Saturday, December 18, 2010

The weather outside is frightful

Well, actually, not as frightful as it has been. But it's pretty cold. If you are reading in Canada or Alaska or the Midwestern US or Norway or somewhere (is anybody?) then you will probably be laughing hollowly at Britain's lack of fortitude and proper snowploughing equipment, but...

Currently we are not under a lot of snow, but everything is rather slippery, and we did have a lot in late November and the first half of December. I am almost the only person I know who managed to make it in to work all the way through this, so perhaps I don't have too much to complain about. (Actually, maybe my dad did. And Mum would have except that the college she works at was closed during the worst weather.)

Just to add to the dangers of falling over on the ice, we have had no streetlights in our road for a couple of days, which is not great when it gets dark at about 4 p.m. Though I can see that icy conditions may make the council less keen/able to get out there and fix the problem.

Struggling through the snow was made slightly more difficult by my not having any wellies. I haven't ever felt the desire for wellies since... probably the last time I was at Guide Camp, which could've been 1994 or so. But now I see the point. Unfortunately I can't find any that fit me - not even the expensive Hunter ones with extensible calf inserts - since I have average-sized feet but serious calves; I like to think it's the cycling that does it.

Ah, cycling. Yes. I haven't been out on my bike since before this weather started. Last year I kept on cycling in everything but the worst weather, but then I fell off three times on black ice and I'm really keen not to do that this year. J has kept going except on the snowiest days, but then his route to work is more along main roads. I am feeling somewhat under-exercised, which is a pity since generally the bike provides exercise that takes no time out of my day (if I didn't cycle, I'd have to spend at least as long on a bus). I shall have to think of something else. Walking gingerly over icy pavements doesn't really get the heart-rate up, or not in a good way.

Oh, moan moan moan moan moan. This is one reason I haven't posted since 23 November (really?) because all I have to say is a bit moany. Sense of perspective here! Our heating is working, and we now have boiler insurance (unlike last winter when the boiler broke in January) and the guinea pigs are fine and there are people with actual misfortunes out there. And I do now have some hiking boots, advertised as waterproof - reduced from £49.99 to £32! and in black, rather than lilac or turquoise! So if deep snow returns, I will be slightly better shod.

And I have now done considerably more Christmas shopping than I had this morning, although the house still looks resolutely unChristmassy. But I'm hoping this will change tomorrow.

I was at an educational/IT one-day conference on Tuesday and live-Tweeted it at the request of the organisers (not a special request to me personally, you understand, but to all the attendees). I now have about 200 new people who want to follow me on Twitter. I hope they won't be horribly disappointed when I revert to very infrequent tweets about my insomniac tendencies or the guinea pigs...

Oh, and Loth - I would happily knit you a Kindle cover. Any time.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Daylight has been in rather short supply up here. It's been raining for much of the past week and at the time of year when it starts to get dark in mid-afternoon, it's a bit discouraging when noon is obscured by dark clouds as well.

However, it has been sunny today. The sunniest spot in our house is the kitchen table (above). I have made a little space among the potted-up cuttings and sprouting beans and lentils to put my laptop and do some work.

We have been having an unusually social time for us. The weekend before last was my father-in-law's 60th birthday and we went down south to spend a few days with them. We usually go by train, but this time we had trouble finding tickets at a reasonable price so we borrowed my parents' car (thank you, parents) and drove. Or rather, J drove. He has never driven that far without another experienced driver in the car, but I think it was good for him - now he knows he can, if he has to. However, despite the attractions of the ducks at Tenby services, we'll be getting the train next time.

We had a lovely peaceful weekend with the family, and FIL's party went well. I finished the second sock of this pair:
Vinnland sock

They've taken me a while, mostly because the pattern wasn't that easy to memorise, but I'm really pleased with them. They're my first solid-colour socks. (My granny thinks it is silly to put this much effort into socks, and that I should knit the pattern as panels for a cardigan or something, but then I don't really wear cardigans.)

As I was off from Thursday to Monday, I had the equivalent of an entire week off work. Which was very restful.

