Deep Hull

Deep Hull

Monday, 28 November 2011

Randoms for testing

I downloaded the Blogger app for my HTC a few days ago and wanted to check out the photo uploading capabilities. I just picked a couple of photos from my phone gallery.  These were taken during a holiday with my sons to Somerset in 2006.  They were taken on a little Samsung E-something or other which was my phone at the time and as you can see, the quality isn't fantastic.  I had transferred all my phone pics to the HTC using Bluetooth and the difference in the quality of camera is noticeable.  Having said that, the bottom picture of the Deep was taken with the HTC and that doesn't actually look that great either!  However, the Blogger app appears to work fine so all is well in Doodlywhatsits's blogland :-)

Lions of Longleat


The Deep, Hull

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

I'm moving.

Only my blog, don't get excited :-)

I've decided to tranfer everything over here to Blogger.  I've been thinking about it for quite a while and a few weeks ago I actually exported my Wordpress posts into Blogger but then continued to use Wordpress.  Probably because I was familiar with the use of it.  However, Blogger allows for more social interaction than Wordpress seems to do.  It's far easier on Blogger to keep track of the other blogs I like to follow, there is the option of seeing them all listed in my dashboard in the order that they were last updated, so I can see if a visit is in order.  Also Blogger allows the Goodreads widget which Wordpress doesn't support.  From what I can see, I can still get the same site stats here, how many views etc as on Wordpress.  The only thing I think Wordpress does that Blogger doesn't, is to automatically update Facebook and Twitter when I have published a new post but I can share my posts to both sites so that's not a problem.  I just feel that for what I want from my blog, Blogger is the better option for me at this time.

Bram Stoker's Whitby

As you know I'm currently listening to Dracula courtesy of Craftlit, so when the opportunity to visit Whitby came up last weekend, I was only too happy to take it.  I love Whitby anyway, it's a pretty place with excellent fish and chips and some good pubs but the chance to walk the Dracula Trail and take the route that Mina and Lucy would have walked each day was just too tempting for a geek like me.  This blog post is mainly for the benefit of my Craftlit friends on Ravelry who do not live in England so won't have the pleasure of visiting Whitby and seeing these sights for themselves.  I hope you all enjoy the Mina and Lucy experience!
We arrived on the Sunday lunchtime and it was very misty so my first photos were not very exciting I'm afraid.  Lots of white stuff with some shadowy blobs in the distance!

Whitby Fog!

A walk around, a look in the gift shops and couple of pints of Theakston's Old Peculier in the Duke of York pub and then it was back to the hotel for dinner.  We were staying in The Royal Hotel which is at the top of West Cliff by the Whalebone Arch.  The original Whalebone arch was erected in 1853 so I'm rather surprised it doesn't get a mention in the book as the girls lodgings were very close to it.  This replacement was donated by Alaska in 2003 with a previous one donated by Norway in 1963 (what the hell do they keep doing to them?!)

 As we set out in the dark, for an evening visiting the local hostelries, I couldn't help but think of Mina, on that fateful night when discovering Lucy missing from their room, running through the deserted streets, over the bridge and up the 199 steps to the churchyard to rescue her friend.  Craftlit people, you will totally understand but for those of you who don't, yes I do know it's not real but  if you can't use your imagination, there is little point in listening to a story and I really found myself imagining myself as Mina, running frantically all the way round from the West Cliff to get to Lucy up there on the East Cliff. 

As for us, well we had a most enjoyable evening in a few local pubs and then slept well with no nightmares or sleepwalking!

And so to Monday, which was a little brighter.  After breakfast, we set out to find the Bram Stoker Memorial seat to start our walk.  We couldn't find it and I've since discovered that we were looking in completely the wrong place!  However, from photos I've seen online, we didn't miss much.  It is just a very ordinary bench but with a plaque saying that the view from there was what inspired Stoker to include Whitby in his book.  I did spot East Crescent which was originally called The Crescent and is where Mina and Lucy were lodging during their time in Whitby.  I couldn't quite fit it all in the photo, there were I think nine houses in total.

The Crescent
The first view we have is the one Mina had when searching for the sleepwalking Lucy.  Across from the West Cliff over to the churchyard and Abbey.   This is also the top of the steps that the girls would have walked down each day to go over to the East side.

View from the West Cliff Steps

View from West Cliff to East Cliff

View from West Cliff to East Cliff
Of course there wouldn't have been a Patrick (who doesn't normally look like a chipmunk, he's pulling a strange face!) or a litter bin and benches in Mina's day!

The Swing Bridge
Down the steps and along past the Fishmarket to the Swing Bridge.
Then down Church Street toward the 199 steps up to the churchyard.  Before tackling the steps though, we went onto Tate Hill Pier and Tate Sands which unsurprisingly is the little beach area next to the pier!  This is where the Russian schooner Demeter, with Dracula on board, crashes into the pier in a storm having been driven through the entrance to the harbour.

Harbour Entrance
Stoker based this storyline on a real-life incident involving the Russian schooner Demetius which had floundered off the coast of Whitby in 1885.  In the Dracula story, all the crew are missing and the captain is dead having tied himself to the wheel, when the ship crashes a huge black dog leaps from the bow and bounds up the steps to the churchyard.  Dracula had arrived in England!

Tate Hill Pier and Sands
The pier is the concrete structure at the bottom of the picture, just sticking out from beyond the second rooftop from the left and Tate sands lies to the right of it as you look at this picture.
Having looked around to make sure there were no large black dogs around, we took to the 199 steps.  That's quite a long way up that our Mina ran you know! Here is the view from the very top of the steps.

Top of the 199 steps
Once at the top of the steps and when I could breathe again, we headed off to the churchyard.  There are several seats all around and for good reason, the views are stunning and I can really see why this spot was a particular favourite for our heroine and her friend.

