Tuesday, November 28, 2006

In praise of the hand knitted sock!

I love hand knitted socks. Why? They are so comfortable, they are so warm, and they look cool and feel wonderful.

I knitted my first sock about three years ago. I still own them and wear them occasionally, even though the toe is twisted on one of them. They are my first hand knit socks and I am proud of them. I do, however, remember the despair and agony of knitting them.

I had returned to knitting on a regular basis after a few years of knitting in spurts. I had mainly knitted chunky stuff on hugmungus needles for years - quick fix knitting (stuff I never wear). Then I discovered loads of new yarns and funky patterns and kind of rediscovered a passion. Everything I read online and in magazines mentioned sock knitting. I had always belonged to the school of thought that believed that 5 pairs of socks for £2.50 was the way to go and at that price and ease of purchase what was the point of knitting them. Then whilst browsing an online forum I found this whole sort of sock knitting subculture - weird - right? Nope, I was curious. Why the fascination? How do you knit a sock?

A couple of weeks later, wasting time (yet again) I was perusing an online knitting store (a new hobby at that time *sigh*) and lo and behold they had self-striping sock yarn in cool colours and even more cool they had a sock knitters starter kit - everything you need to make socks including an easy pattern. Sold to the lady in the pink hat.
I spent the next couple of days laying in wait for the mail delivery - poor Plod didn't know what had hit him (these were early days in knit related postman stalking). Finally, it arrived. Ok so the size of the needles shocked me and the yarn was like four ply and I was used to virtual woolen rope. But what the heck, in for a penny. I scanned the pattern - checking the abbreviations first to see if there was anything I didn't know how to do (my own method for seeing if a pattern is do-able), it all looked ok.
Time to cast on. Now my Ma can knit - really knit, so after 3 attempts of casting on over 3 needles - I asked her, she couldn't remember and the pattern did NOT explain how. Trial and error allowed me to stumble upon casting on onto one needle and then divvying up the stitches. Next how do you join the round? *gulp* Do you know after 20+ pairs of socks and numerous other knit in the round projects - I can still f***k this up. And again Ma had forgotten how she used to do it, but between us and six attempts we got there in the end. Now it should be easy right?

Hahahahahahaha! First row horror - vamps, werewolfs the work, for gourdness sake. A women who learnt to knit over 30 years ago and her Ma who learnt to knit over 50 years ago - it was like two chimps with a biro. I truly believe that that lunchtime I reinvented the 70's dance craze the funky chicken. I appeared to grow extra arms with giant elbows that had a mind of their own to learn Ashanga yoga. I must have unpicked that row numerous times.
I didn't give up though. I took myself off with a "Thanks for nothing Ma - some knitting guru you are" attitude and persevered. Bingo - by Jove I got it. Round followed round from rib to just knit - bliss I could see the attraction. But fate had in store another horror - heel flap -great! I got that, turn the heel - yep doddle. Gusset-what did I ever do to deserve that? Funky chicken mark 2. I did actually throw it across the room - needles catching the light and glinting malevolently - knowing they'd won. Pah! Eventually, after a prolonged rant against the stupidity of sock pattern writers and a sulk. I went on-line and found an on-line sock tutorial from a very clever lady - Terry Royea - she saved me that night -thank you, a million times, thank you.
My sock groweth. I reached the toe - I understood the decreases, I can do the stitches - I just did them in the wrong fricking place, which I discovered after I had mastered the horror of grafting with Kitchener stitch, and was trying my first ever sock on. Did I unpick it? Did I ell. Nope I still have and sometimes wear that twisted sock. It is A) an object lesson (sock 2 was straight) and B) I think my own anger and angst probably mentally scarred and damaged that sock, and to ignore it after such a traumatic birth would be heaping cruelty upon cruelty.

For all the trauma that my first sock caused, I was bitten by the sock bug. None of my family, who knit, knit socks - I infected my Ma and Sis to some extent though the madness doesn't run as deep in them. I now always have 2 or 3 pairs on the go. I have never suffered from 2nd sock syndrome and have no odd lonely one offs laying about the WIP pile. They sometimes have wait a couple of months for their mate to turn up, but they are always at least cast on and in progress. I have balls of sock yarn in waiting as I can't bear the thought of not being able to have a pair of socks on the go. I have needles of differing sizes and woods, Ebony, Birch, Rosewood and Bamboo, stitch markers, 100's of different patterns and a busted sock drawer cos I can't fit any more in it. The boys have socks as well but 98% I knit for me. Now I just have to find room for a new chest of drawers just for my socks.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Ripple-rib sockie-wockie-do-dahs.

