i knit because i can ...

Tuesday, 28 October 2008


Our trip to the National Arboretum was so full of beautiful things, that I think I'll just show a selection, and people may pick their own three (and if you let me know, I'll publish a top 3):

Moreover, our hotel, Calcot Manor, had a wonderful spa, and darling Peter had booked a package which gave me a free treatment! Lovely guy, eh? So on Monday morning after a marvellous breakfast - kippers, which I never have at home because you eat them for one meal, but the smell lives with you for one week - and a fabulous facial, off to wander through the most amazing trees, breathing in the pure Cotswold air - bliss.
On the way home we stopped at the lovely town of Tetbury for tea and cakes, and visited the Highgrove shop, where I bought a bar of the most delicious smelling rose soap. Then home in time for an evening's TV watching and knitting!
And for knitters amongst you, how about these? My wonderful new bunny rabbit sock blockers. Can't wait to knit some socks to try them out. :)

To Cambridge tomorrow. The Cambridge Camera Club is honouring my brother-in-law, a keen photographer and erstwhile member, who died just before Christmas last year, by including some of his work in their annual show. Will report back on Thursday.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

another week's gone by ...

Whew! where does the time go? I guess it's true, it flies when you're having fun. And Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday were fun; exhausting, but fun. You may remember, I went off to look after granddaughter Ellie, suffering from chickenpox, so that mamma might return to work. Well, Ellie is delightful, even when ill. Now I know the last bit is bias on my part, but any undelightfulness was purely down to her feeling unwell or itchy - and I can relate to that, can't you? ;) So I did my best to counteract the unwellness, and we did stories, songs, play and little walks to feed the ducks. I trust and hope that chickenpox are not transferable to ducks, after all, they're not chickens, are they? And what about swans? On Wednesday there was a fine pair of swans, who left the ducks in no doubt who came first in the pecking order for stale bread. In fact they were so bold, I was a little worried about their pecking Ellie, who of course was fearless. But no harm done. And when the bread ran out, so did the swans, or rather, they sailed majestically and rather snootily on.
By Tuesday Ellie was well on the mend, and by Wednesday her spots had all scabbed, so I adjudged her no longer infectious and took her out out on the town. She was full of life and fun, "I'm no poser, but ..." viz.:

So today Ellie counts as my first beautiful thing!

My second is my knitting. I have finished the back of the Rowan Top:

I am really pleased with how this is looking. Half way up the front now, so am hoping to be wearing this very soon.

And my swatch for the Princess is finished too. The swatch was done in the same yarn I shall be using, i.e., gossamer CashSilk, although the colour here is white, and I shall be using viola. It knits up easily, at least on the bamboo needles, 2 mm, I am using, although it is quite slippy, so one does have to be careful. However, it blocks well, and shows up the patterns beautifully, and retains the benefit of both components, the warmth and softness of the cashmere AND the lustre of the silk:

This means that I can now start on the real thing. Because I want a square shawl, and because I can knit superfast on straight needles but not on circulars, I am changing its construction. However, I do not like sewing shawl pieces together, so I have devised a way of building it up, without using a circular needle OR sewing. I am going to start with enough points for one side, when. leaving the stitches on a pin, I shall knit that side up. Then I shall continue with the points for the second side, still attached to the first section. When I start to knit up the second side, I shall join it to the first side as I knit. The same thing for the third and fourth side, except that on the fourth side I shall be joining both sides, one to the third, and one to the first, grafting the edging. Finally, I shall knit in the centre using the same method as on the original shawl, because I also want the diagonal centre. Whew! Well, it's not as complicated as it sounds, so if you're not sure what's going on, watch this space!?!?;)

And my third beautiful thing? These wonderful books of Barbara Walker, which I arrived from Schoolhouse Press while I was away. Enough there to be going on with, that's for sure!! ;)

Off tomorrow to Westonbirt Arboretum for two days. Apparently the leaves are wonderful this year - probably because of the odd summer we have had, so you see there are compensations. It may not be New England, but it puts on a pretty good show. We intend to wander round soaking up its beauty, which will undoubtedly form part of my next post, together with pix. Have a fabulous w/e, especially the extra hour in bed tomorrow a.m. I guess that really does signal the end of whatever summer we have had, but that means we can start looking forward to the next one!! ;)

Sunday, 19 October 2008

3 more beautiful things ...

no pix, cos away from home, busy helping with grandchildren. Poor Ellie has major chickenpox, and probably wouldn't want her spots publishing. I am on a brief trip to my own home before returning to her home to look after her for three days, so her mum can go back to work! She is lovely to look after, even if she is a bit cranky with the itching at times. Although she is still less than 2 years and four months, she has become capable of serious and sustained conversations, and quite able to make herself understood and her wishes known. And she loves stories, so we read a lot.

The knitting makes progress, but it's only the same old stuff, so scarcely merits picture updates. I shall post when I get the back of the top finished and/or my Princess Swatch, which is about three quarters finished.

So in the meantime, 3 more beautiful things:
1) Ellie's conversations.
2) The geraniums which I see from my study window still blooming on people's balconies.
3) The continuing good weather, sunshine and warmth - even if it is intermittent, it is welcome.

