Monday, October 27, 2008


I guess this picture says a thousand words on the subject. I think we're finally getting our act together, though. F starts nursery tomorrow. Five mornings a week! Free! And only a ten-minute walk. For the very first time I fairly skipped to the computer to pay my Council Tax bill when it came. Thank you, Edinburgh City Council.

Knitting has been remarkably absent recently, although my fingers are definitely getting a bit itchy. I only rarely knit with chunky yarn, but when faced with the reality of the head-on wind along North Bridge, my mind strays to thick wool scarves. Hence this:

It's Manos Del Uruguay, and it's the simplest drop-stitch pattern that I was able to hold in my mind through those awful first sleepless/sleepy days and nights.

I've discovered that it's a new challenge to photograph in the flat - there's not much natural light, but how can I really complain when we have such an inspiring view of the castle from the bedroom.

I love how it looms over us. We've joined Historic Scotland, so we can nip up the hill any time we like to visit it.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dear TSA Workers and Baggage Handlers,

I know you have a tough job and aren't paid very much, but I'd like to implore you to please not steal anything from my luggage tomorrow. I know that the last time I traveled, my half-used body lotion, mobile phone charger and perfume were too much of a temptation, but this time please resist. I'm going so far as to say, pretty please don't do anything to my Knitpicks needle set, the Gnarled Oakwoods stole or any of the half-finished knitting in my bags. If I were to find any of these things missing, it might turn nasty.



P.S. Thankyou, Jean and Helen, I would love to meet over a cup of tea - you both know so much about so many things I'm sure the conversation would be animated and fun! I'm going to be without the computer for a couple of weeks, but if the offer still stands when I get back on-line, I'll be in touch.

Monday, September 22, 2008

More knitting

Here are (some of) the things I've been working on the in past couple of weeks.

This is my version of the Twisted Tree pullover. I'm knitting it for F. For some reason, this has become a long plod. I've finished the body, and have nearly finished one of the arms, but I seem to have stopped dead. The sleeve has taken forever - something you wouldn't normally associate with a jumper for a four year old. Perhaps it's the yarn - it very grey and dreich, and just a little depressing. Still, I'm intending to finish this before we go, so I'll grit my teeth and push on.

This is the Classic Child's pinafore (Ravelry link) from A Gathering of Lace. The yarn is Knitpicks cotlin - my first time using it, and if I wasn't leaving their stomping ground it wouldn't be my last. I'm surprised to see only one project on Ravelry - it's easy, quick. Perhaps I'm old-fashioned when it comes to children's wear, but I really like it. It was my first time doing double knitting, and I enjoyed it. I think the cleverness of slipping stitches and knitting two sides at once appeals to me. I only have to knit the straps, but they're double knitting too, so you effectively knit double the amount of stitches for the same length. I'm sure I'll get to it one night this week.

The weekend was spent in a blur of saying goodbye to people and places. Most difficult was our last trip to the zoo. I often forget that a small child's cognitive make-up is so, so, different from an adult's. As we were leaving, F said, "Bye-bye zoo, we'll see you next week", despite our best efforts to work with him on the whole 'moving thing'. He's trying really hard to wrap his head around our move, but I think we're fighting a losing battle with his developing ability to form and remember abstract concepts. It made me a bit sad, though, because I can't help thinking that he's going to feel very disappointed when he finally gets that we're going and not coming back.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Phew! week left here. Lots of strange contradictory emotions about it all. Being honest, I'm not going to miss San Diego much - there's nothing particularly wrong with the place, it's just not my cup of tea. Too conservative, too suburban, too deserty. It's a nice place for a holiday, or perhaps to be stationed in the military, but not really for me.

I'm glad we lived in Altadena for a couple of years first. I loved being there. Our house was at the very bottom of the San Gabriel mountains, at the very end of Lake Avenue. It felt like we were part of the town, but could escape into the wild whenever we liked. It really was wild, too. A mountain lion came to visit our neighbourhood once. All we had to do was cross the road to get up into high, beautiful land.

Of course, that was before I'd lived through a serious fire season. I'm not sure how much peace of mind I'd have now.

Anyway, knitting has continued amidst the packing.

Someone loves the yarn stash more than me!

I decided on Monday that I needed a practical scarf - easy care, not too long, but kind of interesting. So I decided on an Adamas Shawl. I have history with this. I bought it from Knitpicks when I first started knitting, and it was one of the first things I ever knit. I remember pouring over the charts like they were some ancient grimoire. It took me weeks to struggle through, and in the end I still managed to screw up one of the pattern repeats because I blatantly didn't have a clue what I was doing.

Fast forward to last Monday night. I cast on using Ultra Alpaca Fine which I had hanging around. I didn't knit on Tuesday because I wasn't feeling well, but I still managed to cast off last night. That's four nights' work! To be fair, I only did 10 pattern repeats because I wanted it a manageable size, but still I impressed myself with the learning curve I must have undertaken in the intervening four years since my first attempt.

It might not be completely perfect, but it's perfect for me!

I've also got another two projects on the go - a jumper for F, and a dress for A. I want to see how much I can get done today on them both before I post photos.

I'm trying to get all the internet access I can at the moment. I'm not taking the laptop back with me (I figured 2 kids, a pushchair, 2 (large) carry-on bags and three planes might put me right at the edge, so taking a computer in and out a bag at security might push me over).R is coming back in October, so he'll bring it then.