On Saturday I had another busy day - I went up to see my brother and his girlfriend in the town where they work as doctors. It was an enjoyable trip, but I wish we could have stayed longer and maybe done something together, other than go out to lunch. And we missed my sister, who has moved to London, possibly permanently. (Oh dear! I sound like my mum. Must learn to relax and enjoy the moment.)

On the other hand, it is hard to do anything very vigorous with my granny in tow - she is 88 and although she walks OK, she doesn't go fast and she gets tired. And we could have stayed longer except that I needed to get back to go to a party with J.

This was a friend's 30th birthday and it was a lovely party - we had a meal together and then everyone went to the Dominion Cinema for a private screening of Amelie. They have a room with a big screen, a bar and comfortable chairs and sofas - more informal and comfortable than the usual cinema set-up, but it feels more special than watching a DVD in your living room (shades of pre-teenage sleepover parties!) We like the idea and maybe we'll do it ourselves if we hold a party... if we can agree on a film.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

An afternoon out

Yesterday, I decided to go on a little outing to the Morningside Makers' Market. The weather was beautiful in the morning (while I was doing fascinating things like going to the supermarket) but just as I was leaving the house on my bike, it started to rain.

Never mind, I thought, it'll only be a passing shower.

Morningside Makers' Market

By the time I got to the market, I had revised this view. However, the entrance looked positively festive despite the downpour.

There were lots of lovely stalls inside. I saw silver jewellery, knitted and felted items, quirky patchwork toys and stylish hats (possibly not for wearing in the rain).

I also managed to make a few purchases.

Firstly, I bought some beautiful lampwork glass beads from Min Fidler. They have an amazing amount of detail and change colour according to the light, and I'll have fun thinking what to make with them.

Stripey beads

Spotty beads

Then I found a little green finch on a stall with lots of toys (including some sock monkeys) and somehow he came home with me.

Little green finch

(This is not the stall - - but our telephone table!)

The main reason I'd come, though, was The Yarn Yard's stall.

TheYarnYard's stall

It was lovely to chat with Natalie and I eventually managed to choose three skeins of yarn - one DK, one sock weight and one laceweight. (I am trying not to buy too much sock yarn as I could keep myself happily knitting socks for about a year without buying any!)

Yarn from TheYarnYard

Red, green and blue* - perfect if you should need to calibrate your monitor.

Then before I could spend any more money I headed out into the rain, but only went around the corner to the Rocket café for a cup of coffee and some warm melty chocolate cake, and a little sock-knitting.

Cake, coffee, sock

There is something soothing about watching the rain pelt down when you don't have to go out in it. Unfortunately I had offered to get J some brake blocks for his bike and some extra dark soy sauce from the Chinese grocery (I always seem to have weird shopping lists at the moment).

So... once more unto the breach. Or the rain. At the bike shop I was served by the member of staff who taught our bike-maintenance class a few weeks ago and then had to fix my bike immediately afterwards (bit of an epic saga) and he rather sweetly asked if it was still working OK (it is).

By the time I got home, I was rather cold and wet about the trousers and feet.

I'm surprised my jeans weren't wetter than this

Perhaps I should have worn more waterproof shoes...

Still, it was a lovely mini-holiday from the daily round (and a hot shower and dry socks sorted me out). Tomorrow I shall get back to doing useful things.

*Sorry about the weird shadows; daylight is beginning to be in short supply around here!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Blow, blow, thou winter wind

At the beginning of last week, the weather was crisp and sunny and calm and all the trees still had all their leaves. Towards the weekend, the wind got up and most of the trees aren't looking quite so colourful now.

I don't have many trees in my garden but I appreciate the ones that are there: two Japanese maples which don't even come up to my waist, but which have beautiful leaves, and an Amanogawa cherry tree.

(Hmm. You'd think I had a Japanese theme going deliberately, but I don't.)


I love the bright colours in nature. I'm not sure I'd choose this garnety-red as a decorating colour, but it makes a lovely leaf.

In the meantime, I am eating pumpkin soup (from the "Butternut Squash Soup" recipe in How To Eat - soup from a recipe! how fancy) and knitting socks to keep the draughts from my ankles.

