The time of year May 30, 2010Posted by Fiona in Bwargh, Craftiness, Knitting.
It is a sure fact, I have discovered, that if I don’t bring every knitting supply I own halfway round the country at the beginning and end of every term, then whatever I want is almost certainly at the other end at any given moment.
Right now, I’m talking 4mm circular needles. They were a silly thing to leave behind, as other than my trusty sock needles they’re without a doubt the ones I use most. I have a pair of Addi Lace ones that I bought at IKnit last year, and they’re wonderful for everything – I like my needles pointy to cut-throatedness and sometimes Addi Turbos, super-fast and gloriously clicky though they may be, simply won’t do.
Anyway, I went out yesterday on the prowl for a coffee shop with seats to spare (not easy to find in Durham of a Saturday afternoon), plonked myself down with my warm caffeinated beverage of choice, all the necessaries and a calculator, and swatched my little heart out for a new Thing that’s been occupying my doodle space for the last few weeks:
..but it turns out, no, neither 3.5mm nor 4.5mm needles will do. I am a 4mm needle girl, the maths insists that it is so, and that, it appears, is that.
It is pretty, though.
There is something about knitting cables in aran weight yarn that is so comforting. Cables were the first ‘trick’ I learned with knitting: knit, purl, k2tog, then bam, cables. I don’t even think anyone taught me, particularly, or else I learned just from watching my mum, but they just seemed to make sense at once. So I’ve been itching to get this project going for the last few days, and not having the right needles was a bit on the galling side. They’re even on another project. How awful.
Yesterday evening, plonked down in front of Eurovision with two housemates, a packet of Kettle Chips and a gin and tonic (we know how to live, you guys), I went online and bought a new pair. And, erm, the yarn for an entire cardigan. Personally I think I’ve been very restrained with the yarn buying this term – one skein, and that’s mostly used now, too – so I don’t feel that guilty about breaking my yarn diet on this occasion. Even if I still can’t afford to.
The summer has gone somewhere – nowhere to be found is the glorious sunshine of a few days ago, we’re back to cloud, and wind, and the occasional bit of rain. I suppose it was all a bit too good to be true, and at least we took advantage of the warm weather while it was here, but it’s making me a bit sad, more so than I usually would be in this kind of weather. I suppose it’s the exams. I feel cooped up now. I’m desperate to be outside, even if the weather’s not great. I want to go for a walk – I think I’ve just been inactive for too long.
Less than a week left. As usual, I suppose I ought to take my own advice, and put my head down and run. All cheerfulness – especially if it has nothing to do with current affairs, ethics or gainful employment – gladly welcomed.
What do you get… May 29, 2010Posted by Fiona in Durham, Look what I did, Lovely people, Really good day, University.
…when you take eighteen techies, archaeologists, Boy Scouts and assorted hangers-on, twenty inflatables, quite a lot of doctored broom handles, and give them ideas?
A certain brand of distinctly organised chaos, that’s what. (Photos by Mathematical housemate., with varying degrees of sogginess.) We boldly went…
…into the river. It wasn’t nearly as cold as you’d think – although quite cold enough! And you got very wet very quickly. Unless, of course you’d had the forethought to bring a paddling pool:
We started off by Shincliffe Bridge, and most of us got out at the Hild Bede boathouse, although a few went on as far as Prebends, just to prove that they could. This is what Shincliffe to Hild Bede looks like:
…It’s about a mile and a half, and it took us maybe two hours in rubber rings with broom handle paddles, watching out for the rowers and, of course, waving to people on the banks and the bridges. Prebends bridge – I think, anyway, correct me on this if my geography’s entirely out – do you see the massive meander if you carry on in the direction we were going? At the bottom of that, on the left a bit, you can see a bridge, at about an eight o’clock angle. That’s how far the others went.
If you can’t do it when you’re a student, when can you do it? And what a fantastic thing to have done. Another before picture:
(Heading across Kingsgate bridge from the theatre, where we left our things. What an intrepid crowd. Still can’t believe how many of us there were!)
Afterwards, there were lukewarm showers for those of us who had got a bit too cold – myself included – and hot tea and doughnuts. And Chinese. It was a fantastic afternoon, all things considered. What a way to see Durham, and to enjoy it.