Oh, and my sock blockers came, with lovely rabbits on them. Wonderful. Picture next time, I promise! If your interested I bought them here.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

three beautiful things ...

At the weekend I read an article on surviving the stress of the financial panic which recommended, effectively, counting your blessings. It chimed with a decision I had already taken to write less about my sufferings, real or imagined, in my journal, and more about things that were good/had gone right/gave me pleasure, etc. The article cited a blog, three beautiful things, which I recommend. It definitely shows the way.

As I have no more knitting to show at present, I will simply cite 'three beautiful things'. In fact, I think I'll make this a habit, so here goes for the first time:

1. My grandchildren - always!
2. The lovely yellows of the horsechestnut foliage as it ages and dies.
3. The ever-changing clouds I see from my study window as I type.

Off to mind some grandchildren. May not be back before Sunday, so have a wonderful w/e, whoever, wherever you are! :)

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

climbing slowly ...

I think I may have turned a corner! I find myself able - indeed wanting - to do more and more. The knitting is still my therapy of choice, but I have repotted plants, tidying the balcony of dead leaves and detritus, and galvanised myself sufficiently to go to the library and find some amusing books. Instead of feeling totally destroyed by the financial mayhem reported on the news, I find myself amused in a slightly cynical, world-weary sort of way. Gradually I am gaining confidence that my children have the strength to deal with the problems it may cause them. For me, a result!
The knitting too is a definite result. I am halfway up the back of the Rowan Tank Top:

Here in close-up:

And here is the Princess swatch. It's not blocked, because it's still on the needle. But I can report that I am loving the knitting of it, and can't wait to tackle the real thing!

Clearly Voltaire was right: il faut cultiver son jardin!

Thursday, 9 October 2008

struggling ... but still here

Things not going too well at the moment. Making some progress on swatching for my Princess, and also on the Rowan top. From time to time swatching from Barbara Walker Treasury just to see how the stitches work. Trying not to let things get on top of me. Am I the only one who is thoroughly depressed by the chaos in the financial world? And even more by the knowledge that much of it has been brought about by greed and selfishness. I fear for my children trying to raise my grandchildren in a world that cares nothing for anything except money. Or at least that's how it seems to me right now. So I try to keep my mind fixed on small pleasures like this:
I know there are those out there who might think this is just a cone of yarn, but it's not! It's a Princess in embryo - isn't she beautiful, already?

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

my goodness, how time flies when you're having fun ...

Spent a great deal of last week on the road, first visiting and helping look after grandson Luke. After that I went on to granddaughter Ellie, where I was privileged to visit her nursery on 'Grandparents' Open Day', a splendid notion which others could copy. She was as delighted to see me as I was her, rushing into my arms. I got a full tour indoors and out, including the 'Secret Garden', and shared tea. Altogether lovely. After that we went together to her home, and had tea with mum and dad.

The w/e was then spent going to Sheffield for a family 60th birthday dinner on Saturday night. The birthday boy, my sister's boyfriend and a chef and trainer of chefs, celebrated in a local restaurant whose chefs were his former pupils - no pressure then! It was an excellent meal, and occasion, and we all had lots of fun, in spite of the pouring rain outside. That continued into Sunday, but cleared enough for me to show Peter some of the lovely countryside beloved of my youth in the Peak District National Park. Didn't get any photos, but click on the link if you're interested. It is a most beautiful part of the world. At school we had a rambling club and would walk many weekends, and I went a lot with my parents too. We also ate Bakewell Tart in Bakewell before heading for home.

Anyway, sharing the driving at the weekend meant I was finally able to finish my Mystery Shawlalong, Etain, from Goddess Knits. This was on my conscience, because it was started a long time ago, and then put to one side. Now it is finished, I think I shall give it to my eldest daughter for Christmas. This is what it looked like on the needles, a crumpled heap:

Here it is before blocking:
After blocking (I used wires from Heirloom Knitting and T-pins.) It jumped all over the place, because I don't really have the space to block anything this large and this shape! ;) As you can see; it is spread across my bed, which is c. 6'6" by 5'3":

Lastly, a couple of detail shots:

I shan't do any more Mystery projects, as there are things I like and things I don't like so much about this shawl, viz:

Things I like: the yarn is lovely and I have learnt a lot of new things about how the stitches behave.

Things I don't like: the colours are a bit brash for my taste - I went along with the suggestion, because sight unseen I didn't know what else to do. Nor would I necessarily have used the stitches in that way, and I would certainly have made the colour band widths different. But all in all, I like it, and am glad to have knitted it. And I'm pretty certain my eldest daughter will like it too.

And saving the best until last: my viola Gossamer CashSilk for my Princess is winging its way to me as I write. I shall be interspersing this with a Rowan top, as I know that I shan't be able to take the Princess everywhere with me - although I'll have a good try! The top is Cabled Tank Top from Rowan Studio, Issue 10, using 7 balls of Rowan Cotton Glace in dawn grey - from my stash! That makes me feel awfully virtuous, which is just as well, because the CashSilk is costing a queen's ransom. But then, ain't I the queen! ;)