Friday, March 28, 2008
There has been the added complication that the kids were due to fly to Heathrow Terminal 5 this evening and of course their flights have been cancelled. All attempts to rebook have been complicated by the fact my daughter is an "unaccompanied minor" (even though she is with her brother) so it can't be done online... and you can imagine what BA's "helpline" is like right now! They now depart later than the last booking-in time for the pets at the kennels some 50 miles north of here... so it looks like our holiday departure will also be delayed by 24 hours unless we do something terribly clever involving 2 cars and a shuttle system.... hmmm.
But I have my packing list:
NYC ballet workout dvd for pre-breakfast exercise
Packet of rye bread mix – to be freshly baked for breakfast with scrambled eggs, marmalade and Lazy Sunday coffee – mmm!
Sewing paraphenalia: the Japanese coat WILL be tackled!
Knitting goods: lace ribbon scarf, Embossed Leaves socks, Strudel hat, self-striping socks
Reading materials: His Illegal Self, The Literary Underground, Knitting Nature, Jane Brocket’s book (from the library) plus assorted “quality” newspapers to be gathered en route.
I can’t wait!
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Two heathery shades of Sunbeam St Ives, cheap as chips and very hard-wearing, and size 0 (2mm) needles. I used Boye metal “perfection points” and found it much easier going than using birch or bamboo in this gauge, with the added advantage that they didn’t snap!
I love the density of the fabric at this gauge but I don’t have the stamina to knit for many hours at one sitting: my right hand “locks” after a while, which isn’t good!
Once again, I was struck by the level of detail in Nancy Bush’s patterns: a single purl to delineate the join between sole and upper foot, and again down the back "seam"? Lovely!
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
No water! Kind of overlooked the fact that a cold house leads to frozen pipes. Just keep your fingers crossed that we don't get a power cut or we are done for!
Monday, March 24, 2008
So I am planning my holiday activities. I will be in a cottage in the middle of nowhere with views of the sea, electricity and a log fire but no internet. Delicious luxury!
I want to try something different – i.e. to have more than one project on the needles at the same time – gasp! This goes against my whole work ethic. I have this psychological need to do one thing at a time, completing the task at hand before changing activity. But lately I have been feeling quite envious of those knitters who have a range of projects to dip in and out of, and therefore have the option to gorge themselves on knitterly Cadburys, or pick delicately at a morsel of Belgium’s finest. (It’s Easter – indulge me in the chocolate metaphors for a moment!)
So I am going to challenge myself with a selection of projects which have been whirling around my head lately.
Socks for my daughter. She picked out Cherry Tree Hill from the stash and the Embossed Leaves pattern - good match I think!
A hat from Woolly Wormhead’s book. Probably Strudel. No yarn bought yet - better get a move on!
The Lace Ribbon Scarf in Hipknits organic merino (pictured above)
Easy self-striping socks from the stash, probably for FL. Maybe toe-up.
Do you think that’s enough to keep me going?!
I will also be reading. I am really really enjoying “His Illegal Self” by Peter Carey. It is compulsive reading. The story-telling / plot is somewhat awry (is this entirely deliberate?), but I love his playful use of language and the way he constructs his characters. If I was still a literature student I would be able to give you an example off the top of my head, but I am not one of those people who can quote entire scenes from films or books.
Read an excerpt here.
And I am also planning to take my sewing machine on holiday! There will be clean wooden floors with space to lay out my fabric, and no animals traipsing through it or sticking their noses in my face as I crawl around with pins and tissue paper: peace!
Friday, March 21, 2008
So I am at my desk as usual, dreaming of knitting and chocolate. See what I got for the kids! Vegan egg sandwiches – fantastic! I predict that my daughter will still be picking away at hers in July, while my son will be licking the empty wrapper by about 5pm.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
There was the lump scare, and the ongoing cough. FL now has some medication to dry out his lungs, but it hasn’t kicked in yet so it was another sleepless night.
But there have also been the aborted attempts to have central heating installed. A saga which began in February / March last year. I won’t bore you with the details but it involves approx 5 sub-contractors who failed to communicate with each other or with us, and a current stand-off where we are being told if we don’t switch energy supplier within 15 days the whole application will be cancelled. My temper is very very short and my principles sorely tested: energy-saving central heating or an ethical electricity supplier – how to choose?! WHY to choose?! Just do something which means we don’t have to wear our coats and hats indoors! And we have to promise to live here for 12 months after the heating is installed. That’s a big assumption to make: that FL will still be alive in 12 months, especially as we are all freezing to death!
