Category Archives: knitting

Sock Wars – the report

I left you just over two weeks ago with the announcement that I was off to war: sock war.

This was the first time I’ve competed in sock wars – it won’t be the last. The patterns were released on January 15th and sock knitters the world over (203 of us) cast on and began to knit socks as fast as our little needles could click. We all knew who we were knitting for, but the mystery of who was knitting for us remained. My assassin revealed herself via email before the patterns were even released, so I knew the socks that would kill me were coming from Tennessee. I was knitting for someone in California (with very small feet – hurrah), so the outcome of our section of the war would mostly depend on the efficiency of the postal service.

Having cleared a whole Saturday (except morning and evening prayer) for knitting, I got fairly far through the first sock, but with horrible cramp in my right hand. Does anyone do a class on the ergonomics of knitting? After that, I made sure that there were at least ten non-knitting minutes in every hour. On Sunday I resisted the temptation to knit during Church, but got to the end of sock number 1. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were busy with work. Despite encouragement from the vicar, (he was worried about ending up with a dead curate on his hands) I didn’t knit during the archdiaconal training morning – it was too interesting! Wednesday evening saw them finished and they were dispatched on Thursday. The waiting began.


I knew that my assassin had been even quicker with her knitting and had posted her socks to me on the Tuesday. A week later they arrived. Rusk was a little alarmed to see his Mum killed by a pair of socks, but happier when he realised it was just for as long as a photo took.


If I hadn’t finished my socks, I would then have posted the unfinished ones off to my assassin to finish, but since they were already posted she would have to wait until someone further down the line was killed before finishing. She would then get their socks to finish for their target.

My socks finally arrived with my target yesterday. Phew! Sock Wars is over for me, but there are still 103 people alive and knitting.

Next – the Knitting Olympics. An individual challenge to exceed your expectations for what you can achieve in knitting while the Winter Olympics are on.

Not so WISE

My lovely W.I.S.E. parcel arrived well before Christmas (well before my offering had even been sent off – oops) and contained instructions to open straight away. Inside there was a lovely Snowman Christmas decoration (with the name of a city on) and a smaller parcel with instructions to wait until Christmas Day before opening it.

The snowman hung on our tree (indeed for some days it was the only decoration on there – December was right busy here) and entertained Rusk. The smaller parcel contained Scottish tablet – yum! Excellent choice all round.

I meant to take pictures over Christmas including the decoration and the parcel, for display from the 25th onwards. I appear not to have done so and the decorations are now packed away in my wardrobe. So there is the lack of WISE on my part. You will have to take my word for it that it was most tasteful.

The question is… who to thank? I’m going to go out of a limb here and say … is it Surfing? If so, thank you very much. If not, do let me know who you are.

In other news, I am competing in Sock Wars, starting tomorrow morning (well the patterns go up at 1am, but I need some sleep), so for the next few days I will mostly be knitting socks.

Five reasons why…

… being in ministry is like knitting a sock in public.


  1. When some people see the sock/collar, they come over and want to know what you are doing and why. They ask questions and you get to evangelise about how great knitting/Christianity is and why they should totally join in. Other people look over and think it is just plain weird and avoid any sort of contact
  2. The sock is a UFO – an unfinished object. So is my ministry. (The analogy falls down somewhat here since I hope one day soon to finish the sock, but ministry will carry on for the foreseeable future)
  3. Each individual stitch looks somewhat unimpressive and it is difficult to see how it fits into the bigger picture, but it is essential for how things turn out. Each individual encounter with another person, even if only passing on the street, contributes to building up relationships that may be essential in the future.
  4. You need 5 needles to make a sock. Each needle will be used at some point for knitting, but at other times will be just holding stitches or even back in the needle case. You need a variety of skills to be in ministry (e.g. sermon writing, listening, praying, leading, practical stuff), but you don’t use all of them all the time.
  5. This sock has been designed by cobbling together ideas from various different books – it may turn out the way I intended, or it may end up different. In either case it will be complex and useful. This ministry has been planned by cobbling together ideas from various different books – it may turn out the way I intended, or it may end up different. By its nature, ministry is complex. I hope I will be useful to those around me.

So, a simile stretched to breaking point there. What do you think?

With thanks to my IME group for the inspiration for this post. IME is basically the compulsory training for curates in the first 4 years after ordination. We were told to bring something representative of our ministry – I had forgotten to prepare, but took my knitting along, thinking I could probably come up with something.

The importance of taking photos of knitting

Just a quick note to other wibloggers – have you seen the WISE thread on the boards recently? It might be worthwhile popping over there and announcing your interest in participating.

Well, I’ve got some photos, as promised. Do they need explanation? Not really, but here goes.