Our plans have changed a bit - he's returning to stay in the US until February to finish a project. Needless to say, my fantasies of leisurely afternoons perusing the yarn in K1 have been dashed by my temporary single-parent status. Never mind, I can use up all the stash that A loves so much.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

We're Coming Home...

...on the 29th Sept, if Orbitz manages to confirm our reservation. R is going to stay for an extra week or two to finish things up here. A's passport is beautiful - I very nearly kissed the UPS guy when he brought it this morning.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Here's another thing I knitted up quickly last week. It's just a very simple felted bag to use up scraps of wool I had lying around. My sister really likes knitted bags, so this one is for her. Enjoy, L, if you're not careful you might get one for your birthday!

Our fire from the other day thankfully just fizzled out under the attack of the zealous firefighters. I certainly don't want to live through a repeat of the fires from last October.

Still no passport for A. The embassy have been exceedingly vague about the reasons why. It should be a very easy case: first UK passport, both parents born in the UK with original supporting documents. The website said it should take four weeks. It's now been three months exactly. We should be well into the final stages of preparation to leave, and instead we have no idea now when we'll be back in Edinburgh. The collapse of Zoom airlines has also complicated things, with direct flights even harder and more expensive than they were before. Moan, moan, moan...I get bored of the broken record too sometimes!

Sunday, August 31, 2008


Gnarled Oakwoods is done! This ended up feeling like a bit of a marathon, but an enjoyable one. The vine pattern in the middle of the stole never quite managed to make sense to me, so I had to invoke a reasonable amount of concentration to execute it. This meant that I didn't work on it nearly as often or as long as I could have.

I can't recommend this enough. Seriously. The pdf I bought from the Twist Collective is fab. As an extra special bonus, there are no mistakes in the charts, so no worries about getting into the weeds without a map! Kind of sad to be commenting on the fact there's nothing wrong with a pattern, but, hey, I struggled through the technical abomination that was the Spicy Fitted Tee from Fitted Knits, so I know all about errata.


Still no passport for A, but fate has proven that's not necessarily a bad thing. Chances are, we'd have booked tickets on this
airline, even though I had my suspicions they were a bit dodgy - their tickets were half the price of any others. So, we dodged a bullet on that one.

To return to my adventuring obsession mentioned in a few posts back, I discovered this documentary online about Reinhold Messner. I want to go the the Dolomites. And I want to live in a castle as well. I draw the line at climbing Everest without oxygen, though. In fact, I'm so unfit I'd probably have to have oxygen to get me to the top of a flight of stairs!

On the same website I also saw another documentary about Timothy Treadwell, the bear man of a few posts back. Gave me another, perhaps more pragmatic and less sympathetic view of his life. Snagfilm is a really good resource for little things like that. We don't have cable, so we watch a lot of online content - only from legit sites, I have a thing about the dodgy ones. Ive been reading that many companies are going to meter bandwidth usage, with some limits being set as low as 2G per month. Seems like we may end up with a big broadband bill in our future.

Edited to add: In yet more other news, we now have a fire burning in the canyon at the back of us. Joy! Fires: yet another reason to worry about the future of Southern California. It's kind of windy today, and we've not had rain in recent history, so the firefighters are on it with much gusto. Doesn't seem like it'll be too troublesome, but I'm not making any predictions after last year's fires.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Plodding Onwards

Well, knitting continues - one of the constants in life, I'm finding. There might be chaos everywhere, but I can still knit and purl myself into something resembling serenity.

I've finally finished the first half of Gnarled Oakwoods.

That's a close-up of the transition between the two main patterns. It's really pretty, but it's not really mindless knitting.

In other news - there is no news. Still no passport for A, so no firm plans to move yet. This is getting old.

Meanwhile, we're starting to say goodbye to the people we've got to know here. I had a farewell trip to the theatre last weekend with my book group. We've been getting together to discuss books that have been banned, or that people have attempted to have banned. It's been very interesting and has made me read things I would never have picked up before.

We went to see a version of a book that we read a few months ago. Big River is a musical (not my usual cup of tea), with roots in our city, so we thought it quite fitting. What made it interesting was that it was a youth company that were putting it on. Wow, they were so professional, although I suppose that's to be expected in Southern California.

I've just invested in a huge pile of knitting books and patterns to bring back to the UK. A thread on Ravelry clued me into the fact that the Barbara Walker stitch dictionaries might be harder/more expensive to come by in the UK. I get them out of the library all the time, so I decided to fork out for a full set from the Schoolhouse Press. Also, rather ambitiously, I've decided to put my mind to knitting something I've admired for years, Spider Queen. I can see it hanging from my wall in black. I'm not deluding myself; this is a project that will take a very long time, and a very large amount of effort. We'll see how daunted I feel when the chart arrives in the mail.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


I can't stop, I'm compelled to knit. I've finally found a project that holds my attention for more than 2 rows. It's Gnarled Oakwoods from the Twist Collective. I'm really enjoying this. I've promised myself that I'll finish the first half of this (it's grafted together), and then I'll revisit Ellis.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Anxiety Explosion

Before I begin the catalogue of my woes, Helen, I'm reading The Sea, The Sea right now. I tried to get Under The Net from the library, but, alas they don't have a copy.

