Sunday, December 28, 2008

Feet-first into the swap

Roo asked:
What is your favourite way of keeping your feet warm?Do you have a favourite pair of socks you reach for to keep your toes toasty?Is there a pair of socks/slippers you have been wanting to make for ages but haven't got around to?What is your favourite finished object that warms your feet?What is your favourite yarn to use for socks/slippers?

I have no effective way of keeping my feet warm :( Since we got the new flooring put down, they are always cold and I would love socks, or slippers, or anything along those lines. I do own a few pairs of handknit socks, but none of them are perfect.
I've had a pair of beaded felted mary janes in my rav queue forever, but they were recently joined by the prairie boots. Erm, would like to add more but the poo is quite literally hitting the fan here. Got to go.

Look, ma, one needle!

This is the starting point of the quilt that was going to be for Skye, is now destined for mum for mothers day, and is fundamentally just me trying to see what I can do with this machine. I'm really enjoying using it, actually (it's a Brother 2220NT, if that means anything to anyone) and I'm actually finding it a lot easier to use than my wonky old Singer. It goes slower, and the tension isn't mullered, and that makes a big difference. It's loosely based upon a pattern in Sew Hip, but I tidied the magazine so from now on I'm winging it. It'll be fine. Honest.
In other news, I frogged my article for the Winter Warmers swap because I decided I hated my left-leaning decreases and it looked ginormous. I'm nearly back to the point where I gave up, but I can't honestly say I like this lot of decreases any better. Ho hum.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas looked like this

The spinner-in-training thought he was in heaven when we erected a lump of plastic in the middle of the living room and decorated it in beads and baubles, tinsel and tat and even candy canes and biscuits. It was almost, but not quite, enough to distract him from my knitting.

It's been plague season here at the biscuit barrel, as both Skye and River have been down with colds- nasty ones at that. Skye's been running a bit of a temperature and was feeling poorly enough that she went back to bed for most of Christmas day, and River hasn't been sleeping- but then, what else is new?

Without intending to, this has turned out to be a bit of a handmade Christmas- I gave Steve a camera of his very own and one of every different selection pack on the market, and he, bless him, trashed the budget totally and gave me a sewing machine AND the Celtic Collection by Alice Starmore AND a beautiful pair of ebony needles from the lovely Doreen at Scottish Fibres AND
an itunes gift card. The boys got what they wanted- Alex wants money for a bike and Isaac wanted lego- and Skye slept through most of it. River got the aforementioned destructatree and was very happy with it, thankyou very much, but we also bought him a rocking horse.
We all got lashings and lashings of glitter and paint, thanks to Alex, who crafted all of his presents to people but also bought me a truly beautiful little ceramic mirror from the brewery arts centre in Cirencester: the perfect colour to go with our newly decorated living room, which is an intensely unfashionable warm violet and I love it. My father-in-law and I are both in recovery from 20+ years of smoke-dyed white anaglypta and DH just goes with it- after all, he and I met as a result of a hot pink and purple living room, so there's some sentimental memories there for us.
Appropriately enough, the question on the UKSwap blog this week is about neck warmers, and at the moment I'm working on Wabenschal in 2-ply cashmere from Plum Knits that I got in a magic ball swap on MDC. I'm knitting the goodies out of it (because I just couldn't be bothered to unwind and rewind that kind of yardage of laceweight and I've lost my ball winder somewhere) and I'm just getting to the good bit now- I'm literally about 10 rows away from a pot of handcream and trying hard not to cheat. Unfortunately, River loves this a lot and is obsessed with breaking the yarn (and this is exceptionally fragile stuff) or pulling my needles out, which is making it slow going. The colourway is called peacock, but I'd describe it more as a bottle green, if I'm honest. It's very pretty, and definitely one of my colours. Oh, and in the absence of a finished lacy cashmere scarf I've been wearing my clapotis wrapped around my neck a few times, which was knitted in hipknits silk in their pixies colourway.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cold hands, warm heart?

Last night, I sat and watched mindless TV whilst seaming the first quarter of Lizard Ridge together, my mindful mindless knitting blanket, the blanket I knit when I need to let go and allow the universe to sort itself out. I say quarter, but as I believe I seamed my squares in the wrong order it might well end up being bigger or smaller or something... but that's OK by me. At the moment it all seems like very small stuff.
I love it. I really do. I love the way that the colours are blending into each other and I love the short row bumps and the symbolism they have in my life as a whole. It's a small thing, but it really does make me happy, or as happy as anything does these days.
And in order to let me get some sewing done, I needed some heavy duty distraction for my Spinner-In-Training. Therefore, we erected a Christmas tree, complete with sweeties, baubles, bells and crackers. Oh yes, oh very yes. My knitting is safe for a while.
On the UKswap blog, Roo asked
So, what is your favourite winter warmer for your hands?
Do you have a favourite pattern or finished object?
What is your favourite yarn for gloves/mittens/handwarmers?
Are there any patterns out there you would love to own?
Or do you already have a winter warmer and you would like some mittens/gloves/handwarmers to match?
At this point, I have to confess that the only winter warmer for my hands I really actually like are mugs of steaming hot chocolate, or eggnog latte (oh, how I miss the eggnog latte) sipped slowly whilst watching the kids go insane at the park. I'm actually the kind of fruitcake who takes a mug of tea on the afternoon school run tucked away in an insulated mug because they take so long to come out of school. It's partly a legacy of the dermatitis on my hands that made my life a misery growing up, and partly just the fact that I don't like things flapping around my wrists. The only jewellery I ever wear on my hands are my wedding and engagement rings.
For this reason, I have yet to knit myself a pair of anything. I have thrummed mittens in my queue, ready for that mythical day when I get to take my two youngest out to make snowmen: given that Skye is three now and has yet to make her first snowman, we may be waiting a while longer, and some fingerless mittens too- but I honestly don't know if I'd ever commit to making them. Would I wear them? Well, yes... I think.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Winter Warmers (UK Swap Questionnaire)

