Friday, December 22, 2006

Adios 2006...

Well, this was meant to have pictures of the extraordinary ice & fog we have been living in for the past 3 days...but unfortunately I have run out of time, what with the packing for holidays, and packing to move, and cleaning the house to move out only...2 hours left!! Oh dear - so I shall be brief - wishing you a relaxing, enjoyable Christmas and an exciting and debauched New Years (if that is your thing). See you in January - I promise pics!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Moving Memories

So we are packing up again! After about 10 months in our apartment we are heading now to Oxford, seeking brighter lights and more doings. Life here has been great - it was the perfect easing in to a new country - not too busy, town not too big, quiet house full of stuff, no need to have to rush out & buy things that you forgot you need in life - bottle openers, matches, shoes. But now everything is back into boxes (thank goodness we had a spare room to keep the old boxes in!) but this time moving in a van.

It makes our time here in the UK feel already very long - the memories of accepting the job, resigning from the old job, packing the house, having wisdom teeth pulled - it feels so long ago. And all the people feel so far away. Particularly at Christmas - I have never been one much for Christmas, and have spent Christmases away from family before. But I think that England is much more traditional in the way that Christmas is spent, and everyone seems to be so much more family and friend oriented at this time that it reminds you of all the things you left behind. It also makes me determined that our new house, our new town and our next move will be the one where, having settled into our jobs & our life, we make friends, meet people, and live life a bit more. Despite the cold, we both have to get out there and do more things where we meet folks. So my early new years resolution is to meet new people and hopefully new friends.

I don't tend to post this kind of stuff on my blog, but I am hoping that with the public announcement will come some extra motivation in the form of peer pressure!

On a different matter, I have knitted a Fetching Fingerless glove on my new needles! Having never knitted with anything other than metal or plastic needles before, they are lovely! I am totally convinced. Initially, my tension was all over the place (not helped by teh fact that I had inadvertantly bought Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK, not Aran!) but after ripping it out & starting again (by the way, much easier to do with this yarn than with the Rowan Tapestry!) and reducing the stitches, I have one good looking glove. And the needles are warm and light as air in my hands, I don't seem to get aching hands as I do with metal, I love the sound they make, they smell good, and the stitches don't fall off (actually, they even need coaxing along sometimes). The tension issue resolved very quickly too. They are great. Except you can't put them in your mouth cause they taste nasty. I know this is a dirty habit anyway, but what habits aren't? Also, check out new yarn! Rowan Felted Tweed in watery - photo is actually pretty good representation of the colour although a little lighter in the sun (yes, there was sun the other day!).

I would be keen to hear any other NY resolutions that folks have - might help me keep to mine a bit more?! It is all a bit scary, this big new world stuff, but thats why I am here, right? Right!

PS it is winter here now. Car said 0 degrees at 10am, and 1 degree at 3pm. Brrrr.

Monday, December 18, 2006

My Nan is Great!

While I am procrastinating from more packing...

this is a little jumper & hat that my Nan recently knitted. It is a Sirdar pattern, but I know no more than that. Except I think it is great that she is still knitting (not to give the game away, but Nan is in the later part of her 80's) and I think that this is beautiful work.
Knit on!

Christmas delights!

I know this is naughty but we had a very good excuse....

as we are in the process of moving this week, and then going on holiday the day after we move (whose idea was that again?!) Simon & I had a little celebration meal last night. We are not big into Christmas, but I do like to celebrate the end of a year, particularly one that has been so ...big! Also, my parents had sent a box of gifts, which was very naughty and very very nice! Some lovely lovely things but I have to show of these...

Handmade knitting needles, from my home state!! wonderful stuff. There is a website, and I will keep you posted with how they go. Also a beautiful calendar from Tasmania, guaranteed to make me homesick!

Thanks mum & dad!
Also - scarf is done, just being washed. Pics soon. And Rowan Felted Tweed has arrived, and is even more beautiful than in the picture (as usual!)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Knitting without Borders

Very quick post - I don't think anyone actually reads this blog, but on the off chance that I am wrong, and you are reading this, take a quick detour over to Yarn Harlot's blog & consider supporting the Knitting without Borders challenge. Yarn Harlot would like to double the donation that Knitting without Borders has made to Medicine Sans Frontiers this year - that means turning $120,000 USD into $240,000!! As usual, Stephanie is eloquent and articulate in pleading her case, so have a read.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Slowly slowly, winter is creeping in. Apparently it has been the warmest everything here since records began, so we really haven't seen much to date. Which is fine, generally, but seems also to have affected Europe, so we were worried about the lack of snow for our Christmas Ski Extravaganza - but finally it is snowing! Looks to be more man-made than actual snow to date, and after all this worrying it will probably snow so much while we are there that we won't get onto the slopes, but it at least looks like we will be able to ski a bit, even if nothing else happens! Yay!