The title says it all, really. Various circumstances are conspiring to make our exit from the US as difficult as possible, and as a result my anxiety levels are through the roof right now. The worst difficulties are with A's UK passport - her US one was no hassle, it arrived 6 days after sending off for it. She still doesn't have her British one. This has all sorts of knock-on effects; we can't book tickets, R can't hand in his notice at work, we can't give notice on our house, we can't arrange definite dates for the handover of our Edinburgh flat etc etc.

The most visible result of this turn of events is that I've retreated into that wonderful psychological state, denial. I could bore you with all the details of how I'm managing to pretend I'm not going to have to organise a trans-continent-trans-Atlantic move within the next 6-8 weeks. Instead, I'll stick to knitting, because even that seems to be affected by my frame of mind.

Exhibit A:

This is Ellis from Norah Gaughan 2. It is only in need of the collar and finishing. It's made using Knitpicks ( oh, how I will miss thee, why don't you ship internationally?) Shine worsted in ebony. I'm not going to mince my words - the charts that made up the peplum for this sucked my will to live. 88 rows of 5 charts. Including row 49 which had 2 mistakes in it, and which took me about 3 years to figure out. I thought it was going to be a quick little mindless knit, but I'm afraid it's never going to fit together in the final finishing. Despite my moaning, I thought this looked really good in the picture in the pamphlet. I pictured myself pottering around the house in my new waistcoat deheading the geraniums, just like the model. Unfortunately, I look nothing like the model, and I've never even owned a waistcoat before. After all this procrastinating about finishing it, I hope I wear it at least once.

Exhibit B:

This is a scarf using my own very overspun handspun. The pattern is from Victorian Lace Today. I can't quite remember the name of the pattern, but it's one of the easy lace scarfs.

Exhibit C:

This is going to be a Print O The Wave Stole by Eunny Jang from her old website. The way the PDF chart is designed has not taken my extreme stage of sleep deprivation into account, so my brain is finding it difficult to see the correct length of the pattern repeat. I think I'm giving this one up for now.

Exhibit D:

I promise, this is the last one for the moment. In real life, there are another two projects also cast-on, but I'm too ashamed to fully publicise the fact. This is going to be Gnarled Oakwoods from the newly minted Twist Collective. There were several patterns there that made me stop, think, and evaluate whether I had time to knit them. It's nice to see different models of business in action too.

So there we have it. I think the cast-on fever I have neatly sums up my attention span at the moment. Time to focus and take deep breaths.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Iris and Grizzly Man: Two Films That Seem Completely Unconnected, But Which Become Melded As One In My Fevered Psyche

Yes, it appears that all the deep thinking I conduct while driving to the YMCA for F's swimming lessons with the radio on full blast has finally borne fruit. I knew there was something that Iris and Grizzly Man had in common, I just couldn't put my finger on it.

Before I discuss my astonishing insight (ahem), it must be said that on the surface it would appear that a documentary about an eccentric bear activist in Alaska would have absolutely no shared territory with a melodrama about Iris Murdoch and Alzheimer's. Before watching both films, I had no knowledge of either of the subjects.

I've never read a Murdoch novel, in fact, I've rather strenuously avoided them on the basis of the prejudice I have against books that come from that milieu - there's something about stories of the privileged Oxbridge 1950s set that makes me shiver with distaste. (This comes from someone who married a Cambridge graduate. I love contemporary Cambridge. However, I've only ever been to Oxford via Inspector Morse). Perhaps one day I'll get over it, as I'm sure I'm missing a lot of really fabulous material.

Likewise, I've never been to Alaska, despite my rather extensive history of armchair mountaineering. I love the vicarious thrill of the exploits of people who risk life and limb on their adventuring; I've just finished the tale of Beck Weathers survival on Everest, and in a particularly exhilarating passage he describes his awful experiences on Denali. My experience with bears in the wild is confined to bursting into tears of terror while camping in Yosemite because I could hear people - very far away - trying to scare away a black bear (the grizzly's common, and by all accounts, less fierce, relative) from their cooler.

As I watched Dame Judi Dench portray Iris Murdoch "sailing into darkness", I was more drawn to the story of John Bayley, her husband. The film was based on a book he wrote, before Murdoch was even dead. Although the film is so exclusively about their relationship other characters are all but incidental, I felt he was more of a void than a real flesh and blood person. In fact, I was so unsettled, that I sought his book, Elegy For Iris. The film portrayed him as a kind of fumbling, bumbling, absent-minded academic; a peripheral satellite to the wondrous Iris. The only hint of a real personality was when he was shown entering the waves of Southwold fully clothed complete with a vest, snorkel and face-mask; eccentric and a bit potty. I felt cheated. It seemed as if the film-makers needed to dehumanize him in order to make his wife shine all the brighter. I think this sort of characterisation in a film about a disease that often entails the stripping away of the self was rather odd.

It was only because I felt that he had be wronged in some way, that I looked into the story more deeply. His book (part of a trilogy, which was somewhat controversial for various reasons)reveals him to be a fascinating, successful person - such a contrast to the way he was portrayed on film. Apparently, he approved of his portrayal on film, which made it seem even stranger to me. Here was someone who made me read his book and hang on every word, yet he was pleased to be a less than complete character in a film. Looking at his response to the film in the NYT article, I found a clue as to how this could be so. He talks about the film as being a work of "art". Perhaps when one sees oneself on screen, the only way to appreciate it is if it's treated as some kind of dynamic mirror, truly a moving image with no substance.