Sheila's Sock yarn

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Happy November

So the last anybody heard from me, I was in America, having fun at WisCon. Which I did. I don't have many photographs of the actual con - too busy having fun - but Madison looks like this:

King Street

While I was there I tried the local delicacy (tastes nicer than it looks), had my hair plaited up like this, met up with Mum and Dad's old friends J and B and their grownup children (who were lovely) and my internet friend Cabell, among others, and had many, many conversations about Doctor Who and Lois McMaster Bujold books. I did a lot of live-tweeting of panels and felt, for once, as if I was at the cutting edge. I also managed to win a book token and come home with all of these.

And then I came home and was reunited with J and my piggies.

All three furbeans

In August I went to the Edinburgh Ravelry meetup and rubbed shoulders with lots of famous-to-me knitters, and some genuinely famous ones. I have been knitting lots of shawls, and a few socks.

Then in September, I went with my lovely in-laws on what has become our traditional British holiday. We were based in Bamburgh in the north of England, where we went for walks and I took lots of wannabe-arty photos.

We also went to Lindisfarne:
Lindisfarne Castle

and to the Alnwick Garden, which I really liked.

Leaves and sky

A good time was had in general.
On a walk

When I haven't been on holiday, much of my life has been spent at work. For various complicated reasons, work has been very busy this summer and rather more time-consuming than normal. I have been finding that I haven't had a lot of brain left to blog with, hence the silence. I am thinking about what I can do about this.

In the meantime I have mustered enough braincells to make a boyfriend for our sock monkey:
Ms Monkey has a boyfriend

to knit some ghosts:

and to make a pumpkin lantern for Hallowe'en.
Happy Hallowe'en!

So maybe I'm back. Hello.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Metaphorical whirlwind

Now that the con is in full swing, I am not finding much time to sit down and write a proper blog entry. I have, however, been using my Twitter - over there in the right sidebar. Possibly everyone who reads this blog either already follows me or has no interest in Twitter, but there it is!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

No longer in the air

Later on Tuesday, Madison -

Once I was on the plane and we were up and away, I remembered how much I like flying. I mean it. I think it’s one of the most magical experiences a person can have. I always look out of the windows and it always makes me feel that I live in a wonderful and diverse world, and wonder about the people living below in these places that I’m flying over.

It helped that it was a clear day for much of the journey. We started out by flying more or less directly north up Scotland – I remember last time we flew across the Atlantic, the Highlands astonished me by their apparent emptiness. Presumably the settlements are just too small to see from that height, but the mountains and forests look completely uninhabited. There is still some snow on the higher mountains. As we passed over the north coast I saw some amazing sandy beaches lit up by brilliant sunshine.

Then it was largely empty sea for a bit, with more cloud cover, and I had a bit of a nap until we passed the south coast of Greenland. We also passed slightly south of Iceland, but I didn’t see it (cloud cover plus being asleep) and presumably we were not within range of the volcano. Greenland was deeply impressive – knife-edged peaks with snow clinging to the creases and grey-green vegetation, sloping down to bays that were full of fractured ice, looking like roughly-ground rock salt.

Then it was nothing but sea (with a few icebergs) for a while more, during which time I watched Up In The Air. I won’t write a critique, but I thought it was pretty good – the story seemed to avoid the clichés I thought it might fall into. (It is also a reassuring film to watch if you are in the middle of a complicated air journey, because it is about people who do this all the time and does not show them missing any connections or having any serious travel-related frustration. And there are no plane crashes. It did strike me as a little odd to watch a film about air travel on a plane, but when else am I going to get the opportunity?)

Film over, we were over Canada and I watched the rocky bits of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia give way to an amazingly human-created landscape that seemed to have created to be viewed from the air. Lots and lots of long, narrow, pale yellow or green fields, running exactly east to west. I suppose that the land boundaries must have been determined by someone in a surveyor’s office with a map and a ruler, and then they worked out where the field boundaries were. I think it must look a lot different from the ground.

Once we got over the American border, fields were squarer (though still equally rectilinear) and the ground wasn’t quite so flat. I had thought of New England as being relatively crowded (as American landscapes go) but there were still huge swathes of what appeared to be untouched woodland, especially on the hills. Occasionally you could see what must be a ski slope in winter, but currently just a few stripes of grass leading down a mountainside. There are also a lot of lakes, all of which looked brilliantly blue as they reflected the sky.

