Archive for the “General” Category

It’s been a while, but I’m sure you’ll all understand when I explain that I was busy soaking up sun, sun and more sun at home in Australia :-D

You can stop poking me now.

Here’s a picture so you can see I’m not fibbing:


And yes, of course this is what all Australians (and South Africans) do at their weddings.

We also went camping (pictures from my sister sometime I hope), and spent time at the beach house for New Year’s. I took a break from all knitting, spinning, pilates and anything else that could be construed as work. It was fabulous.


At this time of year, it is traditional to look back in the archives of one’s blog and see what plans were laid out for the year and whether they were achieved or not. From 2009:

1) Finish a handspun colourwork vest (that will be the Deep-v Argyle) Ahem - no.
2) Finish a fullsized (i.e. long-sleeved) handspun sweater See above.
3) Finish (at least) one small and one large handspun shawl Large - tick, small no.
I’d also like to…
4) Knit more stash than I buy (I am in a sock club and a fibre club - so seriously, what else do I need???) Well, I have a lot less stash, but that was partly due to some judicious de-stashing. So kind of achieved.

I was kind of screwed on all of this by the issues I had with my back, so the list was doomed from the start really. But we could make a new list:

1) Train for a new career - tick
2) Set up a new business and begin to establish a client base - tick
3) Get myself back into shape physically (from a long way down, believe me!) - tick

I’m not making any promises this year, but I do have a goal… We’ve fallen into a bit too much of a cycle of going for the easy take-out or meal-from-a-jar options. This year’s challenge is to establish routines of cooking quality meals and reducing the rubbish to a minimum. This is partly financial, partly do you realise how much crap is in take-out and processed food?

I want to make more of my own bread (got a great sourdough book for Christmas!) and try interesting flours. I want to investigate the Slow Food movement more thoroughly. I will still have nights where I can’t be bothered cooking, but that’s what freezers are for. Chilli anyone? I want to entertain more, something we did all the time at home but seems to have fallen by the wayside here. I want to try more new things instead of just ‘Monday is pork chop night’. I want to visit the market occasionally and buy quality produce instead of tired supermarket imports from the other side of the world. I want to love what I’m fuelling my body with at every meal.

Here’s to a great 2010, may yours be full of friends, fun times and of course, great food!

Comments 2 Comments »

Very often I wish I were more clever with things like websites and graphics and css and things that should be easier but seem to sneak up and make themselves go wrong just to be nasty.

And then I remember that I can do a mean Double Leg Stretch and well, you can’t be good at everything!

After much tweaking, and grumbling, and swearing, and desperate calls for help to people-who-know-more-than-me (that’s most people), I figure it out and launched the new website.


The amazing Ali did the photography for me, and Nathalie agreed to pose as a ‘client’. They turned out fab.

Come and see the rest here at Reach Pilates

Comments 2 Comments »

Now that the madness of training is all over, I have been taking a bit of a rest period. Thinking back, I don’t think I ever switched off from Pilates from the minute I signed up for the course, I even had anatomy books with me on holiday in Turkey (my idea of fun!). Apologies to all those who were subjected to my raving on about musculature and repetitions…

The first thing I did was take off for a short holiday with Kai in Germany (well, ok, really the first thing I did was hit the pub…). We didn’t really do anything except sit on our butts and gossip and knit - it was the perfect break! I got through quite a bit of Christmas knitting and partook of the third installment of Learning Indian Cookery From Kai (yum).

Now that I’m back I’m getting stuck into business planning. The website is almost ready, I have a logo on the way and I’ve been sending out feelers to prospective employers. I’m hoping to have everything neatly in place so that I can completely relax for three weeks in Australia, then come back and get straight into working. Today I’ve been de-cluttering in a big way, prior to welcoming clients into our teeny home. This was the sum total of my entire fibre stash this morning:


It lived under my desk, on top of the kitchen cupboards, behind the sofa, and in practically every drawer in the flat. This is what it looks like now:


A pile of it is at Stash Yarns in a box marked ‘free to good home’ so if you’re swinging by there tomorrow (their last day) please grab whatever you like. I have a few things that will appear on my Rav de-stash page as well.

Next up will be the bookshelf where I keep all my equipment/bobbins/spare whorls/magazines/sewing kit… and I’m not showing you a photo of that one!

Ciao! x

Comments 1 Comment »

Last week a parcel arrived - but I didn’t open it straight away because it had this written on it:


Yesterday, I passed my final exam at Body Control and this morning I tore off the packaging to reveal this (go look at Katy’s blog for a better picture - this doesn’t do it justice):


My friend (and now colleague!) Katy blogged about the picture here and I fell in love with it. Partly because of the imagery of launching oneself into the unknown - which this year’s training has been a little bit like - and partly because the thought of having a little part of Katy on my wall was very appealing. I am always much more likely to buy a piece of art or handcraft if I know a bit about the background of the artist. I asked if she would be willing to sell it, and it was my present to myself for finishing.