On to Timothy Treadwell, the Grizzly Man. He was a man who credited encounters in the wild with grizzly bears as his salvation from a life of spiraling drug abuse. He became a media figure in his crusade to protect the grizzlies of Alaska from human harm. He survived thirteen summers in the wilderness before dying with his girlfriend in a bear attack.

Werner Herzog uses Treadwell's own video footage to admire his skills as a film-maker, and tell his story. However, there is a strange part of the video where Herzog narrates that some of the best footage was unintentional; when the camera keeps rolling and Treadwell ceases his breathless, almost unhinged narration. To praise Treadwell's skills, then to single out moments that he did not intend to be seen as particularly skillful seems like a back-handed compliment at best.

My fascination wasn't with the factual ins and outs of the story. What interested me was the obvious gap between Treadwell's public 'face' which was that of a rather amateurish, paranoid film-maker, and his quite remarkable private skill of living in grizzly territory. If I were to attempt to camp out in bear country in the same kind of circumstances as he lived in, I would with absolute certainty come to a horrible end very, very quickly. I wonder how he would have felt about these incongruencies, or whether he had enough self-awareness to recognise them.

His films show someone earnest, who anthropomorphises the bears and seems to worry about their safety as if they were his children. He appears to talk to the camera in such a markedly unselfconscious way, that I wonder whether he would have wanted this footage to be broadcast or whether he was treating his camera as an extension of his psyche.

We all have private selves and public selves which reveal themselves in various contexts. Different people are comfortable with different degrees of overlap and awareness of the differences. Some people are happy to lay all things bare in writing, and to accept it when they are transformed by others into a hollow image, a mask. If I had written Bayley's book, and seen it turned into the film Iris, I would have been furious - perhaps because I feel my public self and private self are not so different, and to see them so defiled would have destroyed me. I also wonder how Timothy Treadwell would react to his public self as it is now. I wonder if he would revel in his fame (or infamy) or whether it would horrify him to have been turned into an almost-caricature; the naturalist consumed by nature. I think that's why I could never be a writer or artist - that and the extreme lack of any talent.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, whom I am not in fact conducting is it; my rambling, incoherent thoughts on two films I saw recently. And that is why I stick to knitting.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Weekend update

So this is what I did with my free time at the weekend. I finally finished this albatross that has been lurking around waiting for a zip forever.

This is the Olive Branch Hoodie. I finished its acres of stocking stitch a few weeks ago, but was intimidated by the prospect of hand-sewing a zip in. Much to my surprise, I found the zip-fitting not too taxing. Unfortunately, I made the damn thing too wide. It's quite short, so it should be closer fitting, and it just looks odd. So it is with regret that it gets donated to charity. And will no doubt become felted the first time the buyer washes it.

This is my other finished object from the weekend. It's much more satisfying.

This is Anais from Norah Gaughan Vol 1 for Berrocco. I found this quick and fun to knit, although if I had to do it again, I'd knit the smallest size (I appear to be having a bit of body dysmorphia after having A, as I seem to think I'm still getting the pregnancy weight off. If it's the same as when I had F, as soon as I stop breastfeeding her I'll put on at least 10 pounds, and then I'll be the size I think I am now.)

This is my favourite part. The insert is knitted separately, then sewn in. I was initially skeptical that I could do it neatly enough, but I think it looks more complicated than it really is.

I also managed to watch a film, by myself, with no interruptions. I'm now the last person on earth to have seen Iris. I think that it's worthy of a blog post for itself later in the week. Then in the evening, R and I watched Grizzly Man, which is also worthy of a post by itself when my brain hasn't been macerated by the grind of daily life.

On that note, when I dropped F off at nursery school this morning, or rather when I attempted to drop him off, I was told that his class had been canceled for the session (10 weeks). No reason given. Just, "It's not on any more, bye". Great. Poor F. We'll be going home before the next session starts, so he won't get a chance to say goodbye to his friends. It's also too late to try and enroll him in any other preschool programme (not to mention expensive - it runs at about $30-60 for each 3 hour block). He only attended 2 mornings a week, but he really liked it. Plus, I worry about him being immersed in the rough and tumble of the Scottish education system. Theoretically, he could go into Primary 1 when we return, but having no real preschool experience, and not being naturally drawn to the more academic side of learning (if it's not a car or lego, he's not interested), we were planning on keeping him out this academic year - thankfully possible because of his January birthday. I'm hoping we can cobble-together some sort of education for him when we go back, I just wasn't expecting to have to scramble to find something for him while we were still here.

Enough moaning. I'm going off to attempt my new project. Details to follow.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


What better way to manage the heat than to make the baby wear the hottest hat in the world made from (very bulky) handspun. This kid has a serious headwear fetish. It started when she put her toy hippo on her head by mistake one day, and she caught herself in the mirror and thought it was the funniest thing in the world. Now, everything goes on her head, to her great delight.

And now some proof that my spinning is getting better. This is on my new spindle from
Spinsanity. It's lovely and small, 0.8 oz. It seems obvious to me now that it's easier to spin finer yarn on a lighter spindle. I've got about 100yds of 2-ply kind of lace weight. I'm very taken with my new book Victorian Lace Today. I realise I'm very behind the curve on this one, but there are a few projects that have caught my eye.

