim) I will not have to give up my volunteering in the evenings.

All in all I am feeling extremely positive and really excited. A month ago I was feeling a bit 'flat', because I was bored bored bored, wanting to do something but of course not fully ready to work full time. Also, I wanted to do NVQ's but the idea of having to apply for funding, then try and get a work placement and also fit everything around other things I seemed like an impossible task. So, the fact of everything coming together like it has this week seems like too good to be true...although it's about time I had a 'break'!

We had our induction day - there were eleven of us; introducing ourselves was interesting because of the variation in people's backgrounds. And ages...the youngest was a student of age 20 who is trying to get more supermarkets etc to donate the food they cant sell at the end of the day rather than incinerate it, which of course, surely by anyone's standards, is incredibly wasteful and immoral; the oldest was this biddy who wants to do admin. There were a couple of guys who have been through the charity's own rehab services and wanted to give something back. And a few women in similar circumstances to me, i.e mums with kids growing or grown up and plenty of time to spare. We were told about the historyof the charity, its various services, where funding comes from etc, as well as the rules, safety etc and of course personal safety. It's mainly common sense but with extra things to think about because of the client group we are working with.Also, importantly, confidentiality etc.

We were also told something incredible: the Police went out to count the rough sleepers in Newcastle, and the number they came up with was.....2! Tyneside Cyrenians were disgusted with this as it meant they hadn't looked properly or didn't want to look. Now, whenever there is a count done, someone from theyrenians goes with, that way they have to look properly, in places like under bridges and behind buildings, under the shopping centre (where deliveries go) and in multistorey car parks etc. .......TWO!!!!!! Un- be - lieeeeeeee-vable!

Oxymoron of the week: "Police intelligence"

So, watch this space. I now have to arrange to be shown round the horticulture project (even though I've seen it informally) and on Wednesday next week I'm going to my introduction at the Women's Centre. I'll update regularly.

Got a home visit to do this evening with Nigel to an applicant for the Graingerville flat. It's to Amir's sister, but of course she has to be treated as N.E. Applicant, not as Amir's sister. Being Amir's sister will not give her any special treatment, we have to take everyone on their housing need etc. And the all-important co-operability.

Friday, 9 October 2009

KNITTING YARNS (OBVIOUS PUN!!)'s the end of another week, and what a week it has been! Plenty of knitting and other things going on.....not least of which is the slow growth of the wonderful Cherie Amour which I have now knitted around 30 rows of. (I'm using Manos del Uruguay Wool Classica) Up until now it has been a kind of back-burner project, with only a round or so each day. But now is the time to pick it up a bit so it will be done for my December trip to Leiden. you ever feel like you have so many things you want to knit at the same time....?

Our Co-op is in mid-allocations mode, with people to visit and shortlist, following an amusing and enlightening meeting. I feel eternally grateful to various fellow co-opers who have been really supportive and this means I find myself now at this point more involved with the running of the Co-op and really getting into my role as Deputy Chair. Thanks, Annie, Jerry and Hev! We still really miss the wonderful Joe, who was very much a stablising and levelling influence.

I went to see the volunteer co-ordinator at the Tyneside Cyrenians about doing some voluntary work with them. They are always looking for volunteers as they have so many projects for homeless and vulnerably housed clients, as well as people who may need support to remain living independently, such as people with learning disabilities, the mentally ill etc. One project I'd love to be a volunteer with is their organic growing which happens at a garden of one of their buildings. They also work with people classed as 'chronically excluded',i.e.people whose lifestyles or problems - drugs and alcohol etc - have in the past prevented them accessing services which could help. I feel like this type of work is what I should be doing; don't ask me why, although part of it is obviously my caring and empathetic nature and my understanding of the way everything is linked to everything else. I start with an induction day this following Monday.

I went to see an advisor who works with people who've been out of work due to disability, or incapacity because of illness. She was extremely helpful and supportive and told me about various schemes and grants available to enable me to get back into work.

NOW the knitting biz....
I received my prize/gift wool from Bonnie over in Massachusetts! Thank you so much, Bonnie!! It is quite simply divine and it is the perfect colour for the Kernel scarf. It's a lovely gold, toffee, honey yellow - yes, a bit like corn kernels, so I can totally understand where the inspiration came from there! I shall be starting Kernel at the weekend.

Anyway, this is the wool, a skein of Handmaiden 'Mini Maiden', which is a Canadian dream yarn. As I call any fabulous handspun/handpainted or unusual or rare yarns.
The photos do not do it justice, by the way. The one in the link (my actual skein before it was shipped here) is a lot better.

I've cast on for another pair of Monkey socks after buying some bargain Araucania Ranco on eBay. Not usually my choice for socks, as I prefer Mirasol (Chirapa or Hacho)
Natalie loved the last pair I made and asked for some in purples and blues, and as the only purple and blue sock wool I had was Wentworth of Yorkshire's Space Dyed and quite itchy I decided this would be a good time to try the Ranco. Here are the results so far:
(Top to bottom: Cuff and beginning of chart pattern; leg and part of foot; close-up of pattern.)

These socks look really odd and lumpy until you put them on, which is when the pattern really shows. This pattern is really great for showing off variegated yarns with many shades - the Ranco doesn't seem to be so bad for colour pooling but I have only used it this once so can't really make a true comparison yet.

I've also cast on for the first of a pair of fingerless mitts - the pattern is Nalu. I'm using my sole ball of Cashsoft and crossing my fingers! This pattern fits my requirements perfectly, i.e. no fingers to knit, but there is a thumb; there's a chart to follow with enough variation to prevent boredom; there are basic cables which give me the chance to use my new no-cable-needle cabling skill (actually less hassle than using yet another dpn while already using 3 or 4!)

I received some Patons Inca, which I got REALLY cheap on the 'Bay specially to make the cats a lovely bed. I wanted a chunky yarn with wool content; I also wanted a compromise between cheap and quality, by which I mean I didn't want to spend loads for something which will, let's face it, be destroyed within 6 months, but at the same time I didn't want to buy some cheap rubbish just because they are cats. I saw the Patons Inca - 4 balls - and decided that was perfect.

Friday, 2 October 2009


So...I finished the lovely Monkey socks I've been knitting in Mirasol Chirapa's Saffron Spice. Shown in a not-very-good photo above as I was chilling out and they came loose a bit. but you get the idea.Spoke to Ellen and Mik last night....I am going over to Leiden in December. Leiden is where the 'Pilgrim Fathers' lived before they made their way to the New World, which is why there are so many things called Mayflower in Leiden.

I remember when Mik first moved to Oude Rijn and we were going along the side lane towards the shops and went past this knocked-down building. Mik said apparently this demolition had to be stopped because they'd found the actual room the Pilgrims had met in to plan their travels!

I do miss Leiden very very much and of course I miss Mik like mad. But things have been difficult on both sides of the North Sea and I haven't been up to going, much as I would love to. December is the perfect time to go. I'll need lots of Knitted Things, so am now casting on for some wristwarmers, which if successful will be repeated and given as gifts.

I'd better get knitting. Fab pattern Knucks on Knitty but I want totally fingerless for now. I do already own several pairs of gloves and so for now I can live without yet another pair.