Today I’m relaxing a bit - adrenalin kept me awake last night - and tomorrow I will be handing in all my paperwork to join the Body Control Pilates Association, and then starting promoting myself ready to take on clients in the new year. My new website should be up and running in a week or so - I’ll let you know!

In the meantime, I’ve caught the skating bug badly, and this is what I look like a couple of times a week:


I asked for skates for (early) Christmas after my first trip to the rink, and have since been trying to live up to them and not fall on my butt (succeeding so far!).

There has also been knitting, but no photos of it yet - so more to come in the next post.


Comments 4 Comments »

Those of you well up on your current events will be aware that things have been a little uncertain in the banking industry this year. Luckily, Neil’s job has stayed intact, but it has been far from secure and we have spent almost an entire year skipping from one one-month contract to the next and never being quite sure what was around the corner. Finally, The Bank came through with a four-month stay, enough to get us through the winter low period and relax enough to be able to finally rationalise some holiday time - yay!

Of course, the four months turned up because things were hotting up on Neil’s project, and I was also right in the middle of teaching rounds for my training, so we ended up only having a couple of days to spare for a long weekend. We recalled a long-standing invitation to visit a mate in Athens, booked flights and were off to find some sun.

We were not disappointed 8-)

Temperatures hovered around the low to mid 20s, a nice contrast to the 10 degrees or so we had in London the day we left. It was almost always sunny, and the obligatory holiday rain only lasted a few minutes on the last day.


Kon had to work Friday, so we toured ourselves around the Acropolis and other parts of ancient Athens, poring over guidebooks and reading bits of Greek history to each other in the sunshine.


Then on Saturday we took a road trip down through Corinth to Napflio, which was the first capital of Greece, and is now a lovely little port city with ancient winding streets and looming fortresses.



One thing I found a little odd about the weather was that the days were still quite short - somewhere in my brain I equate warmth with long long evenings of light, but that wasn’t the case of course. We had hoped to climb up to the main fort but it would have been thoroughly dark coming down so we just admired it from below.


On Sunday we slept latish and decided to just hang out by the waterside and polish off a final Greek coffee and a saganki or two. Then it was off to the aiport to catch our flight home, amidst plans of returning for a week in the summer to potter around some islands!

More pics here in our Flickr set.

Comments 5 Comments »

Having a bad week this week has meant getting a lot of knitting done. Not a lot of homework sadly, but thank goodness it’s half term and at least I can catch up next week, and I don’t have to be in front of a class demonstrating Double Leg Stretch and being marked on it!

The Entangled Stitches Gloves are whizzing along and I have almost finished the first. I chose a relatively dark yarn, so I haven’t been able to work on them at night. But that’s probably a good thing, as my hands don’t really like the fine knitting for too long.


This picture was taken a while back, I have only two fingers left to do now on this one. Btw, I’ve never knitted fingers before - but it’s really just like doing lots of thumbs. The yarn is Malabrigo sock in Persia and I love it to death.

The Tangled Yoke is blocked and fits nicely (yay!) but is still without buttons. I was going to take a trip to Liberty and John Lewis this week but have been sat on the sofa instead, so it will have to wait a little longer. The Kind-of-Huron is waiting on me to figure out a problem in the pattern, so it’s on hold for a bit too.

I also finished another Tulip - for one of two babies due in February (hopefully at least one will be a girl!). The yarn is a new one that Stash has in, and it’s great - a wool/cotton blend called Spud and Chloe. It’s really lovely to work with and the colours are fantastic. I will definitely use it again.


The only other current project is some secret socks I’m knitting, but I’ve realised that Christmas is not that far away so perhaps I should get moving!

Comments 3 Comments »

There has been serious decluttering going on in our little flat lately (no, I am not nesting…) and it came to a choice between buying more stash boxes or doing a bit of a clear-out. As Ikea is quite far away, I have listed a bunch of stuff on my Ravelry sale/trade page, here’s a few:





There are prices, but I would consider swaps, or reasonable offers (eg. if you wanted more than one thing.)


Comments No Comments »

Tangled Yoke is my first grown-up cardigan, and this might be surprising, but I’ve never had to make buttonholes that were more than just a yarn over, and I’ve never had the excitement of choosing proper buttons for something that I intend to wear and love myself - it’s kind of fun!

I knew I didn’t have eight of anything, but I dug through my button box to see what sorts of colours might go with the Felted Tweed. When I first started thinking about buttons I had the idea of getting little brass ones and having found one in the box, I’m pretty sold on it. It really picks out the little flecks of orangey brown here and there in the tweed. I like the two other darker styles, they’ll be fall-back options (although I’m pretty sure they came from my grandmother and I have no idea if I’ll find anything similar). I think the other pale one is just a bit pale. Suggestions?


Still on the theme of Felted-Tweed-is-OMG-amazing-and-I-never-want-to-knit-with-anything-else-ever-especially-if-it’s-colourwork, having finished TY I’m now allowed to (properly) start on my yoked sweater (I did the collar already last week, couldn’t help it), which is based on Brooklyn Tweed’s Huron.