This is my first go at designing a patterned sock. I've already got a plain sock recipe that I wrote for my own use, but have always balked at translating this to pattern. But this idea came to me one Sunday morning, I played around with a swatch or two, took a deep breath and cast on.
The rib travels in a wave down the leg and along the top of the foot. The heel has a garter stitch edge and a moss stitch centre. The sole is plain st-st.
I know I need clearer photos of the ripple-rib (tomorrow - light permitting).
They are knitted on 1 skein (my tension and foot size) of LL in Irving Park on 2.5mm dpns and are quite a quick knit - though some concentration is needed to keep the ripple rippling.

Anyway - I likes them and am quietly pleased with myself. Can't wait to wear them now.

(Ta to Ma - my No 1 foot model.)

The 48 ? Meme



WHEN DID YOU LAST CRY? Sometime earlier this year but can't remember exactly when

DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? My handwriting is very organic and changes with my mood - so it changes almost daily



DO YOU HAVE A JOURNAL? Only this blog


WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Maybe...........not!!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Porridge made with organic oats


DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? Very - physically, mentally and emotionally


SHOE SIZE? UK 4 (Euro 37)

RED OR PINK? Reddish pink

WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? I can be moody and I have fat thighs




LAST THING YOU ATE? Thai chilli prawns

WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? The wind howling outside


FAVORITE SMELL? Warm kitty fur



DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON YOU STOLE THIS FROM? Don't know her - but she seems pretty cool from her blog


FAVOURITE SPORT? I don't do sport - but I like to power kite

EYE COLOUR? Greyish/blue




SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? Bit of both would be good


HUGS OR KISSES? From strangers - neither. Otherwise hugs.



IF YOU DIDN'T MAKE THE DECISION TO GET MARRIED AND HAVE A FAMILY, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING TODAY? How the hell would I know this? I cannot enter the other dimensions that I exsist in.

WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING? Bourne Trilogy (very slowly), Eldest and The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins - I read according to mood.

WHAT'S ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? It's blue and has a wrist rest

WHAT DID YOU WATCH LAST NIGHT ON TV? Strictly Come Dancing Take 2 & Coast

FAVORITE SOUNDS? J's giggle, M's snoring and Conkers purring - all let me know that all is safe in my little world

ROLLING STONE OR BEATLES? I don't like either much but if my life depended on it ............Beatles


WHAT'S YOUR SPECIAL TALENT? I'm an optimist and an arsehole - both are talents that I have nurtured



Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Lt Pigeon, reporting for duty, Sir!

I love obscure titles. This one comes from have the tune 'Mouldy Ole Dough' by Lt Pigeon in my head for the last 10 days - tres scary. Even scarier I can visualise them on TOTP all those years ago - must have caused a blip in the grey matter.

Other waffle - I have a bloodshot eye - goodness knows how but I have. Colemans is all sorted by is still too difficult to photograph. Xmas knitting continues. I have designed an amazing monochrome embossed style scarf for Ma - if i say so myself - it is so cool. Now I just need to tie my ass to a chair and knit.

To finish off here are a couple of handy hints from my current favourite book.

Breath, offensive, or onion tainted.
In case of offensive breath from stomach disorders take 6 drops of concentrated solution of common salt in a wineglass of water during the morning toilet.
If the cause is decayed teeth, rinse mouth well with a teaspoon of salt solution in a tumbler of water.
For breath tainted after eating onions, eat a few leaves of parsley dipped in vinegar.

Iced Cherry Soup.
1lb of cherries
1 pint cherry jelly
1/2 bottle of Chablis
1 grape fruit

Stew cherries gently to draw out the juice which pour over the cherry jelly, hot, not boiling. Add the Chablis and the juice of the grapefuit. Mix well. Stand on ice. Serve in glasses.

(You have to wonder what this would taste like!)

NOW....pay attention...this is a recipe from 'the book' that we do actually use!

