Monday, 31 January 2011

sock business, part two

A little bit of yarn love goes a long way. I've realised that part of the pleasure of knitting these socks is seeing the colours change as the ball unravels, and in turn, the sock grows. The turquoise/grey/brown in the post below is colour 2715 in the Schafpate 1 range by Opal. Of course I fell for the colours first and foremost (on Florrie's blog, I might add) , and then I discovered there was a bonus. The yarn is spun from wool from the Schafpate rare breed german sheep, and its production is a local all-german affair, from the sheep that graze at Nature Preserve BiosphäreAlb in southern Germany, to the processing, spinning, and finally, dyeing. I'm all for supporting local enterprise and rare breed animals, and if I get some beautiful socks in the process, even better. I think colour 2715 is sold out....I've had a good uk online search, and managed to nab what may be the last balls. Maybe try your local yarn shop? Most of the other colours are still available - try here and here. Schafpate 2 is widely available, but doesn't do it for me. All this talk of rare breed sheep made me think of Tracy. Maybe one day we'll be able to get our sock yarn from Scotland!

On the left, colour 2716, and on the right colour 2717
My wee circular needle is a 20cm addi turbo. I have several - 2.5mm, 3mm and 3.25mm. I like to be prepared for anything! They are notoriously difficult to get hold of - Kangaroo has occasional stock (and many other lovely things to tempt you, too. Be patient, they're in the middle of moving to France). My dpns are Knit Pro Symphonies - the strongest needles, with a perfect point to the tips and a just-slippery-enough surface. I get mine here.

Right, back to those toe decreases...

Sunday, 30 January 2011

sock business

Yet another weekend has flown by all too quickly. Is it just me, or has the pace of life increased? I suspect it's what you call 'getting older'. Say no more! A little more sock knitting has been squeezed in, and I'm very close to reaching the toe decreases.

I love this yarn from Opal (I'll give more details another time), it's soft yet feels tough, and I think they will wear well.

I prefer to knit my socks on a tiny little circular needle, switching to dpns for turning the heel, and again for the toe decreases. It makes for speedy progress - especially in a plain sock.

I can't wait to wear them. I've fallen in love with these stripes, so fingers crossed there won't be any second sock syndrome.

Friday, 28 January 2011

deadlines and distractions

January has been a series of deadlines for me, mainly of the work-related variety. I work well to a deadline, but that can be stressful. On the whole, unprocrastinating has worked well this last year, and I've been more organised both with my work and home projects. Of course, there's always room for improvement. I have failed to file my tax return any earlier than usual but I also know I'm not alone in leaving it to the last moment.

Along with deadlines there have been moments of distraction. Last weekend I cast on a new sock, and I've already turned the heel, worked the gusset decreases, and am heading down the foot towards the toe. That's speedy for me. Really, it's avoidance tactics - knitting was a far more attractive option than my accounts. Then there was the time when I wanted chocolate....and was reduced to raiding the supplies for baking.

And very delicious they were too. Even the packaging hit the spot. Thank you, Waitrose.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

winter walking

Blue skies and sunshine have been the order of the day here. In fact, they've been the order of the week, along with a distinct nip in the air and a dusting of frost each morning. I love getting out walking first thing - it sets me up for the day, and with frost on the ground there is the bonus of coming home with a clean-ish Walter.

This morning we walked from home, out of town and across farmland. I didn't meet a soul, it was so peaceful. The slates on this tumble-down barn were thick with frost which seemed to emphasise their fragility.

The frost lingered at the field boundaries where the hedges made shadows. And of course Walter loves to roll on the frosty grass. What is it about frost and cold weather that makes a dog turn just a little mad?

Edited to add: Is that a dead sheep.....or is it Walter? A first glance can be deceptive - see the comments!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

a ray of sunshine

The sun has finally made a very welcome appearance.

It brings with it dancing shadows and the little nodding heads of tête-à-tête that were just a few green shoots two weeks ago.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

shades of grey

It has been relentlessly grey outside for the last week or so. Light levels are low and the days seem a little gloomy, but slowly slowly they are lengthening, even if the sun isn't shining. Tomorrow, sunrise is at 8.13 and sunset is at 16.51, just a whisper more light than today.

It made me think that although I'm not enjoying the general greyness in the weather, I do like grey as a colour. I often wear it, and I like having a little grey around the house. It offsets white beautifully, and reminds me of granite and driftwood and scantle slate roofs - things that I think of as being inherently cornish.

Here are a few grey things to be found round the house at the moment:

Some of my Persephone books
These are my favourite pens for everyday writing. Nothing else comes up to scratch, apart from my fountain pen.
An old galvanised tub. I've rubbed a very thin layer of warmed natural wax polish over the surface, and buffed it to a soft sheen.
Grey wool. This is leftover from the hat, but I do have some more!
And some treasured pebbles, with their beautiful chalky-grey colours. I always have some pebbles somewhere.
How about you - do you like shades of grey, or do you like more colour?

Friday, 14 January 2011

thunderbirds are go!

