Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Autumn Pursuits

How dare I raise the issue of Autumn when August is not yet over? Well it is cool, and yes I admit to having put the heating on a few times, mainly to warm the house for Jenny who is over from Spain and is feeling the chill. It is raining on and off and light conditions are poor, so naturally one's thoughts turn to autumnal pursuits.

In my case these have been knitting and pickling. I'm knitting up a second pair of leg warmers for Jenny to take back to Spain. Although it was 35 C when she left, it does get cold in the winter and with marble floors, she just wanted to have some legwarmers similar to the ones I had knitted for Lizzie and which she had modelled. We chose the yarn from a wool shop in Warwick, as when we visit Leamington, Web of Wool was closed. Hope Anna forgives me. The yarn we chose had all Jenny's favourite colours and is knitting up just beautifully. The Manos Del Uruguay yarn in silk and merino wool is soft and warm and lustrous.

The yarn comes in a variety of luscious colours and we brought two hanks back, and spent a few minutes deciding which one to use. David who has an excellent eye for colour and design gave the seal of approval: the nutty earthy colours for Jenny, and the turquoise & blue ones for me. Yes, I shall also be knitting myself a pair ready for that time when the cool weather starts. Lizzie wanted some legging and though she would start a trend down under, well one is starting here!

My first pickles of the year are made and are maturing....well the ones that have not yet been eaten. I trawled through my recipe books and also the internet, and developed a hybrid recipe. Usually I make jams etc but this year the batches I have made so far are not up to the usual standard. I have tried various sugars available here for jam but wonder whether the beet sugar here is not as good as cane sugar which I used to get in Swindon.

David is not a pickle or chutney person, and has an aversion to vinegar. I try to get over this by starting my boiling early in the morning and getting the house as well aired as possible before he gets back from work in the evening. David does like Branston with cheese, and having run out of that served some superb well matured Green Tomato chutney made in 2006 by my friend Judith, the extreme knitter. I think the secret is good maturing.
David LIKES the beetroot chutney!

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Knitting 10 metres from the motorway

The best way to calm the nerves as knitters know is to get the needles out.

Well if you are driving for the first time for a long time across the country and its just you and your sister, and find that after a hoot from a driver and then a funny noise, it is time to veer over to the hard shoulder, so many things flash through your mind:

Firstly award yourself a gold star for the fact that that morning you checked with your car insurance company that you had breakdown recovery and had put a note of the phone number in the glove box.

Second reason to feel ever so grateful is that there is sufficient charge on the mobile to make the call.....well I hardly ever put the phone on and just carry it around because it is red and cute, and matches my wallet and key purse.

Third the weather is warm and sunny, which is something to be thankful for as these past few days its not been summer weather.

Fourth is that the bag you packed in the car and have taken down with you has the essential items for passing the time: knitting wool and a part knitted sock.

I worked out that even if it took an hour, I still had more than enough knitting to keep me going.

The only down side is that my camera had insufficient charge to take a picture....I had used it all up the previous day taking pictures of the leggings. But if you want proof just ask Jenny who was with me.

It was less than 15 minutes before highway patrol pulled up and a couple of minutes later the RAC turned up. The knights of the highway were excellent and tyre changed, we was escorted back into the flow of the traffic.

Each time I wear those socks I'll be reminded of the time I knitted a few rows just a few metres behind the motorway crash barriers.

I also knitted at our Aunty Nora's. We had a lovely weekend with her. Jenny used to spend a few school holidays with Aunty Nora and Uncle Les, and it is about *5 years since her last visit, and I recently been up with Uncle Noel for a visit. Jenny and I normally keep in touch with Aunty Nora by phone so it was lovely to have a few days together. It was interesting to hear Aunty Nora reminisce about her time in Mauritius with Mum and her visit with Mum to Lizzie in Australia.


Have car recovery insurance and keep phone number to hand,
Keep phone and camera charged up,
Always have knitting available in case of emergency

Must dos:
Get high visibility vest, (on Jenny's advice I'm getting one to wear when I am cylcing around), always get out on verge side of car

Technique learnt:
Getting up to 50mph on hard shoulder then pulling out into flow of traffic.

Leggings posted to Australia

Here are some leggings which are now hopefully on the other side of the world, with my sister Lizzie. Jenny my youngest sister is over from Spain staying with me, so she was able to model them. Here they are worn with the slits over the heels, but they also look great turned round so that the knots are over the ankles or straight over the front. Yes I have taken pictures of all of these.

This is the first garment that I have 'designed'. The brief was legwarmers, in various colours, anything so long as they didn't drop down. Well the first thing was finding the yarn. In the mood I was in, it seemed absolutely daunting, I was in panic mode. However my subconscious was working overtime and I remembered some lovely yarn from Web of Wool. At the knitting group we had been knitting a 'secret' project with Limbo Colour and with 100% super wash wool soft and cuddly, so I had already used it. The colours are in the range requested. So I came home with two balls. They sat on the coffee table for a couple of days, then Thursday evening I got out some lovely wooden double ended pins and knitted up a swatch. I used tape measure and note pad, made some sketches and hey presto, I got started.

I find knitting very therapeutic and a form of meditation. So many pictures came into my mind mainly centered around the life of my parents and sisters in Mauritius. The leggings with the 'stripes' emerging reminded me of the puttees which my father used to wear when working out in the field in his capacity of plant pathologist, and how the weed seeds used to stick.

Then my mind wandered to the desperate day I had during the first of my two visits to Mauritius last year, where under the blazing sun I searched in vain for my father's grave with two of my mother's gardeners who felt sure they really knew where the grave was. By the time we were almost in tears and ready to give up, I found that the cemetery office was closed for the day. Later that day I sat talking to my Mum whilst I spent what seemed forever picking the weed seeds from my socks and laces.

As the heat seemed to seep into me, or was it a hot flush, whilst I was knitting, my thoughts went to my middle sister Lizzie and I thought of all her help and support, patience and dedication to my parents over a number of years. I felt 'privileged' to knit her something to keep her warm now she has moved to a cooler part of Australia....just had an email to say temps are down nearly freezing during the nights, so was pleased that I was able to get the leggings knitted and posted within the week.

I was pleased with the final design: the icord helps to keep the leggings up, hence keeping to the brief, and being used for Australia, the ankle icord tightened will stop any spiders climbing up! The turn down above the upper icord can be left up for added length or rolled over the top of your wellies....well if you have such lovely leggings you would want to show them off.

So within a week Lizzie will be wearing her new leggings....hope she likes them.

I'm starting on a pair for Jenny, and then a pair for me.