35) Lazy blogger accepts award

Yet again, the blog has been falling by the wayside.  If I'm stressed, or struggling to keep up, communications of all sorts are always the first to go.  I have a few blog posts lined up; I'll try and spread them out a bit this time!

But first – see what Leigh awarded me!


Of course, I'm delighted to accept.  It's a lovely bit of sunshine to cheer up a grey day!  Not that we've had so many of those round here, recently; we've been basking in an unseasonable heatwave over the last week, which has had the garden sprouting forth in great abundance (though a fair few plants have decided to bolt.  Oh, well.)

Part of accepting this award is answering a few questions:

1. What would your perfect day consist of?
Oooh.  I think it's a sunny day in late spring, when the sun is warm but the air is still cool, and the earth is coming back to life.  A lazy, tasty breakfast.  Eggs Florentine with smoked salmon on the side, perhaps.  Some form of activity – gardening, walking, swimming in the sea (though that's for the hottest of summer) – in the morning, followed by a delicious lunch with friends – bread, cheese, ham, maybe a glass of wine if I'm feeling indulgent.  Sitting and relaxing in the garden all afternoon – spinning, knitting, weaving, sewing – I don't mind!  Dinner – maybe pasta with pesto? or seafood? – a glass or two of good wine, and then off to bed in fresh, cool linens, not too late.  The overriding theme of the day is no pressure.  Other themes are great food, great company and creative fulfillment.

2. How would you describe yourself if you were an
item of clothing?

A crisp, white linen shirt.  Understated, versatile, just a bit different from plain ol' cotton.  Works well in formal or casual circumstances, and is a true year-round garment. šŸ˜‰

3. What hobbies are you currently
working on?

Spinning the blue silk is currently demanding my time, and I would love to finish J's quilt this weekend, so those are the two main craft-hobbies right now.  The garden is another one, though I also see that as part of housework/my commitment to an environmentally relatively low-impact lifestyle.  Weaving and clothes sewing are currently 'neglected hobbies'.

4. Walking in the woods in wellies
or barefoot on the beach?

Either!  Though my wellies give me blisters, so I'll stick to walking boots, thanks.

Have you ever hugged or sang to a tree?

No, but I quite often stroke the trunks of trees as I pass, or put out a hand to brush the leaves.

6. Growing your own
veggies or nipping to the supermarket.

Grow my own!  I hate going to the supermarket, and I love being more self-reliant.

Have you found anyone exciting in your family tree?

If by 'exciting' you mean 'dramatic' or 'historic', I haven't honestly looked.  I am very proud/fond of my farming heritage, and my paternal aunt recently found a very cool interview with a lady from that side of the family.  I'll have to see if I can upload it somewhere; it's in broad Yorkshire, and you will get a medal if you understand it.

8. Slap up meal in a
posh restaurant or fish ā€˜nā€™ chips from the wrapper?

I'm not a great fan of fish and chips, especially since cod is so badly overfished and haddock isn't much better.  I can get very excited about a really good meal, but it doesn't have to be 'posh' to qualify…

9. Which element do you most resonate with, Earth,
Wind, Fire or Water?

I believe everyone embodies attributes of all four, albeit in different balances.  When I was growing up, I would have said Fire, but now I think I would have to go with an earth/water duality.  I see myself as practical and grounded and nurturing (earth), but also quick moving, versatile and somewhat mercurial (water).  Interestingly, I also identify with otters as a totem; in Medieval times, they were considered special because they seemed equally at home in two realms – Earth and Water.

10. Do you believe in

No, not as such.  I have a sort of eclectic/pagan set of beliefs, and I could say I believe in my interpretation of the Shinto Kami or the Roman genius loci – a sort of spirit or essence of a place or thing.  To me, that doesn't imply a consciousness.  Let's say that I feel that there is a kind of divinity in all places and all things – and so all places and things are deserving of honour and respect.  But that's not quite it, either.

Passing it on!
Oh, dear, this bit is more difficult.  I would love to see answers from:

Of course, there is absolutely no requirement that anyone responds to this.  I always feel guilty about 'putting pressure' on people, which is why I so often tie myself into a funk over passing things like this on.  Having said that – the person most likely to respond?  Kateepie!  Least?  I'm gonna have to go with Jack on this one.  But hey – life is good, eh?

33) The little things

Last Wednesday, I discovered that the anthers of
hawthorn blossoms are pink when the
flowers open, and end up dark brown, and
much smaller. I am guessing that the
pink bit is actually the pollen:



Such a little discovery, but it made me smile for the rest of the day (which was quite an accomplishment, because I was tired and hung over).  It still pleases me now.

