Tag Archives: knitting

Flung a toad, and other mishaps


The blackbirds love me.  Sorting out a hundred little plant pots is bunce for them.  Not so for the toad hiding in one of them whose otherwise defunct contents I flicked into the garden.*  Bit of a surprise to both of us.

Knitting in your sleep is all very well so long as you don’t start knitting to a previous similar pattern instead of the current one.

Undoing the section wouldn’t be too bad if it weren’t for the cabling.  Taking the whole jumper back would have been even slower and nearly as difficult.

The tension in panel C is a bit wrecked …

*  No toads were harmed in the making of this post.



The week was miscellaneous.

The end of an era:

Not the end but near the end, and not looking very promising at the moment:

A beginning:  Beyond New Age is fairly well written:

Holocene  – interesting, but, read in dribs and drabs over a year, it was difficult to keep the large picture in mind.  Good words though – palynology, eustatic, oligotrophic, varves.

Winding up the experiment, I am left with a kitchen in a bag.  It looks so useful, except I can’t think when it will be used:

It’s difficult to photograph things that aren’t there.  Kindly imagine a piano-shaped absence.



Chequered past


Today I explored outward from Salisbury; only a mile or so, on a dulled afternoon.  Most of the houses are bog-suburb-council-house-bungalow, with a few oldies still wedged in among.

Eking out brick with flint is a real Wiltshire ploy; pity about the tactless street furniture.

The basic cottage underneath is probably old, but the excessive grooming makes it look like something from a film lot – as if it is thatched with plastic rather than reed or straw.

The church also shows a traditional mixture of materials – fairly recent by church standards, but may be sitting on older foundations.  I gave a black mark because it was locked at 2.30 pm – but maybe the local vandals are chronic.

Then this rather forbidding building.  I would be hard put to say why it would look completely alien in my own home territory – something to do with the colour of the brick, and perhaps the roof line.  Judging by the numerous revisions, this one has been around for a while.

This peach of the vernacular shows classic flint chequerwork in its lower portion; not sure if the dressed stones are very dirty chalk or, as I suspect, greensand (of sentimental memory).

How do you know you have knitted half a ball of wool when you have no accurate scales?  Like this …


Not very joined up


One of those random days where none of the bits matched any of the other bits.

We started with reindeer of course, striding away across the snow.  Not feeling like doing any striding myself, I ripped back some knitting.  Do you know how difficult it is to unravel wool which is both hairy and decorated with sequins?  Not so much ripping as delicately untangling each row and removing the snags one by one to avoid spoiling the yarn.

The reindeer were having a little rest.  Some of them were asleep.  The ones that were asleep chewed slowly.  The ones that were awake chewed less slowly.

I cut the grass.  I promised myself I wouldn’t complain about cutting the grass.  Look: this is me not complaining about cutting the grass.  I decided the time for curlicues was past, and mowed straight over the violets.  Most of them were finished anyway, and now they all are.

Checking in on the reindeer:  they were stepping steadily in the chilly sunshine.  A few paused to suck and gnaw at exiguous strands of lichen glued flat to black rocks.  I meditated on stripes.  Tricky things, stripes.

Episodes of social engagement followed. The sea was blue and sparkly, the hills pale green over the pale chalk, but I couldn’t enjoy – bank holiday weekend, so all the ordeal of homicidal motorbike riders and suicidal cyclists and lost tourists looking at the view instead of the road.  Bad combination.

Home again, I made sure the herd was all right.  Their humans were amusing themselves by drawing giant patterns in reindeer, right across the valley floor – by laying a trail of what looks like pony nuts, which the reindeer rush into lines to feed upon.

Watering plants next.  It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, at last, and the timing is rubbish as usual, with hundreds of people in tents, poor loves, and an early garden show kicking off.

Back with the reindeer.  I’ve turned the sound off.  It’s getting a bit late in Norway and the screen caption says it’s -12°C.  The current shot:  A reluctant northern night is gathering.  A small snowmobile van thing is shown slowly approaching the camera position over a wide field of snow.  It passes the camera position.  The camera pans to keep it in view.  The van thing progresses across the snow.  The camera centres on its little flat square doors.  It goes further away over the snow.  It goes further away some more.  It goes away a bit more.  The now tiny back view of the van thing disappears gradually over the brow of a snowy hill.  The camera continues to look at snow on the now empty hill.

I think the reindeer and I are stuck with each other for the duration.