Which means that all this knitting is not for naught! My pack is getting filled with hand knit jumpers, socks, scarves & gloves - it is lovely! The Rowan Tapestry scarf is nearly done - will post soon, probably will get finished on Monday or Tuesday. The new wool has the post depot! Will go to pick it up tomorrow - it is Rowan Felted Tweed in Watery - am hoping that my screen represents the colour ok! Always a bit nerve racking buying yarn without having been able to touch/smell/feel/see it in person. But being Rowan it is probably gorgeous. It is for a vest pattern by Fable knits - I have one (shop bought) vest, which turns out to be great for work over here so I thought i could do with another.
Also, anyone with any interest in knitting (Mum, this means you!) should check out the See Eunny Knit website if you don't already know it... astonishingly gorgeous stuff! One day....!!!

(Also, I love this pic! I know it looks a bit plain, but it has a really neuronal, organic look to it!Maybe it needs to be bigger to get this effect...anyway, I stand by my selection! Taken on a walk in the Chilterns the other weekend).

Sunday, December 10, 2006


As hinted at before, I have further progressed on my plan of persuading Simon that knitting is a worthwhile activity. First there was the Pirates hat (see previous blog), and then there was the Far-Fetching Fingerless Gloves! Now, these were finished a while ago, but haven't been photographed due to lack of light & opportunity. But, we had a quiet saturday and while the light was still pretty shoddy (& thus the pictures aren't great) I was sick of waiting! So...
These came up because I made a pair of Fetching Fingerless Gloves for my Nan (they are on the other blog). Simon decided that while they looked very girly in baby blue, they may form the basis for something that he was looking for - a garment to connect up his gloves & his sleeves when cycling. Due to the long arms & the leaning forward on the bike, Simon reckons his wrists are always cold, & given that he will be cycling almost all winter, I felt a little sorry for him. So these were designed to be hard-wearing, warm & long, as well as resistant to falling down! So, I used some left-over undyed NZ wool for the main part, and some Dale Hauk for the hands, as it is Teflon coated & thus water resistant. Contrary to initial plans, these are now intended to go over a pair of thin wool gloves & under his jacket sleeve. In the end, I just used the Fetching pattern almost intact, with extra cables down the arm length to try and make it tight enough not to slip down. Simon's arms aren't particularly big, so I thought that just using slightly larger needles witht he existing number of stitches would be fine - and it was. I also made the thumb a bit longer, added an extra cable around the knuckles so it was a little tighter, & did a super chunky picot edge to bloke it up a bit more (you can't see this very well in the pics sorry!). So, a very successful project which has further confirmed my theory that knitting is useful. Now he has a million ideas for snazzy things I can knit him!
Unfortunately, there is still the odd mistake, but I do quite like the little black bits at the top, which Simon thought were going to be fiddly, but I think it links the hands in with the rest of the glove more.

Far-Fetching Fingerless Gloves

Pattern: Extended and brutalised Fetching Fingerless Gloves

Yarn: Undyed NZ wool (sorry, the label has long-since disappeared) and Dale Hauk in Black

Apparently they go well with beer.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Eye Candy Friday!

Thanks to Sundara for this great idea - a little bit of visual delight for dreary Fridays (check out her great pics from the last few Fridays too). Here's my contribution - Enjoy.

