Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Hope you had a lovely Christmas. We had a mixture of old family traditions, and new leanings. We did mostly joint presents this year - focusing on requested items rather than stabs in the dark (mostly correct in past years) and one of my sisters couldn't join us for Christmas. I didn't get any yarn-related items this year, which was kind of strange, but I'm sure I'll more than make up for that during the next coming year.

I only gave one knitted gift this year, which I will post a picture of later on when I'm sure that my friend has received it. I'm also knitting one of my brothers a pair of grey socks from the Gentleman Sock pattern. It's not really a Christmas present (and good thing too since it won't be done for a few days now), just an excuse to knit. I'm knitting them on size 0 needles, and actually nearly broke one of the needles on Christmas day. I knew I knit a little too tight on cables and crossed stitches as my guage always changes dramatically when I do those stitches, but apparently I knit crossed stitches as if I was in a life or death struggle with them. Fortunately we had some glue, so I was able to seal the gigantic splinter that was my needle and continue with the socks.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Well, I'm home.

I've been home for the past couple of days with a bad case of jetlag (dead tired by six, ready to get up and knit by 3am). On the plane I watched District 9 and Julie and Julia, a strange combination, did gauge swatches on size 15, 13, 11, and finally got gauge on a 10.5 for for a pair of French Pressed Slippers for a friend, and managed to knit the majority of it the slippers while waiting to be tired enough to fall asleep despite the coughs, snuffling, eating, and other assorted crowded plane noises. Never did fall asleep..

Sadly though, despite my attempts at being a rule-abiding gauge-swatching knitter I've just checked, and my gauge is now off! I'm wondering if I just dreamed about getting gauge...
Or maybe the recirculated air prefelted the wool ...
I'm going to just continue with them though, should be done tonight, and see if they turn out.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

No computer, no fun

J brought the computer with her to Edinburgh (she started last week). So I'm writing this from the library. Fortunately I'm not sitting next to someone who smells this time ...
I had a lovely weekend in London this past weekend, we went to a few museums, and ate out a lot. No pictures unfortunately, J forgot her camera and all the batteries for mine are in Edinburgh. London looked much the same as last year though, so you're not missing much.

I have however started the countdown to my Christmas in America - I'll be back home in a week! Yay.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Managed to finish Jessamy's scarf right before she moved to Edinburgh (I'll be joining her soon). It was nice for once to do a quick, mindless project. She wanted a long scarf, so she made two short panels of ribbed stripes, and I made one long one (good public transport project) then I weaved in the never ending ends, grafted the panels together (had to take out the cast on rows for two of the panels, if I were doing it again I would do a provisional) and there you go!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The News

Last week I said I had some news.

Well, it's official. Today J got her contract for her first paid post-graduate job!

And, it's in Edinburgh, my favorite city!

It's a contract job, for ten months, which is a pretty decent chunk of time. I'm moving there in January, after my trip home for Christmas.

And I've heard there's a great yarn store there! Yay!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Girly socks?

What do you think?

I'm going to knit some socks for my brother for Christmas, and I showed him this pattern as an example of cables, and he said he liked the pattern.

Soooo. Do you think it would be too girly if I used this yarn?

black bean yarn

It's one of the ones I dyed with black bean.

So far two nice twitter folks said no, one said it wouldn't be "too girly". Hmmm.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Swirly hat

I decided to take a break from the gloves and work on a simple project, the swirly hat. Might not have gotten a great picture of the hat, but at east it's an interesting picture.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Where are all the feminist Romantic Comedies?

J and I watched the movie Wedding Planner last night (nothing else was on) and despite some big news (which I'll share about soon ...) it was all I could think of this morning. Despite the two main characters being together in the end (big surprise), it's not actually a happy ending. The J.Lo character is a nice person, the M.M. character is not.

So instead of trying to go back to sleep this morning, I was analyzing the love interest's faults, which goes as follows (hope you're not going to see the movie as I'm going to spoil it):
1. He's wasteful. He throws out all the MnMs, except the brown ones.
2. Not only does he throw them out, but he throws them on the ground, in technical terms, he litters.
3. When he met the lead character (and nearly kissed her) he was already engaged.
4. He didn't tell his fiance about his near-cheating.
5. He cancelled his wedding on the day of the wedding, and didn't tell any of the guests, which makes him a total coward.

The J.Lo character also has a history of falling for men who cheat on her.

And I'm supposed to be happy that they're together? Noooooo. I am most definitely not happy, I'm actually really bothered about the whole movie. When there's a happy ending, I want some actual happy closure to the movie. Not an ending which leaves me feeling like the main character is going to have her heart broken and an emotional breakdown in just six months. Where's a feminist Romantic Comedies when you need one?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

From sock to glove

Way back in September I had started a sock from Cookie A's Sock Innovation book. It's a 37 pattern repeat, but I had been amused by it for the few hours I had managed to actually work on it. It being a sock, I had decided to skip the gauge swatch and just start knitting. Everything was looking good, the two times J tried it on, it fit. And then, the inevitable happened. 5.5 inches from the cuff I handed the sock to her to try it on again ... it was too small.

