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Graduation July 1, 2011

Posted by Fiona in Big things, Durham, Law, Look what I did, Lovely people, Really good day, Theatre, University.
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Graduation means movement.  Colour graduates.  Two days ago, so did I.

My university experience involved a lot of sitting in libraries and accompanying backache.  It involved a lot of coffee, and fruit tea, and late nights, and massive books.  To begin with, I thought I’d read the massive books cover to cover and that’d be fine.  I never did that once.  I pulled more all-nighters than I care to mention.  I blagged a lot.  I slept in, and panicked, quite a few times.  I came home at the end of every term and slept for several days straight, and I cried at eleven o’clock at night because I didn’t think I could keep going but I still had several hours’ work to do.

I didn’t get a first in anything.  Not once.

I learned how to paint floors, and walls, quickly, and how to put up lights and hem tablecloths and take in clothes.  I learned to knit jumpers.  I made gallons of tea and cooked for fifteen with half an hour’s notice.  I gave up my sofa, my living room, my entire house to other people, and I didn’t leave my bedroom for three days at a time.

I got drunk with people I didn’t know and regretted it every time, but kept doing it anyway.  Eventually I knew the people and I still regretted it.  I walked on cobbles and down steep hills in 5″ stillettos, and had to be walked home at two in the morning in the snow.  I ate rice for five days in a row, and spaghetti bolognese four times in the same week.  I stayed up til the small hours, drinking blackcurrant squash and playing Lego Indiana Jones with seven or eight people crammed onto two sofas.

When I graduated, I didn’t go to the law department.  The law department is not representative of my university experience, even though I did a fair bit of law and I enjoyed what I did.  My university experience would not be summed up anywhere near my department.

It’d be here, after working on a show with the other techies, all gathered round a table at the pub, dressed in black and grimy because we haven’t had time to shower for three or four days and so tired we’re all getting distracted by the lights on the slot machines.

Or it’d be here, eating cake backstage and trying to avoid being one of the people who has to move the piano and surruptitiously keeping an eye on my props table.

Or else it’d be at a college do, scrubbed up well and surrounded by friends, and smiles, and good conversation.

I’ll miss Durham, and I’ll miss my degree, and I’ll miss spending hours browsing Westlaw and reading things just that bit off topic.  But if something sums up the last few years, it won’t be the law department.  If I had to pick a building, it’d have to be this one.

Back home now.  You’ll probably hear from me more often.  Not that that’s in any way difficult.

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Barfest February 6, 2011

Posted by Fiona in Durham, Lovely people, Really good day, University.
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This one’s a bit diary-ish.

College Barfest.  A phrase that inevitably sounds like a knell of doom for anyone who isn’t a student.  You can probably guess what it involves as well: for a start, a lot of quite of exciting ales, lagers, ciders, cocktails that you wouldn’t usually find at a college bar.  Also, live music and a good time.

On the other hand, we’re also students, so the music was eye-wateringly loud, a fair few people drank quite a lot, and certain bits of college got very messy indeed.

For me, it was another chance to have a college breakfast – something I’ve missed a lot since I lived in, in my first year – mess about with sound equipment and good friends over a bottle of cider, and just generally enjoy the college atmosphere.  There’s always a great sense of community that tends to be worth soaking up, and who am I to turn down a chance to have a go at sound opping?

Exhibit A: band to the left, techies to the right, and practically never, in my experience, the twain shall meet.  I think – and don’t quote me on this – that this was a particularly good jazz band setting themselves up.  Music at college events is a lot less genre-narrow than it used to be – I went to a ceilidh a few weeks ago, the percentage of songs without the word ‘baby’ in the lyrics is looking up.

I had to leave mid-afternoon for a French lesson.  (Mais oui, mon Francais est tres broken still but improving un peu these days.  Je tricote, tu tricotes, il/elle tricote etc – also I now have three tenses and a working knowledge of Belgian cartoons.)  By the time I got back, everyone else had had a bit of a head-start on the cider, so the evening consisted of sticking it to the man techie-style:

(Utterly subtle techie in-joke there for you.  If you don’t get it, I can’t really elaborate except to say that if someone wearing blacks sends you for a long stand, tell them where they can shove it.)

