Archive for December, 2008

The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next, Book 1) The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve had this book for about 18 months - it was a thankyou gift from a friend who stayed with us for a while. I can’t believe I never read it until now!

It was very fun, very lit-geek. I loved the way the characters were named, although I’m sure I missed a lot of the more subtle connections. I ended up so entranced that I read the whole thing - beginning to end in a day.

View all my reviews.

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Just saw a new group form for this over on Ravelry, and I love the idea so I’m going to pledge :-) I probably won’t join the group, but thought I’d document my progress here, and maybe try and find some geeky thing for my sidebar as well!

So, to go back to my list of books from a couple of weeks ago (which was when I really started thinking I should read more!) I have on my list:

Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
Middlemarch - George Eliot
Bleak House - Charles Dickens
Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres Mans
Atonement - Ian McEwan
Dune - Frank Herbert
A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
Les Miserables - Victor Hugo (haven’t read this, but always wanted to. It’s my favourite show by a huge margin)

Those are the ones I happened to underline on that day.

I also want to read:

Twilight (well, that won’t be hard, I got it for Christmas)
The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood (and someone recommended Oryx and Crake)
The Eyre Affair - Jasper Forde
The Night Watch series - by Sergei something

Plus a bunch of stuff I can’t think of offhand. Also, I’d really like to go back and re-read some stuff I only ever read once, sometimes a loooong time ago. When I was a teenager I read a lot of ‘Classics’ and stuff that was really a bit over my head, and I don’t think it’s quite fair to say I’ve ‘read’ those books when I didn’t understand half of it.

Plus, audio books count :-)

I don’t think I’ll get to 52, but I’ll see how I go, maybe set 40 as a goal.

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To All My Readers (lurkers and commenters alike!),

Thanks so much for being around this year, and for all the input, support, comments and advice. Here’s a little something for all of you - I hope you like it!


Mittens to Order

A mitten is the perfect blank canvas for your favourite colourwork patterns. Fill with an all-over small design, or a large motif.

This pattern includes the charts I used for the first Mittens to Order, (knitted for Kate). I have also given you blank charts and full instructions in two sizes so you can create your own unique pattern. Have fun!

Download now for free

Or, visit the Ravelry page to add it to your pattern library.

Have a wonderful Christmas and a relaxing break, and all my best wishes for the New Year.

Happy Spinning! xx

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Not a proper Spin-In today, I’ve been resisting but have finally given in and I’m thoroughly in Holiday Mode. Proper spinning talk will resume on Jan 4. But, I thought I’d share some of the things I have in mind for next year, and invite your input. Not only for Spin-In, but the upcoming Spin! Series 2 as well.

Something I’m really excited about - next year is The International Year of Natural Fibres, read more here. I’ve always been a big supporter of the natural, and I’m really glad this is happening. As part of the Spin-In, I’m going to be presenting a Natural Fibres series, once a month presenting a different fibre with background notes, uses and project ideas. When I started tossing around this idea I thought it would be tricky finding enough - but you’d be surprised! I’m including some fibres on the list that I’ve never spun before so I’m pretty excited about getting to work with those.

Spin! will also be natural fibre based next year, in fact, I’m going to try and exclude man-made as much as I possibly can for the year in my writing and teaching. I’ve started work on the next series, and am happy to be using fibres from some great indie dyers local to me. Look out for previews and patterns before winter’s over!

This all leaves plenty of room for adjustments however, and I’m very happy to have your ideas. Is there anything you’d particularly like to see in Spin! Series 2? in the IYNF Series posts, or another Spin-In? I’ve got 50 posts to play with after all!

Leave a comment, or pop by tonight on Lingr for a chat. I will be there from 5-10pm (ish).

Lastly, please make sure you drop by the blog on Tuesday to collect your Christmas present from me!

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Exciting news - Next year I will be consulting for the Socktopus Fibre Academy!

Over the year members receive six fibre parcels (which I get to help choose) containing a different fibre each time, from six different indie fibre artists. Also enclosed will be a mini Fibre Manual (written by yours truly!) explaining the background and characteristics of the fibre, my experiences with it and recommendations and ideas for spinning and projects. Last, but not least, little goodies and useful fibrey tools in each parcel.

It’s going to be so much fun - I’m really looking forward to the planning, and the spinning! The prices are very reasonable so maybe you could speak sweetly to the appropriate person and have it added to your Christmas list :-D

More details and signups here. Hope you can make it!

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Trawling back through the archives I found my original list:

2 pairs handknit socks

1 handspun scarf (I have half the yarn done for this btw)

2 skeins handspun laceweight

4 skeins handspun sock

1 beaded lace Swallowtail.

See - It’s really not that long is it. And I have all the yarn except the other half of the scarf. And the stuff I haven’t spun yet…

I will keep you posted on the progress.

Hahaha! I culled it a little. And added some stuff. Apparantly making lists is pointless if your Christmas philosophy is to make stuff you like and then decide who to give it to afterwards.


2 pairs handknit socks I did one - packed and posted, replaced the other one with a woven scarf.

1 handspun scarf (I have half the yarn done for this btw) Tick :-)

2 skeins handspun laceweight Well, one of these became fingering weight for colourwork (almost done), one is going to be smoodgy DK.

