Thursday, June 29, 2006


here's the first handspun from the new wheel - well, the second, really, as the first was too terrible to show in public. it's a bit thick & thin (that is to say, inconsistent!) but the plying is much better on this one - i think i'm beginning to get the hang of it.
i thought knitting was soothing - all that repetitive movement & concentration - but it's got nothing on spinning. it's (to get a bit hippy-trippy) almost meditative - the feeling of soft merino fibres sliding smoothly through your fingers, the whirring sound of the wheel spinning, the rhythmic treadling... it's so relaxing, i could almost drift off.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

old maiden aunt

well, i am now officially a spinster...

not only am i an "unmarried" woman (& likely to remain so - like the button a friend from university had, "your old maiden aunt is probably a happy lesbian"!) but i now also own a spinning wheel. my ashford traditional arrived today from the lovely christine of spin off on arran, who sold me her old wheel & even delivered it right to my door.

naturally, i've spent the rest of the day trying it out - the green blob on top of the wheel is my first attempt at making "yarn". i'm not going to show a closeup picture of it, because frankly, it's awful (i had some plying issues). i'm hoping that more practice will help... either that, or i may start spinning single ply yarn.
also, i think i need a new chair - the only chair i own is my desk chair, and it's on wheels, which is not the best idea for treadling - i kept having to scoot forward every so often as the treadling movement was causing me to roll away from the wheel. i'd like to say that's why my yarn is so bad, but alas, i'm just not a great spinner yet.

Monday, June 26, 2006

as long as you've got chilli

well, since my resident sock photographer is away to london for work-related training fun & hilarity, i've been left to my own devices for a few days. & it's weird. when you've lived with someone for a while, it becomes strange to have the house to yourself. it's almost too quiet, and it doesn't seem right to go to sleep on your own. & although i often tend towards quiet & solitude, i don't like being in the house by myself at night - i have some auditory problems which lead to me being incapable of locating noises, so i get all paranoid & start barricading the doors if i hear any odd sounds. plus, i read too many crime novels, & i'm sure that doesn't help!
& when you're used to someone else being around, you also get used to the little things they do, & sometimes you forget that they need to be done at all, because they just get done by the other person as if by magic. when i'm home alone, i have to remember to clean the cat litter, walk the dog, feed the pets, all on my own. and also, importantly, i have to remember to feed myself. i'm a horrible, terrible cook; i can barely make beans on toast. and i don't often have much motivation when it comes to food; since i'm so terrible at cooking, i'll just go for whatever's easy (when i lived on my own, i ate a lot of sandwiches. i also weighed about 30lbs less, but that's another story.). so because my live-in sock appreciator knows that about me, she's left a pot of home-cooked chilli in the fridge - because she knows that otherwise i'll just end up eating crisps & ice cream for tea. & that you're not so alone, as long as you've got chilli.

sock roundup

the pomatomus socks (pomatomi?) are finished, so i thought i'd take advantage of temporarily having an in-house sock photographer & post some pics & specs of other finished socks as well (before she lost the patience to photograph socks - it's surprisingly hard to take pictures of your own feet!).

pattern: pomatomus from knitty
yarn: cherry tree hill supersock, colour unknown (i got it in a swap without its ball band)
modifications: shortened the toe slightly as i felt the original pattern made the toes too long & narrow
(i've included a picture that more clearly shows the stitch pattern, as the photographer had had a beer & the full-size picture is a little wobbly.)

pattern: embossed leaves socks from interweave knits winter 2005
yarn: koigu kpppm colour 136 (2 skeins)
modifications: i carried the leaf lace pattern down onto the heel flap so i can wear these with backless mules & look fancy

pattern: my own; a basic 3x3 rib with a braided cable down the back of the leg & onto the heel flap, again for the backless shoes
yarn: koigu kpppm colour 326, 2 skeins

Friday, June 23, 2006

early mornings...

... normally make me cranky. i'm not a morning person at all; i love sleeping. however, since my head is so full of cold germs that i can't breathe through my nose, sleep is currently difficult, so i gave up trying at about 4am. at 5am i was feeling sufficiently awake & energetic that i thought it would be a good idea to go for a run (clearly, i'm not only congested but feverish & delusional as well - 5am???) so i woke up the pup & dragged him out with me. and believe it or not, i succesfully completed the last workout of this week, which (unreasonably, i initially thought) called for me to run for 20 minutes without stopping, when up until now it's included a few minutes' walking break.
& i did it!!! this is such a huge achievement for me, especially considering that just over a month ago i couldn't run for one minute without feeling like i was going to die. 20 minutes!!! and at 5am, people!!! pup thought it was great as it was so early he didn't need to be on his leash, so he was able to give me his usual motivational nudges during the run - he alternates between sneaking up behind me & trying to nip my bum, and running about at light speed in front of me while tossing disdainful glances over his furry shoulder at my feeble attempts to reach any kind of reasonable velocity.
and now it's not even 9am, the dog has been out & exercised, as have i, and there's a load of laundry in... maybe mornings aren't so bad? (remind me of this when i'm fast asleep on the couch in front of afternoon talk shows later...)