29) Taking the pressure off

Wow, it's been a while.  I think my laptop has all but forgotten my login details!

In the meantime, I've been doing… not a lot.  In knitting, I've finally finished Moor, including bands and stitching down the facing.  I'm reasonably sure that's my longest running project in the last five years, which is pretty crazy for a sleeveless top.  I've also been inching my way through another Ann Hanson pattern – the Nightingale Wing stole – at the rate of about one row per day.  And that's it.

Spinning?  Some blue silk on my wheel.  But I'm yet to finish the first bobbin.

Weaving?  There has been some, but not that much, really.

Dyeing??  After my wonderful success at Textiles in Focus, don't even ask!

And other than that, my cooking mojo has all but deserted me – sourdough is now a regular habit, but I can't remember a year since leaving home when I've cooked less.  There has been some brewing activity (two batches of beer and one of wine have been started), and I've been gardening a fair bit, but in all honesty, I'm not sure where my time's been going.

One thing I do know, is that I've felt under a lot of pressure.  This post could have been titled, "What to do when the whole world looks like your to-do list," except I don't have a good answer.  Mostly, I seem to have been chasing my own tail and falling into myself in an introverted spiral.

Now, though, I think I might be waking up.  I've revisited my aims for the year:

  • Appreciate what I have;
  • Release what I don't need;
  • Keep up with the obligations I have taken on;
  • Be more aware of what I am achieving.

And I've been thinking about what they mean.  To mix it up a bit, I'm releasing some obligations I really don't need, and I'm trying to work on understanding that I don't have to overshoot every target; that it is worth doing a little bit of everything, to let go of the perfectionism I tend (just occasionally!) to lapse into.  Concentrating on relaxing

Now, I feel a bit like a flower emerging from a bud – unfurling, unwrapping, sighing in relief at the release of pressure.  Petals being teased out and ruffled by the wind, and a sense of ease being allowed to creep in to my life.

I'm starting to give myself permission to sit on the sofa and knit for a whole evening again.  I'm not sure when, but that's stopped being a nightly scenario and now feels unspeakably lazy and self-indulgent.  I think the fact that I'm blogging is itself a good sign – its too easy, when you've taken a break, to feel you have to catch up with the backlog of things you 'should' have been writing about.  Maybe I will catch up on some of those – but I won't make myself.

Besides, it's kinda hard to stress when Woody is sharing your sofa:


28) Does craft matter to you?

If so, do go here and state your opinions.  You've got a maximum of 600 characters (so Twitter aficionados won't know what to do with the extra 460, but will have great skills for filling it anyway).  This survey is being run by a UK-based organisation, BUT you can participate from anywhere in the world.  Let's see this thing go viral!  šŸ˜€

Craft matters because in an increasingly homogenised, virtualised, automated society, it provides us with an opportunity to individualise, to connect with the real, to slow down. There are few experiences more satisfying than producing something both beautiful and useful with your own hands, or learning and honing a new skill. On our crowded earth, we must learn to relish what we have, not clamour for more. Traditional crafts can teach us that a well-crafted item, cherished for years, is preferable to cheap, disposable, mass-produced plastic. So, can craft help save our sanity and our planet?

5) New energy

It's glorious weather here in Cambridge today.

I had to go out at lunchtime, to post a letter, run a few errands, so I was glad to see the sun shining after the frost and fog of early morning.  I wrapped up, and set out.

After five minutes, I took my gloves off.  Two minutes later, my scarf was being carried.  After a total of about 12 minutes, I took my coat off.

The air is cold, but soft and fresh, rather than harsh and bitter.  The warmth of the sun is very obvious.  It's a turning day; a day of new energies, and the promise of spring.  It's not that winter is over yet, but you can feel the shift, the certainty that the cold is heading away from us again.  And as I was walking down King's Hedges Road, and back up through the
Science Park, I could smell wet earth and creosote.  Smells of a new
year, and new growth.

104) Solstice Stop Press!!

OK, this is the first 'break' in my alphabet progression – and I'm what, 4 letters from the end?? – but it's worth it.

On this, the last day of the year as the sun measures it, I have confirmation of the fact that I will have a stall at Textiles in Focus in February of the coming year, where I will be trading as Yarnscape, for the first time.

I can't wait.  And I hope the new year brings much joy and new ventures to you, too.

75) 102 great days

Do you know the saying, "Find a penny, pick it up, and all day long you'll have good luck"?  It featured heavily in a book I used to read as a child, and it's stuck with me ever since.

On Friday, I found a penny.  On Saturday, I found a penny.