View from Churchyard seat

Enjoying the view (and the breather!)
We didn't go into the church and unfortunately the Abbey site was closed because it is out of season so we couldn't get up close and personal with the ruins which was a disappointment.  I took a few pictures of both though.

St Mary's Church Whitby

St Mary's Church, Whitby

Whitby Abbey
And of course, I was wearing my Wilhelmina Shawl and so had to have some modelled photos taken in the favourite spot of the heroine who inspired the pattern.  Please excuse the second photo...I appear to be in mid-blink!

The Wilhelmina Shawl
After all that walking about I thought Patrick deserved a drink so we went back down to the Duke of York, situated at the bottom of the steps, for a well earned Old Peculier.  The site of the Duke of York has had an alehouse on it since the Doomsday book, I think it's probably because the monks  needed a pint or two to help them up those steps!
We had a lovely weekend and Patrick was wonderfully patient with my current Dracula obsession, never once complaining about all the walking around and random photos.  I'll leave you with this one, which for me encapsulates Whitby completely.

Whitby Seagull waiting for the catch to come in!

For those of you who are not Craftlit people, I really cannot recommend this reading enough.  Heather has found some wonderful readers and each character has their own voice.  If you are not a crafty person and don't want to listen to the knitting chat, Heather now has another site called Just the Books which, as it says is just the books with no craft talk beforehand.  Go on, listen to it, I dare you!

WIPs and on the horizon

I currently have a fair few projects on the needles and am still wanting to cast on more!  There are just so many things I want to knit and as usual, not enough time to fit everything in.  I'm still working on the baby knits, I've now completed one jacket, two hats, the backs of two more jackets and a pair of mitts.  As everything in the pattern is written for knitting flat and seaming, I have converted the hat to be knit in the round and that has worked well.  However I thought I was being really clever and converting the mitts to be done bottom up, magic loop and two at a time!  Woah, learning curve overload!  I've found it to be really fiddly and awkward and they've taken me much longer than a tiny pair of baby mitts should have taken.  I think I'll just follow the pattern for the other two pairs.
In between the baby knitting, I've been working on the Wilhelmina Shawl KAL that I mentioned last time.  I am really enjoying knitting this, it's a very easy lace pattern to follow and it's looking good.  I also decided to swatch and cast on for the Maude Louise cardigan by Knitting Kninja.
This one has been started before actually and abandoned, over two years ago I swatched for this, couldn't get the tension right and lost patience.  Someone else on Phoenix knitting forum  has knitted it recently and made an excellent job of it which gave me a kick start again.  I've finished the back but I'm spreading myself so thinly with knitting at the moment that I haven't yet had time to cast on for the fronts. It's a really pretty cardigan and looks nice in the sky blue Patons Jet that I am using.
The last of the WIPs (not counting the hibernating ones of course ;-)) is yet another Horatio.  My 91 year old mum told me last week "I'll let you knit one of those hats for Andy, I'll buy the wool".  Gee thanks mum, you're so kind to me!  I don't mind at all of course, it's a lovely hat and mum's friend Andy is very kind, visiting her when she was in hospital and taking her out in her wheelchair.  I just found it very funny to be told that I was to be allowed to knit a hat for someone :-), older people have such a way with words sometimes.  I bought some yarn from Kingcraig Fabrics on Ebay.  It was such good value at £3.00 for a 100g (200m) ball of Merino/Cashmere Aran weight.  I'm very pleased with how it is knitting up.
Coming up soon, in 5 days to be precise, is the annual Woolly Wormhead Mystery KAL.  I really enjoyed last years and despite being rather busy on the knitting front, I can't resist joining in this year too.  I shall be knitting pattern A, in the very lovely King Cole Baby Alpaca in a brown shade.  I swatched the other night and am all set to go.  Another KAL I really, really want to be a part of is another one from WWMDfK.  The Van Tassel Mittens KAL in the Ravelry group for the book is now underway but as I'm still working on the previous KAL from that book, I think I really should finish something off before starting anything else.  These are so pretty though and I'm wanting to practice colourwork, and I have yarn that I could use so I'd be using up stash, and did I mention that they are so pretty and...and...and...I just know that I won't be able to resist and will have them OTN before too long ;-)
I have given up on the idea of knitting the Spock hats for Patrick and his friends for Christmas, I worked out the time it would take and Patrick agreed that it's a waste of good knitting time for something that will be worn once for a novelty and then probably stuffed in a cupboard and forgotten about.
How fantastic is this hat?
You can find the pattern on her blog here.  It's also a download from Ravelry here.
So wish I could spare the knitting time for this!