As we started to descend I could see more detail of American towns – the most prominent landmarks from that high were athletic grounds. I could often see several running tracks per town, golf courses, and parks with fan-shaped orange areas which I think must be baseball diamonds (I’ll find out). As we started to descend towards Newark I could sometimes read the words on the local football field, such as “Go Wildcats”.

Newark itself looks remarkably like the town you used to get playing the computer game “Transport Tycoon” – rows of similar-looking buildings side by side on streets in a grid, with shallow pyramidal roofs. I’m sure the effect was heightened by seeing it from above, but it was quite striking. As we came in, I could see the towers of Manhattan off to the left, including the Empire State Building, and that arch-shaped bridge that you see in films with all the girders.

The airport experience wasn’t exactly as magical as the flight. I was a bit anxious about making my connection, but I had no problems going through immigration or customs, apart from slow-moving queues and a long wait at the baggage carousel. In fact I think I got the cheeriest immigration guy ever – he was young and jolly and made jokes, not at all like the stereotype!

There wasn’t quite such a good view on the flight to Madison – the weather had turned a bit cloudier – but I did get to see the Great Lakes and discover why they call them that. Imagine if you were exploring and came across a lake that size! I wonder if early explorers thought they’d reached another coast.

When I got off the plane it was extremely hot – even hotter than in Newark, where I had melted more than slightly as I was jogging through the airport. But I managed to find the bus stop without too much trouble and made conversation with a very pleasant PhD student who was also catching the bus back into town. Various people on the bus complained that it was slow and roundabout, but it seemed perfectly efficient to me.

The only flaw in my plan to walk from the bus stop to my hostel is that as soon as I got off the bus, it began to rain. First just a few drops, and then about as hard as I have ever seen it rain (with the exception of the notorious Oxford Punt Incident, maybe). So I dived into a Starbucks, which is where I’m typing this. The menu in American Starbucks is not the same, and iced, unsweetened green tea costs $1.55 – bargain! (This may not sound awfully palatable to those who do not like either green tea or iced tea, but I was desperate for something cold but not sweet, so it fitted the bill very nicely.)

The rain seems to have abated. Off to find the hostel!

(Later still)

I had no trouble finding the hostel, and have now called J by Skype to let him know I'm OK. I haven't used Skype over long distances before, but it seems to work!

And now I'm going to sleep. Madison is six hours behind the UK, so the 25th of May has been going on for rather a long time as far as I'm concerned. Night night!


I’m sitting typing this on my laptop in the departure lounge of Edinburgh airport, about to go on a holiday I haven’t told you about because frankly, I had difficulty believing it was really going to happen. This has been a very busy month, one way or another, not least because of the last-minute nature of this trip.

I’m going to WisCon, which is a speculative fiction convention with a feminist slant in Madison in the USA. I have various Livejournal friends who have been to the con on a regular basis, and I was hoping to go last year, but I was involved in a project at work which clashed with it. However, this year I am really going. I’ve never been to a con before, but as they go, this one is meant to be small(ish) and friendly.

Anyway I can just about count on having enjoyable conversations about the minutiae of books that I like but which the general public have probably not heard of. Once you get me started, I can talk about books for hours, but unless the other person is at least interested in the same genre, it quickly becomes self-indulgent.
J and I have several interests in common – music, visual arts, languages – but our taste in books, film and TV doesn’t overlap all that much. J has nobly read various books by Neil Gaiman, and even came to see him read once, but otherwise he maintains a fairly strict “no spaceships, no pointy ears” policy. He prefers comedy to drama and non-fiction to fiction, and I go the other way. My family are all readers, but are not particularly drawn to fantasy or SF – the word “piffle” has occasionally been bandied about. This is fine. There are genres in which I have no interest (straight romance, the kind of crime novel that has lots of information about different types of ammunition, horror). But it will be nice to meet some people in real life who know what an ansible is or how to get a dragon to do what you want (it seems you need his true name, and nerves of steel...)