I only have one exam left and it’s not til next Thursday. There’s still a lot of work to do for it, but I think it’s time to calm down a bit now.
Another one bites the dust May 26, 2010Posted by Fiona in Knitting, Law, Sheer bloody-mindedness, Uncategorized.
Hurrah hurrah hurrah. No more trusts, not ever, none at all. No more Re London Wines, no more McPhail v Doulton, no more dread at the phrase “Lord Millett dissenting” or some silly mock-scientific graph about what happens if you put someone else’s money in your bank account, and no more Stack and Dowden ever ever ever.
That latter I’m particularly happy about. It’s a case about a cohabiting couple with joint ownership of a house and what happens when it all goes horribly wrong. If I ever end up buying a house with someone, I want to have sole legal ownership, let the other person pay the mortgage, tell them the house is as much theirs as my backside’s and wallpaper the whole place twice over with no help, just to mess with the family lawyers.
Anyway, it’s all done and dusted now and the two left are far more my cup of tea. Exams mess with my head a bit.
Have some more shawl, anyway:
It’s grown a bit, and personally I think it looks glorious, even if the photo is a bit smudged. I’m a fan of the pattern. It’s Judy Marples’ Calais Shawl. I had the pattern memorised in one six row repeat, and once you’ve done it a few times the double-decrease (sl2, k1, psso) hardly interrupts my flow at all. Plus, I think it looks better than the ordinary sl1-k2tog-psso double-decrease – you don’t get the ‘bar’ of the slipped stich jumping out at you so much. It’s something I’d like to experiment with. With all this time and yarn budget at the moment, however, I think it’s going to be a while. She’s written another one, however, called the Dover Castle Shawl (Ravelry link), which looks unbelievably wearable – my summer knitting is multiplying by the day at the moment!
Friday afternoon’s going to be exciting. I’ll say no more now (ahem) but it involves about a dozen of us, all various combinations of techie, archaeologist and boy scout. Rest assured, there will be photos. And, at the time, probably a fair bit of staring, too. Heh heh heh.
Halfway May 24, 2010Posted by Fiona in Bwargh, Knitting, Law, Sheer bloody-mindedness, University.
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Three down. Criminal, Commercial, Land.
(I need a better camera, seriously.)
Three to go. Trusts and Equity, Employment, Advanced Issues in Public Law.
I am cacking myself about two of these particularly; one because it’s two days away and I feel hopelessly underprepared, the other because it’ got ‘Advanced’ in the title, there are no past papers and all the sample questions we got given look impossible. On the other hand, it’s my favourite subject out of the lot of them, and it’s five days after the last of the other two. Also, its emphasis is not so much on remembering lots of cases, but remembering a few really well. So I’m really looking forward to spending those five days in coffee shops rather than the library, reading cases and commentary because I enjoy them, probably with a danish pastry and knitting something uncomplicated out of this:
(Photo from Laughing Yaffle)
I have one skein of it, and I think it might end up being some socks with a pattern that I don’t have to look at, once the Zauberball ones are finished. I’m quite taken with Anne Hanson’s Port Ludlow socks, but wouldn’t dare knitting anything pale yellow. I’ve taken a week’s break from socks recently, because I really don’t think I can face turning any more heels at the moment, but it’s taken an entire evening of pattern-searching and I can’t find anything other than socks that this skein might want to be.
Apart from Luce. It might want to be a Luce. I think a Luce in sporadically variegated yarn might be amazing, if outlandish. Gloriously so, however, rather than obnoxiously so.
Anyway. If you can think of anything not too complicated that a 460yd skein of fingering weight yarn in green-and-exciting might want to be, I’m all ears.
Urgh. Trusts is sapping my soul. If I read about many more wills, or divorces, I’m just going to have to eat my own body weight in Dairy Milk. I promise to write something more interesting as soon as it’s over.
Introducing Luce May 21, 2010Posted by Fiona in Big things, Craftiness, Knitting, Look what I did, Lovely people, Patterns, Really good day.
Tags: de minimis, fingerless gloves, knitting, lace, luce, pattern, stitchthisdarling
Well, I don’t have any more exams until Wednesday, so I thought it was right about time to share this with you. I couldn’t be more excited, honestly. I’ve been waving these under people’s noses for weeks, and bragging about them for longer. My housemates are sick of hearing about them, as, I imagine, are my immediate family.