This pic is actually from my Mum of her garden in Tasmania - check out the huge climbing things on that deck! And those irisis in the foreground are beautiful. Ok, it isn't the most technically brilliant photo, but I love this picture because it is of the home I grew up in, because it looks sunny and warm (!) and because it is from my mum! Thanks mum!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Blood Meridian

Well, after several library fines I have been sufficiently chastened by various folk, & have decided to do some re-reading of my own library for a bit until I can learn to be a bit more responsible. Also, it has been about a year since I read any Cormac McCarthy. So I have gone back to Blood Meridian, which is the first McCarthy that I read. I find that with his novels I have very strong image-based memories of them, so there will be two or three clear visual images associated with each book, but the more detailed, textual aspects tend to be not so memorable for me. This isn't unusual for me, and is why I tend to re-read alot, because I often find I don't remember the text all that well. However, I feel like I know these books, without factually knowing them, if that makes sense. Anyway, I am really enjoying it. His prose is slightly different and less extended here than in the Border trilogy, I think, although less direct than No Country for Old Men, which feels very different again. But you can't escape the visual clarity of his prose - I understand why people want to make films of these books, but I have no idea how you could capture even one sentence-worth of complexity in two hours of cinema. Try this as an opening paragraph:
"See the child. He is pale and thin, he wears a thin and ragged linen shirt. He stokes the scullery fire. Outside lie dark turned fields with rags of snow and darker woods beyond that harbour yet a few last wolves. His folk are known for hewers of wood and drawers of water but in truth his father has been a schoolmaster. He lies in drink, he quotes from poets whose names are now lost. The boy crouches by the fire and watches him" (p. 1).
McCarthy, Cormac. Blood Meridian or the evening redness in the west. Picador, 1989.

Anyway, McCarthy is slow going, and requires a sturdy mood, so I will probably end up blogging this book again before I am done, but I can't recommend this writer enough.
If you are interested, there is more stuff here at, here at the New Yorker and here at Amazon. Go crazy.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Ta Da! My first pair of socks! Now, they're not fantastic, and there are a few (?!) mistakes, and the stripes line up at the top but not at the bottom cause the first one was too short, and...well, as I said, they aren't perfect. However, they are cosy and snuggly and I have a new love of self-striping yarn, and I learned so much knitting them. Mostly that socks aren't too scary, and that if you are going to knit from a pattern, you should knit all of the pattern, not just the bits that you remember to read. But I think definately not my last pair of socks!
So anyway, details: they are from the pattern that came with the yarn, which is Lana Grossa Colourtweed in colour 1006 (kind of blues & greys). I bought the yarn from Angel Yarns, so I figure the pattern is from Lana Grossa or Angel Yarns or both!
So anyway, next time another pattern - one that actually fits me, rather than 'adult medium' (which apparently I am not).
In the meantime, scarf is coming along swimmingly...although a bit slow

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Work in Progress

Just to let everyone see the glory that is Rowan Tapestry - boy, am I loving knitting this stuff.
Except for the fluff on black trousers.
Oh well, small sacrifice
This is going to be My So Called Scarf (Sheep in the City version). I think the Sheep in the City one is prettier - the yarn variegation suits the stitches more, but this is coming out really nicely too. While the variegation is more gradual, the texture of the knit is very soft and drapes beautifully. I was thinking for a bit that I should have used the yarn for a shrug maybe, but now I am happy with this. I really like the edges that this stitch gives the scarf too - they are so neat and geometric!
Also, how cool is this fungus? We went for a walk near Cholesbury last weekend and fungus was abundant. More pics to come I reckon. But it reminds me somehow of the wool too...all this autumnal browns and goldens and blues and purples and stuff. Very very nice.
PS walking into work early this morning, the sky was clear and sun was just coming up - I swear I think the guys at Rowan used the autumn morning sky colours to create this yarn! Either that or I am completely smitten! Hee!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

1940s knitting delights

Hey - check out this collection of knitting patterns from the '40s held at Victoria & Albert Museum - knitted bikini anyone? Or a balacalava with ear holes? Although I am very tempted by the knitted lion - he also has a companion tiger, which is very very cute.