Cock O' The North....and other things

A few weeks ago, Patrick and I went to Hipperholme in Halifax.  Why would anyone do that you ask?  Well it was specifically to visit The Cock O' The North pub which is the tap of the Halifax Steam Brewing Company.  We had had the place recommended to us by a couple of guys in our local pub The Wellington Inn (which doesn't appear to have it's own website any longer).
So, The Cock o' the North then.  At first glance from the outside, we wouldn't have ventured in here.  It is built of portakabins and doesn't look like the greatest place to spend a Friday night.  I am so, so glad we had the recommendation though (thanks to Blakey and Paul) because inside, it was like a temple for real ale fans.  The long polished granite bar (which the bar staff kept scrupulously clean all night) has a beautiful backdrop of two huge fish tanks.  I only had my phone to take pictures  but please follow the link above and have a look at their own picture gallery to see what I mean (although the fish tanks did have fish in them when we were there).  Plenty of table and chair seating around the room and nice comfy wooden bar seats so we could contemplate our next beer choice and watch the fish at the same time.  Ten real ale pumps spanned the bar, all boasting brews by Halifax Steam Brewing.  We decided to work our way along, both of us sampling a different drink each time so to give us maximum tasting treats!  We did get to the end and start on our way back down again actually ;-).  My particular favourite was The Dark Side, an absolutely scrumptious dark beer tasting of chocolate and coffee.  The Cock O' the North beer was also very lovely with caramel notes.  The two that seem to be their regulars, are Aussie Kiss, a very pale and hoppy brew and at something like 3.8% a real session beer and Uncle Jon a dark but mild flavoured beer which at 4.3% is also very drinkable!  The other beers I believe rotate as and when.  I do tend to prefer dark beers but having said that, the paler, blonder ones on offer were also very nice.  There wasn't one beer on offer that I would say that I wouldn't drink again.  Quite an achievement with ten different ones!
The manager/owner (didn't quite work out which) was a lovely guy who spent a bit of time chatting to us and when he found out where we were from and our local, was delighted to be able to tell us that he knew of the Wellington guys from their previous visits and was full of praise for our fair city of Hull as well.  All in all The Cock O' the North is a highly recommended visit for all you real ale fans out there, heck there is even a camp site out the back if you are mad enough!
We had a good weekend all round really.  We had arrived on the Friday afternoon to stay in the Premier Inn at Halifax.  What a lovely location it was in, right on the canal side and the rooms had their own outside front door, kind of like American motels that you see on TV sometimes, but nicer.  The only drawback was that although it was only 3 or 4 miles away from Hipperholme, the taxis both ways cost just shy of a tenner!  So a bit of false economy with the cheap place to stay really but as it was so nice, we'll forget that little annoyance.  This picture was taken just outside our front door.
Canalside Premier Inn

 On the Saturday, after a hearty breakfast/lunch at the Wetherspoons I had spotted in Halifax town centre the previous night on our way to Hipperholme in the taxi, we decided we would drive home the scenic route rather than the rather dull M62.  I wanted to go to Haworth for a wander up the High Street, I haven't been for some years and Patrick had never been before.  The weather was so beautiful, one of those gorgeous Autumn days that are sunny and calm, yet really quite chilly.  This is my favourite time of year and weather, as I may have mentioned before, I'm not a sun worshipper in the least.  We enjoyed a meander up and down the High Street, walked through the church yard and I popped into the church hall to have a look at the local craft fair, I was a little sad that I had eaten such a large breakfast because there were some seriously delicious looking homemade cakes.  I was temped to buy a piece for later but it would have ended up all squashed before I got home knowing me.  We then stopped for a cuppa in one of the many tearooms along this delightful, cobbled (and very steep) street and I couldn't help noticing that there was a poster in the window for their Knit and Knatter group, how very fab to have a knitting group in such a lovely location.  I decided I want to live in Haworth, just so I can go to the Knit and Knatter. Please excuse my awful photo of Haworth's High Street.  It didn't turn out so well with my phone but I'm sure you can find much nicer ones on the web if you are so inclined.

After a pleasant couple of hours in Haworth, we set off for home, deciding to take the A59 route over the top and through York.  It is a much longer drive but Patrick agreed, better than the boring old motorway.
We stopped for a break in Knaresborough to stretch our legs, visited the beer shop there for a little supply of Belgian bottled beers and had a walk around the castle.  I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't even know there was a castle at Knaresborough but sure enough, there is and with stunning views to boot. 
View from Knaresborough Castle

I am quite pleased with this phone photo.  The stunning viaduct over the River Nidd as photographed with my little HTC phone from the walls of Knaresborough Castle.  We had a little wander around Knaresborough town centre and I now decided that I want to live in Knaresborough as it is so pretty :-).  It was turning a bit nippy by now and we were flagging a bit after our day of sightseeing so we started off for home, having thoroughly enjoyed our West/North Yorkshire weekend break.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Hats and a shawl.

I mentioned last week that I was test knitting a hat design for Knitting Kninja, well I finished it and my son immediately claimed it, declaring it to be the most comfy hat he's ever worn. Here it is - Horatio Hat.

I love how it turned out and he is right, it is such a comfy cosy hat. I had sort of promised it to Patrick but Mason got in there first so I've had to knit another one for Patrick. I'm not complaining because it is a nice hat to knit and very quick too. I knit the second one in the same yarn but in a lovely shade of brown, kind of reddish brown almost and Patrick is very happy with it.

I also finished one of the baby hats I'm knitting for my work colleague. I converted the hat pattern to knit in the round on magic loop because it was written to be knitted flat and seamed. The seam would have been up the back of the hat and I really didn't want to think of a tiny baby having to lie on a seam, it might be uncomfortable and they can't tell you what's hurting, only cry.

Now, I have cast on for another shawl, I probably shouldn't because I have lots of things I need to get done but hey, it's my hobby and I'll do with it what I want! I decided to go for it because a group I am part of on Ravelry is having a KAL (knit-along for the uninitiated). The group is called What Would Madame Defarge Knit, named for the book that it is centered around. WWMDfK is a great knitting book, first thought up by podcaster Heather Ordover of Craftlit. It features over 20 knitting and crochet patterned inspired by classic characters in literature. The shawl we are knitting at the moment is called Wilhelmina's Shawl and is named for the heroine of the book Dracula. We are currently listening to Dracula over on Craftlit so this is fun to do. I'm using some Aruacania Ranco Multy in an orange/purple colourway and it's looking good so far. I'm only going to knit on this for the hour a week I listen to the podcast though because I do have other things I want to get on with.

