Monday, 30 January 2012

Things I don't have the energy to expound upon

A blog post of mine from last November currently has the highest page views because of a footnote where I mention a halloween costume as seen on The Big Bang Theory that's adorable and, based on googling, doesn't exist. It seems lots of other people are googling for this costume as well and get my lament instead. Oops.

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My father is in hospital. There's a whole thing but I'm exhausted from my first day back at work after our honeymoon (4hrs and I'm dead on my feet - how did I used to do this 40hrs/week?) and I can't be arsed to rehash it all again. His condition is currently stable and the prognosis is optimistic. I'm soliciting well-wishes for him and especially for my mother but request that they not be wasted on me.

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My FiL's 88th birthday was Friday (my husband's birthday was Thursday) so we had him over for Sunday dinner. I made a beef mince shepherd's pie served with mashed carrots, and a treacle tart with ice cream for pudding. It was my first treacle tart, both making and eating and while it's not something I would go out of my way to eat, I can't seem to stop nibbling at it. Odd.

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My friend and I finally exchanged Christmas presents on Friday - I made a pair of mitts for her, acrylic as she's allergic to wool, and I hope to actually write up the pattern at some point. She gave me a 1930's-esk, peacock feather-esk locket in silver and emerald. It's not something I ever would have bought for myself, but it's lovely and I've worn it every day since. I am really picky about jewellery and tend to wear the same couple of pieces and hate everything else (or think it's "nice but not for me") and this makes two things she's given me that have gone into heavy rotation.

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I bought a pair of jeans and a cardigan, both on sale, with my own money. This whole having-a-job-and-being-able-to-buy-things thing is nice. Not that my husband begrudges me his money, but it's not the same. The cardigan is a short-sleeve, hooded, knit one with one tog at the neck and open the rest of the way. It's cute and a nice colour, but not, I think, something I'm likely to wear out of the house. It's acrylic so not overly warm (hence, cheap) and I really don't get the button just at the top and hanging open the rest of the way thing. I'm sure it's flattering for some people but I'm not them and it feels like it's the only style sweater currently being made - both store-bought and patterns. This is right up there with "skinny jeans".

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Burns Night

Yesterday was the anniversary of Robert Burns' birth, which is a bit of an unofficial holiday in Scotland, celebrated with the "traditional" dinner of haggis, neeps (turnips), and tatties (potatoes), and of course the reading of such poems as the Address to a Haggis, Auld Lang Syne, and the Selkirk Grace:
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.

Some friends of ours tweeted that they were hosting a Burns night with regular and veggie haggises and extra seats around the table (though these turned out to be on the sofa) and would anyone care to join them. My response was somewhat more enthusiastic than Chris' as I think he more accurately judged how tired we'd be our first full day home, but I fluttered my lashes and he replied that we'd be attending.

The food was wonderful - I had the veggie haggis as I think sheep are for wool, not eating, and Chris got the regular stuff which he continues to claim to enjoy - and the company moreso. The 13-year-old twin daughters of the house led a protracted game of "I Spy" that got squirrelier and squirrelier as the night progressed. My objects included "slacks", "mortar", "plinth", "lintel", and "soda" occasionally counting on my American words to confound the Brits. The curtain ties were the object in question twice, first as "tie backs" and later as "sashes" and at various times we debated whether you could see things such as photosynthesis or light (I reckon yes and no, respectively). It also brought us a variety of philosophical conversations:
"What would you call those?"
"They're not daisies!"
"You didn't ask what they are, you asked what I would call them."

Poor Chris spent most of the evening dozing on the sofa or quietly playing with his phone, as is his wont around crowds. I was asked to declaim a poem, specifically "Lines on the Fall of Fyers Near Loch-Ness" which was a bit of a gimmie, being mostly in "English" and not Scots:

Among the heathy hills and ragged woods
The roaring Fyers pours his mossy floods;
Till full he dashes on the rocky mounds,
Where, thro' a shapeless breach, his stream resounds.
As high in air the bursting torrents flow,
As deep recoiling surges foam below,
Prone down the rock the whitening sheet descends,
And viewles Echo's ear, astonished, rends.
Dim-seen, through rising mists and ceaseless show'rs,
The hoary cavern, wide surrounding lours:
Still thro' the gap the struggling river toils,
And still, below, the horrid cauldron boils

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Lots of Yarn

My husband and I returned last night from our lovely Madeiran honeymoon* and I have lots of yarn related things to catch up on, though very little knitting to show for my time.

First off, my Jameison & Smith sweater yarn arrived. I spent the first week of the New Year glaring at everyone who rang the doorbell who wasn't delivering my sweater yarn which, surprisingly, was a lot of people. (My husband orders a lot of things, especially business supplies, online - Inverness may be the hub of the Highlands but it's not exactly a booming metropolis. Also, living without a car, it's a lot easier to have things come to us.) It didn't show up until Saturday, while I was running around trying to get everything ready to have downstairs painted whilst we were gone. So, Yay! it arrived and I no longer needed to worry about it and Boo, by the time it arrived I didn't have time to do more than smoosh the package and pet the wool once or twice and I will continue to be too busy for a while yet.

