He is risen. I have fallen… asleep

When you are a vicar, Holy Week is a really big deal. This year I’ve upped the number of services slightly, plus we’ve had a big theme of exploring creative prayer during Lent. I’ve loved pretty much every minute of it, but it has been full on.
Today, after two services and a home communion, I kicked my email inbox into a bit of shape, did some planning ahead for the next two weeks then, at quarter to five, I stopped. I relaxed, snuggled up on the sofa with the girl, and let things go.
It turns out that I’m quite tired and have been running fueled on adrenaline for quite a while. It feels very good indeed to relax, although now I have no motivation to make anything happen. I’ve sat in a chair all evening reading about knitting, (yes, still the yarn harlot; yes, I have a problem; no, I am not stopping because I’m at 2012 now, so the end is in sight), unable to make decisions about what to knit, drink or watch.
Of those three things, the only thing I managed to sort out was what to drink: whisky and ginger wine. To my knowledge, it’s the first time I’ve tried that combination, but my Dad drinks it. I think he calls it a Whisky Mac. I’m fairly sure that Mum doesn’t let him use the decent whisky for it, but I’m a whisky snob so there is no poor whisky in the house, just the nice bottle of Tobermory I got in December. I spent a happy couple of minutes tasting various ratios until I got something that was sweet but with a good kick.

On the knitting front, since I last posted I have been creating more stripes on the baby blanket: boring, garter stitch, still lovely colours, nearly at the halfway point.

I’m hoping for a decent amount of actual knitting time this week, but now I’m going to head for bed with a book. I’m wondering about Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. I bought it when it first came out because it was such a beautiful book, but got distracted about a third of the way through. I’m inclined to try again and if it doesn’t suit this time then it is going to the charity shop. That tome is too big to be purely ornamental.

Daylight

It really is true that you get better photos of knitted stuff when you take them in daylight.

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That’s more like the intensity. Observant readers will notice that I haven’t actually knitted any more, just turned it over to photograph the other side.

We had a little trip to A&E yesterday. It turns out it was nothing to worry about, but the nice people on the 111 line couldn’t be sure without me taking the small person in to be seen. Do you know how long we had to wait?

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Three rounds of a lace sock.
That isn’t long at all and we were by no means an urgent case. I love the NHS.

In other news, the Easter holidays have started. I have escaped upstairs for some quality alone time.

P.S. I’m onto 2007 in the great Yarn Harlot reread.

Colour

Today I am enthralled by colour, the brighter the better.

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This is quite possibly the simplest knitting that I have ever attempted, but the irregularity of the stripes is keeping me interested.

That’s not actually the colour that really has me gripped. No, that would be this:

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Only of course I’m blogging late at night so the colour looks nothing like that. It is a towel of the the deepest, brightest magenta and belongs to my three year old daughter. She told us she was too big for baby towels, (she had a point: they only reached her legs if she curled up into a ball) so Phil let her choose her own towel at the supermarket. She picked this one… and now I have towel envy. It has that fluffy new towel softness going on as well.
In other news, the camouflage lace socks are coming along. I now have one whole sock and a cuff. This finishing off of knitted stuff is gripping, (for me at least).

Weak

Yesterday I started another read-through of the Yarn Harlot’s blog. This is a really bad idea for many reasons, mostly linked to my responsibilities as wife, mother and office-holder, plus the undesirability of prolonged sleep-deprivation, the twitchiness of my left eye and the lack of any real plan for work tomorrow.

Still, here’s a lovely box of wool that is gradually turning into a blanket. The colours are much more vibrant than this in real life.

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I also have a deep urge to cast on something big and complicated in laceweight wool.
It is possible that the Yarn Harlot’s attitude to life and knitting is somewhat catching. I’m hoping the read-through won’t be a complete one. It was ok the first time because she had only been blogging for 4 years. Now it is 11 years.