There was tea and frank conversation in one of the kitchens, and a speedy and satisfactory clear-up.

Setting up and taking down tech equipment is something I used to hate, but now I really enjoy.  When you actually know what’s happening, and where things to, and what generally to do with them, it’s really good fun – especially because the majority of the college tech team now consists of my pretty close friends.  I’ve waxed lyrical about how much I love working with people I’m good friends with before.

A few things about tech that I really wish more people knew:

Firstly, piecing together how things work is essentially a combination of observation, practice, common sense and a bit of bodging.  A lot of people who don’t do tech don’t seem to realise this: someone came up to a few of us yesterday and said, ‘Are you techies?  Could you see if you can do something about the reception of the TV in the bar?’  Seriously?  It’s like saying, ‘You’re a computer programmer, why isn’t my printer working?’  On the other hand, if I’m actually doing something, chances are I know how to do it.  Some well-meaning chap yesterday actually explained to me what a mute button was for.  I’m still a bit gobsmacked.

Secondly, many things make sense when you differentiate ‘techies’ from ‘people’.  I have been led to conclude that the general perception of techies seems to be as wizards who love nothing better than clearing up after everyone else.  I’m not entirely sure why this is such generally accepted logic, but, well, it is.  If you’re running an event, I implore you: remember your techies exist when they’re not in the same room as you, give them time to eat, and don’t ask the impossible.  If you don’t know if it’s impossible, ask.  Just because they’re talking in acronyms and getting on with things quietly in a corner doesn’t mean they’re actually a different species.

Oh, it was good fun.  I like being back up at college, I really do.

Morstan Mittens November 10, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Big things, Breaking the fourth wall, Craftiness, Knitting, Look what I did, Lovely people, Patterns, Really good day.
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Named after Mary Morstan, the most well-gloved of Victorian ladies, and, if you like, the sidekick’s sidekick.  She was Dr Watson’s wife in the Sherlock Holmes stories.  Importantly, she was the inspiration for these:

They were published today in Winter Knitcircus – alongside quite a lot of very beautiful things that I am absolutely in awe of being associated with.  I highly recommend having a flick through.

They also come fingerless:

I’m so unbelievably chuffed with them – ever since the samples came back I’ve been wearing them non-stop.  I adore Manos Silk Blend (the green yarn in the fingerless mitts) and I’d love to design with it again.  The Ethical Twist from the mittens might be familiar to you as well – I used it in my Garden Cardigan over the summer, and the mittens are just as warm and snuggly as the cardigan is.  I’m wearing the cardigan a lot these days, too.

You can buy the pattern from Knitcircus magazine directly – either singly or with the whole Winter pattern collection.  So many pretty things.  Squee.

Morstan mittens on Ravelry:

All photos courtesy of Knitcircus.

In York September 24, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Craftiness, Knitting, Lovely people, Really good day.
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I went to York today, seeing The Philosopher and (later) Captain Shakespeare.  It was great.  We went to Ramshambles, and Duttons (of course) and I spent a fortune on yarn and buttons (of course), and then we went back to Ramshambles so that Philosopher could get herself some yarn and needles and learn to knit again.  This made me exceptionally happy; Philosopher’s mum is a fantastic knitter and over the years has both taught me and inspired me to try so many new things – socks, lace, fair isle, entrelac – and it gives me such a buzz to return the craft to the family, and to share something I love so much with one of my best friends.  Few combinations have helped me so much through the melancholy times over the years as much as Philosopher and knitting.  Family aside, I feel like I’ve been able to give something back to her.

The yarn is beautiful, by the way.  It got dark before I could get a picture, so the best one I have is this:

It’s dyed in Yorkshire by the lady who owns the sheep it came from.  And it’s beautiful, and soft, and I don’t know what I’m going to make with it, but I have plenty of ideas. Scroll Lace Scarf (Ravelry link)? Multnomah? Gaenor?  The possibilities are endless.