& yesterday i got the yarn that i ordered for making the "morale boosters" - this may be the biggest cone of sock yarn i've ever seen. 500g and just over 2000 yards - that's a lot of sock yarn! i figured better safe than sorry on the yardage (plus i'm pretty sure my legs are a little bigger than those 1940s ladies'!) & i can always make more socks out of what's left over. i have no idea when i'm going to be able to cast on for these, but at least i have the yarn now!
(& i especially like that the yarn is "anti-tickle" - i'm not sure exactly what that means, but it's thoughtful of them, non?)

and in the same yarn order... little bags of fleecy goodness, because... i'm getting a spinning wheel!! a woman from the spinner's guild on arran is selling me her old ashford traditional, and she's bringing it over to the mainland next wednesday. i've only had one spinning lesson, but how hard can it be, right? & i definitely need another time-sucking hobby...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

and it started so well

well, i had what i thought was an extremely productive start to the day. even though i'm still feeling ill, and it was pouring rain, i dragged myself (& pup) out for a run, and managed the second workout from week five of the "couch to 5k" (although this week is kicking my butt - 20 minutes solid running next workout? you've got to be kidding!). i confirmed that a long-awaited bank transfer has finally gone through, which means i'm not as completely broke as usual. the rain stopped, so i did a load of laundry & hung it outside, and i even dropped the car off at the garage for new tires (which it's been needing for a while) and a new wing mirror (which some little punk broke off last weekend - grrr.) however...
when i came home after dropping off the car, i realised that i was locked out of the flat. i'd taken the yale key off my keyring this morning to go running, so i wouldn't have to carry the whole set, and had forgotten to put it back on before going out with the car. the other set of keys was a 2 hour round trip away, and of course i had no car, so i had to run for the train with no jacket & without having had any food since breakfast.* while i was out, it rained on my laundry which was hanging outside, so that all has to be rinsed & spun again & hung up inside. and when i finally got off the train back here & was walking home with the keys... i got drenched by a bus driving through a muddy puddle. sigh... if there was ever a case for drinking early in the day, today is it.
this evening i will be mostly hiding, wrapped in a blanket & watching tv, in case the universe is still out to get me.

* on the plus side, though, is the fact that i often go out to hang up laundry or pick up milk & the paper unshowered & in ratty track pants & sweatshirt - at least i was locked out in presentable clothes & carrying my phone & wallet!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

a gray day

not much progress on any front today, as i've come down with a throat so sore it feels like i'm swallowing bits of glass. plus, it's an extremely gray day - rainy, windy, and wet.

but at least i can see this from my window...

i love the sea, and the view was the main reason for moving to this flat - i've always wanted to be able to see the sea from my windows. on windy nights you can hear the waves crashing as you lie in bed...

Monday, June 19, 2006

vintage knits

because i don't already have enough projects on the needles, i've joined the vintage knit-along. i love vintage clothing & vintage patterns, but have yet to try & knit anything vintage. and once again, there's the offer of prizes... i loves me some prizes! now i just have to a) finish something that i'm already working on so that i can start this knit-along and b) find the right pattern!

i'm thinking of these:
"handsome morale builder stockings" (to inspire the troops, perhaps?) although i may modify them slightly to make them more of a knee-high sock. & then there's the question of what yarn to use - clearly, if you're making them stocking height, you'd want something pretty soft - no scratchy wool up there, thanks!! i may just finish them in time for the damp & chilly scottish winter, given the rate at which i'm managing to finish things at the moment...

Friday, June 16, 2006


yet another pair of jaywalkers, posted in response to another offer of prizes! i'm a sucker for those prizes...

here are the jaywalkers, as i often find them, under attack.
the dog, alas, has a bit of a fetish for hand-knitted socks, and the more expensive the yarn, the better - he especially likes koigu. so far he's been caught in the act before doing any damage, and all socks are now hung to dry in a dog-free zone.

and the sock on its own... i knitted it in opal handpainted sock yarn on 2.5mm bamboo dpns, & continued the zig/zag pattern on to the heel flap. i most often wear slip-on backless shoes with my handknitted socks, so i usually carry the pattern from the leg down the heel flap just for fun. the only problem i had with knitting these is the sizing - i had to size up slightly as it's a very snug fit! & i broke the point off one of my dpns, but that's not grumperina's fault.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

mail catch-up

now i'm no longer blogless, i can catch up on thanks for some of the exciting snail mail i've been getting!

first up is my most amazing knitty secret pal, who started off this SP round with the incredible gift of a skein of handmaiden 4-ply silk/cashmere... wow. i've wanted to try this yarn for ages but could never afford it, and i can't believe that someone would be generous enough to gift it to me! i'm searching for the perfect pattern before i knit this up, but i'm thinking toe-up ankle socks. (if anyone has a good toe-up pattern using this yarn please let me know!).

next is a package from bugheart, from her great monday giveaway - a little bug purse, a vintage compact with an owl picture on the front, and this tres chic vintage miss k shirt - perfect for my upcoming trip to paris (where everyone is much more glamorous than me, but i'll try to blend in as best i can!). i love bugheart's blog & try to read it every day - she's way more artistic than i could ever hope to be, and likes bugs as well - who could ask for anything more?