So lets not talk about that anymore. Instead lets cast on for the Lace Ribbon scarf from the latest Knitty. Lovely! Hipknits sockweight super-soft handspun merino in a calming shade of lavender, from the stash. Knit it until the wool runs out.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
But his chest infection continues to cause havoc. He rang the GP at 8.30am on Monday and it was 6pm on Tuesday before she rang back. He now has an appointment for 10am this morning.
The "coughing and drowning" thing is happening more frequently and he doesn't even have to be lying down anymore. Yesterday he took the dog outside while I was having breakfast and didn't return for a while. When he came in he admitted that he had an attack of the "drowning trying to breathe thing" and almost passed out. It is so frightening. We were watching tv with the kids on Sunday evening and he fell asleep in his chair. Suddenly he woke up fighting for breath, knocking over books and drinks and gasping for air. The kids were terrified. I just hope the GP takes him seriously. We can't go on like this.
Back in knitting world... I am edging towards the heel flap of lozenge sock 2.
Have you noticed that the spring edition of Knitty is up? There doesn't seem to be so much of a bloggy buzz about it these days - it's been up for a week and nobody I read mentioned it. I love the lace ribbon scarf, but that's about it.
And I've seen some great socks around the blogs.
But my mojo is a bit limp.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
I had hoped to show you my Verity hat. But this project was doomed from the outset. I should have known better than to (a) use the wrong needles and (b) use the wrong yarn, never mind put (a) and (b) together. I ended up with a sort of red fluffy doiley poised on top of my head "like a pea on top of a dumpling" as my mother would say. A check on the web revealed the truth: the yarn Ysolda used was 7 wpi, whereas the yarn I used was 12 wpi. Doomed, doomed I tell ye!
So I am back to the Lozenge socks this weekend.
And hopefully cut out my coat.
There WILL be pictures!
The central heating saga continues: the engineer says he can't install the radiators until the new electric meter is installed... and the electric company says they can't install a meter until the radiators are in place. Ah well, it gives FL something practical to focus his rage upon!
FL is... maudlin. But I think the antibiotics are settling his cough and as a bonus side-effect they are working wonders on his scalp condition. He is meant to be going on a day-trip to Banff tomorrow to golf - I do hope he goes, for the socialising as much as the exercise.
Oh - and I read a book this week! "How to be Good" by Nick Hornby was won in a blog comment contest. I recommend you go and see the film, if they ever make it. An hour and a half with these characters would be long enough. I spent a week with them and it was exhausting. I can visualise the Brit-pack cast perfectly. Lots of amusing character pieces, but mostly a tale of disfunctional family life taken to extremes. I found it deeply uncomfortable reading because there was just enough about these people that was believeable, that I felt compelled to find out what happened to them in the end, hoping against hope that they might redeem themselves as humans. But no. Nothing actually "happened" and they were beyond redemption. It was a depressing read. It's just as well I don't allow myself any alcohol during the week, because this was enough to drive me to finish the bottle!
Thursday, March 13, 2008
While we were at the hospital we visited H, mother of FL’s good friend G. G was the one who visited almost daily in the early days of FL’s diagnosis and he talked to us a lot about his mother then. H is 85 and has survived several different sorts of cancer over a period of 15 years or so. She was admitted to hospital in severe pain on Monday night. New pain in a new place. Now while this might seem like a depressing visit for FL to make, it was potentially inspiring.
H was sitting up in bed like a tiny little sparrow, her dark eyes sparkling with fun (though the painkillers probably added to this!). She grabbed my hand and kept saying that the only way to defeat this illness was to fight it and that if FL gives in, he doesn’t stand a chance. But if he refuses to give in, he could last for years - like her. She said she has had enough pain now, and she is ready to go, but HE has plenty of years left, plenty to live for, and that I MUST keep reminding him! H has lost two of her daughters to cancer and the third has just received her diagnosis. She knows what she is talking about. And still she has the energy and humour to give FL a dressing down about positive thinking!
FL is gloomy. As usual, he is assuming the worst. So no matter how much of my hopeful internet research I share with him (only 250 men are diagnosed with Breast Cancer in the UK every year, so what are the chances, eh?) he just opens one sleepy eye and grunts something like “Huh!” He is looking tired and defeated and I am having none of it. I get home from work and take him straight out into the fields for a walk with the dog, to blow away the cobwebs.
You must have heard the phrase “cancer personality”, meaning someone whose outlook on life is so negative they are especially susceptible to this disease. If ever you had met FL before last year, you would have been bowled over by his zest for life, the charismatic zeal with which he talked about the sky-scapes or archaeology or golf or malt whisky! So it is particularly ironic that his mood has changed so dramatically. The very character traits that should have been his protection have all but disappeared. I hope so very much that H gets through her latest episode and I hope that FL visits her again so that she can give him another dose of her very special medicine. What an amazing woman!
