Rug progress

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Three quarters done. See that ball there? That’s all I have left to knit. Foot included for scale.

It’s been a busy week! After the knitting on Tuesday, I went to a “Late” at the Science Museum with Ben. That’s where a bunch of trendy 20-somethings quaff wine and play with all the kids’ stuff. Who knew there were so many geeks in disguise? Seriously though it was a fun evening, I forgot my camera but hopefully Ben got some good photos.

Last night was shoe shopping with Raj. I find shoe shopping rather demoralising as I have slightly difficult feet – can’t wear flats, can’t wear anything too high, extremely narrow feet means I usually need an ankle strap on everything… it’s lucky I like Mary Janes really. My old work shoes have stretched out too much to wear any more. So anyway, I settled on a black pair with two inch heels, ankle strap, very similar to a character dance shoe really. Love that dance shoe vibe. Except it’s just dawned on me that I simply could have bought a pair of character shoes and they would be nearly twice as comfortable for nearly half the price. Gah.

Busy weekend ahead – dancing tomorrow night, Fashion Weekend on Sunday, with various comings and goings at the flat as well. Hopefully I’ll be able to fit in some other things as well, like getting a photo of my finished vest!

the big (little) knit

Every year Innocent runs a campaign where they collect up a whole lot of tiny knitted hats, put them on smoothie bottles, sell the smoothies, and donate 50p from each sale to Age Concern to keep old people warm. It’s that time of year again, so a group of us gathered in the Royal Festival Hall tonight and by the end of the evening, we had this:

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(two of them are mine!)

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Dave modelling his contribution.

I also bumped into another group of knitters there, went over to say hi and they were a lovely bunch of girls. We’re taking over the world! One stitch at a time…

Carbon Action #2

Lightbulbs! About eight months ago I replaced the incandescent lightbulb in our hallway with another incandescent bulb I found in the hall cupboard. The other day it burnt out. Digging around in the hall cupboard again I actually found an energy-saving bulb to replace it with (and got Jason to do it actually, as he can actually reach the thing!)

Anyway, my point is of course, when your incandescent bulbs blow out, replace them with energy-saving bulbs! Use up the ones you still have though as there’s no point creating extra landfill before you need to. Also, should your energy-saving bulbs ever blow out, make sure you dispose of them safely.

I watched an interesting program the other night on the BBC, called Earth: Climate Wars, which examined both sides of the climate change debate.  It went into all of the arguments by sceptics that climate change is either a) not happening at all or b) not caused by human activity.  I was really surprised by the strength of my reaction to this – I really, really wanted the sceptics to be right.  I wanted to be convinced by the arguments, so I would stop having to worry about flying, or buying too much stuff, or buying energy saving light bulbs.  Unfortunately, attractive as the arguments were, they were soundly demolished.  The next episode focuses on what we can actually do about it, and I will be watching with interest.

Turning

Well, on the last glorious day of summer I spent the entire day inside, in the British Museum. The Hadrian exhibition was great, and afterwards I went to a lecture by Professor Robin Breeze, followed by the BBC documentary on Hadrian, presented by my future husband, Dan Snow. Sadly I think the happy day of our marriage is still some way off, perhaps owing to the fact that he doesn’t even know my name yet… well, we’re just taking things slow, that’s all!

Now it’s officially Autumn, and after the past fortnight’s bout of start-itis I’m in a finishing frenzy. Yesterday it was the Baby Surprise Jacket, today I finished the Scoop Neck Vest (photos soon! I’ll probably wear it tomorrow), and tomorrow I hope to finish several projects! But more on that later.

In the meantime, I’m nearly halfway through the rug:

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Origami!

From this:

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To this:

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To this!

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I’m really happy with it – hope it fits!

While I was knitting I read through some of the book the pattern is contained in, The Opinionated Knitter. I bought the book for £25 from I Knit. I thought this was an awful lot of money, but over on Amazon it’s £32. Anyway, reading through the book has made me feel a lot better about it – now I see what all the Elizabeth Zimmerman fuss is about! It’s the kind of book that leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy, and there’s a lot in there to learn too! Highly recommended.

The Knit Report

Over the past two weeks, I have started three knitted objects and finished none:

1. Blue Sky Alpaca Scoop Neck Vest, attempt #2:

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As you can see, it just needs the neck and armhole edging. I’ll probably finish this on the next cold day we have – at the moment the weather has rallied somewhat, perhaps the hoped-for Indian Summer?

2. Rug

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This is how much rug you can knit while you are trying to get over a stolen wallet. Yes, arms do get sore after a while.

3. Blob

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Actually my first Baby Surprise Jacket, currently at the “interesting” stage. This is high-priority knitting as the recipient was born two and a half weeks ago and I want it to still fit him! I met him (and cuddled him!) today and he’s gorgeous.

Better late than never!

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, but now I finally have some time to sit down and tell you all about it.

Last Monday I took the train to Stratford-upon-Avon, where I met up with my aunt and we went to see Hamlet.  Yes, the RSC production of Hamlet with David Tennant and Patrick Stewart in it.  Unfortunately we had standing tickets, which was all I could buy back in March when I got the tickets (it was that popular), but it was worth it just to be there.  It was amazing!  I now have tickets to see the RSC production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream when it comes to London in February.  Going to catch the RSC whenever I can!

Oh, as I am a sucker for gift shops, I also picked up a pencil which says “2B OR NOT 2B”, because how cool is that?

On Tuesday I caught another train up to Warrington, where I met up with Dan and Marcel (well, actually I bumped into Marcel on the train at Crewe).  We went to Chester for the afternoon.  Chester is a lovely old walled city with plenty of half-timbered buildings, a castle, cathedral and half-excavated Roman amphitheatre.  There’s also a canal with a cool staircase lock – a way of getting a boat from way down low to way up high (or the other way around).