Spinning around

The spinning has made progress today. I now have two full bobbins of singles of the Jacob humbug fleece, so they are ready to ply. However, I only have three bobbins so, before I could ply, I needed to clear the third bobbin. On the third bobbin I was halfway through spinning a selection of rolags using long-draw so today I finished the spinning. It was some time since I last tried long-draw and there was a bit of a learning curve to get back into it. Anyway, I ended up with this:

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Remember how I only have three bobbins and two of them are full of Jacob? At the spinning course last year I learned Andean plying, where you wind the singles round your hand and fingers, then ply from both ends. Easier with a ball-winder.

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Then I plied.

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I nodded and nidded, then washed the skein. It’s not balanced, so will need another run through the wheel to add some more twist. Still, all good practice.
There is another WIP on the needles: a millamia baby blanket for a baby that is due really quite soon now. I’ve not seen my friend since she became pregnant, so the imminence has rather passed me by. Still, what baby needs a wool blanket in high summer? It will be done by autumn.
This week I’ve been rereading one of the Yarn Harlot’s books, following this post which made me both laugh and shed a tear. (I made DH read it too, but he only laughed: I don’t think he gets as emotional about knitting as I do). In fact it has been a week for thinking of excellence in writing, with the news of Terry Pratchett’s death. Pterry and the Yarn Harlot are two of the writers that I read in awe at their facility with language. Stephen Fry is up there too in the list of my favourite writers.

Two finished items

Last week on my day off I spent most of the day sourcing items for the boy’s world book day costume: he went as Asterix. Here’s the hat.

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I had to buy a hot glue gun to make the wings. Now that is an awesome new toy.

Later in the day, I sat down with some yellow yarn and a crochet hook and came up with this:

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A good addition to the dressing up box. I fixed pipe cleaners to the ends of the tache, so it works rather like glasses hooking behind the ear.

In order to complete the World Book Day costume, I had to compromise on the deadline for the Fish Lips Kiss Socks, but they are done as well now, even if they weren’t ready to be opened on the significant birthday for which they were intended.

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I only have four WIPs at the moment: that must be the lowest number for some time. I have new projects all set and ready to go whenever I feel like it, but I keep being drawn to finish up the old ones. This is almost unprecedented, but I’m going with it.

I’m getting out all my WIPs today. I will sit in my chair catching up with all the tv I’ve missed this week and alternate them. The project I really want out of the way is the Amigurumi project, which I started on a whim and swiftly got bored with. I’ve a lovely crochet project waiting to go, but I won’t begin another crochet project until this one is finished. I suppose that means I had better go and work on that, since knitting and crochet projects get finished much more quickly when you work on them, rather than looking disapprovingly at them and wishing they were done.

Day off with the kids

Ah, half term. A day off with no school run, but two small people to entertain all day.
T took control of the tablet this morning and did some major work on his mixel collection, creating some really rather creative Lego bits and pieces. J has discovered scissors, so we spent some time clearing up many scraps of paper from around the living room.
I was determined to do a bit of spinning, but the kiddies weren’t really very supportive.
We went out for a walk, fully kitted out in waterproofs. J spectacularly face-planted twice, getting covered in mud and scratching her brand new glasses.
This evening, after a plateful of courgette fritters, I managed a decent amount of spinning, nearly filling the first bobbin of some Jacob tops.

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This is the first step in my spinning project: to have two full bobbins to ply, then knit something out of it to see what it is like.
In knitting news, I’m nearly at the top of the first Fish Lips Kiss Heel sock. Oh, and a large box of Millamia yarn arrived today, ready for a secret project.

Balanced

[I do get round to talking about knitting and spinning eventually in this post – keep going]

I’ve spent a bit of time during this last year or so bemoaning the lack of time I have to devote to knitting and spinning. With a full time job, two little kids, and a husband I really should spend a little time with, there isn’t a great surprise that life is full, but is it too full?

This week I’ve been away on a residential course with work. It’s a leadership training programme that is grounded in principles taken from the Rule of St Benedict. If you’ve not really studied the Rule of St Benedict (and lets face it, who among us can honestly say we have?), you might be imagining a focus on long hours of prayer and hard work scrubbing monastery floors. That’s not quite what this is about.

