Darn it 2

It only took me nearly 4 months to get round to putting the instructions I linked to in my last post into action.

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It’s a bit fiddly, and I’m not sure how comfortable it will be in a shoe, but I think it works.

Commonplace

In the last few months I’ve been reading a lot about notebooks, planners and various ways of organising life in an analogue way. The digital way, whether digital calendar or task list, just doesn’t suit me. It has to be pens and notebooks all the way.
One of the things I kept reading about was the practice of keeping a Commonplace book, but I couldn’t find anywhere that said what it was or what the point is or how to do it. Imagine my joy when I found this post:
http://alyjuma.com/commonplace-book/
Just what I wanted. Found via The Well-Appointed Desk.
More here.
I do keep a couple of notebooks on the go. I have a Moleskine which goes with me everywhere I go, for planning, work stuff and random notes. I also keep a notebook for knitting, which is where I keep notes of how I customise patterns, plus useful knowledge. Here is my favourite page.

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Transcription: “How to get blood out of wool
Cold water soak
Rinse over & over until it is all out
A little mild soap if needed
Rinse from back side, with pressure.”
No idea where that information comes from. Hope I never need to use it.

A yarn-free zone

Pens

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Although most of my communication happens through a keyboard or a phone, there are still quite a number of things I have to write by hand: cards, letters for work, notes to teachers. I find I think differently when I’m writing to when I’m typing. The physicality of it and the slowness mean the synapses in the brain fire differently and I find that creative processes are changed.

Having the correct pen for the job in hand is more pleasing to me than might be warranted by the insignificance of the task in hand. Is it the pleasing scratch of a pencil, the effortless glide of the gel pen or the springy fountain pen that is right for this particular piece of work?

When I was attending lectures regularly, I always had my set of Staedtler fineline pens. The different colours helped to organise my thoughts. The nib was fine enough for the speedy scrawling that was needed and, very often, the notes were even legible afterwards. Woe betide anyone who replaced a pen out of order in the box.

The writing implement we were first given at school was an HB pencil: yellow and black striped with a red end. I go out of my way to buy these rather than any other pencil because they anchor me back to my very first experiments in writing.  I write in pencil when I’m not sure of what I want to say. The temporary nature is important. It doesn’t matter if something is wrong: it can be rubbed away with no worries.

Fountain pens are the kings of pens. They are needy: demanding ink, objecting if left alone too long, yet have a certain grandeur. The balance of a good fountain pen can increase the pleasure of writing. I have three regular fountain pens:

  • A cheap Parker, filled with permanent black ink for work. This is the pen that gets used by wedding couples to sign their names, records baptisms and funerals in the registers. Every so often I buy a spare pen, yet only ever seem to have one.
  • A nice Parker, metal and smooth to the touch. This is my usual letter writing pen, which sits on my desk until needed. Usually it is filled with blue ink. The previous ink cartridge in it was black and it really didn’t suit the pen. It is much happier in blue. Sadly, very often this pen dries out through under-use. Deplorable, but I have a strategy for overcoming this, of which more later.
  • A Japanese pen, an Ohto Tasche, which travels with me in my handbag. This is the pen I use in meetings. It is a half length pen, only really being usable once you fix the lid on the end, at which point it becomes perfectly balanced. This is the pen that has frivolous colours of ink in. I found a set of cartridges that are pale blue, pink and purple. It has a slightly scratchy writing style, more like a pencil in feel, but I enjoy using it. The smoothness of the action when taking off the lid or replacing it is particularly pleasing.

There are other pens of course: dozens of cheap biros litter the house, (along with a few superior biros that rejoice in the name ‘rollerball’ and are actually quite nice) and there are felt pens galore here and there.

I also have a set of dip pen nibs and a heap of good intentions to figure out how to use them, but haven’t had the time. I rather sympathise with Stephen Fry, who writes in one of his books about how his enthusiasm for calligraphy waxes and wanes. He buys calligraphy sets, spends one glorious afternoon playing with them, then ends up relegating them to the back of a drawer somewhere until they are unusable.

Paper

No matter how many pens you have and how wonderful they are, there is not a lot you can do with them without paper.

I don’t think I am as discerning in my choice of paper as I am with what pen to use. It would probably be of some benefit to my handwriting to take more care over the paper.

Loose leaf paper is the nicest to write on because if you mess up a page you can just begin again. I have a big box of foolscap size, which makes a nice change to the golden ratios of A4 and A5.