I’ve waxed lyrical on how much I love York before – for me, it’s such an inspiring city; a maze of beautiful streets and architecture and wonderful little finds, and full of craft shops seemingly inhabited by people as enthusiastic about these things as I am.  As far as I’m concerned, there are few things as fun as being enthusiastic about things when there’s more than one of you.  It absolutely makes the world go round.

And then I got home to discover my skirt from Tara Starlet had arrived – it’s the black version, and I’ve been lusting over it for ages, and I’m so pleased to finally get my hands on it.  It fits like a dream!  I am, however, incapable of taking non-blurry photos of myself, so you’ll have to imagine that I look as gloriously kitsch and attractive in it as the model, and also that I have similarly excellent hairdressing skills.

It’s been a good day, all things considered.

In which Scotland was big enough for the both of us August 29, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Big things, Craftiness, Knitting, Look what I did, Really good day, Uncategorized.
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Dad and I went to Scotland.  It was stunning.  I will now proceed to bombard you with pictures of mountains.

Following streams is not always a clever idea, as we found, especially if you’re following them downwards.  Wet trouser legs all round!

The north of the island is just in every way glorious.  We walked along the top of this, and never saw a single person:

Can you imagine that?  I can’t think of anywhere else I’ve ever been that I could say that about.  Which means either I haven’t travelled much, which is entirely likely, or that’s rare.  On the way back, the Peak District seemed to contain a stifling number of people.  I couldn’t believe it.

This is probably my favourite view of the year.

Hope Island.  We unfortunately didn’t have time to visit, but seeing that from a trig point, very high up and from not all that great a distance, and I assure you it hasn’t been misnamed in the slightest.

There was also knitting!  And outrageous posing with same!  And there were definitely tights.

This might just be the best photo taken of me all year.  I don’t generally take photos particularly well.

There was also knitting, of course, and that’s probably going to be blocked tomorrow, so hopefully there will be pictures soonish.

In other knitting news, the Incredible Custom-Fit Raglan is, I can confirm, a terrifying piece of machinery.  Having knitted one cardigan and half a jumper of upperwear in my life (the former of which is what’s being blocked tomorrow), I decided to jump in at the deep end and make something from scratch myself.  I’m blaming Knit and Crochet Blog Week from a few months ago – having admitted I wanted to design my own cardigan, I haven’t been able to get the idea out of my head.   As far as I’ve got, which is just starting on the waist shaping, the logistics are fiendish and they’re making my head hurt.  However, with the judicious use of time, a lot of chocolate and numerous spreadsheets, I think I’m getting the hang of it.  Probably.  If I finish this thing, it is getting worn til it falls apart.

Results August 24, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Big things, Craftiness, Look what I did, Lovely people, Really good day, Sheer bloody-mindedness.
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I’m back!  Arran was fantastic, and I love it to bits.  I also have swag, by which I mean a fair bit of yarn from Arran itself and from The Wool Baa in Sheffield, into which Dad and I nipped on the way home.  He’s a bit scared of knitters, is my dad.  He’s barely met any, and he wasn’t looking forward to going into a yarn shop and potentially having to converse with people who are interested in very different things to him.  Half an hour later, therefore, we emerged from the Wool Baa with me clutching a skein of teal Araucania Ranco Solid (try as I might, I’ve never been able to resist Ranco) and some very pretty Cascade Heathers, probably for Verity, and him grinning from ear to ear looking for all the world like he’d made a new best friend.  This is what knitters do to you, ladies and gents.  It’s such a sociable sport.

We walked miles.  It was fantastic.  We went up hills, and over moors, and ambled around standing stones and discovered trig points and ate a lot of chocolate raisins.  We got a fair few scratches and bruises from heather, and enjoyed ourselves so much.  After having been cooped up indoors at work for so long recently, it was the best thing I could possibly have done.  I adore places where the land meets the sea and the sky, and where different heights and colours and sounds are just so close to each other.  Let us say, there is no chance of my ever being agoraphobic.  Dad has photos, and he’s as good at procrastinating as I am so I haven’t even seen them yet.