One of the frowned-at deliveries was yarn (which really was a Yay! except it wasn't the built-up-in-my-mind yarn), from The Sock Yarn Shop, owned by the lovely Pip (and she's currently doing a yarn give-away on her blog). This really wasn't frowned at at all, not even a little bit. How can you frown at sock yarn? I bought four skeins of yarn: 100g of Schoppel Wolle Admiral in black, for work socks; two 50g skeins of Reggia Extra-Twist Merino in "Petrol" which is a teal for me; and a 100g skein of Opal's new Vincent van Gogh in Red Vineyard for my husband. I've used Opal before for my Monkey socks and mitts but the other yarns are all new to me. Pip also threw in a wee little tote. These were all purchased with my money, earned at my job, which made both me and my husband very happy.

That was before I left. We didn't find yarn in Madeira (though I kept seeing twisted up cotton scarfs in shop windows and thinking they were hanks of yarn and getting excited), though people were selling hand-knit things such as hats and ponchos. None of the people I saw knitting spoke English and I don't speak Portuguese so I wasn't able to ask them where they purchased their yarn. Sadness. Embroidery is really big in Madeira, but I didn't see anywhere to buy thread or even little "embroider your own hanky" kits. I would've liked to buy a kit, too**.

We flew in and out of Glasgow and I was delighted, on the way back, to stop in The Yarn Cake which handly is both a very nice yarn shop and a lovely wee café. My first order of business was to exchange my KnitPro 3.25mm interchangeable needles that snapped. She let me exchange them for metal ones as I'm now leery of the colourful birch needles, at least on the smaller sizes. I also got metal tips in 3.75mm, and the rosewood "square" needles in 6.5mm to fill in the empty spaces in the DellaQ interchangeable needle organizer that my wonderful husband gave me for Christmas. I was hoping to pick up some 1.75mm circs for sock knitting but she doesn't carry anything bellow 2.00mm, obviously not suffering from my large-gauge-despite-feeling-like-I-have-a-death-grip-on-the-needles problem.

For Christmas I knit an aran hat for Aged Parent (my FiL) out of Shilasdair's Baby Camel yarn (modelled bellow by my husband). He had a store-bought aran cap in a natural cream but he'd at various times complained that it was itchy and not his colour, but that he needed a thick, warm, doubled over at the brim hat to keep his ears warm (he'd almost lost them to frost bite, in Canada, during WWII). This (outrageously expensive) sea-coloured baby camel yarn seemed just the thing with which to replace it. He cried when he unwrapped it (the men in my husband's family are emotional) and has since told everyone, every single person he's met that I knit his hat and isn't it amazing. This man deserves more hand knit gifts, starting with a pair of mitts in a similar colour-way of Shilasdair Aran lambswool for his birthday. Which is Friday (today's Wednesday) though I won't see him till Sunday.

I also finally, four years after first seeing the pattern and thinking Want!, I finally bought yarn to knit the Pfeiffer Falls hooded scarf: seven skeins of New Lanark Mills Aran in Tartan Green.

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* more on that later

** I did buy two hankies, but that's for the honeymoon post.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Samuel Pepys

I've been following Samuel Pepys' twitter account (currently tweeting 1669 though the description still says 1668), taken from Pepys' Diary, and occasionally reading the more salacious tweets to my husband so that we may together boggle over his womanising ways. Remembering the scandal resulting from Elizabeth catching her husband in a compromising position with her companion, Deborah Willet - and the dizzying back and forth of would he give her up or wouldn't he - my husband purchased an annotated copy of the journal* for me for Christmas**.

I am most of the way through the 150-odd pages of introductions and commentaries and today read the first entries*** and have already been chastised for reading them privately in the bath (I like to start the year in the manner I intend to continue) rather than reading aloud of it at bedtime. I cautioned my husband that it wouldn't all be scandalous affairs and household strife to which he replied that he expects it will be a lot of "'tonight we had mutton. I did not care for it.'"**** "Actually tonight they're having turkey."

A spoiler, I know, but I kept both the fact that it's leftover turkey and that Elizabeth burnt her hand in its fixing a surprise for later.*****

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* as Pepys himself most often referred to his diary

** or rather Volume 1, being the year of the lord 1660.

*** being the editors' one-page summary of the political situation (Cromwell's government has crumbled but the monarchy has not yet been restored), Pepys' proto-entry summarizing his health (physical and financial) and that of the country, and the entry for 1 January, 1660.

**** I'm an American. I may pick up British vocabulary but I will never abandon my American punctuation and nested quotes.

***** Until he reads this. Honey, don't read this.