It will also be lovely finally to meet the LJ friends in real life. As it happens, some old friends of my parents live in Madison (total coincidence) and I’ll be meeting up with them too.

This month has been a bit of a rollercoaster of stress, followed by relief, followed by stress. One of our guinea pigs is still not completely better, which has been taking a lot out of both of us (although she seems to be responding to treatment). And it is such a long time since I have been away that I’m totally out of practice (also, last time there wasn’t a volcano). I think next time I go abroad I’ll go somewhere within the EU – much easier!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


What was a mildly sore throat on Monday - hardly noticeable - became a really quite sore throat (and swollen tonsils) by Tuesday evening, and this morning when I got up, it really hurt to swallow and my sinuses had decided to join in. So I admitted defeat, called in sick and went back to bed, where I had a rather feverish type of dream in which I dreamt that my feet had developed several extra toes without my noticing.

This is definitely not true - I checked - but for a few moments after I woke up I really thought it was. It must be Weird Dream Week in my family (my grandmother has apparently been having dreams in which she worries about the end of the world and mountains turning into volcanoes).

I hope I'm going to feel better soon because I keep thinking about all the things I need to do at work...

Saturday, April 24, 2010


April has been a pretty rough month. I have been putting off posting until things evened out a bit, because I don't like to write a big dollop of self-pity - especially when so many other people are going through trying times as well...

At the start of April, J's grandfather died. He had been unwell a few times recently, but had only just been told that he couldn't go on living alone because of his Parkinson's. He'd agreed to this, then took ill, was taken to hospital and died a couple of days afterwards.

So the news wasn't totally unexpected, but we hadn't realised he was as ill as that (I'm not sure if anyone did). We have been bearing in mind that this was a reasonably merciful way to go - Gramps really didn't want to move out of his house, and in the event he didn't have to, and he wasn't confused or demented and he didn't linger on suffering. But it's still sad.

We went down for the funeral and spent some time with J's family, who are, as ever, lovely.

That was the first week of April. About a week after we got back, we noticed that Pumpkin, one of our guinea pigs, was making a noise and looking uncomfortable when urinating. J had noticed this a few weeks earlier, but I hadn't been able to catch her in the act and was rather inclined to put it down to his OCD - he does get very worried about things, often without much cause.

However, we could now clearly see that Pumpkin was in pain, and thought it was likely to be bladder stones, which are common in guinea pigs. They're caused by a diet too high in calcium, which some guinea pigs have difficulty excreting (it's genetically linked). The stones can be fatal - two friends of mine have recently lost guinea pigs to them. We took Pumpkin to the vet, who thought this was a likely diagnosis and admitted her for ultrasound scanning to confirm it, then possibly surgery to remove the stones. Pumpkin is a little tiny thing, so we were quite upset at this prospect; but the alternative would be putting her down, which we couldn't bring ourselves to face.

We returned home. That evening, Brownie started showing the same symptoms as Pumpkin.

So we took her to the vet too, and spent the rest of the evening wondering if we were going to be down to a single pig, and feeling that it was all our fault for feeding them the wrong things. All this was complicated quite a lot by the fact that we don't have a car and were obliged to rely on Mum for lifts to the vet - which she nobly provided. In the midst of this, my great-aunt fell and broke her hip and was hospitalised, and my grandmother hasn't been too well, which put yet more pressure on poor Mum.

As it happened, Pumpkin did have stones, but they were relatively small and she passed them on her own before she was due to have surgery - when she was scanned again, they'd gone. Brownie didn't appear to have stones, but she had calcium buildup which is a precursor, and she had it flushed out (as did Pumpkin). Both of them came home a week ago, and although Pumpkin has been a bit subdued, she's beginning to perk up. Brownie seems to be completely recovered.

All this was very stressful. We love our animals, but hadn't previously come up against the moral dilemmas of having a seriously ill pet. A lot of people would find it silly to go to so much trouble over a little rodent, and I can hardly blame them - but I don't think we could have decided not to.

This week has mostly been taken up with squirting antibiotics and vitamins into the pigs' tiny little mouths, letting them lick slimy drippy invalid food off my fingers, and making sure our well pig didn't chase the others and make them panic. Training for parenthood, maybe?