Other than that, I knitted loads, finished a pair of socks (remember the bright green ones I was knitting on Grey Day? finally finished!) as well as my First!Completed!Cardigan!Ever! which is yet to be blocked, and is a test knit so I think deserves a post to itself.  I also read The Hound of the Baskervilles and ate my body weight in smoked salmon, prawns, oatcakes and cheese.  Dad took the opportunity to introduce me to the concept of ale I might actually like, and at the age of twenty I drank my first pint – of Arran Blonde.  I’m still not entirely won over, but it feels like a milestone to me.

It was everything a holiday should be, is what I’m saying.

In unrelated news, if you’re in the UK you probably haven’t been able to escape the fact that A Level results day was last Thursday, and it’s all getting easier and we’re all getting thicker and should just stop doing degrees because there aren’t enough places and 95% of courses are overrated anyway.  Just thinking about my A Levels, two years on, puts me in meltdown – especially the subtle implication of the British media that I don’t really deserve my three As, or that anyone could have got them, because it’s all easier than it was thirty years ago anyway.  All of which is by the by now anyway, because I’m done with A Levels and part way through a Batchelor’s degree, so of course now is their opportunity to spend the next five years devaluing those as well.

What this was intended to be, however, before it was a rant about how nobody cares if I work hard or start taking coffee intravenously and memorising the relevant sections of the Dewey Decimal System, is that it’s GCSE results day today, and my fantastic and brainy and front-page-on-results-day-worthy little sister got hers this morning!  I am slightly teary, who knew she was that grown up?  And she’s done brilliantly, as we all knew she would because she’s a clever sod, and better than I did, which was equally inevitable for the same reasons.  I am so very proud of her.

(That’s a very sexy hat you’re sporting there, Midge.  Is that a slight hint of grey cabley goodness with moss stitch panels?  I cannot think where you might have got it.)

(Note to everyone: I am related to her.  Yes!  I know!  I am hoping to goodness some of it is genetic.)

Falling off the wagon August 13, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Craftiness, Knitting, Really good day.
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I have been on a bit of a laceweight binge today.

What happened was this: Mum and I had a day off that coincided, so we decided the best thing to do with this was a Monumental Crafts Of London Day: coffee at the British Theatre, wandering round Liberty’s fabric section and stalking haughtily around the button collection at John Lewis on Oxford Street making mildly vitriolic comments about how if I wanted to spend £8 on three yards of slightly fancy elastic, I’d gold plate it, and how Cath Kidston is absolutely the first person I would choose to educate me in the ways of vintage things.

Oh yeah, and we went to Loop.  Of course we went to Loop.  They’ve just moved from a one-storey shop to a two-storey shop with armchairs, so there was no way we were going to miss it.

This Misti Alpaca is for Laminaria Estonian lace shawl which I keep meaning to make.  It’s pinkier than the photo suggests and is strong competition for the World’s Softest Thing, alongside very small babies and the fluff found on the tummies of hamsters.  Needless to say, a fair portion of the train journey home was spent with my face buried in it.  The gentleman in a suit sat opposite me gave me some fantastic confused looks.

This Malabrigo Lace is just because.  I don’t know what it’ll be, but it’s going to be fantastic.

I absolutely have not just bought a mile and a half of laceweight yarn.  No way.  This is not a problem.

I’m off to Bristol tomorrow, meeting people I met on the internet and probably buying more yarn.  There will almost certainly be more pictures.  Excellent.

Handbags and Questing August 3, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Craftiness, Really good day.
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I have a theory, and it’s to do with the colours that are in fashion at the moment, which, I have to say, I think are horrible.  I was in Gap this afternoon and it’s all washed out pinks and beiges and greys and insipid navy, and I thought, this stuff doesn’t look new.  It looks old, and worn, and a little bit shabby.  Knitwear is also back in, chunky, maroon and mustard and off-white baggy jumpers.  Big boots that look, in a sort of stylised way, like they’re for walking long distances through mud in.  Wellington boots.