If you fancy listening along to Dracula, I really recommend it! It is such a cool and creepy book, none of your Twilight rubbish here. Just click DRACULA.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Sir Bob Geldof and Band in Lincoln

On Wednesday this week Patrick and I went to Lincoln to see Bob Geldof play the Theatre Royal. I have been a fan of Bob's since the early days of the Boomtown Rats in 1977. I clearly remember as a 15 year old watching this strutting, pouting vision of sex on legs (yes, he really was) belting out Looking After Number One on Top of the Pops and falling instantly in love with him and his music. My opinion has not changed despite the fact that Sir Bob will be 60 on 5th October this year.

Bob....a few years ago!

For those of you who only know Bob as the loud-mouthed political campaigner and co-founder of Band-Aid and Live Aid, I have to inform you that the man has also been making music for 36 years now and in my opinion it is pretty darned good music!

Bob Geldof - Promo picture from his 2011 tour

He and his band, including Pete Briquette, one of the original Rats, are also phenomenal live performers, excellent musicians to a man they kept the Lincoln crowd entertained for around 2 hours.

Having already seen Bob and the band twice in Hull (in 2003 and 2005) I already knew what a treat we were all in for. However, I will now attempt a review of Lincoln, 21st September 2011.

We took our front row seats (and the stage literally was a foot away from my knees!) and enjoyed a lively support act, an acoustic duo who didn't appear to have a collective name as they introduced themselves using their own names, which I cannot remember. A young guy on a guitar and another singing. A great voice, singing hits by Paul Weller, Richard Ashcroft and The Rolling Stones. They left the stage and the crew started readying it for the main event. This seemed to take forever and it's always something I wonder about, why have they not made all preparations earlier so that the main act can get straight on with things? Anyhow, after what felt like hours of waiting (about 30 mins), the band entered the stage to enthusiastic applause. I found myself a little breathless to be so close to Bob actually :blushes:. I managed to take three or four photographs before being told by the theatre staff that I was not allowed to do so :-(. A great shame because I could have got some much better pictures later on in the show.

Opening up with Great Song of Indifference which is a lively Irish jig type tune to get the crowd in the mood, Bob then had his customary introductory chat in which he informed the good people of Lincoln that he had previously not known where the city was or even that they had a cathedral. He said that Johnny Turnbull Guitar and backing vocals,(previously of The Blockheads) who hails from South Shields had suggested it might be 'somewhere near Hull' which got a cheer from me of course. They moved onto Sex Thing from the album The Happy Club, another lively track and then Systematic Six-Pack and Dazzled By You from the latest album How To Compose Popular Songs That Will Sell by Bob Geldof aged 58 and a half. Dazzled is most definitely my favourite song of the album and is a tribute to Bob's partner of 15 years, french actress Jeanne Marine , the opening lines of "In abandoned empty rooms, lying naked in my ruin, I was dazzled by you" is just for starters, it's simply a beautiful song about love. A hark back to Rats days next with When the Night Comes from the album The Fine Art of Surfacing and then a tale was told of how the next song came to be. Banana Republic was written by Bob and Pete Briquette following the band, on returning to Ireland in 1980 having achieved so much success in the UK, being banned from playing in their own country. Bob was very scathing in his description of the corrupt regime ruling Ireland at that time and the song reflects that. How I Roll from How to Compose was next followed by a cute little song called Harvest Moon, a bonus track on the album Sex Age and Death. I have to admit I didn't particularly enjoy the next two songs very much, Scream in Vain is not my favourite song and performed live was a bit shouty and clashing instruments for my taste, as was One for Me, both from the Sex, Age and Death album (also not my favourite album coincidentally!). A feast for Rats fans followed with Mondays, after which Bob announced that the audience 'may as well go home now'. To which I replied "not until you've done Love or Something", a track I particularly enjoy as it's very lively. He didn't oblige my request but was, I think, pleased that someone had requested a rather little know track instead of the more famous hits. Joey's on the Street Again, Rat Trap and Mary of the 4th Form concluded the main set, with the band demanding us to be on our feet and dancing by the time Rat Trap was underway. Of course, we weren't letting them off that lightly and the demanded (and prepared for) encore comprised of Silly Pretty Little Thing and Diamond Smiles. The band left the stage to a standing ovation, rapturous applause and cheers all round and then the theatre staff opened the exit doors. I commented to Patrick that this was unusual because the band always end with Great Song of Indifference, even if they have started the show with it too. I felt there should be another encore to come and that the theatre staff had jumped the gun somewhat but the audience had started to shuffle towards the exits. There was then an embarrassing period when the stage crew appeared to encourage us to demand another encore.....which we did of course and the band reappeared, laughing amongst themselves, to perform Here's to You and finally, Indifference. Of course we were all up and dancing, shouting and singing and personally I didn't want the night to end....but it did strike me as a little ironic in an amusing way following the confusion over the final encore that the evening ended with The Great Song of Indifference!

A Bob Geldof live performance is great not only for the music but for the man himself. He talks to his audience, explains song meanings, pokes fun at himself, has usually made an effort to learn something about the place he is in. He is in my opinion, despite his brashness and outspokenness, a rather humble man. He is aware that his records are never going to be best sellers - quote "I mean, F***ing Hell, I'm almost up there challenging Adele!" Said whilst laughing ironically. This all makes for a more intimate feel to his concerts and I'm sure I'm not the only person who feels that way.

I don't have an excellent memory by the way and nor was I sad enough to go into the gig with a notebook. I know the set order because the lovely Johnny Turnbull offered his copy of the set list as a souvenir and I grabbed it.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Never too late.

To let the world know that you are still around that is.  I've been procrastinating on this blog for weeks now, it gets kind of where you have missed so much that you don't know how to get started again.  I mean, do I attempt to back-track and  tell of the events that have taken place chronologically?  I think not, it would come out like a list rather than a tale. Or do I jump right in and start from now?  I suppose so, after all that's how it started in the beginning, I didn't attempt to go back over my whole life to get it down on record or anything!  You just have to start where you are at I suppose.