Things are starting to calm down now. The pigs seem to be recovering on course (the vet said it may take them six weeks to return to normal, but they improve every day). My aunt has had her hip pinned together and seems to be doing OK.

I think we might take a while to recover completely, though.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Green shoots


If you squint, you could convince yourself it's spring. The sun has been shining (some of the time, anyway); bulbs are poking up in the garden; it hasn't been as cold (except on the days when it has).

The onset of possible spring is making me think about plans for the future: short-term ones like knitting projects, and more life-changing ones like moving house and the Baby Question. Only I need to get the Thesis done before I can really think about any of these. I think I maybe need to take some time off work and grind away at it - I have two days a week to do it in, but somehow I never manage to get as much done as I think I am going to.

Not a lot else is happening here at the moment. We went out to lunch with my parents and Granny for Mothers' Day, which was lovely. We'd really celebrated it the week before (since my sister and brother were both away for the actual day) but can you celebrate mothers too thoroughly? Of course not.

A man and his dish

J's big news this week is that he has bought a digital satellite receiver. He speaks German fluently and is fond of watching German free-to-air TV, but has hitherto been doing this through an elderly Sky box without a card, which isn't ideal. This new box is very clever, and among other things will receive signals from two different satellites without getting confused, so he can watch either UK television or German through the same box.

This means, of course, that he will need two dishes, one to point at each satellite. He has one in our back garden at the moment (see above) but I happen to know there's another one squirreled away under the stairs. Maybe our (hypothetical) new house needs a bigger back garden.

The other snag is that the new box needs an update to its software before it will receive German HD channels, and he is a bit anxious about installing this. Fingers crossed. (This all seems like quite a lot of trouble to go to to watch *The Simpsons* dubbed into German...)

I received a request a little while ago for a combined picture of my sock monkey with a guinea pig. Here you go, Loth's Second Born - will this do?

Sock monkey and Cupcake

J has decided that the monkey's name is "Mrs Monkey". I will shortly be making a Mr Monkey to keep her company, so I expect more sock monkey photographs will be forthcoming.

In other news, I only have one week left of yoga. According to the yoga teacher, I am the only person who's been every week. Unfortunately I still can't do the Half Vinyasa. Perhaps I need more practice...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

February's ice and sleet

You know what? I have had about enough of it being February. March can start any time it likes. It has been very cold all week and we have had snow and rain alternately, with high winds from time to time. I don't normally mind winter, but I would really welcome even one day of unseasonal mildness with a bit of sunshine now and again.

On the other hand, February does have a few consolations.

Pink fizz!

J and I celebrated Valentine's day in our usual fashion, with home-made cards for each other. And then he made us dinner and produced some pink fizzy wine, as seen above (it really was pink, although the red candle behind it is making it pinker).

Then on the Tuesday it was Pancake Day and we duly ate pancakes. I've never quite bought the official explanation that we are supposed to eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday so that we can use up any ingredients that are forbidden during Lent; apart from the egg, there's only flour and milk in them, which doesn't sound terribly indulgent even by the standards of more austere times. Although I'm pretty sure that lemons, maple syrup and large lumps of vanilla ice cream would count as luxuries. (We did not put all these on the same pancake.)

My spare time lately has been taken up with a bit of knitting for the Ravelympics. This is an event on the knitting/crochet social network, Ravelry, and the idea is that during the course of the Olympics you take on a knitting challenge. I decided I was going to learn entrelac, which is a technique that produces knitting that looks like it's woven over and under itself.

Since I was just starting out with this I chose to knit Quant, a headband.

Blocked Quant

Entrelac turns out to be much less complicated than it looks. The blocks of knitting are attached to each other at right angles; you start one by picking up stitches along the side of a previous block. Then you join it to the one at the side by knitting two stitches together at the end of each row. (There, that made no sense to anyone who doesn't already know how to knit. Sorry.)

I'm very pleased with the finished headband - it should get plenty of wear, since I have another knitted headband that I use a lot. If I wear my hair up, I can't wear a woolly hat, so this lets me have tidy hair and warm ears.
Obligatory modelling shot

Or it will if I can persuade Pumpkin to give it back.
Pumpkin models Quant

Monday, January 25, 2010

Upward dog, inhale

Sorry about the pause! I have had a rather busy and exhausting couple of weeks, but am now recovering.