This is Luce. Fingerless gloves, knitted in the round from the elbow up, because nothing says maverick decadence like fishnet lace opera gloves, right? They’re named after the very lovely Lucy because if Lucy wore knitwear, I’d like to think a) it’d be like this, and b) I’d have knitted it. And she’s off the wall, and clever, and unselfconscious, and a little bit chaotically elegant – and I like to think that Luce is a little bit of all that, too.
It turns out, in fact, that I like knitting. A lot. So when I design something of my own, it tends to have a lot of Things in it: slightly unusual picot cast on, twisted rib, lace, cables… I thought while I was knitting it that it was fairly simple, and so it is to knit, but I’ve learned so much about writing up patterns for other people’s benefit from this that it’s been really exciting. Knitters, do you remember the first time you turned a heel, and suddenly it was deconstructed into gusset and cup and flap, and suddenly it all made sense in a completely different way to before? Well this was kind of like that. Very interesting to write, and I hope interesting to knit. It’s also, on the subject of knitting it, very quick: my test-knitters tell me that you can finish a pair in twelve hours with very little difficulty, and they don’t even need to be blocked, so if you have a short attention span then you may well love them.
These have been such a learning curve for me. I’ve learned the gentle art of writing things up, of sizing, of messing around with PDF files, of test-knitting and tech-editing (with a lot of help along the way – thanks to all concerned!). I’ve actually, deliberately taken photos of myself, and enlisted other people to join in, which is something of a milestone to me – so thanks are also due to Fesoes and Roomie for their support, encouragement, and camera skills.
(Someone tell her she takes a good photo – she won’t believe us!)
TGFS May 15, 2010Posted by Fiona in Bwargh, Craftiness, Knitting, Look what I did, University.
I hoped I’d have a pattern to share with you by now; unfortunately the fates have conspired against me so you’ll probably have to wait another week or two. My first exam is on Monday, I was hoping to have it all sorted already…
My parents had an acronym that they routinely used for most of my childhood, mostly to describe alcohol or really good chocolate, and it was TGFC: Too Good For Children. I have found, over the last year or so, my own personal equivalent of this, and it refers to a certain sort of yarn, usually fingering weight, that provokes the response, “You’re not seriously thinking of putting that on your feet?”
Yarn costing over £14 for a 100g skein automatically falls under this category (what can I say? I’m a student), as does yarn that is particularly squishable, or particuarly beautifully dyed. After all, if it’s that good, you put it round your neck, or you put it where people are going to see it, surely? I tend to be far more willing to use good yarn for socks for other people than for socks for myself, so that has an impact as well. Also automatically in my Too Good For Socks category goes any yarn I’ve had to hunt for, wait for, or refresh a web page for.
Malabrigo is a prime example of “What, are you mad? Are you actually planning on standing on that, never mind wearing shoes with it?” yarn. As is, I have discovered, Posh Yarn. There’s something exciting about going after something coveted, and page-refreshing for pretty things. I’ll get you yet, Wollmeise. But in the meantime, I have one lovely bluey-green skein of fingering weight Posh Yarn Elinor, and it’s a bouncy 100% merino 2-ply and it’s lovely. I’m making a shawl for Linguistic Housemate for when she goes on her year abroad next year. Covert knitting! How exciting. It’s a stunning colour, even if my photo-taking skills are somewhat depleted:
You can’t see the colours very well, but I assure you it’s looooovely. Mmm. I could almost keep it for myself. And importantly I could never, ever make socks from it!
In other news, GREEN SHAWL!
It’s so exciting, and GREEN! And I love it. Yes, I am hiding behind it again, but that is only because for some reason it smells really good. I’ve no idea what soak was used after it was dyed, but it’s lovely, and you can just smell it a little bit behind the few drops of lavender I stuck in the hot water I soaked it in before I blocked it. It’s utterly inhalable, and I love it. The only modification to the pattern I made was to replace the lacy border with just a couple of lines of garter stitch. I like the lace border technique-wise, but it’s not really the kind of thing I’d wear. I should have done another few rows of garter stitch; the stocking stitch triangles still roll a bit, even after blocking. Meh. Still going to wear it lots, so I think it’s an overall success.