I'm luxuriating an a morning without the children. R heard my plea for peace and quiet yesterday, so he's disappeared for a few hours with them. It's giving me time to catch up on a few little projects that have been languishing in the nearly finished pile. I'm going to crack on and see how it goes. i may update later.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My Guilty Little (Not really) Secret

So a few weeks ago, I went over to the dark side and bought myself a beginning spindle kit from Ashford. I've been taking my time teaching my hands what to do, and I think I'm beginning to get the hang of it. A while ago I managed to spin my first kind of usable yarn, so I decided to make this:

It's a little scarf, with a very simple stitch pattern, but I feel so proud of it. I was so taken with it, that I immediately began another project with some other stuff I managed to crank out. This was older, and therefore much more uneven (and trust me, the scarf yarn is still pretty thick and thin), but it was the first two-ply I ever made. It going to be the warmest hat in the world for A. I don't know if I even have enough to finish, but it's fun to try. Photos will come later, if I manage to finish it today.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Heart Attack

If you want to cause yourself a heart-stopping moment, just start messing with the html of your blog without any clue (and I mean, no idea at all) about what you are doing. Unfortunately, I think I've managed to somehow absorb my husband's hacker mentality, without the technical skills. I have a feeling I'll discover that all those bits of code I deleted were actually quite useful.

Friday, July 4, 2008

New projects

I'm writing this to the dulcet tones of fireworks booming overhead. Unsurprising, really, considering it's the 4th of July. R has taken F out to the High School to see them. I'm staying behind with a (hopefully) sleeping A.

I thought I'd update on some new projects.

Firstly, there's the ongoing project, Moving: The International Edition. It looks like we're going home in September, as our tenants will be leaving then. We've been organised enough to get A her American passport, and we're currently waiting on her UK one. Flights are extortionate. Shipping is extortionate. As we can't do anything about the price of flights, we're having to cut back on shipping costs. Which of course means that we're having to dispose of the vast majority of our things again. Last time was very traumatic - I was immediately post-partum and we got rid of a lot of things I wish we had found a way to keep. This time I'm ahead of the game, because I didn't buy too many things while we were here with the intention of keeping them. Still, it's very unsettling to go through the whole rigmarole again. We start in earnest this weekend when the Great Cleansing of the Garage begins. Did I mention that we're moving from a three-bedroomed detached house with garden to a one-bedroomed flat above a pub and a (not quite legit) massage parlour? With two adults and two kids.

Happier things. This is a quickie. I took up the drop spindle a few weeks ago. I finally managed to produce some yarn I thought I could do something with. So I'm starting a scarf.

It doesn't look like much now, but hopefully, it'll get better with length and blocking.

And then there's the new blanket, which is galloping along.

R and F have just returned. My brave and fearless four-year old from the County Fair has morphed back into his more timid incarnation. The fireworks were too loud for him, and he wanted to come home. He wouldn't even come outside and watch from our front garden (which is two miles away). God help him when we're back in Edinburgh - we live right at the bottom of the Castle and the fireworks..well... lets just say we get a grand view of them, but it's a bit noisy!

County Fair

R had a bonus day off work yesterday (he really has a lovely employer), so we decided to make a trip to the County Fair. You Americans are very lucky to have such a venerable institution. I don't think I can adequately describe such an event to an outsider, because there really is no frame of reference for the rest of the world. Of course, I've only ever been to the LA and SD County Fairs, so I may not be speaking of the experience for the whole of America, but wow, they're really something special.

If I describe the day, it'll give an idea of the full scope of the festivities.

Firstly, there was the traditional line of traffic waiting to get into the truly vast parking. After our escapades last year (don't ask, but it involved an emergency trip to the hospital) we decided to park close by. That was our first nine dollars spent. We got there at lunchtime, so our first stop was the enormous food section. F got a hot dog, R and I got roast beef sandwiches. Then it was off to the animal section via the Monster Trucks for F. Wait a minute, I skipped an important part of the day when this happened

F got a ribbon for his participation in the squash toss - chucking a crookneck squash into a bucket in front of an audience.

On the way to the Monster Trucks and animals, I went to see some alpacas from a farm in Ramona. There was nobody there to ask anything of, so, well, I saw some alpacas and that was that. The animal barn was packed, so I waited outside with the pushchair while R took F and A around to look at the cows. Poor little A was a bit unimpressed with them, but the gigantic fans in the ceiling of the barn did it for her. We backtracked a bit to let A see some kitties that were up for adoption (she adores soft fluffy animals).

Then it was off to the kiddie fun fair. F did us proud - the little daredevil- as he threw himself onto some pretty scary rides. After that it was time for a quick snack of onion rings (battered of course). We made a quick trip to the Kids Best of Show tent. Inside was a truly amazing array of work that kids throughout the county had done - art, projects, models, collections. Really impressive. We had a quick stop for F to bounce around on some inflatable toys, then it was on to the next thing.

We went for a trip around the fine art section. Hmmm. Again, an impressive collection of work, some of it more impressive than others. Mostly it was just kind of stressful trying to keep F from destroying bits and pieces of sculpture, gourds, that sort of thing.