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
And when I went to hug him, once he was calm, he put my hand on his chest to feel… something. Seemingly from nowhere, something has started growing on his chest, below the right breast. It wasn’t there a week ago. Now there is a lump, probably 5 centimetres across.
So today, at his regular hospital appointment he was fast-tracked to cytology for a Fine Needle Aspiration, clutching a piece of paper marked "Urgent - High risk patient". Results in a week.
New antibiotics for the cough.
Sunday, March 09, 2008
Friday, March 07, 2008
I am feeling inspired by the oystercatchers at work - every year they nest on the roof and drop "treasures" through the vents onto the printer... err yes! Being an eco-friendly organisation we actually provide them with pebble-filled seedtrays to settle on - aw bless! The sound of excited chicks when their parent arrives with food is magical! I saw some fun bags embroidered with images of this bird and would rather like to use the idea myself on a smaller scale. Maybe fasten it with some shells threaded on a kilt pin?
In my knitting life, the 2mm needles are getting me down. I feel like I have been knitting for hours with nothing to show for it. Which is not true, because I have finished the heel shaping and am now on the home strait towards the toe of sock one.
But I need a drop of instant gratification. Hence an order for 100g of Malabrigo and Ysolda’s new hat pattern “Verity” – lovely! Hopefully this will arrive in time for me to whip up a spring hat this weekend.
I am once again determined to crack on with The Coat. Before summer arrives. But I need to find the right pattern.
Central heating? Don’t be ridiculous! The radiators are due to be delivered today (again) but no date has been fixed for their installation…
Meantime, FL has a very very nasty cough and is on antibiotics. He was too tired to golf on Wednesday.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Despite working with intelligent people, it seems that very few of them actually “read”. So when a colleague mentioned “La Peste” yesterday I was quite wrong-footed and asked him if he had read much Camus. “Eh? Err… it’s the title of a song actually…” Oh.
I studied literature at University. I was a very serious student and I did very well. But my working life has been mostly spent in low-pay, low-status clerical / admin posts where I have been “the invisible hands” behind the managers / policy-makers / researchers. And it used to shock my younger self that most of them went home at night to collapse in front of the TV. But how easy it is to do! Nowadays, I can quite often be found on the sofa with my knitting, a portion of insubstantial chic lit propped open by the ball of yarn on my knee… and “Masterchef” on TV!
Last night was slightly different. In between rows of my Gentleman’s sock (and no TV!) I was mulling over sentences of “The Literary Underground”. This is a book I have wanted to read for many years, because its author was one of my tutors at University: the one who taught me how to think. I found every seminar a struggle, because no matter how well-prepared I thought I was, Prof. Hoyles caught me out with a reference to a philosopher or literary giant which was apparently, obviously, the key to greater understanding. Now here I am, with a brain of mush, trying to decipher a book which is based on the very course I studied all those years ago. I am viewing this as “revision”, an intellectual training regime before I embark on the Reading List.
The List? I need to fill in the gaps: all those “Greats” I never got round to in my quest for a trendy curriculum! So I never read any of the Romantics or the Metaphysicals or suchlike. But this is not supposed to be sado-masochism so I am not going to tie myself in knots over it. I can get all the classics from the library and I will. But my first bookshop order is for Manil Suri’s “The Age of Shiva” and Peter Carey’s “His Illegal Self”. Both have been reviewed in the New Yorker (and elsewhere) recently. I loved Suri’s first novel “The Death of Vishnu” (and even wrote to the London Review of Books about it!) and have been waiting for the second book to appear. The Peter Carey is on the strength of the New Yorker review.
By the way, I just located the current course offerings at my old University – wow! Can I go back?! Seriously, if you know any young people who are thinking of studying English – send them to Hull! Look at those Second-Year modules! (link to pdf brochure) Wow!
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
And I read some book reviews, which frustrated me, because I knew that I used to understand the literary allusions they were making. And I realised (not for the first time) that if you don’t use it (your brain) you do most certainly lose it.
FL has applied himself to reading “difficult” books since he got his diagnosis. At the moment, it is Darwin’s “The Descent of Man”. He woke me early this morning with a treatise on “the con of Christianity”.
But why should it take a terminal diagnosis to shake up our intellectual lives? When did I let my thoughts drift to the mundane and my reading slip into the realms of chic lit?
So last night, after completing the New York City Ballet Workout 2 (my first formal exercise in over a year, and a geographical coincidence which did not strike me at the time) I made myself a reading list.
I’m off to the library!