I’m amazed at how fast it’s going, the first couple of inches of colourwork only took me a couple of hours. I’ve just increased sharply to 240sts though, so the next pattern will be slower! I’d probably get it done even faster if I didn’t keep stopping to pet it…

Oh and did I mention that Felted Tweed in colourwork is pretty darned amazing? I may give up chocolate for it.

Comments 3 Comments »

Part way through the yoke of my Tangled Yoke I tried it on and made the mindblowing discovery that I had somehow managed to knit the body about 3 inches longer than it needed to be. The yoke was fitting nicely though, and there was no way I was ripping out all that cabling, so I put ‘fixing the body’ on the back burner and finished off the top.

I tossed up a few possibilities: Chop some off the bottom? Cut the middle out and graft the ribbing back on? Rip out the entire body? Ugh. Chopping the bottom off took away too much of the ribbing so I ditched that idea pretty quickly, but I was hankering after option 2 for a while (lazy) until I finished the neckband and did a final try-on.

It was clearly evident that the weight I’ve lost since I started my training was also going to come into play here, I was not happy with the extra ease around the waist, I really preferred the very fitted look I’d seen on some projects on Rav, so I bit the bullet and went for the big chop.

I hope you never find yourself having to cut off a bottom-up sweater at the underarms and re-knit downwards, but just in case you do, I have recorded the process here for posterity.

1. Using a much smaller needle, pick up one leg of every stitch of one row all the way around. Be REALLY careful that it’s all the same row. Triple-check it. Do it sober and in good daylight.


2. Take your embroidery scissors (and a gulp of wine if necessary), and snip stitches in the next row to the picked up stitches. In this case, the row below, as I’m planning to head downwards. Felted Tweed is pretty sticky, so I snipped stitches about 3 inches apart. A smoother yarn will pull out more easily and you won’t need to cut so many.


3. Give the knitting a tug and make a hole, you can see that the stitches you want are safely sitting on the needle. Don’t cut too close to the edges - you will need a tail of yarn to darn in once you’ve started knitting again.


4. Use a big blunt darning needle to pick out the stitches all the way across.


5. Have another glass of wine.


I’m now ready to start knitting down, adding a little more shaping and probably not increasing quite so much at the bottom, as my hips are narrower than my bust. There will be a little jump at the edges when I come to pick up for the button bands, as the stitches now go the opposite way, but I’ll deal with that when I come to it.

Remember! This does not work for ribbing. You can only knit seamlessly in the other direction in stocking stitch. If you wanted to do this to ribbing, knit the new piece up from the bottom and then graft it onto the picked up stitches - they’ll match up perfectly.

It wasn’t that bad, really ;-)

Comments 10 Comments »

Many things have happened since I last posted here, well that wouldn’t be hard given how long it’s been - sorry!

I have had intensive Pilates training through August and still pretty busy now, we had 13 tuition days in central London and plenty of homework in between. Tuition was followed by the Practical Assessment exam which I sat last Friday, basically to check that I’m safe to launch on the public for supervised teaching. I passed, so I must be, and I have done a couple of hours already this week, I have to do 50 hours more or less and then be signed off in an exam situation.

Practice teaching in Pilates is (perhaps not suprisingly) quite like practice teaching in schools, but with less yelling. I am rediscovering my voice projection, and my ability to scan a room for people doing what they shouldn’t. All I’ve had to do is adjust from ‘is anyone drawing on the walls’ to ‘is anyone losing the alignment of their lower back’. I’m really enjoying it and feedback from my supervisors has been positive so far.

Today, I’ve been swotting for the written exam, which I have next Wednesday afternoon. Questions range from e.g. ‘Name three exercises for mobilising the spine’ (easy) to ‘Name six deep hip muscles which rotate the thigh’ (ugh - hard to spell) and ‘Explain the importance of core stability and how you would teach it to a new client’ (lots of marks there). I think I’m going to be fine, I’ve been studying steadily on all this stuff since May and now is really just revision.

In the meantime, I have been knitting quite a lot, and spinning a little. Spinning is harder on my back, and I really need a better chair, but I’m fine for short bursts. This week I’ve been working on the newest SOFA club fibre and have knitted a project already (no spoilers!). It’ll be out early next week. I’ve nearly finished my Tangled Yoke Cardigan, it’s at that point where it’s so close to done that I don’t want to knit anything else so it’s getting lots of attention. It looks a little bigger than this:


I really just want to finish it so I can start the next jumper, inspired by this, which at the moment looks something like this:


I have allowed time though for the odd baby bootie as well, since apparantly everyone is falling pregnant at the moment! (Not me.)

This post has been rather light on pictures, so I’ll dig out a couple that I somehow missed blogging about, from our trip to the Peak District in July


This is Neil atop a very large hill,  this was a great walk, lovely views and the only day of our trip on which it didn’t pour with rain!


And here’s an example of the roads we drove around the whole time, around the area close to our cottage. A bit hairy at times, particularly when there were stone walls either side!

We are heading to Yorkshire next weekend to visit friends, and also hoping to squeeze in a trip to New York in October. Things depend a little on Neil’s work, and we’re just waiting to see.

Ciao! xx

Comments 2 Comments »