Not surprisingly, I just couldn't resist the first stamp issue of 2011. A set of Thunderbirds stamps, celebrating the work of Gerry Anderson. If you're unfamiliar with the cult tv series, and the fabulous technique, Supermarionation, see some clips here and here.

The stamps are great fun - it's just a shame they didn't include Lady Penelope.

Happy weekend to you!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

calendar girl

Before I get in to today's post.....it seems that quite a few people have never eaten jerusalem artichokes (see last post) and that made me think about where I get mine, because you don't often see them in your regular greengrocer. I buy mine at my local farmers' market, or WI (yes, that's women's institute) country market. Failing that, I might be lucky enough to be given a bag by friends. They're very easy to grow, and in fact can be a little invasive once established!

So...on to other things. January is a time of renewal on many levels, including hanging the new calendars. I love the ritual of choosing a new calendar...or two... I find it incredibly hard to restrict myself to just one. I did have vague thoughts of creating my own, but in truth that got no further than a random whisper in my brain. Besides, it's always fun looking at other people's work, and it's a great way to have some new artwork on the wall. This year I have chosen Flora Douville's photo calendar again. I had one last year, and it was gorgeous. How could I not be seduced a second time? Flora has three different calendars on offer (and if you're quick, a giveaway for one, too).

Isn't it beautiful? I love the juxtaposition of the images.
There is also a minor detail which crops up in european calendars versus american calendars. I like my week to start on a monday...so my weekend is complete at the end of the week. Most american-made/designed calendars start the week on a sunday, and it splits my weekend up. I feel cheated! A minor detail, I know, especially as I rarely look at the day and date anyway. That's reserved for the kitchen calendar, which hasn't arrived yet - the one where I scribble important things like birthdays.... One year I failed to write anything on it at all. You can imagine the consequences.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

perfectly knobbly

It has been the most perfect day here - a slow and gentle start followed by a couple of hours of brisk walking. The sun has been shining all day, ending with a pinky red sunset. A little sunshine goes a long way to nourish the senses and warm the heart.

My just-eaten supper has also hit the spot. A paper bag of jerusalem artichokes just begging to be slowly cooked until they were meltingly tender. I used this recipe, from Nigel Slater's Tender, Volume 1. There are leftovers, too, so that's one supper sorted later in the week.

I love these knobbly, slightly odd-looking vegetables. They have a delicious mellow slightly sweet flavour.

Have you been watching Simple Suppers? I'd kill for a kitchen like that.

I've had a lovely weekend, but frankly I could do with another day. How about you?

sunbathing

Essential sunday morning sunbathing.  

Saturday, 8 January 2011

double whammy

A quick knit completed and dispatched this week - a present for Ben's birthday.

I love this hat because it's:

Easy to knit
Stylish and warm
And you get two-for-one - it's fully reversible, just turn it inside out!

 slightly gloomy pics - a distinct lack of daylight this week!

And he loves it, which is a relief.

The pattern is Christopher by Jane Richmond, and it knits up on 4.5mm needles. I used some more Sublime organic merino from my stash. It's wonderfully soft, with a fine halo. It's such a shame this wool has been discontinued, though I have to confess to buying quite a few balls in various colours when it was discontinued at Kemps and Black Sheep (both sites are worth keeping an eye on, the occasional gem turns up).

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

just for fun

It's a long time since I've had a little play with Wordle. It's always interesting to see what comes up when you enter your blog url.

This is the latest incarnation for Pebbledash. Love this - probably because 'Walter' shows up so large!

Go and have some fun right here.

Monday, 3 January 2011

my boy

I've just received a beautiful thank you note from my niece and nephew, with this stunning photo of Walter on the front.

The photograph was taken by my niece, Justine, a very talented photograher, when we were all on Chesil Beach last September. It has to be the best photo I have of Walter - and is probably of no interest to anyone else but myself and the Walter Fan Club, but that's ok!

Sunday, 2 January 2011

growth

An abandoned and neglected pot in my courtyard is suddenly showing signs of life - a promise of colour to come. I think these are a few bulbs of tête-à-tête - and are much better re-potted and brought in to the house.

Some new shoots seem entirely appropriate for this time of year, when we're all busy making plans and setting our intentions for the months to come.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

one

I don't think I've ever been more relieved to leave December behind and turn the page to the New Year. I'm in need of something shiny and new to grab my attention. I'm tired of my own company (but not Walter's!) and the four walls of my little house. I'm still feeling a touch unwell - tired and a little light-headed, but heaps better overall.

Today I had my first 'proper' walk in what seemed like ages. Walter and I headed to the woods - I shuffled along, and he went a little nutty, loving the freedom and space to run around madly chasing sticks and then cooling off in the river.

Back home I sat down with my new diary and a mug of Green and Blacks, and started dreaming about the twelve months ahead. How I love the potential a new year brings, a blank canvas. Bring it on, I say!

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and creative year ahead. As Goethe said:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
Begin it now.
* * *
Thank you so much for all the emails and comments I've received in the last ten days. Each and every one has made me smile. I've had very little computer time, but hope to catch up in the next few days!