Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Fibre and Friends at SKIPnorth

As some of you may or maynot know I actually managed to escape family life for a few days over the weekend. On Friday morning after making sure the kids had gone to school I went and picked up Alison in Edinburgh and Isabella in Musselburgh and headded off across the Border, and with passports at hand we left Scotland and entered England!!!! We were on a fibre adventure and off to spend the weekend with like minded people who enjoyed knitting, spinning and anything else crafty. Our destination was the Youth Hostel in Howorth deep in Bronte country. The journey there was fairly uneventful despite having to negotiate a detour at Berwick-on-Tweed and getting a wee bit lost in Bradford (I think, twice!!!!)

The Youth Hostel.

Having vague memories from my younger days of Youth hostels I wasn't really sure what to expect from this one, however I was very much surprised by what I found. We were met by friendly and helpful staff who showed us to the study where we found several other people already "doing" things. We were greeted by Nic who soon had us organised into our rooms and we quickly started to get to grips with the drop spindle, or not as the case may be! We broke for coffee and cakes and chat to get to know the other people on this weekend. I kinda gave up on the drop spindle as I couldn't get it to do what I wanted it too!!!! I decided at this point to go and make some stitch markers which I did and they now adorn my curent WIP, a pair of sox.

After we had done some of that we decided to try we went to find our room.....well I certainly did not think mountaineering was part of the weekend coz my goodness getting to the second floor was painfull!!!! Our room was what I assume would have been a servants room. There were 3 bunk beds and 3 singles and only 3 of us to share the room so no one had to climb up to a top bunk!! Once we got our stuff stowed away it was time for dinner and that in its self was an other surprise. The meal looked and tasted excellent, once done we literally "took over " lounge were we knitted, chatted and partook of a class or two of wine!!!!, then it was off to bed to get a decent sleep before the busy schedule of the next day.

First night in the lounge looking at Ruth's hat mountain!!!

Saturday dawned bright if somewhat crisp. After a hearty breakfast and picking up our packed lunch we headed for our coach which was going to be our transport for the rest of the day and boy what a day.We started off at Coldspring mills, which is basically a camping shop with yarn down stairs. They had all sorts of yarn from cones of what looked like Debbie Bliss Cotton, to space dyed and homespun yarns. They also had lots of knitting patterns.

I bought 3 cones of multi coloured "lace weight" yarn so hopefully will make some shawls from it. Also bought a skiene of hand dyed 4ply in blues, which I will use to knit something for the rugby, to keep the cold out on a Sunday afternoon.

We then went on to The SKEP, it was an amazing place, very small and not alot of room to move and packed from floor to ceiling with stuff. However it was mainly material, so did not spend a lot here, only bought 2 skiens of unbrushed mohair in a blue/green/purple colourway.

A small refreshment in the nearest pub was called for before going on to the Bombay store.

This store was an aladdins cave and quite honestly I could have spent much longer here to enable me to have a proper look round. The sari material and other silk materials were to die for, and thats not a bad admission from someone who does not sew!!!

I spent most of my time looking at beads to make stitch markers. However I did buy 2 blue/purple silk quarters that I might attempt to make a needle roll from, to keep my crochet hooks and dpns!!!!, some beads and a pair of folding scissors for my work box.

We then got back on the coach for a lovely journey through the Yorkshire countryside till we reached the Knitting and Crochet Guild. No one had told us about the 1p/gramme yarn mountain and all the other goodies we could purchase there. We split into 2 groups at this point, I was in the first one which went to see and have some "hands on" of the exhibits in the guild. They ranged from 17th century baby clothes right up to present day. It was absolutly facinating.

Some of the collection at the Knitting and Crochet Guild.

After nearly 1.5 hours we were let loose in the shop. What a treasure trove that was. I did manage to spend alot and I mean alot here. I bought 5 balls of lace weight in liliac to knit a shawl, possibly the peacock feathers one my secret pal sent, 5 balls of varigated browns in lace weight for an other shawl, still to be determined, several balls of sock yarn, several lace patterns, and 2 packs of guild notelets.