I have been so exhausted that... shock horror... I have done hardly any knitting. I finished off these socks on Boxing Day, but the ones in the previous post are still languishing. I messed up one of the heels, didn't notice until the sock was nearly done, and am still psyching myself up to rip it back.

Still, you don't care about my socks. You want to know how the yoga is going.

My sister and I have now had four classes and are enjoying it. We are doing Ashtanga yoga, which is fairly energetic, although not so energetic that you seriously break a sweat. Our teacher is very nice; she's Spanish, and as a consequence we are probably learning all the words for the different positions with a Spanish accent.

To begin with, we both found it quite tough going: after the first class, I couldn't raise my arms for a few days, while S had a sore, um, gluteus. We seem to be adapting, though I wouldn't say I'm precisely graceful yet. Most of the others in the class are students, although one girl has started bringing her mum, so I'm no longer the oldest in the class. Probably still the chunkiest. But I'm managing OK.

On Monday evening I tried something new: I made a sock monkey.

Sock monkey

Sock monkeys have a whole history in the US, but they're practically unknown over here. I think they're cute, though. And surprisingly easy and quick to make. I also like the fact that you do almost all the sewing before you have to cut into the socks, and that one monkey uses up one pair of socks, with hardly any wastage. (These were cheapo knee socks, cost £1.49).

The instructions I used are here.

Sock monkeys are very good at yoga.

Lotus position

I don't know if anyone noticed (other than Mum), but the comments on my last post contain one from J! A rather scathing one, frankly, but still. He excuses himself by saying that he's never commented on a blog before and doesn't know the etiquette. (Honestly. You'd think it was 2003.)

Saturday, January 09, 2010


Despite the fact that I was quite happy saying "nineteen-whatever" for the first twenty years of my existence, I am having trouble thinking that this year is "twenty-ten". I'm sticking with "two thousand'n ten" for now, although I hear that most people seem to be quite happy saying "the twenty-twelve Olympics".

I'm hoping that this decade will have a good last year. I will finish my thesis. Maybe we will move house (though I'm sticking with "maybe").

Just now, our own house seems quite big and commodious since the Christmas tree went back in the loft. We have to move the sofa to accommodate it, so we lose a bit of floor in the living room; strange how much difference it makes.

During December, the guinea pigs' living space underwent some renovations:

The run gets a makeover

They're now on a fleece blanket (over newspaper) instead of wood shavings. The wood shavings get kicked on to the carpet, and they also create huge amounts of dust, which was annoying for us and possibly not that healthy for the piggies. The room's been much less dusty since we swapped, and the pigs seem to like the fleece.

They also now have a play-pen in the spare room (which folds away when we need the room), which is what we were making in my last post. I tried to get some pictures and video of them trotting about in it, without much success yet - it's been too dark.

O Christmas tree

We have not been as badly affected by the snow as... well, as most people we know. Our street is very snowy, but it's not on a slope and we don't have a car, so it could be worse. The main roads are clear, the buses haven't stopped running and the supermarket is within walking distance. It could be a lot worse.

The beasties, of course, are not hugely disadvantaged by the snow (though it would come over their ears if they went out in it). They do seem to think it's hibernation season, though:


It seems like the weather for knitting.

Pigs in ska hats

No, I haven't gone completely nuts - these are the toes of socks which I'm making for a "travelling knitalong" (the sock gets passed around a group of five people, each of whom knit a section and finally get their original socks back again). Should be fun. They make good guinea pig hats, don't they?

I cast on a non-travelling sock on the bus when I went to meet up with Loth and Mum on Monday. Mum said she was disappointed by my lack of progress a couple of hours later. I dunno - I don't knit particularly fast, and I thought this was quite good for one day's knitting...

Sock toe

This was rather a rambly post, wasn't it?

In other news, my sister and I are signing up to do a yoga class this year, so as to be calm and serene. "And to have thighs the size of pencils" - sister. Wish us luck with that one.