Northumberland

I mentioned yesterday that we went up to Northumberland in September.

Resorting to google maps to find where it is, I discover it is Beadnell Bay. There were a group of people kite-surfing along the bay – looked most impressive.

It proved to be a good place to continue Rusk’s education into the finer points of sand-castle building. Living in the North of England, he has learned that a good, thick, waterproof coat and wellies are the most appropriate things to wear to the beach. We went back a couple of days later, but I misjudged the tides and we had about 12 square feet of sand to play on. The first castles we built were washed away a few minutes later – Rusk got quite cross about this, but it is an important lesson to learn. He got over it.

It is possible…

… that the sock knitting may be getting out of hand.

Do you remember a while back I wrote about Sock Wars? That was my first foray into competitive knitting. It was fun. Now, a sock takes me about 13 hours of solid knitting (more if it is complicated or if there is something interesting on tv). A pair of socks is therefore more than a day in a perfect world where no sleep or breaks for food, family or work were needed. Funnily enough, I don’t live in that world. I think that with Sock Wars I achieved a personal best of a pair of socks in three days, but I had cleared a lot of things off the schedule in order for that to happen.

There was another competition running at the same time as Sock Wars. It is called Iron Knitter. Six rounds of sock knitting, against the clock and against other people. In this competition, you get to keep the socks, rather than posting them around the world. Well, back in January I thought this was well beyond me so I kept out of it. Something changed, however, when I saw that the second Iron Knitter was starting in September, so I signed up.

For each round a puzzle is posted that you (and your team – up to four other people) have to solve before you receive the knitting pattern. Then the knitting begins. There is a specific deadline to meet (usually about 2 weeks after the puzzle is released) and a certain percentage of competitors that go through to the next round.

These are my socks from round 1

It was a fairly simple pattern. The wool is from The Knitting Goddess and was a birthday present from my lovely sister-in-law. I started them on the 2nd of September and finished on the 12th, taking in a trip to Northumberland with Mr F and Rusk and having 5 days to spare before the deadline.

The socks bring me one step closer to being able to match my socks to the liturgical colour of the day (no – I don’t know why this is something to aim for). I may need to do a few more purple socks to cover the whole of Advent and Lent, although I can probably manage the Sundays with these.

Anyway, that was round 1. I am currently knitting the socks for round 4, so there is much more to come.

Unintentional Blog Fast

What do you mean its November?

I’ve not been paying much attention, so it seems that I have neglected the blog for a couple of months. Sorry.

To start the ball rolling, a few snippets of life.

  • Rusk (now age 2 and 5 months) can talk in sentences now, and does so constantly. Phrase of the week is “What’s that noise?”.
  • The leaves on the trees have gone, so I once again have a sea view from my desk.
  • I may be able to see the sea, but I can’t see my desk because of all the things piled up on it.
  • We only have one cat now (Seph). Esme had acute kidney failure and died a couple of weeks ago. Sad. Seph seems to be over it, since she has started hunting again. Yuck.
  • Knitting socks is taking over my life. Photos to follow.
  • Handwashing all the knitted socks is becoming more of a chore. It really isn’t easier to knit another pair instead, but it sometimes seems that way.
  • Anyone got any ideas for an advent beach hut? I’ve been offered a night in a beach hut in December, but I don’t have any ideas of what to do with it.

Greenbelt musings

This year, my Greenbelt was mostly about the people. My weekend centred on meeting up with lots of different people from across the country. Hot beverages were drunk, cake was eaten and the world was set to rights for another year. I also took some time out to go and see a few items from the programme – seemed only polite since the organisers work so hard to make it interesting.

I discovered Jude Simpson and spent the rest of the weekend trying (unsuccessfully) to get the Mango song out of my head. Possibly the most bizarre 90 minutes of the weekend were spent watching Zic Zazou – a troupe of french engineers making music from everything. Apart from being a little repetitive, it was amazing. I’m sure there will be some clips on YouTube. At one point one of them drilled some holes in a metal pipe, then picked it up and played it like a flute!