We rerturned to the youth hostel tired but very happy and a good bit lighter in the purse. Once we stored our purchases we went off to have an other excellent meal. My happiness was just about to over flow big style when I walked into the lounge only to discover that Scotland had beaten England 18:12 at Murrayfield and had won the Culcutta Cup for the first time since 2000!!!!!!

A few glasses of wine then followed as we sat and chatted and knitted and knitted and chatted. Once again we had taken over the lounge!

Alex crocheted these wrist warmers in approx 1 hour!!!!!

Sunday morning dawned and the happy bunch set of for what would be our last trip of the weekend. We were of to Winghams wools....a haven for all spinners and would be spinners.

This small collection of stone build barns and wooden sheds held roving of every colour of the rainbow and 100's of colours in between.

They also had yarns in all shapes and forms, from space dyed skiens, sari silk skiens and balls of yarn by Jaeger et al.

I again managed to do a fair amount of damage to my purse here coz I bought 4 wooden crochet hooks, sizes 4mm, 4.5mm, 6mm and 9mm, 2 sets of wooden dpns in size 2mm and 3mm for my sox. I even bought a bag of roving....what for as yet I'm unsure, but I did have fun trying out my drop spindle. I also bought a book on Traditional Lace shawls which I had been looking for for a while and some yarn to knit a scarf for a Welsh friend and some grey wool to knit an elephant!!!

Once everyone had finished shopping we returned to the Youth Hostel for coffee and cakes followed by a "show and tell" session. Isabella brought her Louet travel spinning wheel, Alison brought some yarn twisters to demonstrate. Several people brought various items of knitting, crocheting and sewing for us all to OOOOO and AHHHHH over!!!!

Rosie and Ruth looking at some of the treasures of "show and tell"

Now it was time to load up the car and bid a fond farewell to those great people we had spent a most enjoyable weekend with. I hope we can do this on a yearly basis and am already looking forward to where our adventures will take us next time!!! Once the car was loaded up, with no room to spare in the boot and most of the back seat filled, with just enough room for Alison to squeeze in we headed North.

However we did have to make one stop enroute for home....a comfort stop....or was it so Isabella could measure the back of her sweater, coz no sooner had the car stopped than she was out, knitting in one hand and tape measure in the other!!!!!!

A HUGE thank you needs to go to Alex and Nic for organising this brilliant weekend.

"Home" - National Theatre of Scotland

What is "home" and what does it mean to you?

That was the question being asked by The National Theatre of Scotland at its launch last week. Ten of the most inspirational directors in Scotland asked that question and came up with ten different answers and ten different ways to interpret it. The performances were taking place in various venues from Shetland to Dumfries which reflected the many different aspects and facets of Scottish life, thus demonstrating that theatre can happen almost anywhere. Each location saw a brand new piece of site-responsive theatre which was commissioned especially for the launch. The "theatre" site ranged from a shop front in Stornaway,tenement building in Aberdeen, a ferry in Shetland, a block of high-rise flats in Glasgow and the one I was lucky enough to see was at a "secret location" in East Lothian on Thursday 23rd February 2006.....

We had to arrive at the Brunton Theatre in Musselburgh at 16.45 on a cold wet Thursday night. We were taken to a bus and driven to our "secret location", which just happened to be a very familiar place to me......it was where we set up our knitting group last year!! Yes it was Prestongrange Industrial Heritage Museum and this proved to be a brilliant location for the play we were about to see.

The play was a modern day version of Hansel and Gretel set in the 1970's. The museum had infact been converted into a 1970's style sittingroom and the actors were in "period" costume with music from The Bay City Rollers (themselves a local band of that time) being blasted out of the record player. (I am embarassed to say that I used to listen to them in my youth and probably if I were to dig deep I might just find some of their albums!!!! Oh boy that shows my age!!!). Many areas of the site were highlighted by spot lights and on looking out of the museum window we could watch "Hansel and Gretel" come towards home after being left in the woods by the wicked step-mother. Once the indoor scene is played out the audience then follow the children up through the woods at the back of the site.

Here you find that the trees have been lit up and that there are forest sound effects in the trees as you walk past. Of course by this time it is beginning to get quite dark and spooky!!! We continue to follow the children past gravestones and other undistinguishable things as we walk further into the woods .......then we come apon a path lit with fairy lights and you can here music playing in the background, as you get nearer you discover that it is The Power House cleverly disguised as the gingerbread cottage belonging to the wicked witch.