By this time we were definitely being moved by the Fair spirit. It was time for dinner. A got fruit from the one and only fruit stand (although it was smothered in syrup). I got deep fried battered zucchini (!), F and R got corn dogs. The zucchini transported me back to Scottish chippies, although I'm not sure the Scots would think of wasting good batter on actual vegetables. I ate only about a quarter of my portion, and believe me, that was enough.

It was getting dark, so we went for a walk through the grown-up fun fair.There were flashing lights, loud noises, and our own little four-year old desperately trying to persuade us that he was big enough to go on the gigantic vertical drop ride, or even the big wheel, but it was no use, he was too small.

On the way outside, we passed hundreds of people just arriving for the big concert that evening, but our two little fair-goers were exhausted and it was definitely time to go.

Oh, and these, they got third place! One and two were really nice Koigu efforts, so I felt a little ashamed. Still, now I can do entrelac, which was the purpose of the exercise, and it was nice to get a free exhibitors ticket.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


I am without doubt the stupidest person in the known universe at times. Of course, at other times I marvel at my great intelligence (hmmm...). Last night I attempted to start another hemlock ring blanket for my mother-in-law this time. It's her 60th birthday in September. Anyway, having already done one of these I felt I would be an old pro at it. Hah. For some reason, Round 14 totally threw me. I just couldn't get it to work, no matter what I did. So this morning I tried again. Same problem. It's only this afternoon that I realised I was trying to overthink the directions, and that the pattern contains instructions for something I was already doing automatically. I was trying to increase and then add extra stitches because I wasn't thinking about the pattern properly. I'm off to start (yet) again.

It really is the season of socks.

I came clean to my mum about the sock yarn scarf of the last post, and she expressed an interest in it, so off to Scotland it goes.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Kureyon sock scarf

Kureyon sock scarf
Originally uploaded by Macknitus
What a thrifty person I can be (sometimes). My mum likes short socks, so I had tons of yarn leftover from her socks. I managed to eke it out into a 6 foot long scarf that should brighten up those grey Edinburgh winter days.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Season Of Socks

There's something about the heat of summer that drives me to create lovely, woolly socks. I'm not sure why, but Ive been on a bit of a sock-roll recently.

Aren't these lovely? More Kureyon sock yarn, this time for my mum. And I had enough left over to knit a lace scarf for myself, which is blocking as we speak.

Ans then there's these lovely socks for F, using yarn bought from Knitting Iris. I love her blog, I love her yarn. F wants to wear these socks despite it being about 90 degrees outside today.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Status: hiatus

Well. That was a long break.


My mum and dad made the trek over the ocean and across the continent to see us all. We had a blast while they were here, but the kids really miss them now that they've gone.

Re-entry to Scotland

It appears our tenants may be planning to cut and run on their lease in the next few weeks. As it makes no sense for us to pay the mortgage there and our rent here when we are planning to go back so soon anyway, we've decided that I should aim to get back to the old country with the kids even if R has to stay here for a while for work. Scary biscuits.


Oh, so much knitting! Firstly, this little gem from F. I'm so proud.

Next, something I'm almost embarrassed to post. I decided that THIS was the year that I had to enter my one and only County Fair. Since I have limited knitting skills, I decided that it was the taking part rather than the winning that counted. So I decided to go for broke and learn a new technique. So I did. Entrelac socks. For some reason, I picked rather hideous colours. I apologise in advance to the poor knitting judges that were subject to this monstrosity.

They didn't win a prize, I'll never do anything entrelac again as long as I live, but I did get a free Fair ticket out of it - not factoring in the cost of the wool, obviously. Let us never speak of them again (I'm not even going to pick them up at the end of the Fair, I'm so mortified by them).

Lots more knitting to share, but right now I have dinner to pre-prepare.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Lurgy redux

In the space of eight daylight hours today, both kids were felled by some unidentified fever. F, who usually has the energy of a thousand suns, lay on the couch with heavy eyelids all afternoon. Poor A didn't know what was going on - she just screamed for 4 hours straight.

It's bedtime now, so I'm banking on a couple of hours to myself before the inevitable Parade of Sick Children throughout the night.

Just time to show one more finished object. The Spicy Fitted Tee from here.
Bad yarn choice, again, but I was knitting from the stash. Bulky acrylic yarn does nothing for me. This pattern...oh dear...I love the design, and I love many of the other patterns in this book, but the pattern was quite simply the worst I have ever tried to follow. Confusing, illogical, and pretty much unintelligible. In the end, I looked at the photos and constructed the pattern myself. However, I love the design so much (and I liked that for once the shaping was obvious enough that I could make the sweater both long enough and waist-cinching enough) that I plan on making another one. Next time, less bulky wool. The photo makes it look awful. Poor R will never make a photographer.


Well, that was a long hiatus. As the title suggests, illness descended on the household, particularly me and the little one. It really knocked us both out for a couple of weeks. Then, more pleasantly, we went on vacation to Big Bear for a week. It was lovely. Oh, how I wish we could live in a place like that. Of course, it's nice to visit and a whole other kettle of fish to live there full time.

I managed to finish some knitting, though. Firstly, the ubiquitous Hemlock Ring Blanket. It's a very belated present for my sister who turned 40 (!) in December.