Rock cakes.
(Honest my Ma has made this since time in memorial and they are wonderful - I just never knew they came from this book.)

1/2 self-raising flour
3oz (butter/Stork) the actual wording says - dripping
3oz sugar
3oz currants
1oz peel
1 egg & a little milk
pinch of salt

Rub butter (dripping) into the flour; add all the dry ingredients. Beat up the egg (lol) with a little milk and mix to a very stiff dough. Place in rough heaps on a greased baking sheet and bake in a quick oven about 15/20 minutes.

For quick = hot = 180c or there-abouts.

Bon appetite.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Household encyclopedia.

As a home educator a good 80% of what we end up doing springboards from passing questions and conversations for example, J and I spent a happy morning last week reading and finding out about the history of Easter Island, both of us had fun and came away knowing more than previously. This leads to this post by way of explanation. Picture the scene - family sitting around the table letting a delicious M cooked Sunday roast go down and J pipes up "What disgusting things did you used to eat that you don't eat now?" Now as a lapsed veggie I do consume meat but never offal *blech* so that is where the topic started - I haven't eaten liver since I got pregnant 10 years ago, but as a kid loved liver and bacon for tea....you see where I'm a headin? No?

Well it got a bit more disgusting and then M mentioned 'dripping' (beef fat) and the discussion moved to why people eat this type of stuff and issues of poverty and cost of food joined in. This led me to mention 'brawn' (never eaten it but read about it) "What's brawn?" asks J "Aha!" says I "I bet it's in this very old household encyclopedia that belonged to my Nana." See, it's starting to make sense now.

I love this book. It's old and smelly but it reflects bygone age when thrifty was a way of life. It has recipes (including brawn - which is gross and follows in a bit) household hints including how to make yourself vomit following mercury poisoning, guides to veggie growing and how to clean your windows and so on. The section on enemas made even me squirm though! We found many (what we consider) gross recipes like calves foot jelly and stuff using brains and other bits - J turned a bit green - but I think he was even more grateful for this Sunday roast.

The conversation was very interesting and J was having a history lesson that was fun and informative and he never even twigged. I spent the rest of evening dipping into this book and have it beside me now. Some of the tips like how to keep flies out of your home in summer are eco friendly and sound and I've actually found more useful stuff than I ever imagined.

Now for you peoples of sound constitution here is a recipe for 'Brawn'.

1 sheeps head
2 carrots
2 turnips
1 onion
1 oz flour
1 oz butter
1 gill milk
3oz rice
chopped parsley
salt & pepper

Thoroughly cleanse the head, take out splinters, wash in salt & water, put the head in cold water and bring to the boil; pour away the water, add fresh water, boil removing the scum; cut up vegetables and add rice, simmer gently for 3 hours or till meat will leave the bones. Put brains into a small piece of muslin and drop into the the stewpan about 15 minutes before head is done. Cut the meat off the head, place in the centre of a hot dish, put a border of rice and vegetables round; slice the tongue and chop the brains; make a sauce with the butter, flour and milk adding some of the liquor; season well and add the chopped parsley. Coat the head with with this sauce and garnish with sliced tongue and chopped brains. Et voila! (I also have a pigs head alternative brawn recipe - but this one was grosser!)

I know what we WON'T be having next Sunday.

Now I'm sure that there are those among who will thank me for this culinary delight and dash off to try this recipe and it may well become a firm family favourite - well you are a better man than I Gungadin!

I may make this this a regular blog feature - tips and recipes from a bygone age....watch this space.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Colemans has moulted (safely) - he's quite a lot bigger but not easy to photograph. He's a lovely fluffy, mustard yellow and browny colour. He's still pumping himself up - they kind of deflate when they moult. Their exoskeletons and fangs are all soft and it takes around a week before they are hard and hungry again. But I'm so relieved he's OK - he took us by surprise and made a huge web overnight then crawled under it, flipped onto his back and BINGO!

Wouldn't to be wonderful to just shuck off an old tired skin as the seasons change - get a thicker one for winter and when that was all weatherbeaten and knackered - shuck that off- for a fresh shiny new lightweight one for summer. Spiders are just so amazing. I feel honored to share in their strange world.

Right-E-O - teatime at teddies - mmmmm homemade chicken pie, mash tatties, greens and gravy. I love traditional stylie winter food - so does the size of my arse ;0)


Thursday, November 16, 2006

A sort of post script.