I am not a good blogger, I don't plan what to write, I just start writing and see what comes. Don't get me wrong, I do read it through and make changes, it's not completely ad-libbed but when I start, more often than not I don't know where it will take me.

So, I'm going to jump in and start from now, if I track back and tell you about my summer, then all well and good.  Summer haha...try to cast your mind back, summer fell on one day in June this year I think ;-)

Right now, we're in the midst of selecting Universities with my youngest son, who will be applying this autumn to go next year.  He wants to study Maths and is looking at Nottingham, Lancaster, Leeds and York in the main.  Of course mum gets the fun job of driving him to open days but I believe it is important to make the right choice based on your feelings when you visit a place and not just from reading marketing blurb in a prospectus so I'm not complaining about it. 

On the needles ATM is a hat that I am test-knitting for the wonderful Knitting Kninja.  It's a nice watch cap with just enough pattern detail to forestall the boredom usually involved in knitting hats for men (Why do they always want dark colours and stocking stitch or ribbing?)  It's called Horatio because  it has a nautical look to it, I had a hand in naming it so I'm feeling quite proprietry about it :-D.   I'm using the Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran in Navy that I have left over from my FLS and I'm please with it so far.  Also OTN, I'm knitting baby things :-)   I have a lovely work colleague who after many years of trying, is pregnant and expecting triplets!!  I'm knitting three identical layettes from a Sirdar pattern book but I won't be posting pictures on here, that would spoil the surprise.

Friday, 17 June 2011

FOs and Startitus!


Well, I say FOs...there's actually only one Finished Object which is the very lovely (if I do say so myself) February Lady Sweater as pictured above.  Please excuse the crappy photo (the white dots are light shining through the holes in the lace pattern I think), I will post a better one after the weekend hopefully but I am just so happy to have finished this never-ending project that I just had to share it.  Knitted in Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran in Navy blue, the yarn shows off the lace pattern really well and the stitch definition is really crisp and suits the garter stitch yoke very well.  I did enjoy knitting this but just got side-tracked so many times that it took much longer than it should have.  I'm sure I will wear it a lot, it is very comfy and cosy as well as looking quite stylish I think.

As for startitus, well I just haven't been able to make up my mind what I want to do, so I've cast on for several projects and have been matching yarn to projects with no thought to how much time all of these things are actually going to take!  I had tried to continue with my Dreamy Ishbel, the Ishbel shawl in the gorgeously soft Dream Lace but I really am going to have to be in the right mood for that.  I don't think Laceweight yarn is going to be my thing unfortunately, as beautiful as the results are, I'm not enjoying knitting with something that is as fine as sewing thread.  I know this will be a beautiful shawl someday but I'm just not in the mood for it right now. 

So with that in mind, I started on no less than three different projects in one night!  A lacey keyhole scarf in some beautiful Louisa Harding Grace hand-dyed which was a raffle prize for Patrick's sister Coral.  There is such a small amount of yarn, only 100m, that Coral said she had no idea what to do with it.  I have always wanted to try this particular yarn so said I would look for a pattern and knit it for her.  I think I may be able to do a small version of this scarf which will look pretty.  Other options were fingerless mitts or headbands and believe me, Coral is not a fingerless mitts or headband kind of girl!  Next up was a shawl in my grey Shetland 4ply, I chose Willow (Rav Link) by Vikki Harding because it looks to be a nice simple pattern.  I had a copy of the Yarn Forward magazine featuring the pattern so away I went.  The charts in the magazine are so small though that I was soon going cross-eyed with the effort of following them so I gave up on that (I have now enlarged the charts on a photocopy so can some point!).  Rightio, what to do next.....continue with the lacy scarf or one of my other WIPs?  Don't be silly, startitus is a control freak and it made me cast on Ysolda's Cloud Bolero (Rav link) in the Marble Chunky that I have in stash.  It was a tricky pattern to get my head around at first because there is lots of counting and stitch markers involved.  However once you get going it's fine and amazingly fast!  I'm almost finished, in fact if it wasn't that I'm doing it slightly longer than the pattern states, I'd have cast off by now.  I think it's going to be very pretty and I'm sure I'll be knitting more of these in different yarns.  I now have a use for the two skeins of Rowan Summer Tweed that I have in stash that I've been struggling to marry up to a project! 

In other news, we went Elderflower gathering last week and have 3 gallons of Elderflower wine fermenting nicely in Patrick's kitchen.  Along with the Dandelion and the Hawthorn Blossom we'll be having a merry old time of it next summer :-) .  I think that's us done with wine for now until the brambles ripen in August when we'll be gathering enough for a nice lot of Blackberry wine (and bramble and apple pie of course).

Friday, 27 May 2011

Non-Knitting News

A few weeks ago Patrick and I decided to go on the Real Ale Trail in West Yorkshire again, we did this last summer and enjoyed it immensely.  Patrick's two friends had expressed an interest in going with us 'the next time' so we tried to arrange it around them.  In the event, neither of them could commit to a date so we went ahead on our own, on Good Friday.  We stayed at the same hotel as the last time, The Cambridge Lodge, not far from the station.  The Ritz it certainly ain't but clean, tidy and cheap at £45 double room including cooked breakfast does for us.   We had decided that our first stop would be the West Riding at Dewsbury station, having seen a blackboard advertising their famous sausage sandwiches on our last visit.