The hat – a somewhat mis-shapen lump of dirty lilac.


Really not looking impressive, is it? Hmm how to make it look better? Ah, put it on a head. Right – I am in the house alone so the only head is mine. Oh well, I was bound to put up a picture of me sometime. Here you go:


Oh no, there seems to be a pool of grey that leaked onto the photo. Ah well.

There is also the Strictly Sock, currently moving slowly up the leg as I try to figure out how long I want it to be. The lovely spiral effect I was getting on the foot was ruined by the geometry of the heel, but you can almost make it out still.


For those that are interested, it is a 5 stitch pattern repeat from either Sensational Knitted Socks or More Sensational Knitted Socks. I’ve messed around with it a fair bit, but it is basically a toe-up heel-flap sock with the pattern across the top of the foot and all round the leg. I’ve used heel stitch on part of the gusset too.

And finally… proof that Seph is remarkably dim at times.


She posed for a photo while chasing the mouse, then lost vigilance to the extent that I managed to save the mouse and put it outside. You know the glass and paper thing with spiders? Totally works with mice too. I used a handy sieve and a Lakeland catalogue. (Gruesome bit alert) There is another chapter to this story. Yesterday I came downstairs to find that they had thoroughly dissected a mouse-like mammal all over the kitchen floor – thankfully tiled, but still annoying. Do I mind more when they bring animals in and eat them or when they leave them whole for me to dispose of? I don’t know.

Right, back to transcribing interviews for my dissertation.

Just saying

There is some irony in having spent an afternoon this week in a ‘caring for self’ session and then having a preliminary to-do list of 10 items that absolutely must be done today before it turns into the study day it is meant to be. This is of course because the time I would normally do a good many of these things was the afternoon I spent in that session. Ah well. It was a good session and I was reminded of much interesting and useful information (such as the benefits of setting aside time to study). Still a little frustrating.

In case you were wondering, blogging is not on the list of 10 things. I am doing that as a nice extra, since 5 of the 10 things are done or delegated.

Today would also be the day that my copy of the new Diana Gabaldon book, An Echo in the Bone, arrived. Despite not being published here until January, there was a deal with the UK publishers that if you pre-ordered a copy from Amazon or similarĀ  and sent them your receipt, they would send an export copy at the same time that it was published in the US. There is absolutely no chance of getting to read it today (well maybe if I write 500 words of dissertation this afternoon I might read a chapter or two… or three).

So knitting – Daisy asked for a picture of the hat. This will be forthcoming in due course, as will a work in progress picture of my Strictly socks. Not socks to be worn while watching Strictly Come Dancing, but socks to be knit in the bits where you don’t actually need to watch it. With half an hour of Strictly It Takes Two to watch every weekday, as well as the weekend shows, these are growing nicely and the Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock is doing something very pretty and spirally with the colour variations.

While on the subject of Strictly, my favourite Strictly results site has moved to here: Why not go and have a look?

Update on No-Cake Month. One cake of pastoral necessity eaten and three biscuits (including one malted milk that I was tricked into eating). I think I might make it – only 4 days to go.

OK back to sorting out things for Church tomorrow. I have just ordered a book of intercessions that has emergency intercessions written for each Sunday, all tying into the lectionary Gospel reading. This will make last minute changes of plan and personnel easier to cope with, but will not help with the intercessions for Sunday evening since a) there are no more postal deliveries before then and b) I am not using the lectionary reading. Lord, in your mercy…

Hat finished, sloes started

This afternoon I took a visiting friend on a bit of a tour of the parishes. The coast here is so beautiful. We wandered down to the cliff path from one of the churches and sat looking out over the sea. The weather is beautiful today – so sunny and calm. Even on sunny days usually there is what we call a ‘breeze’, if only to distinguish it from the gales that are the customary fare. While we were sitting there watching the fields rolling down to the cliff, while some paragliders floated serenely overhead, I could feel a story starting to bubble up. As if I have time for that now – I have an MA to write you know. I will sit on it until after the end of November and then wander back amid the winter weather and see if the urge is still there. It is such a privilege to minister to people with such a rootedness in the landscape. I feel a real sense that the people here do see themselves as custodians for the future.

The hat went much quicker than expected, and is now finished, pending blocking. I *think* there will be enough wool left (yes, Daisy, it is Rowan Tapestry) for another one. I had about 3 yards of the first ball of purple left at the end of the hat and I have weighed what is left of the variegated ball and have 26g of a 50g ball. Might be cutting it a bit fine, but we’ll see. In the pause between starting the decreases and the 4mm dpns arriving, I started a sock. I have never knitted a toe-up sock before. It looks most peculiar with just the toe done.