On entering the Gingerbread house you are totally mesmerised by the transition of the building. There were seats round the room and running the length of it is a huge table laden with all the "food" one could ever imagine. The next part of the play is focused on this table. At one end of the room is two beds and at the other it was made to look like the witches kitchen. In the middle of the table, cleverly disguised by a table cloth is "the cage" where Hansel is kept prisoner. At the end the wicked witch is pushed into the oven and we all make a quick exit from the building to sounds of pressure in the oven being build up before the whole place "explodes".

As we follow the children out of the building we pass the grave of the wicked step-mother and hear their father calling for them. We all head towards the bus and this heralds the end of a most spellbinding magical experience I have ever seen. We leave the play as we drop the children and their father at the front door of their HOME and thus we are returned to the Brunton Theatre in Musselburgh.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Robert's sox

Robert has been continually begging me to knit him a pair of "trainer" sox. So what else could I do but comply with his wishes!!! He went "shopping" in the sock yarn stash last night and actually chose some that was left over from a previous pair. Here is a picture of them insitu this morning!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

gourdongirl does a VERY happy dance

"Yarn Harlot" set the challenge, and the bold, the brave and the downright stupid took up that challenge. What challenge, why the OLYMPIC KNITTING CHALLENGE!!!

To knit "The Diamond Shawl" by Lionbrand in Jaeger COMO in a "pistachio" colour within the time was my challenge. I took up this challenge with hope in my heart and a determination to achieve my goal. However within a few days I was full of self doubt and couldn't decide wheather to carry on or change direction. After a lot of soul searching and advice from others I decided to carry on with the "Olympic Shawl", as I had christened it and on Tuesday 21st February 2006 I crossed the finish line.

Here is the finished "Olympic Shawl" stretched across my bed. I still need to block it, but unsure if I have a space large enough to actually do this. My initial fear that the shawl would not drape was unfounded as it drapes just fine.

Here is a close up of the Diamond pattern.

As you can imagine gourdongirl WAS definately doing a VERY happy dance earlier today when she crossed the finish line knowing she will recieve a GOLD MEDAL.

Friday, February 17, 2006

I was left speachless!

WOW......I was left speachless this morning when I opened a package from my "Mellow" Secret Pal. I tell you this coz it takes a lot to make me speachless!!!!

Where do I begin to tell you what was in the package...It was like opening "A Magical box" there was so much goodies in it.

There was "Sensational knitted Socks" by Charlene Schurch. I have been lusting after this book for ages and now I actually hold it in my hands. The only problem now is deciding which socks to knit first.

Digging deeper into the box was 2 skiens of shepherd sock yarn by Lorna's Laces in colourway "Vera", Which as you can see by the photo browns and pinks. I have never knitted with Lorna's laces yarns before so I am looking forward to that.

Delving deeper into the box there was a bookmark, and a tin of "Crafty Girl" sugar free berry-mints. Once they have been eaten I intend to use the box to keep my stitch markers in, save me from loosing them like I do at the moment!

A sachet of chocolate chai and one of vanilla chai, which I had heard about in knitty
chat, but never tried. Well I had the chocolate one earlier today and I'm hooked, it was gorgeous!!

Lurking in a corner of the box was a brass sheep shaped knitting needle gauge. A most wonderfully useful gadget, now I know what the US needle sizes are in mm, without going online to find out.

THEN right at the bottom of the box was the most amazing item EVER.........

A pattern for a "Peacock Feathers Shawl" designed by Dorothy Siemens for Fiddlesticks Knitting ( http://www.fiddlesticksknitting.com )
(Angela/Scott....eat your heart out!!!!!!!! LOL)

All that is left now to say is a really BIG thank you to the greatest Mellow Secret Pal ever. In the words of Tina Turner....you are "Simply the best".....

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Today I feel REALLY old!

A few weeks ago I felt old because my youngest son Robert turned 7 years of age on the 29th January. It certainly does not seem that long since I was being rushed off to hospital in the back of an ambulance!!! How time flies when you are having fun, and I must admit Robert has brought a lot of fun to our lives. Basically he is a very shy boy, (except once he gets to know you), who does not like change and he refuses to do things till he decides its time.