My theory is this: what people want is handmade.  What people want is built to last, and maybe it isn’t new, but it keeps on being useful and practical for a long time.  And the glorious irony is that the big stores have realised this and are selling throwaway garments as they always do – only this time, they’re cunningly disguised as things that are might be heirlooms.  We’re trying to escape throwaway consumerism in some small way, and as these things always do it’s coming back to bite us in the bums.  It’s doing it yourself, without having to do it yourself.  It’s things that look homemade, without actually being so.  It’s the side of fashion that makes me want to scream, and bang my head against the wall, because it’s all the things I love and am interested in, with faux emblazoned in front of it in curly font.

Meanwhile, finding actual higher-than-ankle boots to traipse through mud in, in a UK size 5 1/2, remains impossible.  I am destined to wear through the soles of my walking boots, I think.  They already have barely any grip left on them.

In the spirit of handmade, therefore, I went out today and bought more crafting equipment than you can shake a metaphorical stick at.  I recently found this tutorial for freezer paper stencilling and thought it looked really interesting to have a go at.  Unfortunately, finding freezer paper in the UK is, as I’m sure many people before me have discovered, nigh on impossible.  However, I was not deterred, and I think I have found a substitute with the combination of the super powers of the ladies in Fabric Land in Southampton, and the as-yet-unchallenged notion that if you can’t do it with Vilene, it’s not worth doing.

Three quarters of an hour of traipsing later, and I had myself a craft knife and cutting board, and had located a gorgeous little art shop to supply me with fabric paint.  Don’t you just love art shops?  They may well be my favourite type of shop in the world – full of different textures of paper and pots of brightly coloured stuff and ubiquitous Things To Stick Things To Other Things.  It always speaks to me of such potential.

And so continues my quest to be more adept at making pretty things.  There will be photos, ditto of The Skirt, as soon as I am not a lazy beggar and can get my hands on a camera.

Oh, and one other thing that happened today: I discovered that the lady in the John Lewis haberdashery now recognises me on sight.  Also, apparently a new yarn shop has opened in Newcastle.  Add that to this absolute gem, and I’m starting to think I’m at the wrong end of the country.

I’m going to go and play with buttons.

Waving July 30, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Craftiness, Knitting, Lovely people, Really good day, Sewing.
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Yes, I know, I’ve been terrible at keeping in touch, recently.  I’ve been working practically full time for the last few weeks, plus attempting to tackle a bit of the reading list for my dissertation, and have a massive clear-out of my room, and I’m too shattered to do much else at the moment.  Perhaps surprisingly, the clear-out is stressing me out more than either of the others.  My theory is that it’s because I’m a pack-rat by nature, I hate chucking anything away and quite frankly, there’s a lot to go.  Plus I can only do it basically one day a week because I’m out at work or hiding in libraries miscellaneous the rest of the time, so right now everything’s just sat there, and you can’t see any floor space, and there’s nowhere to put it all, and I can’t bring myself to throw it away.

In other news, I’ve cut about seven or eight inches off my hair, so it’s now ust below my shoulders and actually looking tidy, and I’ve started using my sewing machine with varying degrees of success.  My first impressions of this are that it’s a whole lot faster than knitting (I made a skirt! in about three hours!  After knitting, I can’t quite grasp in my own head how this is even possible), and also a whole lot less easily reversible.  The unpicker and I are becoming very good friends, and my vocabulary has been substantially fruitier the last week or so.

My crush on Marcus Brigstocke has reached new and previously unexpected heights after seeing him play King Arthur in Spamalot on Tuesday.  The musical itself was good fun – although I preferred the new bits to most of the scenes lifted directly from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, probably because the latter were done so well first time round.  Having said this, Marcus Brigstocke playing King Arthur could probably only have been improved for me were he wearing handknitted socks, and holding a creme brulee and two spoons.  I’m so Radio Four.