and last but by no means least, my long-awaited (darn that international shipping!) new knitting tote from natalie dee, with the best logo i've ever seen. and yes, i will happily knit for tattoos.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

a work in progress

so i thought i'd start off by making my knitting skills look as impressive as i possibly could by showing off my most complicated work in progress (without revealing that my other works in progress are ribbed sleeves for a sweater and more pairs of socks than i could ever possibly wear, unless i were a millipede).

the project is the most impressive susan shawl from Stahman's Shawls and Scarves , and the yarn is laceweight cashmere from hipknits, dyed for the first month of their cashmere club. it was pure luck for me that it happened to be these colours - i'd been searching for the perfect yarn to knit this shawl as a way to remember my granny, who died in 2004 & is greatly missed. i liked the idea of creating something soft & delicate, yet warm & strong & comforting, because that's how i remember her. she was a keen gardener as well as a knitter, so the leaf-like pattern of this shawl really appealed to me, and when the yarn arrived from hipknits the colours were perfect - exactly the colours i associated with my beautiful scottish granny, a sort of blue/purple/silver/gray, like the muted heather i always picked to take home with me every time we came over to visit her. of course i cast on immediately...

the first picture is lifted from the book, to show what the finished shawl will look like, it's a faroese-style shawl, which means it's shaped to sit over the shoulders. & the other picture shows the test swatch (yes, i actually swatched for this!) which gives a good illustration of the stitch pattern, as well as how far i've progressed (alas, photographing lace never gives impressive results - i'm actually about 9" into the body of the shawl, honestly!).

i've been working on it while listening to audio books, since the pattern is complex enough that i can't watch tv while i knit it (not even something as brainless as big brother, elaine!). so far i've made it through "pride & prejudice" (i think it was a good match of knit/lit) and now i'm starting a sherlock holmes mystery - classic books for a classic shawl.

yes, i've caved.

well, not being a trend-follower, i've tried not to have a blog for months... but have been tempted into it by kerrie's 30 things contest - i mean, who wouldn't want to win £30 worth of hipknits yarn?? so to start off the blog, and by way of introducing myself, here's my 30 things:
1. i can recite the entire poem "mice" by rose flyeman, but only in a yorkshire accent, since i learned it at a primary school in yorkshire when i was a child & was visiting my cousins.
2. i cannot, for the life of me, pronounce the words "poseidon" & "gibraltar" - even though i know how you're meant to say them, i just can't do it.
3. i drank vinegar as a child, because i liked the taste. not just once, either - repeatedly.
4. i constantly twirl my hair - it's a nervous tic.
5. speaking of tics, i scrunch my nose up from time to time to readjust my glasses. when i first started dating my partner, she thought i had a severe facial tic but was too polite to say anything.
6. i can't touch my toes - my hamstrings are permanently too short because i spent about a year walking on tiptoe when i was little (i don't know why).
7. people who pluck off their eyebrows & draw in new ones freak me out.
8. although i've lived in scotland for nearly 7 years now, i'm still oblivious to football to the extent that i periodically have to ask "are celtic the green ones?"
9. i can't watch any movies that are even remotely scary - i'm a total wimp.
10. but i watch "supernatural" every week & i'm really disappointed that the last one is this week!
11. i hate mispronunciations or bad grammar.
12. like kerrie, i love to eat beans & rice, although i hardly ever do it now that someone cooks my dinner nearly every night.
13. i'm allergic to alpaca.
14. i'm currently obsessed with cashmere.
15. i'm getting a spinning wheel next week!!
16. i'm secretly annoyed that it's summer because i get a sunburn within about 5 minutes of going outside.
17. i'm also turning 30, but not until next month.
18. i'll be in paris when it happens, so i can spend the day in a haze of chocolatines & wine.
19. and as if by fate/good luck, i'll be staying about a block away from what is reportedly the best yarn shop in the city!
20. i'm originally from canada.
21. it really annoys me when people ask me why i would want to live in scotland (mostly because i don't have a good answer). a canadian friend, who moved quite a lot, used to get so annoyed at people asking if she was "here for good", that she would reply, deadpan, "no, i'm here for evil".
22. i love mystery novels, especially older english ones like arthur conan doyle & agatha christie.
23. the first date i had with my now-partner, we went to see "microcosmos" - a film about bugs, and not your usual first-date fare!
24. bugs are cool, unless they have too many legs & they're crawling on me.
25. i want to learn how to drive a tractor - it seems like it would be fun.
26. i may be hindered in this by my complete inability to drive anything other than an automatic shift - i can't drive manual to save my life.
27. my (automatic!) car is called mortimer, because of this kid's book - when i got him, he wasn't in great shape, and he said "cling, clang, rattle bing bang".
28. if i had to pick only one kind of chocolate, i'd choose reeses peanut butter cups.
29. there's no way i could ever pick only one kind of chocolate.
30. i secretly didn't think i could make it to 30 things!!
well, that's it for now...