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 - www.madestuff.co.uk - 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.