John Bell was there, of course, leading the Big Sing and doing some talks. Turns out he isn’t a big fan of the internet, Facebook, mobile phones or television – he pointed out a lot of the bad effects they have on people who become dependent on them, but was kind enough to suggest that we should use our own judgement about whether it is a problem for us. Francis Spufford was interesting, on the subject of British people doing Antarctic exploration (Scott etc.). My sister went to his other talk, on his book “The Child that books built” – turns out he grew up in the house 3 doors down from my childhood home, but moved out the year before I was born. One talk I was not planning to see, but went along to with some college friends, was a talk by Padraig O’Tuama about hell, particularly the effect on children of teaching them about hell. Very interesting. I did go to some other talks, but I forget which ones. My list of ‘to be downloaded later’ talks is quite long.

Beer and Hymns was a highlight, but we didn’t get anywhere near the frontĀ  of the queue for the beer tent, so we went to And Hymns instead. We (my sister and I) had Pie and Mash and Hymns – almost as good, but not as easy to wave in time to the choruses. A useful reminder was given to those wanting to start Beer and Hymns sessions in their home towns: Beer and Hymns is not just about introducing beer to people who like hymns, but about introducing hymns to people who like beer.

The thing that made me smile most over the weekend were two people dressed as angels, complete with wings and a Hallelujah soundtrack, on Segues gliding up and down outside the Tiny Tea Tent. Just watching the reactions of people was lovely.

Segue Angel

There was quite a significant knitting component to Greenbelt. I went along to one of the Greenbelt Angel knitting circle sessions. There was also a learn to knit session that I helped with where we all knitted beards or moustaches (inspired by Life of Brian) – I understand that there will be pictures somewhere.

One of the things I realised at Greenbelt is that I have a good memory for faces (and sometimes the names that go with them). I recognised a lot of people over the weekend who showed no sign whatsoever of knowing who I was. There were people from churches I was on placement at several years ago, people I sat in lectures with at college. There were random people (like some of your good selves) from the internet. I think there was someone I went to school with half my lifetime ago (she was coming out of a loo cubicle as I was going in and I didn’t have the presence of mind to greet her – I was wearing a hat, so she probably didn’t notice me). There was one woman who looked really familiar and I saw her a few times before I figured it out: Clare Short. Good thing I didn’t go over to find out how I knew her. Then as I was sheltering from the rain in the Church Times tent (marvellous cartoons by the way) I saw another real famous person…

Yes, it is Tom Hollander from Rev. My only camera was the one in my phone, so it is a little bit blurry. I liked how he had two minders, presumably to protect him from potential hordes of angry/over-exuberant clerical types.

All this, of course, now fades into the distance as I am back at work. My two essays were not completed before I went away in July, so I had a frantic couple of days typing – all done now. I also came home to find Mr F addicted to the Definitely Last Ever mini-series of Big Brother. Very disappointing, but a horribly easy thing to happen.

In other news… A knitting competition started yesterday that I am taking part in. It is a race to knit 6 pairs of socks, but before each pattern is released you have to solve some puzzles. Very good fun. I am in a lovely team for the puzzle solving, but the knitting is all individual. I don’t expect to progress much beyond round 2. I really would like to finish round 1 – I have until 17th September or until 90% of the participants have completed it.

Miscellany

  1. My Greenbelt ticket has arrived!
  2. I’m going to Taize in a couple of weeks
  3. By which time I will have written 6000 words on essays for the MA module I am doing as part of my work training
  4. The second sock is past the heel and only the leg left to do – 55 rounds and counting
  5. Deanery chapter is this afternoon
  6. I can wander around the village chatting to people and it is part of work
  7. I’m preaching on Mary and Martha this Sunday (a triple bill – hopefully by the third time I’ll have got it nailed!)

Got to go. My lift will be here soon.

Captions?

Rusk through the looking glass

I was working today so I missed the pre-school summer trip. However, this picture seems to suggest it was quite an interesting day! Can you improve on the caption?