Slightly depressingly, it was finished very quickly, as it was procrastination from all those socks which were procrastination from actually working. You can probably tell how well it’s going.
I got a parcel the other day from my mum, with an Exam Survival Kit in it: a shoebox containing water biscuits, a packet of good coffee, some Lapsang Souchong, quite a lot of Thorntons chocolate and a small stuffed bear. It made my day, although my housemates contend that it’s not a good thing that I’ve now found a tea more scary and odd-smelling than Lemon and Ginger. I beg to disagree.
Last night, I was at the library til 2.30am. Tonight similarly, I expect. If you’re about, come talk to me! I’ll probably be sat on Floor 4 despressing myself with either reckless HIV transmission or the Sale of Goods Act, I haven’t decided. Anyway, I could always do with the company.
It’s my hundredth post. How, ah, exciting.
The problem with Southerners May 9, 2010Posted by Fiona in Big things, Breaking the fourth wall, Durham, Lovely people, Uncategorized.
Ah, sweeping generalisations. They make the world go round. Therefore I’m going to add the disclaimer that this is all in my experience, as a Hampshire girl living six months of the year in Durham. One’s about as south as you can go without hitting the water, the other is fairly close, in the grand design of things, to as far north as you can go without hitting Scotland. This is about the stereotypes that I’ve heard, and some of the opinions I’ve heard expressed in jest, and in all seriousness. No, I am not going to tell you which is which. Yes, these are all gross generalisations, but they are closer to the truth, I think, than maybe it’s PC to expect.
“People in [whichever end of the country I come from] are definitely friendlier.”
“You’re the ones that talk funny!”
These two sentiments are bandied about like nobody’s business at either end of the country. At home, I get the occasional merciless teasing now for pronouncing Newcastle with a short ‘a’ – something for which I am not apologetic for the same reason that I pronounce ‘chorizo’ with a lisp, as opposed to calling it ‘chorit-so’. Simply because, if you go to Newcastle, that’s what it’s called. ‘Newcarrrrr-sle’ simply doesn’t exist.
When I’m up in Durham, I am very conscious of my accent. I can feel that some of the locals eye me with a bit of suspicion, and some of them (generally men, as it happens – and I’ll get to that, I don’t think it’s a Feminist Statement) talk down to me because of how I speak. I have a fairly RP accent. It takes about five seconds for anyone to work out whereabouts in the UK I’m from. When I’m at home during the holidays, and I use a hard ‘a’ sound as in ‘maths’, as I’ve noticed I start doing when I’m trying to ingratiate myself with someone informally, I get eyebrows raised at me.
Personally, I think people from the south are friendlier to me, but that is because for the 99th percent I sound like them. However, I have a theory as to why people from the south are perceived by people from the north as less friendly, and the opposite isn’t true to nearly the same extent.
It’s because they, from the south, don’t understand what they, from the north, are saying.
The BBC has always been the ultimate purveyors, if you like, of crisp accents. The BBC is heard nationwide, by everybody. Institutions other than the BBC use similar accents, and people who speak with an non-RP accent are very exposed to what an RP accent sounds like, and what an Estuary accent sounds like. They can understand it, no problem. It sounds different to them, but not that out of the ordinary. When I got up to Durham for the first time, it sounds like a bit of a cliché or an exaggeration but I had real problems with the local accent – to the extent that I hid from my cleaners for the first few months to avoid conversation, and tried my utmost to go shopping with friends so I didn’t have to hold my own so much in a concentration. It’s a fairly thick accent, and asking someone to repeat themselves, especially with my voice, sounds very condescending. So for a lot of the first few months I don’t doubt that I came across as a bit frosty.
I think people from the south-east, where I’ve grown up, can get a little bit snooty about the accents of people who are not from the south-east, and I think the reason for that is that they have to try that bit harder to tune into other accents, because they don’t hear them so often. I know I find it a lot easier to cope with now, compared with before, and compared with some of my friends: I’ve had to translate for a few of them before, or carry on a conversation while they’re quiet. It’s very sad, but I think a lot of the perceived unfriendliness of people who, well, live where I do, comes from the fact that they don’t quite understand what’s being said as easily, and maybe they feel subconsciously a bit defensive because they feel like they have a disadvantage. If you think about it, it makes sense: accents that are more frequently heard on the BBC: your Thames Estuary, your Edinburgh Scots, your Welsh, your occasional West Country, a lot of people find them easier to understand than for instance your Geordie or Yorkshire.