The West Riding - Dewsbury Station
Famished, having only eaten a slice of toast before leaving anticipation of said sausage sandwich, you can imagine our devastation to be told 'We're not doing food today'!  We had a couple of wonderful beers anyhow and got the train back to Huddersfield, to a fantastic Fish and Chip shop by the market (had it been a market day that is!).  This Friday malarky wasn't proving too successful!  After Fish and Chips, we made our way to the station to catch the train to our next destination.  For some reason my memory of the order in which we visited the pubs along the trail is a bit hazy :-) .   So in no particular order, we also visited: The Station Buffet Bar on Stalybridge station.  This is an absolutely fascinating place, being the original station buffet.  A huge selection of ales but a strangely remiss attitude to glass collecting!  On our previous visit, the place was heaving so I put the vast quantities of empty glasses and bottles all over the tables, bar and any other flat surface down to the fact that they were rushed off their feet serving.  On this occasion though, it was relatively quiet, yet they still didn't seem in a great rush to clear the surfaces or wash the glasses.  The Riverhead at Marsden, we had a less than satisfactory time in here and didn't stay for a drink due to the lack of service and terrible attitude of the staff.  The Railway Inn at Greenfield, we managed to arrive right on the tail end of a very large party of drinkers from the same train as us and with seemingly only one man serving behind the bar, had quite a wait.  Theakstons Old Peculier more than made up for the wait though.  The pub interior itself is a bit grotty quite honestly so we sat in the beer garden, overlooking Saddleworth Moor.  I checked the timetable for the next train.  In my, by then, hazy state of mind I misread the timetable and told Patrick that the train was in 2 minutes.  We rushed the rest of our OP (criminal) and dashed across the road to the station.  It didn't seem to occur to us that if the train was really due, the pub would have emptied and the station platform would be full.  We had rushed the Beer by which all others are judged in order to sit on a station platform for 7 minutes!  The Commercial in Slaithwaite, which is pronounced Slawit apparently so do take note and don't make a fool of yourself should you ever want to visit the place.  Actually, from what we saw of it, whilst walking to the pub (here is where the ale trail goes a bit awry, the pubs in Slaithwaite being substantially further then a 2 minute walk from the station and up and down hills to boot) it seemed a nice enough town.  The Commercial isn't very memorable really, being one of these refurbished jobbies, you know the kind..all the interior ripped out to make one huge room which is then decorated in 'contemporary' style.  Decent selection of beers though and we sat outside, me making a fuss of a couple of whippets whilst we both tried to decide what the hell the wasps that kept dissapearing into drilled holes in the stone window frames were doing.  The holes were clearly drilled for drainage purposes in the solid stone so there would be no hollow behind them, no room for a nest.  Not even enough room to turn around I wouldn't have thought, yet they kept flying in and out all the time we stood there.  I found myself wondering how they had turned around in this little tunnel, why didn't they have to reverse out, in fact could they do such a thing?  Time to move on!!  Back to Huddersfield where we headed for the Kings Head.  The second of two pubs situated at either end and within the old station buildings at Huddersfield station.  This place is the polar opposite of the Commercial and clearly hasn't been cleaned in decades never mind refurbished!  It is in what was the old waiting room and has a fireplace at either side of the room.  I don't think they are in use though but having only visited in warmer months, I don't know for sure.  The selection of beers in here is massive, 12 I think it was and it was a hard choice by that time of evening. 

The Head of Steam - Huddersfield Station
We then decided for one more in the Head of Steam before heading into the heart of Huddersfield night life (ahem!) for a kebab at a wonderful cafe/takeaway called Kebabish, these are proper kebabs and not the rubbish you see at some places.  We ate here on our last visit and it was as good again.  Back to the hotel and a good night's sleep.

The next day, weather being beautiful again, we decided on a walk along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal to Standedge Tunnel.

Huddersfield Narrow Canal
 It was a very pleasant walk and the Standedge visitor centre at the end was very interesting.  You could go on a boat trip through the tunnel but I couldn't really imagine that being too fascinating so we skipped on that.  All in all a very good weekend.  The weather was fabulous for April and I now find myself hoping that wasn't our entire summer!!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The End is Nigh!!

February Lady Cardigan in progress
Don't worry, not The Rapture again but instead, my February Lady cardigan.  Yes, I have actually cast off the body of this long running saga and made a start on the sleeves so the end is indeed in sight for this project.  I have enjoyed knitting it, once I got into the lace pattern it has gone fairly quickly.  I expect to finish the sleeves over the next couple of weeks but here is a progress picture to be going on with.

I haven't made any more progress on Hampton though because I got caught up in a shawl (more of that later) and a couple of items I needed to knit for a swap I took part in on Ravelry.  I really enjoyed this swap, it's the first one I have ever taken part in and is run by the Outlander fans group on Ravelry.  For the unititiated Outlander is a series of books by Diana Gabaldon about Claire, who after walking into a stone circle in Scotland in 1945, comes out the other side in 1743, her subsequent adventures and relationship with highlander Jamie Fraser.  They are the most compelling and addictive books I have ever read, they just completely suck you into the lives of the characters.  Jamie and Claire have legions of fans who are now anxiously awaiting the completion of book 8 in the series.  Anyhow, this swap as I say, was fun to do, we had to 'stalk' our spoilee (the person we are giving gifts to, hence spoiling) to discover the things they like to wear, eat, knit, other hobbies, favourite colours etc.  The parcel we make up for our spoilee  had to contain certain types of items, a handcrafted gift, some yarn, small things like stitch markers, tape measure etc and any other treats.  For my hand made gifts, I made a cowl and some cotton face cloths.

Nemetona's Cowl
Fraser's Ridge Facecloths
These were both fairly quick and easy to do and I enjoyed choosing the colours that I knew my swappee liked through my Ravelry stalking!

The aforementioned shawl is the other reason I haven't made any progress on poor old Hampton and so, here it is.
Summer Flies Shawl
The pattern is Summer Flies by Donna Griffin of  I knitted it in Sirdar Just Bamboo which is a bamboo tape yarn.  I had my doubts as I was knitting because it seemed to bulky a yarn for a shawl but I have to say that I am delighted with how it turned out.  It is fairly heavy and drapes beautifully, the shape is quite a wide crescent so the fronts of the shawl are fairly long which makes it look lovely from the front as well as the back.  I wore it to go out on Saturday night with a beige/brown patterned dress and got lots of compliments on it so I was thrilled about that.