Fickle, fickle, fickle

So my sister is not getting a pair of socks on her birthday. Thank you for your comments – some very good ideas. I have one complete sock and two inches of toe. This will blatantly not have transformed into a completed sock by morning, so I am going to keep them until I can give them to her in person (about 3 weeks time). Three weeks to complete the sock will still take some fairly serious concentration, so why do I feel the need to start a new scarf? I’ve spent the evening watching The Devil Wears Prada and knitting in a rather lacklustre fashion on the sock.

I have diagnosed the problem: a serious case of second sock syndrome. This is a well known knitting malaise, here combined with an oncoming attack of startitis. You see, I’m what the Yarn Harlot calls a process knitter. Knitting for me is all about learning new things, figuring out a new technique and mastering it. Why knit something twice? Am I going to learn more on the second sock? Perhaps – it has the slight interest of having a mirror-image of the spiralling pattern of the first sock, but I’m not sure that is enough. The finished object is rarely of great interest.

I have another single sock completed – this one being a complicated multi-cable-stitch pattern. I decided to postpone casting on the second one so I could meet the deadline of my sister’s birthday. Who was I kidding?

Fickle, that’s what I am when it comes to knitting. Can’t the world understand that the Moebius cast-on is much more exciting than plain knitting in the round with the odd increase here and there?

In other news, I am having a bit of a children’s literature theme. I’m loving reading Winnie the Pooh to Rusk and I’m also reading the Chronicles of Narnia ‘for work’.

Knitting to a deadline

A long while back I picked up some sock wool off an internet site, thinking it would be good for something for my sister’s birthday. Yesterday I finished the first sock. I fear it may be too loose for her legs (these are the first long socks I’ve knitted – she insisted on at least a 10″ leg), but it is done.

One problem: the birthday is on Monday. I have the rest of today (a work day) and all of tomorrow, plus an hour or two on Saturday if I am lucky before it has to go in the post. The first sock took me two weeks. Admittedly I wasn’t really focussing on knitting every spare second of the day, but I have knitted every night this week.

What do you think? Achievable? I think if I can get the foot done today then I might make it. I’ll cast on over lunch.

And relax

It has been a very relaxing couple of days.

Yesterday included a trip to the beach, meeting up with some people from college. They kindly took over the sandcastle building duties and kept Rusk busy for a couple of hours. Sensible boy: he point-blank refused to paddle in the North Sea. I had thought that this week might be my only chance of a warm day on the beach and a swim in the sea, so I tried. I really tried, but it was just too cold. My friend who had accompanied me corroborated my story of only intending a paddle (to mid-thigh) in the first place. At least the Irish Sea feels warm after a little while – I knew it was a mistake to come East.

Checking out a new tea-room came next. Three Cheers! There is somewhere to buy fairtrade, decaff coffee within 2 miles of home, and they do take-away. We admired the piglets and pigs who were sunning themselves in their enclosure, then headed home to play Bananagrams. This is a totally addictive game and I recommend it to any people who like to play with words.

When I got up this morning, Mr F asked me why I hadn’t gone out last night. Oops – funny how meetings just slip your mind when lovely people spontaneously come to visit. I discovered subsequently that the meeting had just assumed that because it was my day off I wouldn’t be there. Normally I wouldn’t have, but having had the rare occurrence of a week without evening meetings, I had planned to go. No-one (except you and the person I talked to about it this afternoon) need ever be the wiser.

I had book group this morning. I think we talked about books only a couple of times in the hour, but very much put the world to rights. I’m currently waiting for the second Steig Larsson, having devoured the first one a couple of weeks ago.

This afternoon I took Rusk to a parish coffee afternoon. He was at his most charming and spent a good half hour climbing in and out of the patio. He collected half the toy stall and put it ready for us to take home, but then changed his mind and put it all back on the stall. He also became fascinated with the tombola drum – this got quite expensive and we didn’t even win anything!

Finally, after Rusk was in bed (his big bed for only the second night), we settled down to watch the finale of Doctor Who with home-made curry and a cold beer.

Phew! This relaxation lark is tiring.