From the little I’ve read, the Benedictine way of life seems to be a life of balance. Now, the way the Rule of Benedict is followed in a monastery is very different from the way it can be followed outside the walls (see note about husband and kids, above). Nevertheless, there are some principles that transfer quite well.

When I got my timetable for last week, I noticed it started at 8am (with prayer) and finished at 9pm each day.  At least there’s no danger of the husband thinking I was slacking off on a work jolly (this suggestion has been mooted in the past in similar situations). Within this full day, there was a welcome gap in the afternoon. Between lunch and 4pm, there was a two hour slot labelled ‘personal time’. In my mind, I re-designated it ‘knitting time’ and took enough knitting to fill a good six hours per day.

Now, 13 hour days are not out of the ordinary in my line of work. When most of the people you encounter at work are either at work during the day or busily retired, a lot of things happen in the evening. In fact, 15 hour days come round every so often.

At the end of a 13 hour day I would expect to feel absolutely wiped out: the difference that taking 2 hours (to knit) out of the middle of the day made was astonishing. With the balance between work and recreation, those Benedictines were on to something. Making time for recreation means that there is something giving renewal in the middle of a long day. I was not the only knitter on the course. In one afternoon, we got up to four knitters on the comfy chairs (and we had one very interested bystander – we’ll take spare needles to the next bit of the course).

Slightly off at a tangent, but an interesting discovery anyway: Before settling down to knit I took a brisk walk each day and I was then awake enough not to doze off for the  next couple of hours. I’ve been getting internal and external nudges about the benefits of exercise for months. Maybe it’s time to take note and do something.

This course lasts for most of the rest of this year and we have a project to complete before the next residential. The focus of the project is something that will develop you personally, not a work-related thing, but perhaps something you have always wanted to do, something that makes your soul leap.

Here is my project: Spin to knit and publish. My spinning wheel sits in my study, always within easy reach but rarely touched. I want to get the hang of spinning, well enough to knit with my handspun. I also want to learn to write patterns and understand a bit more about design.

This is what I’m hoping to achieve:

  • practice spinning regularly (daily, or at least a long session each week) and get the hang of spinning a balanced yarn
  • complete Craftsy classes on spinning and plying
  • design an item to be knit with handspun yarn
  • write the pattern properly
  • knit the item
  • publish the pattern

This should be an interesting few months.

Another part of the course is to keep (and regularly review) a learning journal. Isn’t there a quote something along the lines of ‘the un-reflected life is not worth living’? I happened to have a new notebook with me and I’m using a lot of the Bullet Journal system: simple, yet effective.

WIP update:

I took the Fish Lips Kiss socks with me and I have mastered the heel. Very simple once I figured it out, but until that point absolutely baffling. I am now speeding up the first leg and wondering when to stop.

LetterMo update:

Two days behind, but enjoying writing (mostly very short) letters.

Writing letters

This month I will be mostly writing letters.  February seems to be the month for committing to writing a real old-fashioned letter every day.

There’s Lettermo, which I have joined up with.

A month of letters 2015 participant

There is also InCoWriMo. That is, of course, International Correspondence Writing Month. Tagline: One a day, every day, February.

I’m following both the sites. Lettermo doesn’t require you to post anything on Sundays, but InCoWriMo does. I’m going to get ahead of the game and write a postcard today. I sorted out a pile of nice writing paper and some things to send to keep me going for the first few days.

On the knitting front, I’ve just covered the rug in the living room in yarn, in an attempt to work out the colour scheme for the next few rows of my sock blanket scarf.

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Apologies for the poor light and the distraction of the rug. I was working out when I last used each yarn. You can see that there are a few that haven’t appeared since near the beginning. They’ll be coming up in the next few rows.

Oh, and here’s a link to the finished swirl, which I am snuggled up in as I type.