So, instead of socks, she's getting gloves.

Now, this actually happened two weeks ago, and ever since then I've been trying to figure out how to actually make them into a glove.

I've been ripping out because I've been increasing too much for the thumb or ripping because I've increased too little. And just yesterday, after I took this picture, I tinked at least an inch because my suddenly switching into reverse stockinette for three of the four cables panels on the hand just looked weird.

There's no walking today (gale force winds were predicted today) so I'm hoping to devote some uninterrupted time for the glove today.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Holy Island

No, not I'm talking about England in general.

Yesterday we went to Holy Island, a small island just off of the eastern coast. It's famous for a few things, one being that St. Cuthbert, one of the most celebrated saints in England, lived there. It's also where the Lindisfarne Gospels were written, the island's causeway is only open during certain hours of the day, resulting in the occasional news story about unfortunate people getting stuck in the water after they try to cross at the wrong time, and they manufacture mead (yes, we did buy some).

Here is J and our roommate on our way to the "castle." The castle was built during Henry the blahblahblah's time (ok, so I wasn't paying that much attention) as a fortified building for soldiers (they were worried about attacks from the Scottish at that time). By the 19th century that threat had long past and the castle had fallen into ruin. The owner of the magazine country life bought it and hired an architect to transform it into a home. Now it's open to the public.

In the castle, where cannons once stood. Now there's a bench.

There were lots of photographers and bird watchers on the island. It was surprisingly hard to tell from a distance who has taking a picture and who was just watching for winged creatures.

This is part of the priory, now in ruins.

Mead! I can assure you my hair wasn't messy because I had already started drinking my purchase, but after an otherwise beautiful and sunny day (rare at this time of year) it had gotten a little windy at that point.

This is taken form the bus, on the way back through the causeway. As you can see, just directly next to the road there are puddles. In just a few hours the road would be completely covered with water.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Day 14 of Hadrian's Wall Walk

Happy Halloween!

Today was Day 14 our our coast-to-coast walk.
The weather report for today predicted clouds in Newcastle and rain in Carlisle.
We decided to take a risk and walk, even though at this point in the journey we're closer to Carlisle than Newcastle.

We were only rained on briefly, and fortunately were armed with two umbrellas, so weather-wise it turned out just fine. I found myself singing several times during the course of the day, so I think that means I enjoyed myself.

Just to shake things up a bit I'll start at the end.

The last thing we saw was Lanercost Priory. A portion of the priory, built in the 12th century, has been restored and is currently a working church. The rest has fallen into ruins.
Complete with tombs.
And, oddly enough, the disrepair hasn't stopped two burials, with two "recent" tombs, one dating from the Victorian age.

At first we thought this was just a random little gate as there was no signage near it. After a few minutes of walking though we saw a sign on the other side of this wall and realized we should have gone through it to continue on the path. Still no explanation why it's so small. I think we ended up deciding it was made by the English gnomes.

A furry cute cow.
Rain cloud!

This is the start of our trip, at the Birdoswald fort which we saw last time. This is the site of an old orchard which they are in the process of reviving. It was one of our shorter walking days, with the trip being only 4.3 miles and just under 4 hours. But, if there is a next time we will probably make up for it as Carlisle is only 12 miles away!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Somewhere over the ...


No walking today because of the rain, but an excellent rainbow paid a visit.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

More laying down, less walking

No hadrian's wall walk today. Jessamy's getting over a cold, and I'm not doing so great either.

But until next week, here's a short video I took last week that didn't make it into post (it's also my first YouTube upload!).

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Day 13 of Hadrians Wall Walk

Yup, it's that time again! Yesterday was Day 13 of Hadrian's Wall Walk.

This time, we walked from Roman Army Museum to the Birdoswald Roman Fort which was 4.5 miles.

We took the train this time, as the journey is now taking over two hours on bus.

The weather report said it would be dry today, but we had our doubts when we arrived at the Roman Army Museum.

Our first site-seeing stop was Thirwall Castle. Built in the 14th century out of stone from Hadrian's wall by the rich family (this was a very dangerous area back then, and rich families built strong holds such as this) of Thirwall, it was later abandoned in the 17th century.

A (miniature?) horse.

An oven in Milecastle 48:
One of the best preserved staircases along the wall. Archealogists beleive that the stairway once reached 15 feet high.

The remains of three bridges. One was originally built at the same time of Hadrian's wall, but had collapsed less than 60 years later. The Romans rebuilt it. I'm guessing it had collapsed yet again as it was later rebuilt for a third time.I'm not sure if you can tell from the picture above, but since Roman times the river has moved! It's now running just past those green trees on the left.