Like riding his bike...for years he refused to go near a bike then out of the blue last summer he decided the time was right and within about 15-20 minutes, with the help of his grandfather, he was off. Robert is very concscientious and everything has to be done properly and he will not stop till he gets it right. He is a very sensitive, thoughtful and kind boy who is atune to peoples feelings round about him.

Over the school holidays last summer he started to go along to play Tag Rugby at Musselburgh Rugby Club. The first week he was really apprehensive, but after a few minutes it was like he had been playing it for years. Every Thursday evening over the summer he was ready ages before the rest of us, then when the rugby season started for real he couldn't wait. Now he is one of the main lynch pins in the P3 team. He is a joy to watch, he is a mature player who organises his team and keeps them right.

In this picture he is in one of the Corporate boxes at Murratfield Stadium in Edinburgh - the home of Scottish Rugby, and where Scotland beat France 20:16 on Sunday 5th February in the 6 Nations Tournament.

Today I feel really old because my oldest son, Ronan is 10 today. In fact as I write this, 10 years ago he would just be about 1 hour old and I would still be out of it after having had a general anaesthetic!He was 3 weeks early and only weighed 3lb 11oz. However to look at him today you wouldn't think that. he is full of energy, life, cheek and hormones! He got his first proper shop bought Valentine card and present there on Tuesday from a girl in his class. He was really made-up by this, and acted all coy about it. He's growing up....FAST, I don't know where the time has gone!

Ronan is a very loving boy who still comes and gives me huggs,(and will be completely motified that I have written this about him). However he is totally different in character from Robert. He is really laid back and most things go over his head because 90% of the time he is on "Planet Ronan"!!! Which is a slight improvement on a few years ago when it would have been 99.9%. Nevertheless he becomes absolutely focused if he has an interest in what he is doing.

Ronan is also very sporty, having achieved his red belt in judo, which he does at the sports centre on at Saturday morning. After that he will go swimming with his brother and some friends. On Sunday he plays rugby for Musselburgh Rugby Club P5 team. He has been involved with the club since he was in P3 and over the years has improved greatly and become focused on the game. He has now achieved a standard where he gets picked for the first team when playing matches.

Oh well I guess I had better get used to feeling old, because that is something I have NO control over!!!!!

Olympic Dilema

I have a dilema with my "Olympic shawl"......I don't like it. Yes I like the pattern and yes I like the yarn, but no I don't like them together. I don't think that the yarn is heavy enough to drape the way I want it to....so what to do? That is the question. Do I stop now or do I keep going and hope that once it is finished and blocked that it will drape right, by then it will be way too late to start something new.

I could keep going and easily finish the shawl in the allotted time, or I could start something else and knit frantically in the time I have left?

Decisions, decisions? Oh well I think I will sleep on it and decide later.

It's now 12:40 and I have slept on it and decided just to finish the original shawl coz I feel starting something new now would just put far too much pressure on me to finish it and I do want to have some life over the next few days!!!!!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Here we go, here we go, here we go...................

This is my Olympic Knitting attempt, the Diamond shawl is coming along nicely. However I'm not too sure if the yarn is heavy enough to get the drape that I want, but only time will tell as far as thats concerned. It is growing quite quickly and as I would like it to be a big shawl that might be weight enough. I will post an update next week.

As promised.....here are the pictures of my first "Mellow SP" package which arrived on 27th January 2006. The delay in posting was due to a problem with my photograpy, however it seems to have worked this time. I recieved a "Breast Cancer" band, a pack of "I LUV 2 BLOG" postits (can't read that as it hasn't come out on the picture) and a fridge magnet. Thank you to my Mellow SP spoiler.

I'd also like to thank my SP6 spoiler for my first package which arrived on the 10th February. Its very exciting getting all these lovely packages through the post. this one contained 2 balls of "Knit Picks" self patterning sock yarn in "Vineyard", 2 balls of "Sock it to me" sock yarn in lovely blues and white and best of all a bag of "Reese's" miniture peanut butter cups, guess what I had for breakfast that morning?............. Ronan is also a convert and I have to fight him off to get to them, they are so so so yummmmmmmmmmy.