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The next day we hopped into Dan’s car and headed up to the Lake District. When we got there, we headed straight for the nearest mountain and climbed it! Ok, it was just a little peak, called Cat Bells, a 3 1/2 hour walk but I was quite proud of myself for (mostly) keeping up with the boys. I wasn’t sure how good my fitness levels were as they have fluctuated a lot recently and I haven’t been dancing much, but I do walk a lot around London – not having a car will do that. Some photos from the walk:

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Dan pointing the way.

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The view from near the top.

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A fairy tale tree.

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Down on the flat.

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Derwentwater.

In the afternoon we checked into our B&B, The Heights Hotel near Keswick (which is all vegetarian, ooh!), and then walked through some very muddy fields to the nearby Castlerigg Stone Circle:

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(Dan’s photo, edited by Marcel)

On Thursday we woke up to our vegetarian breakfasts and I sent the boys off to hike the Langdale Pikes, while I spent the day pottering in Keswick. The weekly craft market was on and I picked up a felted sweater Christmas ornament to add to the collection, as well as discovering the charming wee shop a temporary measure, which was full of handknitted baby clothes, printed canvas pictures and bags, and cakes and tea – a lovely combination!  I picked up a wee canvas pouch for keeping my knitting oddments (scissors, measuring tape etc) together.

We stayed the night in a YHA next to Lake Borrowdale, which felt far more remote than Keswick.  When we got up in the morning we had the lake to ourselves:

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Although on the way back we bumped into a few more people, as well as a red squirrel (yay!) and the ubiquitous sheep:

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We then stopped back at the other end of Derwentwater, where we hired a Canadian canoe for a couple of hours and paddled up to Keswick, around a few little islands, and back.  The hire place was also home to this Viking boat:

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Possibly my favourite photo of the whole trip!

And then it was back in the car and up to Hadrian’s Wall.  Before catching sight of the Wall itself though, we stopped off at Vindolanda, a Roman pre-Wall fort situated some way behind the Wall itself.  This is where the true excitement started for me.  The site is truly massive and quite well excavated, although they estimate it will take another 200 years to fully excavate it.  A while back I put my name on the waiting list to volunteer for the excavations – yes it’s mud, damp and bloody hard work but so rewarding!

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The truly exciting part is that the excavations have turned up tiny slivers of wood with ink writing on them, in anaerobic soil layers from the early occupation of the fort. These tiny wood tablets record every day life in the fort, from the movements of soldiers, to business letters concerning grain and leather, to birthday party invitations. The tablets are so fascinating and revealing the British Museum has named them Britain’s top archaeological treasure.

We stayed the night at Birdoswald, a YHA hostel in a centuries-old farmhouse built on top of a Roman fort in the Wall. The farmhouse has a defensive tower attached to defend against the marauding, sheep-stealing Scots. It certainly had its ghosts but we slept well.

In the morning we got up bright and early and hit the Wall:

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Still very, very exciting! I kept looking out for the phallic symbols supposedly carved into the Wall by the stonemasons but was disappointed – apparently you kind of have to know they’re there to see them.
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See the farm road on the left, with the steep banks? That’s the remains of the original ditch that was dug on the North side of the wall – making it pretty hard to get through! The Wall was also guarded by little forts called milecastles every (Roman) mile, and two turrets between each milecastle. Behind the Wall ran a Roman Road and yet more earth defences:

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As we were doing a circular walk we had to leave the wall for a while, head South and get a little damp in a marsh that our map led us into, but as Marcel says, at least now I don’t look like a tourist in my lovely new Merrell walking shoes as they are no longer lovely in the slightest.

We bumped into a couple we met earlier in our walk (they were doing straight along the Wall from end to end) and they told us the stretches of Wall around the Housesteads and Chesters forts were the most spectacular in terms of scenery. So we took ourselves on a bit of a detour and set off on another walk in search of photo opportunities:

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On this particular stretch the milecastles don’t have doors in the north side as there was never going to be anyone scaling those cliffs to get through!

Now I’m back in London, although that doesn’t quite end my Roman odyssey – tomorrow I am going to the Hadrian exhibition at the British Museum, followed by a BBC documentary about the exhibition introduced by BBC historian Dan Snow.

History, people!!

Tulip Kimono

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Pattern: Tulip Kimono from Knitscene, now available on the Interweave website.

Yarn:  5 balls of RYC cashcotton 4ply.  Purchased in the Liberty sale – 10 balls for £25.  I thought I’d picked up the DK and only realised my mistake about halfway through the cardigan.  Then I got a bit worried about tension – you see (more sensitive knitters may want to avert their eyes here) I tend not to swatch.  However, once I measured it looked like it would just turn out with a little less ease than planned, and I am happy with the fit.

Needles: Denise size 5s.  I didn’t go down a needle size for the garter edge on the body or sleeves.

Modifications:  Made the body one inch longer.

Thoughts: I am really pleased with this one. I took a risk because I really don’t think the cardigan looks all that good on the model.  Only 18 people on Ravelry had attempted it and there were hardly any decent pictures of it being worn.  The model in the picture doesn’t really fill out the top half of the cardigan properly, so the empire waist was rather droopy.  I considered modifying the pattern to fix this but in the end decided I didn’t need to – and it fits me a lot better than it fits her.  This would have been a perfect candidate for the Knitting Daily staff gallery if it had been up and running back then!

One other thought: I considered changing the lace pattern to something else but I’m glad I didn’t.  Those k5togs are murder, though!