It's been a lovely frosty day here: we went orienteering this morning in Lydiard Park with the North Wilts Orienteerererereres and then for hot chocolate to warm ourselves up. We did OK, but are still very much just beginners.

I signed up for the Winter Warmers round of the UK Swap, and I'm ashamed to say that I got my partner before I got my questionnaire up. I know what I'm knitting her, though ;) Here's my answers...

Handmade Item Swap
What kind of items are you interested in receiving?
I'd really love anything that someone else made for me (heehee), but I'd love some woolly socks, a shawl or something else to snuggle up in, or maybe a pair of fingerless mittens or gloves? I don't like wearing wool on my wrists, though. Ooh, or a hat, one with earflaps- that could be fun...

Do you knit, crochet, or both?
I knit and spin, I can crochet but I'm really not very good at it. I love the way it looks, though, and I adore the textures of scrumbling and freeform crochet.

What is your favourite colour?
I like warm greens and blues- peacock and teal. I'm currently watching warm violet paint dry in our living room (Dulux Starlit Night, in case you were wondering.) If it's a deep and complex colour, I'm sure to like it.

What is your least favourite colour?
I'm not terribly keen on yellows or oranges, or very sickly pinks.

What’s your style? (elegant, traditional, glamourous, girly, natural, sporty, outgoing, etc.)
You know how some people look effortlessly put together? Well, I'm not one of them. I'm an extremely eclectic dresser- I tend to live in jeans, Dr Martens and ... except for the days when I'm in a long flowing skirt and DMs, of course.

Do you have a favourite type of fiber or brand of yarn?
Nope, sheep is good, plant fluff is good, it's all good. I really do prefer natural fibres though, I'm a bit of a snob that way.

Do you have a least favourite type of yarn?
Pure virginal handspun acrylic doesn't do it for me...I don't mind blends, but see previous comments about natural fibres.

Do you do any other crafts?
I do some feltmaking, am teaching myself (badly) to sew, and I do a lot of random glue-and-stick stuff with the kids.
Are there any knitting accessories you are interested in receiving?
Ooh- erm, stitch markers are always nice.

What do you like to eat?
Everything! Except coconut, that is.

Any allergies/preferences (fiber-wise or treat-wise)?Anything we missed that you’d like your partner to know? No allergies. No preferences- we're locavores, shop local and eat locally produced foods, but I'm not expecting anyone to change their way of life just for me.

I'm really very easy...

Monday, December 01, 2008

My beautiful daughters and violence against women.

A combination of too many sad posts on too many message boards about violence against women has got me thinking. Too many people are saying that if a woman doesn't go to the police, then it wasn't really rape. If she wore a short skirt or drank alcohol, it wasn't rape. If she shouted at him, then it wasn't really domestic violence (and men get abused too, dontcha know?) and of course, domestic violence doesn't really kill anybody. Not any more, not these days. There's all these womens refuges and divorce is so easy to get, then there's really no reason to stay, is there?
I called my daughter a young lady in my last post, and this is how I want her to grow up. I want her to grow up believing that she will be treated with honour and respect in every aspect of her life, in her public life and her most intimate relationships, and that the inherent good in people will respond to the inherent good in her. I want to believe that in another decade, this battle is over: my boys won't be called pussies or girls as an insult, my girl will never be teased as her body grows from child to woman, never be sexually harassed, never be assaulted for no other reason than her sex. I know that the chances are that even if she is lucky, she's going to know the pain of sitting with a close friend after a lover hits her, the dull numbness of sitting in the police station waiting room after a friend gets raped, those long nights of talking. My friends carried me through, and whilst I love them for it I know it cost them dearly. It cost them their innocence.
A rape cost me my firstborn daughter's life. It cost me my marriage, my ex-husband his sanity. It took my confidence, my belief in myself, in strangers. It left me afraid of enclosed spaces. Those brief hours at knifepoint turned my world upside down, and for what? Was his life really significantly improved by his experience of that time? I'd love to know. What I do know, the article of faith that I have to cling to, is that is was not my fault. It was bad luck. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. HE, not I, was to blame.

The Women's Institute has commissioned a survey into people's perception of and experiences of violence against women. Please, take a minute of your time and fill it in.