In other non-knitting news, Patrick and I had another trip down the Real Ale Trail on the train in West Yorkshire a few weeks ago, we have some wine brewing and I have started going running!!  More about that lot in another post I think, so that's about all for now folks.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Right on our doorstep... a river which makes for a very pleasant Sunday afternoon stroll and an impromptu picnic.  So that is what Patrick and I decided to do on Sunday afternoon, having availed ourselves of Tesco's finest scotch eggs and pre-packed sandwiches, a bottle of Leffe and a blanket to sit on.

Hull is built on the junction of two rivers, the mighty Humber, at the other side of which lies Lincolnshire, and the meandering River Hull, which the city itself straddles.  Despite living here all of my life  and spending much of my childhood mucking around where I shouldn't be and, well, trepassing I suppose, at the industrial section of both rivers in and around the city centre, I confess I hadn't previously ventured this far up river, well not along the riverbank itself anyway.  I drive across a bridge over it at this point everyday on my way to work and say to myself "that would be a really pleasant walk to do one day".  So finally got around to it.  The weather was glorious and a lovely day was had.

River Hull between Clough Road and Sutton Road

River Hull looking towards Industrial Estate - I work somewhere over there!
 See those Dandelions?  I'll be collecting some of them this week to make Dandelion Wine :-)

You'd think looking at these pictures that I lived in some lovely country village with lots of green space around not right in the middle of a very industrial city like Hull.  Just goes to show, there are hidden gems if you are willing to get out there and look for them.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

What have I been doing?

Not blogging is the obvious answer here.  So much for a post a week, I haven't posted for what...5 or 6 weeks!   It's that old thing that we never have enough of again - time.   So, what have I been up to?  I can't honestly remember a lot, that's what happens if you don't blog it you see.

One thing I do remember is that Patrick and I went to see the wonderful Gordon Giltrap at the beginning of March.  He was playing in the area again at a charity gig organised by a friend of his, we saw him last summer for the first time and I wasn't really familiar with his work before then. The only track I knew of his was his most famous hit Heartsong, which was the theme of the TV show Wish You Were Here.  I have to say I was completely awestruck during the performance.  The skill with which he plays is amazing.   He is an incredible guitar player and a very humble and entertaining man and we thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

In knitting news, I have finally finished the green jumper.  But...and it's a big but after about 5 weeks of knitting, I'm not happy with it :-(.  It doesn't fit quite as well as I would like, being a little bit loose.  I could live with that but the main problem is that I cocked up on the tops of the sleeves and the shoulders stick up a little.  I think it can be fixed but at the moment, I can't face it.  It is in the naughty corner until I can be bothered to unpick the offending bit and re-do it.  I will, at some time, because it was an awful lot of time and yarn to have wasted if I don't....but not just yet.  I've picked up my Hampton Cardi again, that of the 4 row, 9 stitch pattern that had me flummoxed a few weeks ago.  That worked out fine first time when I had another go at it.  Sometimes it pays to just put something aside for a while until it learns its lesson and decides to behave :-).  So, that is on the go at the moment but will be a few weeks in the making yet.   I have also made some progress on my February Lady cardigan and am knitting that as well as Hampton.  I'm enjoying both of these projects a lot now.

Patrick and I had booked a couple of days off work this week and had decided to go to York for an overnight stay.  We love to go to York, primarily because of the huge number of fantastic pubs to visit.  On the York Camra website, there are mini-guides to download and the one for York centre has no less than 82 pubs selling real ale from independant breweries.  I do love to try beers that I haven't tried before and to visit pubs that I haven't visited before and there are opportunities in abundance to do both in York.  Arriving on Sunday afternoon in glorious sunshine, we checked in the Travel Lodge in York Centre and set off for a little walk towards the first of our target pubs.  I took this picture of the beautiful daffodils around the walls on the way

Daffodils in York
Our first pub then was The Rook and Gaskill.  Just outside the City walls and named after two 17th Century sheep thieves who were the last people to be hanged at the St Leonard Gallows nearby. A real beer lovers pub with a selection of 12 beers and a friendly barman.  It was a struggle to just have the one in there I can tell you!  We had more pubs on our radar though so we next crossed Hull Road to visit the Waggon & Horses, a pleasant pub with 3 distinct rooms, sun beating through the windows at the front made for thirsty drinkers.   Back to the hotel after this to freshen up for the night ahead.  The very convenient Posterngate pub right next door to the Travel Lodge was our first stop for a meal and a beer.  A Wetherspoons pub, where you know you are going to get value.  I am a huge fan of Wetherspoons pubs.  The food may not be gourmet but it is good value and their commitment to Real Ale is second to none in the pub chain industry.  After that, we visited a further four pubs that we hadn't been to on previous visits to York.  The Punch Bowl just outside Micklegate, which is another Wetherspoons,  Brigantes, a cafe bar type establishment, then Ackhorne, tucked away down a little cobbled street.  We would never have found it by accident and now we've been in, we certainly won't be finding it again on purpose anytime soon.  After trying out one more new one, Maltings, in the shadow of Lendal Bridge we finished up with two of our favourite pubs, The Yorkshire Terrier and Ye Olde Starr, both down Stonegate.  A catfood-like burger on the way back to the hotel finished the night off nicely!  Monday dawned bright and sunny again and we had a little wander around before heading off to the Castle Museum.  Neither of us had been there for years and we had a good day.  I had a strange experience in one of the police cells in that as I stepped in the door, I got an overwhelming feeling that I just shouldn't be in there.  I can't explain other that it was a kind of panicky feeling and I just couldn't bring myself to go right inside, I hovered near the door as Patrick went in.  Later, speaking to one of the staff in another exhibit, the sweet shop, he was telling us about ghostly goings on in the place, including the time that a child who was visiting the museum had said that he wanted to go back into the police cell to talk to the lady who was in there!  Needless to say, Patrick then wanted to go back and see for himself.  We went in, I was a bit apprehensive to say the least but the feeling wasn't there on the second visit.