Then, something for me. Coriolus socks . I enjoyed the construction of them. I made a bad, bad yarn choice though. I thought I'd try Berrocco Comfort DK. Far too splity and soft. Still, I'd redo the pattern in something more suitable, although I'm not too fond of sport-weight socks.

I have about a million different things on the needles right now, and I really need to finish some more stuff. That's all for now.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Force of Nature

So, someone in the house (me) thought that it would be a good idea if the kids learned to share a bedroom. Currently, we have 3 rooms, but I'm thinking of our move back to Scotland. Property prices there continue to be insane, so we might find ourselves in close quarters for a while. So when A began to sleep through the night, the countdown to Sharing: A New Beginning started.

It's now ten long, long, nights since we started. R and I agree that it could have been much, much worse. The problem is that either one or the other of them wake up at some horrendously early time, then that's us for the day. We've been up before 5am every morning. I hate mornings. I am also famous for the declaration that "I need at least 9 hours of sleep every night". This is hard work, but I'm determined to stick with it.

This is all a roundabout way of explaining why there are no pictures in this post. I conducted a very special photo session on the sitting-room rug on Sunday. It was to be a true confession of all my recently cast-on projects which I really mean to finish, but, well, I don't. Unfortunately, part of the deal about Sharing: A New Beginning was that F got a clip-on book light so he could read in bed while A slept. The book light takes the same rechargeable batteries as the camera. We have managed to find the book light in various positions at night after F has fallen asleep, most notably hinged around his jaw like a flip phone. As you can imagine, this is all rather hard on batteries,which invariably get transferred into the book light. Keeping F sweet on the room sharing deal easily trumps blogging. Sorry.

Still, I've done a bit of knitting. This is my new favourite sock pattern, primarily because it's somewhat mindless (apart from the heel), and it uses sport weight yarn, so it goes quickly. Both things are appreciated by my sleep-deprived brain. I'll post pics next time.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Simple Pleasures, or how Elizabeth Zimmermann could bankrupt Big Pharma when it comes to anxiolytics

Well, we had another trip to Urgent Care last night, not for F this time, but for his accident-prone father. It's a long story that involved much swearing and frustration on my part, but he's fine. It was just a soccer injury (a broken nose, nothing too dramatic), but a chain of circumstance meant that there was an ENORMOUS hassle about it. The kiddos didn't get into bed until 9.30, which led to a (rainy) day of crazy crankiness from everyone. Plus, as the resident insomniac in the family, I felt it was my duty last night to wake up at 2am. I stayed that way until everyone got up at 6.30, when I promptly fell into a deep, wonderful, yet painfully only 10 minute sleep.

Anyway, onto knitting. I've been coming to the realisation that I use knitting as a form of therapy. As anxieties increase, so does my knitting. It also seems to correspond to my drive to clean the house. At least my neuroses are productive. Thoughts of our pending international move have begun to be more intrusive, so my knitting pace has picked up.

This is my first EPS Sweater. Suitably small, I know, but I wasn't going to chance anything bigger. I made it a bit large on purpose - sweater season in SoCal is so brief that I wanted it to fit next season as well.

I love the elegance of the simple arithmetic that produces the finished garment. I love the yarn: Lamb's Pride Superwash Worsted in Rose Quartz. I'm going to make another ASAP, but a bit less plain this time. And because I had to do some maths to make the pattern, I felt much more accomplished and ordered than just plugging away at a usual pattern. So I've decided that it's official: Elizabeth Zimmermann cures my anxiety.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Hurrah for Sleep

We're getting to the point where I can (almost) confidently declare that the littlest family member is sleeping a more reasonable amount of the night. Some mornings we even get through to 6am. With this Great Leap Forward, I find that I'm feeling alternately a lot more human/craving even more sleep. The best part of all, is that R and I have decamped to the spare room, so we can read at night again. I'd forgotten how much I really love to read. Believe me, the quality of the reading material does not matter in the slightest. I've downloaded Barack Obama's book to the Kindle, but I find myself gravitating towards crappy, trashy bestsellers.

The boy F had his birthday the other week. We got him bike, and he now seems a little less like a really wee boy. It brought a motherly tear to my eye to see him take off down the garden path on his new acquisition, and it takes a lot for that to happen!

He also had his first real injury, and I was surprised it was related to plain old clumsiness, not the bike. He tripped over a rug in the sitting room and gashed his forehead. He had a couple of staples put in to close it up, and had a sore neck for a couple of days. He must have hit the table leg really hard. Anyway, he's fine now, and he even had the staples taken out today, so hopefully it'll be nothing but a bad memory soon.

Onto knitting.

I started this cardigan (Sirdar leaflet 1752 for Snuggly Baby Bamboo DK) for A just after Xmas. The pattern and the yarn were a gift from my mother for Xmas. I loved the yarn, as I seem to love all bamboo yarn. Unfortunately the pattern had to be pieced together. Seaming is not my strong point. I should have just converted it to be seamless, but I was impatient to get going on it. Suffice to say, A will not be phased by the crappy seaming, but I am. To the point that I want to try and find a seaming class to go to some time this year before we leave for the old country and the knitting hinterland.

And then for the heck of it, I made a few dishcloths.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Blogger sucked my brain

Blogger just tried to steal my blog away from me...might be time to actually think about paying to blog.