I was at Knit Nation today for a few hours – and it was fantastic, exactly as expected.  Also as expected, exactly like I Knit last year, this time I have promised myself that next time I will actually take a workshop, and bring a friend.  It’s a little bit overwhelming wandering around yarn marketplaces by oneself, and I totally failed to organise in advance to meet anyone from Ravelry.  I shall continue to lament that although I know people who knit in real life, for the most part they only really do it because I showed them how, and I can’t really compare exciting patterns and yarns and techniques with them because they never really have any of their own.  Everything’s just so different on the internet, isn’t it?

Speaking of exciting things in the marketplace, I had been looking around for approaching five minutes, when I happened upon a very large, and slightly militant crowd getting overexcited about some eye-wateringly bright yarn.  Good thing I turned up early, ladies and gentlemen, for I have Wollmeise:

The more I play with it, the more I see what some of the hype is all about, although I imagine I shan’t be joining the ranks of the stashers and Ebay-scourers.  People were grabbing armfuls of the stuff, though!  It was mad.  But I got my skein of Lacegarn, and spent about twice as much on it than on any single skein of yarn I’ve ever bought in my life, so I suppose I can’t really talk.  It’s blue.  By which I mean bright vibrant turquoise, and probably more blue than every blue thing I own put together.  And squooshy.  And it smells nice.  These things are important.

It’s going to be a cardigan.  And I’m not going to use a patten.  It’s going to be terrifying.

I also spent the requisite amount of time stroking Ysolda‘s samples, and trying to decide whether it’d be impossible to knit Vivian for NaKniSweMo in November (I’m currently erring on the side of OMG all the moss stitch, I’d better finish it in a month or I’d never want to touch the damned thing again).  AND, and and and, I managed to bag myself a copy of Woolly Wormhead’s new book – the last copy she had brought with her.  And she was lovely and chatty and signed it for me and absolutely no fangirling occurred. Definitely not.  It’s just nice to meet these people in real life and discover they’re just as excellent as you’d hoped.

I discovered an article on Handmade and Fabulous today about why handmade things are just so special and thought I’d share.  I’m a student, I have as little income as the next student, and I still buy free range eggs and handmade things still make me happy, and this just articulated a bit of that for me.  What I would add as my reason for loving handmade, though, is the same reason a lot of knitting makes me happy.  A lot of people are probably of the opinion that I don’t really do fashion, that I’m not really interested.  I am interested, it’s just from a totally different angle.  A lot of fashion today is about how things look: it’s about the finished product and how it all looks together and moves together and works as a completed entity – and that’s wonderful, that really is, but I am far more interested in the process.  The choosing of the fabrics, the thought process and engineering that goes into putting something together.  I am a process knitter.  I think buying things that are handmade is wonderful because it puts you so much more in touch with the process, and while some people are more interested in the product, and so much better at understanding the product than I am, for me the process is what it’s all about.

…Well, that was a lot of odds and sods.  I’ve been saving it for you, you know.

In Which It Was Wet And We Went Camping July 22, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Big things, Craftiness, Knitting, Look what I did, Lovely people, Really good day.
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…and I didn’t take many pictures, because my camera was dreadful, and even the ones I did take came out quite badly most of the time.

His Nibs and I went to Larmer Tree Festival.  Captain Shakespeare and Cap’n The Younger went also.  Thursday and Friday it chucked it down, Saturday and Sunday it was glorious.  We all spent an inordinate amount of time drinking cider and bumping into Mark Kermode.

The bands present involved an impressive selection of beardy old men with guitars:

Steve Knightley.  I want him to be my uncle and come to my house and have barbecues with my family and just happen to bring along quite a lot of Somerset cider and a lute.  That would just be the best night ever.

Chris Wood.  Although, if I’d closed my eyes, he would have been impossible to differentiate from Martin Simpson.  Either I have been listening to too much of this sort of thing, or not nearly enough.  He was very good, is the point.