Of other stuff knitted and dyed etc mentioned in an earlier post - the piccies of them are on my flicker thingy - so you can go looksie :0)

Lets get fuzzy.

M's fuzzy feet pre-felt.
My scrap fuzzy feet pre-felt.
Mine after felt.

M's after felt and soled *woohoo*

All I have to add is this;

Oh Theresa, you're such a pleaser
A diamond geezer of fuzzy feet.
My feet are toasty
And I can boasty
It's cos your pattern
Is so dang neat!

It's all down to you dear,
That chilblains can't get near
And that my tootsies are warm
And sweet.

So cheers Theresa
A knitting Caesar
I thank you for
My Fuzzy feet.

(Fuzzy Feet are a pattern published in Knitty and if you haven't made them yet...you should!)

Knitting news.

Well, knitting has been occurring in tits and farts ;0)

Ma's Xmas Pomatomous socks - completed *yay*
J's 2nd pair Xmas socks - 2/3 done.
M's fuzzy feet - completed just awaiting suede soles from Get Knitted.
My fuzzy feet - will be completed by end of today.
J's knitted snake - hum about 1/2 done.

Of the Xmas knitting if I have time - I want to make Mike a new Chullo and a scarf for Ma.

Other knitting;

My own sock design - 2/3 done - they are so lovely.
Wavy scarf - 1/2 done
Own design lace stole - 1/3 done.
Secret lace - hardly touched cos of all the Xmas knitting!!!

Yesterday I dyed some Debbie Bliss 100% Merino DK weight - trying to replicate some favourite colours ways from other yarn houses (which I managed quite well). The best bit was the use of some wonderful beetroot juice - thanks to my SIL. I diluted this and added a good drop of vinegar and got the most delicious bluey light pink - just the tone I needed. I had such fun - I love to dye.

Piccies of stuff to follow - when I can do a bonanza of all the FO's at once.

Have a good one.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A lightbulb moment.

I realised yesterday, whilst sitting in the Brighton equivalent of a Mall, that it's not that I'm strange or different to everyone else it's just that I walk to a different rhythm to most people. The world plods on, happily blinkered by consumerism and materialism, whilst I am samba-ering to my own internal music. When did the majority of human society morph into sheep? Actually, that's an insult to sheep! People do so such much stuff because it is expected - my question is - by whom? No-one really judges us, the judgments people seem to worry about are in the mind.

I like to people watch in places like this - being agoraphobic - a trip to a Mall is a novelty - I normally avoid them like the plague - they give so little and want so much. But yesterday needs must etc - a trip to the Mall was needed. As I waited for M - I sat and watched the world go by. I am definitely not in tune - it stands out a mile and more - and that made me so happy. People scurry and hurry and spend on stuff they think they need. It's even worse cos it's near to the dreaded 'C' word. Gosh an eye opener indeedy.

I noticed another strange thing. I was watching this middle aged, obviously (by dress style) middle class, Mum stylie woman shop in a Xmas shop - she dashed in, pick up a berry wreath, looked at it, put it back and dashed out of the shop. I noticed her because she looked well groomed etc. It wasn't until later that I realised whilst I was assessing her that I still look at older people through teenage eyes (so to speak) and that I was probably the same age as her if not older - bizarre - I forget that I'm middle aged so often on the outside because on the inside I still feel so young. It was a very strange thought process and a bit disturbing - perhaps that's why I can feel intimidated in shops - I feel young and inexperienced inside so think that is what people see - hmmmm maybe. Other days I feel like Methuselah - ancient and on a good day all knowing ;0)

Anyway - I like lightbulb moments - these gave me cud for the next few days - I do so enjoy a good mull.

P.S - The trip was worth it because I got an amazing knitting book in Waterstones (I love book shops - they are the only reason I really ever go into to town, I can spend hours browsing and now they have squashy sofas - there is no reason to leave) this book has over 900 knitting and crochet stitch recipes - I am so inspired and excited I might have to break my yarn diet, face the world and go to Shoreham today - I need to experiment before all the designs and ideas in my brain fog out.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Poor little Phido (Fifi - that was) has shuffled off this mortal coil. Here is a photo of him in his prime, it bears no resemblance to what he became. He lost most of the hair on his abdomen, a complete leg, his abdomen shrunk and became withered and his wonderful colours faded away. This is, sadly, the fate of male spiders. In his prime he was magnificent, he was quick and to crickets - deadly. I know lots of people don't/won't understand attachment to something that doesn't even know you exist or much less care, but I loved his wildness and detachment. I am honored to have shared my time with such an awesome wild creature and that I've been able to see how they live - fascinating.