Anyway, long time, no writey. There's been no reason, just a confluence of circumstance. First, my book group was reading what can only be described as a weighty tome, which took a lot of time to get through, even if it was enjoyable. Then, my birthday present finally arrived, a Kindle, so I've been spending a lot of time downloading crappy novels and having a great time reading them. I know that the Kindle is only going to get better over time, and that it would have been better to wait until the second generation of them, but they're SOOOOO cool. I also know that there are folks who have real difficulty about the DRM issue, but it doesn't bother me so much. I'll still fork out the big bucks for the books I really want to handle and keep, and the Kindle will be for all the crap (I am a big fan of trash).

A finished object from Bernat, and I love it. It's the very first colourwork I've ever done, and I'm a bit hooked. F is a bit ungrateful about it, because "It's scratchy", but he'll wear it anyway, by God. I'm just getting geared up for the Feb installment of my sock group on Ravelry. Socks for R. In the meantime, I'm doing some toe-up socks for myself - my very first ones.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


It's been a kind of a strange day today. Last might was a complete wash-out. I've been having weird headaches that totally wipe me out, and yesterday brought one of them. I've had them since I was a little girl, usually 2 or 3 a month. I suspect they must be hormone related because I don't get them when I'm pregnant and they've only just come back after having A. The best way to describe how I feel with them is BLECH.

This morning brought what I like to call a headache hangover - no more headache, just a general feeling of malaise. It seems to have spread over the whole household. F has been acting up since yesterday morning, when we made the unwise move to having his swimming and sports lessons all on the same day. It appears his little head can't handle all that at once. R is spending the day doing his UK taxes. Yes, the poor man has the joyous task of having to submit taxes not once, but twice. We end up getting hammered on the US taxes because of our immigration situation, so it really irks when we end up owing the UK too (which we shouldn't this year, because things have been running at a slight loss over there).

It's my mum's birthday today, and when I phoned her, all my aunties, uncles and cousins were there helping her to celebrate. It made me kind of homesick, and also brought the familiar dread when I contemplate our move back to Scotland. We've been away so long, it feels like everything as changed over there, and we'll have to take our time to acclimatize again. I used to keep up with all the political ins and outs, now all I know is gleaned from the BBC headlines. To be honest, that's the least of our worries. The property boom in Scotland is still going on and I frequently wonder where we're going to end up living. Oh, and there's the small issue of me being out of the work market for four years, so how will I ever get back in? Circular worries without any conclusion.

When A wakes up from her afternoon nap I'll take the kids out on a long walk to try and blow the cobwebs away.

R has just come in and told me that the UK tax people owe us the princely sum of one pound. There you go, a little bright spot.

I have done some knitting. I've started a jumper for F's birthday at the end of the month. I'd take a picture of it, but the only person who would be interested in an expanse of green stocking stitch would be F himself. It's got a patterned yoke, though, so things should get more fun when I get that far.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Evil Socks

Bellatrix socks are finished. Details are on Ravelry. I really enjoyed using the Noro Kureyon Sock yarn. I've finally decided that, yes, I am weird because I like to use variegated yarn as a motivating tool, but I don't care.

I enjoyed the pattern. It was easy enough to do mindlessly in front of the tv, or when refereeing the kids, but mindful enough that I didn't get bored. Anyone wanting to do this should be aware that if you like well fitting socks, this probably isn't the pattern for you. Gauge is critically important, and even little variations have a big effect on fit.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Help Me

I need to stop messing around in Ravelry NOW and actually do some knitting. I'm procrastinating because I'm about to turn the heel in my sock, and I can't be bothered doing any counting. I am SO lazy.

In other news, I ventured out on Tuesday (my birthday) to see Sweeney Todd. Not sure about the Sondheim musical bit (just not my thing), but the production design was absolutely incredible. Going to the cinema during the day always adds to the experience, I find. I like the idea of entering a deep dark world, only to emerge blinking into the daylight at the end of it all.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Habit Forming

This is getting to be quite the daily diary!

Progress continues on the socks. I wonder if I'm the the only person who gets anticipatory joy when knitting yarn that changes colour. I can't wait to get to the , hmm, is chartreuse the correct term? What ever it is, it's a lovely lurid snot green, and I can't wait to get there.

Also, a bonus finished object for my mum's birthday. I must confess, I finished this months ago, but only got around to blocking it today. Her birthday is on Sunday, so I fear I've already left it too late to get to her in time. I am the BAD daughter.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

On a Roll

Well, here I am again. I'll probably never update again in 2008! Here is my Bellatrix Sock in progress. I LOVE this pattern. I'd never normally knit this kind of thing, but in weird and wonderful confluence of circumstance I found the perfect yarn. Noro Kureyon sock yarn in a colourway that just screams "Bellatrix" to me.

Howdy 2008!

Well, it's 2008, and part of my New Year's decisions (I refuse to call them resolutions) is to try and update this a bit more, as well as keeping up with Ravelry a bit better. With this in mind, I'm posting my first finished thing of 2008. A Cobblestone Sweater. In a surprising turn of events, I don't like this now that I've finished it. Perhaps it was because it was supposed to be for Xmas, but I didn't finish it (including the washing) until yesterday. Or perhaps it is the way the yoke doesn't quite fit (too puffy). I also think the yarn had something to do with it, and I say "Yay!" that it's been discontinued. Seriously, it was like knitting with scratchy cotton wool.