I'd also like to say thank you to everyone who's subscribed to my YouTube channel - 100 people already, which is very exciting! My plan is to keep working on videos this summer so that there are videos to go with the Sockalong tutorials as well and subscribers will automatically be notified when they are uploaded. (I know this for a fact as small daughter has used my computer to subscribe to Minecraft YouTubers and I get a lot of notifications!)
After all the rush last weekend to get the Easy Cable Socks tutorial posted, I've been deliberately taking things more slowly this week. There have been the usual walks with the dog ... this week we have seen a lot of this heron ...
although it's entirely possible that we could have been seeing a different heron as there appear to be a few of them around. This sounds quite crazy as they're such big tall birds, but this next picture shows two of them in a tree. Can you see them? I didn't know herons could land in trees, but this pair did. I didn't know what noise a heron made either but now I know that too, and it's not your average bird sound. The dog was oblivious to all this feathery education as he was occupied trying to pick up a log that was three times the size of himself.
I like to see how the paths that we walk down change with the seasons. This is what this path looks like now - it's really quite muddy at the moment and you have to watch where you're putting your feet ...
and this was a few short weeks ago. The path had disappeared under the blanket of leaves and it was lovely to crunch through them. The dog doesn't like leaves for some reason - he'll choose to walk around them rather than hurtle through them like our previous dog did - so it was quite funny watching him navigate his way to the water.
The weather is much milder and wetter again so I think our chances of snow are diminishing rapidly this winter. I found a "this time last year" photo on my computer and we did have snow at the end of January, but the white stuff is staying well away this year. Ah well, I did see some a few weeks ago so I'll just be happy with that.
Do you remember the brave snowdrops I showed you growing out of the steps? Miraculously, they have survived (actually, I don't think the dog uses the steps, he just leaps over them) and here they are today. A couple more have joined them and there are a good few clumps of them appearing around the garden now, which is always really nice to see.
I had a lovely surprise earlier this week when a parcel arrived from my aunt in Canada.
It's called Knitting Ephemera and the cover calls it "a compendium of articles, useful and otherwise for the edification and amusement of the handknitter" and it's stuffed with all kinds of facts about yarn and knitting that I didn't know I needed to know. I now know how to tell the difference between llamas and alpacas, I know that Euclan wool rinse is named after the eucalyptus and lanolin that it contains, I know that a centre-pull ball of yarn was once called a "false clue" (clew is an old Anglo-Saxon word for yarn which might be connected) ... I always like to tell people that I am a mine of (often useless) information and this book has just added to the store cupboard of facts (I can see my family rolling their eyes in despair already!). It's a great gift if you've got a knitter in the family, and I am very pleased that my aunt sent it to me. It also gave me a good excuse to spend a happy hour chatting to my aunt and uncle on the phone when I called them to say thank you.
My aunt must have been on the same wavelength as big daughter who bought me this book for Christmas. I do enjoy reading the Yarn Harlot's blog and I've been trying not to read more than a couple of pages of this at a time so that I don't finish this book too quickly. It's made me laugh, it's made me read pages out to my husband (who doesn't really want to hear it but makes appropriate noises) and it's made me realise that my family have no idea how lucky they are that I am not quite so obsessed about knitting at every opportunity as some other knitters are! J
On the subject of reading material, I was delighted to see this month's Simply Knitting magazine arrive. It never fails to take my breath away when I see my words in a magazine, and I was grinning like a Cheshire Cat for most of the day. I'm very grateful for this life of mine that lets me surround myself with knitting and yarn and sock-related stuff.
I've been able to catch up with a bit of blog reading this week, which has been lovely. There are quite a few blogs that I really enjoy reading, and I always like to have a look around to see what else is new. Small Things is a new favourite and I've spent rather a long time working my way through the archives when I should probably have been doing something else! I've not really got into podcasts in the same way, probably because I don't sit down much in the daytime and if I do, I'm often writing so listening to someone talking doesn't work for me. My husband is around in the evenings so we spend time together and sadly, listening to knitting podcasts isn't on his list of fun things to do. Having said that, I have been making a point of listening to more of late and this week I discovered quite a few that have made me want to go back and listen to new episodes. The two that I usually do make time for are Crafternoon Treats (I know Kathryn and like her very much, so it's a bit like sitting with a friend) and KnitBritish which I discovered through an article on www.wovember.com when I was first starting to think about British yarns. Louise's podcast is all about British yarns and was massively helpful in giving me a place to start my no-nylon sock yarn search. She's going to be hosting the Blacker Yarns Podcast Lounge at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival again this year which brings me neatly into my next topic ...
The Blacker Yarns Pod KAL (#blackerpodKAL), which is a knitalong to coincide with the Edinburgh Yarn Festival. I decided to join in so that I could use up some of my Blacker Yarns stash and my first project was the Hartland Cliffs shawl. I'm having a bit of sulk with my shawl, to be honest, as I've gone wrong again and I've had to unravel rather a lot of it. No, I'm not going to show you because there's nothing impressive about yards of curly, unravelled yarn. The pattern is not complicated, it's all plain knitting except for some K2tog pattern rows and yet it is apparently beyond me to knit it without disregarding the instructions and improvising wildly. I'm using it to practice my continental knitting and perhaps I'm too busy trying to get a rhythm going to check whether I should actually be knitting that row or whether it's a pattern row instead. Anyway, instead I have used another skein of Blacker Yarns yarn that is lounging in my stash and cast on these rather lovely socks instead.
These socks are infinitely more well-behaved and it's all going very well so far. The pattern is Arwen from The Sock Drawer book written by Verity from Truly Hooked and the yarn is Tamar 4ply in the colourway Kensey from Blacker Yarns, which is another British breeds yarn - Teeswater, Wensleydale and Leicester Longwool sheep blended with Cornish mule to give the yarn a lovely lustre sheen. Do you want to see what the sheep look like? Oh go on, you know you do really ...
These are Wensleydale sheep, and how could you fail to produce anything wonderful knitting from those curly locks? Teeswater and Leicester Longwool have the same woolly coiffure and Cornish mules (usually a Blue-faced Leicester with mountain sheep cross) are slightly less dreadlocked ...
Anyway, I'm digressing from the sock. Like Hartland Cliffs, it's another a relatively easy pattern although it does require a little more concentration than the shawl and so far I haven't made any ridiculous mistakes. So far. There's still time.
My husband and small daughter are going out to watch a pantomime tonight so big daughter and I have lined ourselves with a bottle of wine (suddenly it's not so bad having a daughter who's over 18!), a takeaway and a good film. It's not a bad way to spend a Saturday evening - I hope yours is just as good!
Edit: In case you're interested, big daughter and I watched Eddie the Eagle about the British ski jumper in the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. I can remember the excitement about his jumps and the media frenzy over it all! It's very definitely a feel-good film and a lesson in tenacity from which we all could learn!