Notebooks are a mixed blessing. Not only do they seem intimidating in their blankness, but they are quite tricky to write in with a decent pen unless they have the sort of spine that lies flat. I like to buy notebooks, but tend to wait to use them until I find a worthy use, so I have a little stash that probably won’t ever run out.

Get to the point

I did have a reason for writing about stationery. Last year, in late February, I discovered this site: Lettermo. The challenge is:

  1. In the month of February, mail at least one item through the post every day it runs. Write a postcard, a letter, send a picture, or a cutting from a newspaper, or a fabric swatch.
  2. Write back to everyone who writes to you. This can count as one of your mailed items.

I’m inclined to take up the challenge this year, since I was too late last year. In preparation, I’ve been assessing my store of stationery items. The missing ingredients to the whole challenge are people to write to and things to say. Without either of those, the challenge will fall rather flat.

If you would like to receive a letter as part of the Lettermo challenge this year, then leave a comment including a topic or two you would like me to write about. Don’t put your address in the comment (unless you really don’t care about it being online). You can probably figure out how to send me a more private message if you look at the about page, (which I have just had to compose).

Decisions made

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This was the scene when I got out my stash to look it over and decide what to knit next. Mr H came into the room, took one look at this lot and disappeared upstairs muttering about an early night.

There are 364 sock patterns in my Ravelry library, so it took quite a while to narrow it down. I’ve added a few more sock patterns to my Ravelry Queue:

Both of these are good for variegated yarn. However, I decided I wanted to knit some semi-solids and I have cast on Tintern Abbey Socks. This has a whole new (to me) toe and heel construction – The Sherman Toe/Heel – and is from Brenda Dayne’s ongoing ebook, Welsh for Rainbow.

Way back when, I resolved to knit (and wear) a pair of socks in pink. I’ve put it off long enough. Here is the first toe. Strictly speaking this is the second toe, since the first one I knit using the instructions for a Sherman Toe bore no resemblance whatsoever to a toe. It turns out that if you follow the instructions (without questioning them and doing what you think they mean instead of what they actually say) then it works fine.

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In other news, I have been baking:

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Fresh croissants for breakfast is something I probably shouldn’t get used to.

In brief

It has been a busy couple of months. Here are the highlights, because I guess it is better to write briefly than not at all.

  • I finished my old job just after a very hectic Christmas
  • We’ve moved house
  • There was trouble with the kitchen floor (but I’d really rather not talk about it in detail and it is all ok now)
  • The little girl started walking on moving day
  • The little boy has settled into a new school with very little fuss
  • We had snow and snowmen and sledging in our lovely new garden
  • There are still cardboard boxes, although not many of them now (and I’ve done nearly all of mine)
  • I started my new job this week
  • I am excited, apprehensive, overwhelmed and loving it all at the same time

So, that’s what has been happening outside the knitting world. You can understand why knitting progress has been slow. It has not, however, been non-existent.

  • I finished the socks for the Mr in time for Christmas (no photos yet since it was a close-run thing and he only found them in a box yesterday night)
  • There was a lot of knitting goodness in my Christmas present pile, but I’ll come back to that
  • I have knitted two thirds of a sock and I’ll come back to that too.
  • I have cast on a Swirl. 545 stitches. Oh boy. At least I knew the trick of using two ends of the ball for a long-tail cast-on. Imagine getting to 544 and running out of yarn. Don’t expect this to be finished any time soon.

Now, in an exciting turn of events, let’s move beyond knitting.

  • A friend of my Mum spent an evening teaching me to spin on a spindle.
  • She gave me the spindle and some Icelandic wool to practice with
  • Then she lent me a spinning wheel for a while. It’s (or are spinning wheels, like steam engines always referred to as ‘she’?) an Ashford Traveller
  • Last week, someone from one of my new parishes rang me out of the blue offering babysitting and asking if the rumour was true that I was a knitter. She then said she was a spinner and would I like to try it.
  • There is also a spinning group that meets once a month in an adjacent village. I met the lady that hosts it while taking my daughter to a toddler group. She noticed the hand-knit jumper that J was wearing (thank you again to J’s lovely Godmother).

I think that’s enough for now. I’m determined to have some of the evening with the needles and something relaxing on tv.

Sleeve

The sleeves of the cardigan are growing. It looks as though one ball per sleeve will be sufficient, so no faffing about with dye-lot changing.

This week I am reading:

  • Heartless by Gail Carriger “A novel of Vampires, Werewolves and Teapots”.
  • Little Women by Louisa M Alcott – a re-read of a favourite from my childhood
  • Third Way Magazine

I am contemplating giving up shouting at the 3yo for Lent, imposing a 10p charity fine for each lapse.