4 skeins handspun sock not a chance, but two of them have been replaced with a pair of handspun somethings.

1 beaded lace Swallowtail Tick - except I did nupps instead of beads

I’ve also added to the list a pair of wristwarmers (the yarn is wound) and a crocheted hat.

One week to go.

I’m thinking about leaving the knitting lying around in the living room, with a glass of milk and home-baked shortbread beside it. For the elves you know…

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The weekend spent at Kai’s was wonderful! We lazed around and relaxed and knitted and Neil slept in until midday which is his idea of a perfect holiday. It was freezing, I went a little bit childish about the crunchy grass and frozen puddles (!) but Kai and Ollie’s is thoroughly double-glazed and nicely heated and far warmer than our flat in London, it was lovely.

I took parcels with me, and brought home some more :-D Kai spun this for me:


Stunning. It’s BFL/silk from Fyberspates and there’s a bit over 500m. I’m thinking of doing one of the scarves in the new Nancy Bush book.


Kai also bought us a fantastic curry recipe book, and then displayed tremendous patience while I went through every recipe and asked questions about ingredients and methods and made notes! Neil loves curry and I love cooking, so it’s a win-win. I have to scout around for all the spices and things I need, but it shouldn’t be too hard here in London.

And since Kai is a little sweetie (and we generally raid each others’ stashes without pause anyway) this also came home with me:


I was very restrained though, and didn’t steal any of her fibre this time. Oh, and chocolate is not for sharing. But you know that.

- - - -

Today, to keep my toes warm, I’ve been baking.


Mmmmmm… will you be at Socktopus tonight??

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Last week we had a really fun class on spinning fat, squidgy singles yarn. (It’s running again in February if you missed out this time, btw). Part of the success of a singles yarn is in the spinning technique, but the real magic is in the finishing.

Remember the whole sleeping-twist thing? The often-bruited advice for achieving non-twisty singles for knitting with is to soak the skein and hang it with a weight to dry. Sadly, although this works in the short term, all it really does is to block the yarn, not permanently set it straight (so to speak).

To finish a singles, it’s best to properly full it a little. Afterwards, it will twist up very little and you can knit with it knowing that your fabric won’t skew sideways. To do this, tie up the skein securely in four places and plunge it into hot soapy water - as hot as your hand can bear. Take it out, squeeze, and plunge into cold. Repeat. Squeeze, and you’ll see that the surface of the yarn has changed - it will be looking a bit fuzzed and felty. give it a good whacking on your work surface or against a door and by now, it should be hanging pretty much in an open loop.

So, on Saturday, we spun, and then we soaked, and shocked and whacked and generally had a ball :-D You can see Alice’s singles in her Morning Surf in progess here, and check out the great smooshy singles spun by Ali:

Ali's singles

Don’t forget, there’s a load of scheduled classes in January and February, including a repeat of the singles class. Check out all the details here.

Not sure if I’ll be on Lingr this weekend, I’m hanging out in the Schnee with Kai (woot!) so we might pop on, or we might be knitting by the fire. But that needn’t stop you guys!

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This one landed today, as we’ve come over to visit Kai and Ollie in Germany for the weekend. It was very very hard to give up! But I don’t really live anywhere cold enough to have such a thick scarf.


The pink yarn is spun from Superwash BFL Halo from the Natural Dye Studio, colourway ‘candfloss’; The blue/gold yarn is spun from Allspunup Merino/Silk, colourway ‘Lunarsea’ (which, incidentally, I pinched from Kai, so it seems fair that it’s going back to her!)


The pattern is your standard 1×1 rib 2-row-stripe scarf. The two yarns were nowhere near the same thickness - think dk and heavy worsted - but it worked out fine. I used a slip-stitch edge, Alice showed me how, and I love the way it looks.


I will definitely be making another one of these, it’s a great way to use up smaller amounts of handspun - you just need to find two (or more!) coordinating colours :-D

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It’s very lucky that there’s no knitting police popping up around every corner forcing us to only have one ‘favourite’ yarn. I could manage a top five I think, but no way is it being narrowed to even two.

Last week Stash had a yarn tasting to present Artist’s Palette yarns. Juliette came down to talk about the business and we all got a little goody bag with samples of her range.


Over red wine and crisps, we knitted away sociably for a couple of hours and then popped downstairs to shop for the ones we had discovered we liked.

Sorry, what was that Ali?? I already did my shopping? How dare you make up such stories about me! Erm… actually, yes. I did my shopping the moment I walked in the door (in front of Ali, as she unlocked it for me, and before anyone else arrived). See, there’s this yarn called Buttersoft DK, and it’s buttery, and soft, and… and pink. And there were eight. And now I have eight :-D


In my defense, I need more jumpers (and more time to knit them) and there were people on the Saturday before the yarn tasting who were just as grabby as me. So I heard. And I’m not the only one, go check out the awesome mittens that Alice is making with this yarn.

So my top 5? (in no particular order) Dream in Colour Classy, The Knittery cashmere blend sock yarn, Dream in Colour Smooshy, Shetland spindrift (or maybe Felted Tweed - that’s a hard one), and now… Artist’s Palette Buttersoft DK.

What’s your top five at the moment??

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