For reasons too complicated to go into, this has been my latest read:


I had a disdainful nose in the air before I began, but to my annoyance soon began to chuckle (oh dear, I must be a girl after all).  The elaborate typographical jokes were a slight pain, but Kuenzler is rather good on the sausage dog so long that his back end was always doing something completely different from the front end.  And on the Dingley Dell wedding with man-sized squirrel.  Also rather good on the uncle who, trying to please his new fashionista girlfriend, has smartened himself up, and refuses to go to the playground in case he gets his suit dirty, to the horror of his niece:

“Was this the man who had driven across the Sahara Desert in his underpants because his shorts were holding the engine together? …”

Then today was bleak indeed, and raw; the flat sky dribbled a few mean little flakes and it was a good day to stay in, knitting lethargically, daydreaming, and reflecting on the vagaries of literature.  And in idleness I had a snow poem; all eight lines of it.  The insufficiency of the fall required no more.

The sistren


suffrageWatching Suffragette gave me time to contemplate how my own feminism is getting on, how male interpretations sneak into everything (yes still), and how small girls are indoctrinated with pink and dollies and make-up (the pages of any toy catalogue are a perfect horror show).

One seasonal example:  Mary is the only woman appearing in the vast majority of Nativity scenes displayed at this time of year.  And I don’t believe it.  Quite apart from female solidarity, women buzz round new babies like wasps round jam.  So when I knitted up Jean Greenhowe’s crib scene a few years back, it acquired an improvised figure:  the innkeeper’s wife, who has looked out a  blanket left over from her own babies, and is about to give it to the infant Jesus.

with-blanketMaybe this year I could knit the bossy WRVS lady who lives in Bethlehem and has just heard about Mary.  I can practically hear her rushing up the road, full of good advice for a first time mother (possibly rather more advice than Mary actually wants), and bringing a pot full of nourishing stew, which will, of course, be incubating efficiently in a hay box.

Things to do when you can’t sleep: lxiv


lxiv : Teeny little stitches

Collect up the patches

1 patched

and start sewing.  Always looks a horrible mess, full of tacking and paper.

2 papered

It’s hard on the fingers.  I went to my sewing box and an old sewing box to find a good fit.  Something for generations of stitchers, with swollen hands or slim:  Britannia metal, celluloid, aluminium, plastic.

3 fingers

The tiny child’s thimble is heavily worn; all that sewing practice and pricking of small fingers. Pretty sure she is dead now.

4 practising

Sewing different fabrics together is always tricky – different thicknesses, nap, and stretch. And I’m not the world’s neatest seamstress.

5 cat's teeth

Looks as if it might work.



The current fad is for twiddle muffs.  The local hospital is appealing for some, to comfort the restless hands of patients with dementia, so I thought I would try one.  I hope they do work for the patients.

1 twiddling

I can no longer sit down in the conservatory.  Every surface is full of seedlings, and now the recliner is filled up as well.  I was using up old seeds and thought the germination rate would be down, so I sowed an excess.  I think every seed must have germinated … especially the radicchio.

2 not sitting

The latest firing produced the second round of lace pots and porcelain bud vases.  One of the lace planters slithered through my hands, fell, and struck the concrete with a sounding clang.  Bizarrely, it then bounced, and was neither marked nor cracked.  That high fired stoneware delivers value sometimes.

3 tough

This vase looks like a teeny tiny cooling tower:

4 power station

And do it I did


I said I would do it.  And do it I did.  I listened to the very end of the 18th disc of the apparently unabridged Moby Dick.  I would not entirely claim to have remained conscious for the whole of it, however…

1 disc 18The reading did show up some of the limitations of audio formats, and for me I think the main problem is that it is impossible to control or vary the pace.  Reading a text, one can skim, or slow down and savour, or skip like a stone across the surface.  In the cinema, it is true, one must proceed with the director’s gait, but when did you last see a film 21 hours long? And with home video, it is possible to fast forward through less congenial sections and, as the protagonists gallop across the screen, still be aware of the plot development and when to start paying proper attention again.  But it just doesn’t work with a spoken word book.

All that said, I am quite pleased to have finally got some sort of grip on one of those novels I’ve spent many years not getting around to. Many of the chapters were highly digressive, and others partook of the shaggy dog.  I particularly noted chapters about the peculiar significations of the colour white, and about the phrenology of whales. The latter, Ishmael admits, is difficult because a) they do not have faces b) do not have noses and c) have brains so deeply buried that the bumps on the surface of their heads bear no relation to the projections of intellect, magnanimity etc. within.  Nevertheless, he takes a crack at the subject.  In view of this, I feel empowered to deliver a judgement:  Moby Dick is, on the whole, a portentous Tristram Shandy with added cetaceans.

While listening, I have knitted, and run some more experiments with the hand-building clay.  Don’t think it is my style really, and not sure about this one at all:

2 hmmmHighlight of the day was a particularly elegant cloud:

3 grace