Arthur & George

Ok - book review number one!
So I just finished Arthur & George, by Julian Barnes (actually I finished it in bed last night). Julian Barnes is one of my 'solid foundation' kinda authors - always worth reading, wrote some of the best books I have ever read, but somehow slips off my mental list at times. And I don't think I own anything other than Flaubert's Parrot. But lately I have read quite a few (thanks, Aylesbury Library!) including England, England, which was amazing and wonderful and great! All teh good bits of Barnes at his postmodern-satirist best.
So anyway, I came to Arthur & George only a few books after England, England (obviously, I am in section B at the library right now!). And I have to say, this book is ....I am not sure. I am more uncertain about it than I usually am, usually I have an opinion ready to go, even at halfway through the first chapter! So I will try and explain a bit.
While I was reading the book, I loved it. Barnes writes in a lovely, clear, readable, descriptive way, I always enjoy the process of reading each of his sentences. And it did take me a while to get through the 356 pages of A&G, due to general life stuff & some excessive knitting (what good is one sock?). But when I wasn't reading it, I wasn't burning to get back to it. Somehow, I felt like an observer of the story, rather than getting wrapped up in it. I didn't burn to find out what was going to happen. And interestingly, not much actually did happen. The whole 'birth to death' kind of thing wore me out a little - the story happens in the middle of these men's lives, and yes, Arthur Conan Doyle was an interesting man (but so was George....) but their story is most interesting when their lives intersect. Unfortunately there is alot of other stuff. Arthur's interactions with Anson, for example, are dull. That's all I have to say about that (sorry Julian). Generally, its great. A good read. But I think he has better reads to be read. I know this isn't all that academic or technical, but I think these book ramblings will be pretty informal. Its my blog, I'll do what I want!
I can't think of any pictures to post about this. So sorry about all the text!

backwards steps

Ok, well I thought that given there was discussion of Simon's hat, I should do a quick post about that. I did the Hello Yarns 'We Call Them Pirates' hat for him, using the suggested yarn of Dale 'Hauk', which I bought from the ever friendly folk at Dragon Yarns (and delivered promptly too it was!). As I said before, its mighty fine to knit with, and generally looks good once knitted up. Simon was concerned on a number of levels (this was step one in persuading him that knitting was a reasonable way to spend one's time and efforts - I'll get to step two in another blog!), mostly on the level that his head is small (same size as me which is handy) and that I once, mistakenly, knit him a beany before we even really were together, and thought his head would be normal man size. So the beany was a disaster. Anyway, he wanted this hat IF (a) the skulls would look evil, not silly (b) it would come down over his ears (c) it would fit him (d) it wouldn't look like someone made it (?!)
Anyway, he decided he didn't want lining, so I knitted a short ribbed band on instead, missing out a few other knit rows from the start of the main pattern, which worked ok. The rest of the hat is as per the instructions. Seems like he likes it...he wears it all the time, even with his friends! And boasts about how I made it (victory!). The only problem was that it was my first two colour knitting project, and only my second project knitting on dpns. So there are a few tension issues. Luckily, washing it & giving lots of manual tension management work seemed to resolve most problems. Also, the dryer technique was pretty good at getting it to fit him as desired (as I said before).
here tis!

Friday, November 24, 2006

new new new! and oh so shiny

Yay! New blog! This is the all new, all singing & dancing clare blog! It is an offshoot of the clare and simon blog, primarily because the clare and simon blog was getting too knit focused for simon's taste. So, to avoid domestic disputes I now have my own blog on which to post knit stuff. And other things, probably.
Anyway, as the first post there are a number of knit things to post, but I am going to start with my new hat! Yay! This hat is my new fave thing that I knitted. It originated from the Hello Yarns 'We Call Them Pirates' hat, which I knitted for Simon. It worked a treat, although was a little big and we had to do the shrinko thing with the dryer, which wouldn't have been so bad except the washer-dryer in this flat has a two minute timer on the door for safety reasons (?) so it was a little slower than might normally have occurred. Anyway, the hat was great. So great that I wanted a hat, but not with little skulls on it (also, matching hats? too seventies for me). So I designed my own hat, which was very exciting and new and I had never done anything like it before! Also, I made sure the design was a few stitches smaller, and made the hat to fit. And also I did the lining thing, which is actually very good (I didn't do that on Simon's).
So - the hat!

Pattern: Hello Yarn's We Call Them (Skiing) Pirates (truly adulterated by me)
Yarn: Dale Garn Hauk , Colour 4137 (glorious deep berry red) & cream (I lost the tag to that one). Also some Sirdar Snuggly for the lining in pretty baby blue (remnant from another project, not that I would usually use non-natural fibres. Turns out to be nice & soft on the head though).

The Dale Garn Hauk is Teflon coated (!) so it is apparently water resistant. My hat was specifically made for going skiing so I thought this would be a useful feature, but turns out it is good for rainly old England too. It is really quite nice to knit with, and while it looks a little sterile & 'stitchy' pre-wash, it gets a nice bloom on it. However, the red ran colour like no-one's business, so it was some careful washing there so I didn't end up with pink snowflakes. Anyway, all ended up well.