Which brings me to why County Durham men, particularly, are a little bit condescending towards me. Really, we have nothing in common at first sight. I’m a woman. I’m a lot younger than them. I’m from the university. I sound like I’m going to be on the defensive because I speak like I’ve just come from tea with the Queen. Frankly, I revert to stereotypes a bit when I’m talking to a fair few of them, I’m not surprised they do the same with me, at least then we both know how to act towards each other. It’s not exactly a brilliant basis for forming a brief but meaningful friendship.
You know, I would like to teach the world to sing, and I would like to be taken seriously the country over. In the meantime, I will content myself with biting my lip at Southern Fairy jokes and the description of anyone’s accent as Horrible or Harsh or Failing To Enunciate, and just put all my effort into trying to understand what they’re saying. And if I ask you to repeat yourself, don’t tell anyone, but it means I like you.
Who are you and what have you done with Fiona? May 8, 2010Posted by Fiona in Breaking the fourth wall, Bwargh, Durham, Knitting, Look what I did, Sheer bloody-mindedness.
I am so unbelievably bored of socks right now.
I know how unlikely that seems. I am ready to turn two heels right now: I’ve finished the cuff of Purple Sock #2 and the foot of Zauberball Sock #2, and I really cannot be bothered with either of them.
This is unfortunate for several reasons: firstly, one of them is sort of on a deadline (which is rapidly making whooshing noises as it flies by, apologies to all concerned), secondly, the other one is sort of my therapy at the moment, and thirdly, I was using both pairs as counterbalance against each other to ward against Second Sock Syndrome.
So what to do? The answer I’ve settled upon is this:
Knit another shawl. (Yes, I am hiding behind it, why do you ask?) This is Damson, by Ysolda Teague, with Laughing Yaffle sock yarn in colourway Forest, and yes I did start it a few days ago so as not to have to look another DPN in the eye. It’s most of the way to finished (although I’m planning on mucking about with the edging because I’ve never been sure of the lacey one in the original, however fun it was to work), and I should have it finished in the next few days.
Obviously, I had to knit a shawl, after Midge lost my old Damson on Dartmoor in March. It’s so nice to knit a project on needles larger than 2.75mm in diameter – and it’s amazing how fast it’s going.
On the subject of ‘Who are you and what have you done with Fiona’, something else amazing happened yesterday morning. Some of you might know that I’ve been procrastinating starting the Couch to 5k programme since, ooh, probably January… well it turns out Ex-Roomie has been jogging since the start of the Easter holidays, and seeing as she’s already seen me embarass myself fully during the term we spent sharing a room at college last year, I asked her if I could tag along.
A few weeks ago, I marched determinedly to M&S, tape measure in bag, and bought myself a sports bra. I am convinced that this is the most terrifying piece of undergarmentry I own – and there are some strong contenders. On Thursday afternoon, Roomie and I went out, and she cajoled me into buying what I am convinced is a comprehensive list of clothes I never thought I’d wear, never mind spend actual money on: running shoes, leggings and short shorts. (The short shorts on my insistence that yes, she could drag me into wearing leggings if she really wanted, but my arse is still shy and I am not braving the VPL in public. Yet.)
You guys. I ran nearly two miles yesterday. On purpose! Chased by nobody! Wearing leggings! If you are shocked, it is probably less than I am. I still can’t believe I did it. I have, however, four observations:
1) The fact that Durham is a city where, in the words of His Nibs, ‘the only flat bits are vertical’, is a definite plus here. I may go red in the face after about a minute and a half of the quickstep, but I’m definitely fitter than I thought I was.
2) It turns out, nobody is watching you run, and if you do it with purpose they seem to assume you know what you’re doing. Even if you are wearing hideous trousers.
3) Running after five hours sleep post-election night (where much gin was consumed, and I went to bed at a quarter past four) was probably not the cleverest idea I ever had. I was pretty much useless all afternoon.