I'll leave you with another couple of pictures from York,  the first, a lovely little old building, I can't remember for the life of me where it was but I thought it looked very pretty with the blossom trees outside and the second picture is of Clifford's Tower.  Just look at those daffodils!

Blossom and Beams

Clifford's Tower - York

Friday, 18 February 2011

And the winning ticket is......

....mine.  Again!

Mafana Knitting Bag
I won this gorgeous bag in my Knitting Group's raffle this month.  Last month, two of the friends I sit with won raffle prizes of yarn, the month before I won a pretty little tin that I now keep stitch markers in.  I've won yarn at least 4 times that I can think of off the top of my head and I've actually won a prize more times than I haven't in the year or so I've been going to the group.  In fact, one month, I was so embarrassed to have my ticket called for what would have been the 3rd or 4th month running, that I told the organiser to pull another ticket out instead!  I have always maintained that I never win anything!  Whenever I've been anywhere where Bingo, raffles, bus-stops etc. have been played, I just used to pay my money and know that I wouldn't see a return on it.  I never win anything on my weekly lottery ticket either.  So quite why my winning streak is so prolific for this particular raffle I have no idea.  The bag, by the way is a Mafana bag.  These are handcrafted in Madagascar and you can read about them on their website.   It's a fabulous bag, absolutely loads of room inside, I have three WIPs in there, all cardigans and still room for extra balls of yarn, patterns and notions.  It could be used for all sorts really, it would make a great beach bag for those of you so inclined!

In other knitting news, I have 3 main projects on the needles at the moment and I think I really need to stick to one of them and get it finished rather than picking up something different each day and getting nowhere fast!

I'm knitting this lovely jumper out of Patons Jet in a really pretty pale green. 

Lace trim jumper
I finished the back over a week ago and cast on the front immediately.  It's knitting up quickly and I adore knitting with the Jet.  I did short row shaping for the shoulders, the first time I have tried that and it turned out well I think.  I'll do the same for the front obviously and then join the shoulders using the three needle cast-off that we learned in the Finishing Techniques class we took at Poppy's in York.  I was getting on well with it but then my attention was distracted by my February Lady Sweater (Rav link).  I noticed on the Ravelry Group for the project that some people were having a KAL started in January.  As I was undecided about how I was doing and whether I wanted to continue with this project, I thought I would join in the KAL and therefore get motivation,  help and advice from other knitters along the way.  I'm almost up to starting the lace pattern now and I can't say its been an enjoyable knit so far but I think now that I can see past the endless garter stitch yoke, the rest may knit up a bit quicker.  The third main project I have OTN is my Hampton cardigan

Hampton Cardigan
 from a book my son got me for Christmas, New England Knits.  I love almost everything in this book but decided to start on this cardigan because the yarn I'm knitting it in, Patons Caressa DK in beige mix, screamed at me everytime I passed it on the shelf that this was the project it wanted to be.  To non-knitters that probably sounds ridiculous but all knitters will understand exactly what I mean by that statement.  Sometimes a yarn just tells you what to knit with it, sometimes you start a project with what you think is the perfect yarn and so far into the knitting, it's telling you that it most certainly does not see itself knitted up into this object!  When that happens, there is nothing for it but to frog it  and put it away until it decides what it wants to be :-).   Anyway, Hampton (Rav link).  This is knitted all in one piece from the bottom back, over the shoulders with stitches cast on for the sleeves, and then continuing knitting down the fronts.  All was going well until I cast on the sleeve stitches.  I then lost track of the lace pattern.  I mean to say, it's only 4 rows and 9 stitches so it's hardly like rocket science to either remember it or to trace where you are in it but I just have a brain fart everytime I try.  I've now frogged the sleeve cast on (and resulting two rows) three times.  Needless to say, it has been in the naughty corner for a couple of weeks now until I can psyche myself up to having another go at it.  This weekend might be that time.  It is a gorgeous pattern and the fault lies completely with me and not how the pattern is written I must add, so for anyone else considering it, please don't let my complete inability to count to 9 put you off!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Things that can cheer me up

Number one.   The first sign of Spring

Hyacinth bulbs peeking through
Soon these will be pretty Hyacinths with a gorgeous scent, right outside my front door to greet me each time I go into or come out of the house.  I do love these next few weeks every year, I get a ridiculous feeling of joy each time I notice more plants waking up out of their winter slumber.  The snowdrops are of course already out, they don't count in a way because it really does still feel like winter when they are braving the elements.  It's the Crocuses, Daffodils, Hyacinths etc that do it for me.  That feeling that Spring is on its way.

Writing this post has reminded me, it's almost a year since I began this blog.  For me, it's quite interesting to read back over and remember little things that are really so insignificant that I would have never remembered them otherwise, as well as the bigger events, the details of which are soon forgotten if not written down.  I'm glad I managed to blog a little bit about Shaggy over the past year, I just wish I had started this years ago when he was younger, more energetic and very amusing at times.   The main reason for starting this thing really was so that I could look back and remember, kind of an online journal.  The fact that sometimes other people read it and are interested/entertained/whatever by my musings is an added bonus.... I haven't done very well with the post-a-week challenge recently though have I?

I'll try to get some photos over the weekend to update on my knitting progress.