I have lots of other spiders but Phido was bought for me and was the 2nd spider we owned (Fluffy already passed away was the 1st), so he has a special place in my affections and will be missed.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Is it November?

I know 'with all theeeese posts I'm really spoiling you' but *sigh*.

Well is it November where you are? Because it sure ain't down here. Today is a day of fairly warm hazy sunshine. I have all the windows open - including the large one in the lounge. There is NO wind at all. Yesterday was a day of brilliant sunshine and it was so warm I wore a vest style top and had to take my socks off cos my piggies got too hot..........in November!

I've checked the BBC weather for the next 5 days and until Saturday they are giving temps of 50 to 59f, sun and hazy sun with light winds......................in November! Most strange.

I saw a butterfly yesterday, a couple of bees, the trees are still leafy and the gulls are still singing like it's summer. Most bizzare!

I want my winter! I like cold, windy, wet days - I want frosty mornings. I want it to get cold NOW! I like to snuggle under the quilt with a hottle-bottle and sip hot choccie whilst the wind howls outside. I wanna wear my thick pulleys and handknitted socks. It's sooooooooo not fair. I've suffered all the summer, longing for winter and winter isn't here yet. Get me some winter! Please, pretty please with sugar on top.

*big sigh*

Monday, November 06, 2006

Tweek and Twonk

I told J the story of my cousin and how when we were kids he had this stylized bird thingy called Crow and that Crow used to attack stuff and have all these adventures. I described what it looked like and J was desperate to obtain one - but we're talking 70's stuff and I'm sure Rob found his in junk even then. I promised ages ago to attempt to make something similar - and today I finally got around to it *sigh*.

So here are Tweek (the blue one) and Twonk - J helped in their creation and they are currently perched on the bookshelf waiting for their glue to dry. I just hope they are not as naughty as Crow was - he regularly wrecked my dolls house! OK I no longer have a dolls house (well I do - the same one but that's in the attic) but I have other stuff and these two sure look naughty to me.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

November sunset.

Sometimes Brighton can be a beautiful place to be.

Bonfire night

15 years ago today I lost my Dad. I miss him still. He'd been ill for a few years - but I don't think any of us expected him to die so quickly and at that moment. I didn't get to the hospital in time. I never got to say goodbye - he never told me he loved me and when I told him, the previous night, I don't know if he heard.

Every year on Guy Fawkes we send up a big firework for him (he loved fireworks and bonfires) last night (a day early) we sent up a 48 shot firework and I took the time to think of him.

We had a wonderful firework celebration, J and the cousins helped stoke the fire, played with sparklers, cooked marshmallows on the chiminea, ate home-made soup and sausages and generally 0hh-and-ahhed at the wonderful explosions. The adults ate too much, 3 of us drank to much, we made very merry and laughed loads. I think my Dad would have had a blast. I'm sure he was there in spirit.

Rocket's Tail (For Rocket).

That November night, looking up into the sky
You said "Hey wish that was me up there-
it's the biggest rocket I could find
And it's holding the night in it's arms
If only for moment
I can't see the look in it's eyes
but I'm sure it must be laughing."
But it seemed to me the saddest thing I'd ever seen
And I thought you were crazy wishing such a thing -

I saw only a stick on fire
Alone on it's journey
Home to the quickening ground
With no one there to catch it.

I put on my pointed hat
And my black and silver suit
And I check my gunpowder pack
And I strap the stick on my back
And dressed as a rocket on Waterloo Bridge
Nobody seems to see me
Then with the fuse in my hand
And now shooting into the night
And still as a rocket
I land in the river.

Was it me said you were crazy?
I put on my cloudiest suit
Size 5 lightening boots too
'Coz I am rocket
On fire
Look at me go with my tail
On fire
Hey, look at me, look at me................

(Kate Bush - from 'The Sensual World).