This is J at Birdoswald, standing behind a Roman gateway.

If you look closely you might be able to tell that in the picture above some of the ground appears to be slightly raised. That's actually the outline of the yet-to-be-excavated headquarters of the Biroswald fort. And yes, there are sheep grazing around on this fort!

As part of the admission to the fort we could also see some excavation in progress.
Sadly the fort closed at 4 pm so we sat at a park bench and rested our feet until 5, then got on the bus to the Haltwistle Rail Station, and from there home.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Day 12 of Hadrian's Wall Walk

Yesterday we walked from Milecastle Inn, where we intended to start during our last failed attempt to walk, to the Roman Army Museum.

The weather report predicted light showers at 10:00am, and seeing as we're running out of time to complete the walk we thought, armed with our new wellies, we could cope with a little rain and wind.

Well, turned out to be not the greatest of decisions. We didn't actually start our walk until noon because, while we were riding on the bus, it started raining and the wind started to shake the bus (I made sure to put on my seatbelts). We ended up disembarking at Hexham and stayed in the tourist information centre until the weather cleared, then we walked to a local coffee shop (I think we took spot of one of the elderly regulars) to collect our thoughts. Soon the sun came out, the rain and wind stopped, and we took the next bus back out to hadrian's wall country.

On the way there we saw this:

Yup, that's a rain cloud.

But we decided to brave it anyway.

It was cold, and windy, and even the sheep decided to take it easy that day.

The wind was really strong, and at first I was highly amused, until of course we had to walk down a hill, in the wind. And by the second time we were hailed upon and the wind was strong enough where I was nearly knocked over I was rethinking the wiseness of our decision.

Finnally though, three miles away from where we started, the sun came out and the wind died (mostly) down.

Here I am, with my wind-swept hair trying to hold up Hadrian's wall near Walltown Crags.

I think this might be the highest part of the wall that we've seen.

We took shelter at Walltown Quarry, and then took the bus to Once Brewed visitor centre where we had a hot beverage and waited for the bus that would take us home.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fort and York

A friend of mine from college came to visit over the weekend.

This is the first American friend I've seen in nine months, and during the course of her stay I was very acutely aware that I was an American in another county. Not that it's a bad thing to be American, but at some point in the past two years I had forgotten that people could automatically tell I wasn't from around here as soon as I open my mouth.

Our first stop was of course a Roman Fort.

This is Arbeia Roman Fort in South Shields, which was built to guard the North Sea and is not along Hadrian's wall. It was a huge fort, and at one point a military supply base.

Besides the ruins they had a reconstruction of what the commanding officer's house would look like. I believe the reconstructed house was built on the roman foundations.

The wall paper, by the way was all hand-drawn.

I wish I had taken a picture of the dining room. I hadn't actually remembered that they all lounged about and didn't actually sit down for dinner.

There was also a small museum, which had the best preserved remains of Roman chain-mail and a stone memorial alter of "Regina", and ex-slave. The alter depicted her spinning!

On Saturday we went to York. It was just as lovely the second time visiting.
A ruined abbey that was in the middle of a park.

Parts of the abbey used as the wall for a bed of flowers.

My favorite sign this weekend. You might not be able to make it out, but in the lower right corner it says "Ben".

We also visited the York Castle Museum, which we didn't get to go to last time. It turned out to be a huge (looked small from the outside) and interesting museum. One of the most fascinating things in the museum was a map of York. It looked as if it could be a normal functional map, the hospitals and landmarks clearly labeled in English. The map's legend however and all of the text surrounding the center of the map was in German. The hospital and military facilities had been carefully outlined with a ruler in red.

It's easy for me to forget, as I have only heard for the past two years very few brief references to the bombings. But this map was a shocking reminder how very real the bombings were.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

11.5 of Hadrian's Wall Walk

We didn't actually walk along the wall, hence the title 11.5. We intended to, however after we got off the bus and were greeting by this nice view

we noticed the air was a bit more brisk than we had previously remembered in past walks. Which makes sense, actually. Two weeks ago my flat and the office became suddenly cold, as if summer had just passed and spring just passed a torch, and there no turning back. Emotionally though, we're not ready for the cold to set in yet. So despite the chill in the air and our thin cardigans we set off for our first stop, a brief detour, and technically a back track since it was a half mile to the east of our bus stop.

This is Mare and Foal, two Bronze Age standing stones, believed to have once been part of a circle and thought to date from 2100 BC to 700BC.

Long before we got to this point though we noticed that not only had the air temperature changed since we were here last, but there was also dew on the ground.

Lots of it. So by this point our feet were wet, and we decided that instead of walking for 5 miles in wet feet, or heading back home, we would take the bus to the dry Roman Army Museum, which we were intending on visiting the next leg of the walk anyway. After a visit to the museum and hot chocolate, tea, and a scone we walked around Walltown Crags.

Is it really just a question mark?