4) You know people who exercise regularly always tell you how much better you feel for it? That it’s exhilarating, and you don’t have to think about anything else, and you just feel so powerful and capable and, well, better? Based on my experience of one, it’s a lie. I felt horrible doing it, I felt horrible afterwards. I will say for it, though, that now I’m home and I’ve had a sleep and a shower, the sense of smug self-satisfaction is definitely worth it.
We’re going out again tomorrow. Wish me luck.
A last-ditch attempt May 5, 2010Posted by Fiona in Big things, Breaking the fourth wall, Craftiness, Small things, University.
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David Miliband and Nick Clegg both spoke at the Union Society today. I saw the set-up, and the crowds, as I was walking to the library. Unfortunately, I wasn’t lucky enough to get a place to see either of them speak – it’s something I’ll have to look up on Youtube later, I think. My housemates all went to Clegg’s address, and Mathematical and Lawyerly went to Miliband’s too, because they were running the sound system (and just interested). Apparently Miliband is a very good speaker.
Last night, we were trying to remember what he did. He’s the Foreign Secretary. But if you asked me who’s the Home Secretary at the moment? Well, we were trying to work it out last night. I couldn’t remember. It’s Alan Johnson. Alan Johnson to me is (nearly the name of) the BBC journalist who was kidnapped in Palestine a few years back. And that’s my point – all this election hype, all this reading of manifestos, and debating of issues, and general awareness, and I couldn’t even tell you who the Home Secretary is.
I’m not going to try and tell you who to vote for. For me it’s too late – I’m voting by post – so maybe it’s too late for you too. I’m not going to tell you what I think of Johann Hari, although my father makes sure I usually have a copy of any article he writes because they have similar ideas about things. I’m not going to tell you what I think’s going to happen – although there’s only really one way that I think it can possibly go, and that’s going to be interesting.
What difference is it going to make, in the great design of things, anyway?
Today, I went and picked out ribbon to go with a project I’m making. The lady in the embroidery shop in the Indoor Market now recognises me on sight. We had a lovely conversation about her daughter’s A-level choices, and she aahed over the project, and offered to give me some old needles of hers that she’s unlikely to use, and helped me choose the colours of ribbon. I love how crafting puts community back where I don’t feel like anyone cares at the moment. Linguistic housemate and I were talking this morning about living in London. If I didn’t think there was the likelihood of finding a really nice knitting group, I don’t think I could do it any more. Is that sad?
You can probably tell I’m back in the library again.
Toes May 2, 2010Posted by Fiona in Craftiness, Knitting.
Four. (Dodgy photo!) And, as of this afternoon…
Soon to be six, but you can’t count toes so quickly when you knit top-down. But the colours, right? All the colours.
There’s one love that we all share: yarn. Blog about a particular yarn you have used in the past or own in your stash, or perhaps one that you covet from afar. If it is a yarn you have used you could show the project that you used it for, perhaps writing a mini ‘review’. Perhaps, instead, you pine for the feel of the almost mythical qiviut? You could explore and research the raw material and manufacturing process if you were feeling investigative.
So it’s the end of the week! I’ve found quite a few more blogs that I’ll be reading avidly, and I hope I might have gained a few more readers myself. Either way, I’ve really enjoyed it and it’s been a fantastic opportunity to look back at my knitting and think yeah. I did that. And I’m really quite proud of it. And, of course, to look at the future and all the things I’ve still yet to try. There’s so much to have a go at! Anyway. Yarn.
The colours are the thing, for me, absolutely and always. I’d probably knit with rope if it were a glorious enough colour. As it is, my favourite yarns are almost without failure hand-dyed. I love small-scale dyers. Unfortunately, this isn’t usually particularly healthy on a student budget – which, unfortunately, means I’ve had to steer clear of Etsy on the most part, because shipping from America tends to be out of my budget. However, here are some of my favourite indie dyers in tue UK:
Laughing Yaffle. Colour saturation like no other. Absolutely amazing.
Easyknits. I’ve made a few shawls out of Easyknits yarn. It’s yummy.
Violet Green. Utterly droolable, free shipping is so enticing.
And my current absolute favourite, Old Maiden Aunt. (That’s a very attractive cuff, right there, don’t you think?)
Oh- what? I was only supposed to talk about one yarn? Sorry. I got a bit carried away. No, no I admit, that’s not unusual.