On Sunday, I found a pound coin.  Wow.  102 days of great luck?  102 awesome days.  I did the maths, and that takes me right through into the new year.

I'm not generally superstitious, but I love the idea of 102 great days.  Somehow, it's impossible to imagine that many great days in a row; but at the same time, it's a lot more concrete than, for example, "may you have great fortune for all the days of your life".  I'm carrying the pound coin round with me now, and just thinking about it never fails to make me smile.  Yesterday was definitely more awesome, just for the sake of owning it.

Talismoney.  Hee.

66) Good grief

It's over three weeks since I last posted.  OK, quick round up:

  • Fake Noro spinning: FAIL. Pictures later
  • Tour de Fleece: wasn't going to join in, but ended up spindle spinning silk from day 10 onwards. Pics later
  • Knitting: finished Revontuli in the graduated handspun yarn.  Looks great; needs blocking. Pics later.
  • More knitting: Started Katarina in the blue/green handspun.  The back and both fronts are done, and I've started the second sleeve.  However, cuffs, and a really, really wide collar have to be knit on later, so it's not so finished yet.  Looking great; um, pics to follow.  Spotting a theme here??
  • Job: today was the last day of working for my current job.  I start my new one on August 17th.  That's nearly three weeks to myself!  Awesome!
  • Freelancing: Too Much is going on right now.  No details, but I can't do this and everything else.  So, sadly, just as I was getting into the swing of things, I have to put this endeavour on hold.  For now.
  • Dyeing:  Nothing has happened.  See above.  However, I'm not giving up on this one, I'm hoping that the next three weeks will see some Real Progress there.

cool, now we're all caught up.  Now I can stop avoiding the blog because of the backlog, and get on with regular updates again…  What, huh, pictures??  OK:


53) New paths


This is a time of change, excitement, sunshine and darn hard work.  It turns out that picking up freelance knitting pattern checking and grading work can seriously eat into your actual knitting time – who knew?

In addition, I'm working hard on Something Else, which I am very, very excited about and which I will tell more about next week.  It involves dyes.  And yarn.  And a launch party, scheduled for the end of this month.  It's making me giddy with excitement but also strangely reticent…  and busy.

The result is that Eloise – the sweater I started and almost finished at Easter! – is fully knit and the seaming is about half done, though I haven't found buttons for her yet.  Maybe tomorrow.  The graded yarn I spun is turning itself into a mini-Revontuli, but very slowly.

The garden is growing, also.  Miraculously, I have real plants in the ground, which are not dead, and even ate my first proper harvest (salad greens) yesterday – more to come today, for my lunch.  Yum!  More on that later, though.

More posts.  Definitely.  Though, if you'll excuse me, they'll probably be rather photo heavy and light on the words for a while.

48) Fallen off the face of the blog

O hai!

It would appear that I haven't posted anything for over two weeks now.  What can I say?  There has actually been fairly little knitting – I have started a new, ribbed sleeve for Eloise, which I think looks much better than the all-reverse-stockinette version; the dandelion wine has been fizzing away merrily in the kitchen and is starting to clear, and the beer in the garage is ready to be bottled.

The garden – ahhh, the garden! – is making huge progress.  My folks came to visit last weekend, and both my parents are spade-wielding dynamos.  My Dad, in particular, is an unstoppable force; I was getting up at 07:30 in the morning to find that he'd already had three cups of coffee and put in several fence posts.  They left at 10am on Sunday, and he did a few 'last minute tasks' before getting in the car, including totally digging out, restructuring and sorting out the compost heaps (which are now well behaved and beautiful).  Photos to follow.

I completely overdid things, of course, and have had half the week off work with a CFS flare as a result.  I sort-of knew things were heading that way, but hoped I wasn't too bad.  In the end, though, I had to insist that Mum (at least) stop digging and lifting and sweeping and pruning and, instead, just sit and drink tea with me for a bit.  Because it's a horrible feeling that your guests are working hard whilst you're having the vapours on the patio.

The rest of my 'spare' time has been taken up with ::drumroll:: freelance work!  I am really, really excited about this; I am putting myself out there as a knitting pattern checker/editor/grader.  I already have a few contacts/clients, which is awesome, but if I'm going to make a full-time, professional career out of this, I will need MORE.  Of course, I can't blog about the patterns I'm working on, and what would normally be my knitting time is being eaten into in a major way right now.  And equally of course, this is likely to become more and more true as I build up a client base big enough to support me whilst still working a full-time job.

For the sake of J and the dogs, and my own sanity, I don't think I can leap from the corporate ship into the midst of the current economic storm.  At least, and at the risk of overextending a metaphor to a dangerous extent, not without building myself something of a life-raft first.

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