Otis Gibbs.  Don’t worry, I hadn’t heard of him either.  We happened to be in the tent where he was playing, and after about five minutes were totally mesmerised – the man can work a crowd like nobody’s business.  Potentially the best banter of the whole festival.  He ended up doing the encore without a microphone, wandering around a 150-ish seater tent strumming his guitar and ad-libbing at people.  Should have been cringeworthy and impossible to hear; worked like a dream.

Rich Hall also had a guitar, and made up several very funny songs on the spot – but I didn’t get a good picture of him, sorry.  He was totally worth standing in the rain for, and I’d love to see him speak live again.

Also, this is Oysterband.  I promise.

Other than said beardy men with guitars, there tended to be quite a few four or five piece bands with one or two jaw-droppingly talented female members and, um, surprisingly attractive accordion players.  There was also a fair bit of world music, a lot of things I’d never heard of but am quite glad I have now, and a certain amount of what I like to term His Nibs’ Music.  This latter is entirely because deep down inside I am actually the sort of middle-aged git who buys the Telegraph for the crossword and I don’t understand this modern um-chuh um-chuh um-chuh business.

Other exciting things that happened: there was a great quantity of exciting food, and a lot of street theatre.  A terrible picture was taken of the shawl I made a week or two ago:

(Yes, I look like this on occasions.  I shall remember it in years to come and either be overjoyed or disgusted.)  The shawl is the Lady Bertram shawlette (Ravelry link) by Wendy Bernard, in Old Maiden Aunt merino 4-py. The colourway is called ‘Bluebell’.  I love it.  The lace pattern is beautiful and I love that too, and I’ll reblock it and take better pictures soon because it deserves to be shown off.  It was so much fun to knit – I know I’ll definitely knit it again.

Also, the Cloud pullover came into being, and grew rapidly:

I knitted it at every opportunity, for the main reason that raglan sleeves fascinate me.  In the way that turning heels fascinates me, and knitting the Baby Surprise Jacket must be such a rush of excitement – I love knitting in apparently strange directions and then bam! Look what you just did, it was so simple and now there are SLEEVES!  I shall never tire of this.  I think I knitted an entire 100g skein of fingering weight, on 3mm needles, in four days, which for me is unheard of.  At one point, two fingers of my left hand seized up so I couldn’t grip anything without getting a stabbing pain.  This hasn’t happened since I was making my first pair of socks.  And isn’t the yarn so pretty?

Clearly the knitting enthusiasm wore off, because after nearly three and a half years of gentle poking, look at this!

Caught in the act!  His nibs can now cast on, and knit, and purl, and cast off.  I am so proud.  Not least because ever since he has been badgering me to lend him yarn and needles.  He took to it like a duck to cranberry sauce – by which I mean very well indeed.  Captain Shakespeare also learned, but it was fairly obvious that his attention was elsewhere.

To each his own.  I was amazed and impressed by how many knitters there were about, and how many people were learning.  Seeing new knitters about always makes me so happy and excited because of all the potential ahead of them, to see how it fits together and get enthusiastic about all the things that made me so enthusiastic when I first discovered them, and to make beautiful, clever new things.  New knitters are a wonderful thing.  Having said this, I was a bit self-conscious: Cloud is mainly stocking stitch, so I was going like the clappers for a lot of the time and not really looking at my work while I was doing it, so it was a bit disconcerting to look up and find myself being stared at by people who were just learning the basics.  I don’t feel like I’m that good at knitting, I feel like I always have a very long way to go before I can call myself good at it, but it’s stuck with me since I’ve got home that actually I’m quite a lot faster and more streamlined than I thought I was.  Which is nice.

I discovered something else that I’d really like to share, but I think that one’s going to get its own post – and I hope you’ll find it as brilliant an idea as I did.  It also involves the word ‘serendipity’, so it has that on its side.  It’ll make you grin, I swear.

Oh!  And I wore the shorts.  I knew you’d be pleased.

It was quite the excitement, actually.