Okay I suppose I have kept you all in the dark long enough as to what David (my hubby) and I look like. Well here are a couple of photos taken with the kids, which were taken last year when we went to visit Stirling for a weekend. They were taken at Stirling castle, which is one of the many castles in Scotland that we love to visit. David and I have a great love of history and the kids just love roaming round the old buildings pretending to be knights or whatever. Great fun was had by all. More pictures of out "historic adventures" might appear from time to time!!
[Please note that my hair colour has a tendancy to change often...Vanity and all that! :-) ]

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Let the Games begin.......

Oh well I have finally succumbed to the lure of the Knitting Olympics which start tomorrow. It took a lot of soul searching and stash searching before I finally made up my mind. When I found 6 balls of Jaeger Como in the stash I had to decide what I was going to do with it. So I then started to look for a pattern on the internet, where I found "The Diamond Knit Shawl" by Lion Brand Yarn. Now the next problem was to locate a set of 9mm circular needles. I searched in several LYS's in East Lothian to no avail, then my friend and co-conspiritor of several scemes, Spinningfishwife, produced her much covetted set of Denise needles for me to use. For this I will be eternally greatful. However I might not be saying that in a few days time when all is not going well!!!!!

Oh well all I can do now is wait....and the clock is ticking ..tick..tick..tick ....

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Updates and goings on................

One down and one to go....Robert kindly leant me his foot for this photo....need to be fair as the boys would fight as to who was the "model"!!!!!!!!

Here is Ronan playing Rugby for Musselburgh Mini's P5 team against Portobello Mini's P5 team. Ronan is the one in the blue and white (blue gloves) standing 4th from the left, kinda in the "V" of Portobello players.

Robert has just started to play soccer on a Saturday morning for the Musselburgh Young Stars......here he is in goals for his first away game last Saturday. He made a great save which meant they won the game. He was really pleased to have been picked as this was just his second week with the team.

Here is Robert playing Rugby for Musselburgh Mini's P3 team on Sunday against Portobello Mini's P3 team. He was on his way to score at try at this point.

Hair today and gone tomorrow.........
Both boys were desperately needing their hair cut, Much to their horror I was threatening to put ribbons in it when they played rugby to keep it out of their eyes. However I took out the hair clippers last night and did the needful. Much better and easier kept.

Yes that is my finished shawl on the back of the sofa!!!!!

Monday, February 06, 2006


At the moment I only have two works in progress, but that might all change if I decide to do the knitting Olympics. I have not signed up yet, mainly because I don't know what I would like to knit.....need to decide soon as I'm running out of time!!


This is a photo of my latest shawl. It is knitted in Jaeger Jardin in a gold colour with splashes of pale blue and pink. Really nice to knit even if it is acrylic! Yes I am abit of a yarn snob....so what!

Here is a close up of the yarn and the pattern. I am knitting it in feather and fan and it is coming out really nice.

Well I finally got round to winding my Fleece Artist sock yarn which I was sent by Ariel and have now embarked to knit a pair of socks with it. I had too willing helpers to assist, well they were willing at the start of the task!

Robert acted as the "human swift" in helping hold the yarn so it could be wound from the skene. We did have a few tangles and a few moans about his arms getting tired but bless him he persevered and got the job done. This was his first time helping and I'm sure it won't be his last!!!!

Ronan had the easier task of actually winding the wool with the wool winder. I was there to supervise this as sometimes the tension of the ball was a bit loose, and sometimes it got tangled up in the workings of the ball winder when he had a sudden burst of energy! But both did a great job.

This is how it looks at prestent, nearly finished the first one. Ronan kindly leant me his foot so I could take the photo. Don't think he was too happy with all the dpns sticking out of the sock! He thought they would get stuck into him, I was more concerned about the stitches getting pulled off the needles!! As you can see by the picture I am using the stitch markers that I recently recieved from my secret pal. They are really nice to use, and believe me I will use them a lot.
I am using the stranded stitch pattern which is used in the pattern for the "Knitty" socks called crusoe. I have addapted the actual sock pattern to one that I like using.