The sloes have been pricked, jarred and covered in gin and sugar. It looks quite revolting at the moment, but the caterpillars all floated to the surface when the gin was added and I have fished them out so it could be worse. Not sure I would be able to describe it as suitable for vegetarians now.

Back to pondering the Sunday readings. We follow the related series of readings in the lectionary and it has not yet clicked as to how they are related. I’m sure I’ll get there eventually. I sometimes wish there were footnotes where the compilers could say what they had in mind.

Off to a consultation on stipends and pensions this evening. Pray for us, please.

More sloe news

Here they are on the tree:


And here they are in the kitchen. Note there are now jars there too.


I am not confident about these jars. I would rather have jars which seal properly. They will have to do until the end of the week when Mr F is heading for the big city where there is a Lakeland. I really, really hope they don’t explode all over the under the stairs cupboard. The instructions do say to shake the jar(s) every day for the first month, so I don’t suppose they will mind being decanted.

In other news, I am making a hat:

fairisle hat

The knitters among you will see that I am using magic loop because I had neither the correct dpns nor a short enough circular for normal circular knitting. I am enjoying it. Slightly disappointing that the colours in the pattern aren’t showing up very well. I would blame the camera, but it isn’t much better in real life. Still the challenge of two-handed fair isle is keeping me busy.

Sloe news day

I have in my kitchen 2 and a half pounds of sloes and a litre of very cheap gin. As soon as I can find a receptacle big enough to hold all that and some sugar, I will have the makings of a very ‘merry’ Christmas. My enquiries among the church choir this evening did not bring forth the loan of a 2 litre jar I was hoping for, but they did know where the local homebrew shop is so there is still hope.

Tomorrow I will post pictures of our sloe-gathering expedition. Next year I will take a ladder and a stick with a curved end. The best sloes were well out of reach.

In other news, the most original welcome gift to the parish so far… a ball of wool, a bag of plums and an invitation to knit jumpers to sell in a local shop.

Knitting again

I have spent this evening partly re-reading Michael Ramsey’s The Christian Priest Today and then, as a reward for doing theology reading on my day off*, I have been bringing my Ravelry page up to scratch, uploading photos and updating project details.

The knitters among you may be surprised to hear that yesterday, for about half an hour, I had NO works in progress. Not one. I have finished the mittens, the clapotis and even the miniature stocking that was for my sister at Christmas last year. Don’t worry, I started another miniature stocking in a different pattern so I would not be fretting unduly in the night.

Future knitting plans include a hat to accompany the mittens (it gets quite chilly here and we don’t heat the church building for morning and evening prayer). I say ‘accompany’ rather than ‘match’ since the colours couldn’t be more different. We’ll see. I may make more mittens to match at some point. I also have plans for more socks – some in a toe-up pattern so I can see just how long a skein of Shepherd Sock will go and some using fairisle.

Anyway, here are some pics of the stuff I have recently finished.

Clapotis + Esme

This was Esme helping me to lay Clapotis out pre-blocking.

Broad Street Mitten open

And here is a mitten. You can see the mitten top that folds over the fingers when needed.

It was a bit tricky taking pictures of both mittens, given that one hand was needed to operate the camera shutter, but I found the timer switch and here you go. Never realised how pretty the radiator was before…

Broad Street Mittens

Clicking on any of the photos will take you to many, many more photos of yarn of various sorts. Feel free, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

In final knitting-related news, the dpn that I lost during the mittens turned upĀ  down between the (non-removable) sofa cushions this evening. I’ve only looked there about 20 times already. Anyway, much rejoicing.

PS Day 3 of no-cake month complete. Still 5 cakes of pastoral necessity remaining

* I have a study morning on it tomorrow, led by the Bishop. I just thought it might be wise to do a bit of revision.

It is finished

Rather a melodramatic title, but I think this deserves it. I have finally, after months of itchiness, boredom and eye-strain, finished the beast that is the clapotis. Never again will I knit in black. Never again will I knit with horrible yarn just because it was a present. I was absolutely determined to finish it off yesterday and was spurred on by catching up with some of the Radio 4 comedy slots that we recorded over the summer – Just a Minute etc. The ends are all sown in and everything, just a quick blocking and then it will wend its way to the lovely person who gave me the black yarn in the first place. Thanks Mum. I am grateful really. Only a week or so late for the birthday as well.

On another note – today marks the start of No Cake Month. No cakes, biscuits or other desserts in September unless through pastoral necessity (sometimes in this line of work you have to eat cake!). I only have 5 cakes of pastoral necessity allocated for the month, so this will require some delicacy. The plan was that college puddings would be offset by the austerity of life as a curate. The plan did not work due to the abundance of cake in the parish. There is a reward planned if No Cake Month is a success. I will keep you posted.