Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds & (Week)ends #12

Plague House

This week I segued seamlessly from flu to chest infection, along with the rest of the household. Every time I get annoyed about the number of different medications I’m taking, I remind myself that I’m lucky enough to get free healthcare/prescriptions; it helps to keep perspective. Hopefully the nursery germ warfare will die down in the new year.

Almost Done with Hats

I did get bored and make a cowl, but, after completing 12 hats in November I still have a few more to go: another for me, as I’ve been wanting a Bousta Beanie, and 2 that are part of Christmas gift sets. I’m seriously feeling the need to cast on a sweater now, but before I get to that I should probably address my lack of mittens. It’s cold out there!

Love My Local Library

This month I’ve been borrowing ebooks through my library app. It’s not great for ‘vintage’ books, but can be a handy way to get hold of new releases that I want to read but not necessarily own. Recent loans have included The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters (not the most convincing argument, but some interesting passages), In Cold Blood (gripping), The Peripheral (one of my favourite novels, which I was too ill and tired to go and retrieve from storage), and, currently, Landmarks (I’m only on Chapter 3, and I realise I probably will buy it). The flurry of ebooks has boosted my total reads, and I’m comfortably over my Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge total, which is a nice feeling.

From the Mailbag

I picked up some single breed yarns during Blacker Yarns’ Wovember sale so that I can take part in the KnitBritish Wool Exploration reviews.159A4CE0-9150-481D-80EE-0EC4989A39C9

Odds and Sods

  • I had convincing proof of Lettlopi’s water-repellent properties the other day, and am now daydreaming/planning to knit all my outerwear in the stuff.
  • You should definitely check out #theelementbookchallenge on instagram again this month. I’m enjoying that it’s undated as it makes it easier to participate.
  • My local Tesco sells 2 kinds of muffin tin and no mince pie tins. Do people not make their own mince pies anymore?


The plague weeks have knocked me back on everything except getting Christmas gifts organised, so this week’s focus will be putting my assignment to bed, then the easy win of getting all the gifts sent off. Hopefully that will build some momentum for the rest of the task list.

Take care, and don’t let Monday get you down.

Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds & (Week)ends #11

The Week When I Remembered the Asthma

This will probably be a short round-up, as I spent most of the week trying not to cough my lungs up, and then not sleeping because of the same. Not until the end of the week did it occur to me that the latest cold virus might just be interacting with my very mild (mild like I haven’t needed an inhaler since 2015) asthma. Luckily, I realised before the weekend, and even more luckily, I managed to get an appointment, and a prescription. We are all sleeping much better, but I still feel like I lost a week. And I lost my voice this weekend so I missed D&D too ☹️

The Mad Hatter Continues Her Work

My hat total is now at 11, so production has slowed, compared to last week. I did get some of them blocked though, and one of them went to its forever home. I lost some time to an error on the MKAL hat, which meant I had to rip back and start over on this week’s clue, but I’ll be caught up by the time the final clue releases on Wednesday. I think I may gift the first attempt, and make myself another in due course, as I’m not sure I like the colour of the wool I used. I am starting to get bored of hats now, so I may start to alternate them with other knits for the rest of the month.

From the Mailbag

It was a particularly sheepy yarn week this week, and I’m looking forward to trying these out.

We also got a Hotel Chocolat catalogue and TT has gone through it in detail pointing out all the sweeties she would like… I hope she’s not too disappointed to find I’ve ignored her come Christmas Day.

Odds & Sods

  • I’ve been working through Lisa Jacob’s Your Best Year 2018 (Life Edition) over the weekend. It’s refreshing to start planning for the next year while there’s still time to settle unfinished business in 2017. Unexpected bonus for me: her breakdown of goals to quarterly, monthly, and weekly tasks fits neatly with the layout of my Strickplaner.
  • Knit British will be doing Wool Exploration in 2018 – a chance for listeners to get involved in reviewing single breed wools. January’s breed is North Ronaldsay, and, conveniently, I’ve just bought some 😏


I desperately need to get my beets pickled as they’re taking up a lot of cupboard space, and I need to start drafting my next TMA this week. There will be some hat knitting, perhaps a cowl, and I want to swatch for The Weekender too.

Take care, and don’t let Monday get you down.

Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds & (Week)ends #10

The Hat Production Line

It occurs to me that I’ve done very little other than make hats this week (covered in detail here), but I am closing in on finishing 8 hats in 7 days, so I’m not too unhappy with that.

Preservation Station

We’re trialling an organic fruit and veg box this month, which at this time of year includes an excess of beetroot and apples. I now have all the ingredients to pickle the beets, so will tackle that in the Tiny Tyrant’s absence one day this week. I’ve already had a go at drying apples (single layer on a baking sheet in the bottom of the oven for a couple of hours at 100°C). The first batch turned into crisps, which are delicious, but I’m going to play with the temperature and slice thickness because I’d love some dried apple on hand for muesli and/or baking.

From the Mailbag

Another yarn week, as I snagged deals, and picked up a few odd skeins for future projects. 793EE7FF-916B-41A4-8528-6CC5232E3276.jpeg

I’m stashing as much Wendy Ramsdale DK as I can, as it’s been discontinued, and I love the range of colours (and the fact that it’s Yorkshire sourced and spun).

Odds and Sods

  • The Vendor List for EYF2018 has been released and I’m very excited as pretty much all of my favourite indie dyers will be there.
  • The Tiny Tyrant was caught stuffing her face with tiny marshmallows today: which is to say she can now open packets, and nothing in the world will be safe from her.
  • I picked up Andrea Mowry’s new sweater (The Weekender), and shawl (Hoarfrost) patterns, and got her new hat pattern (Tincture) for free. I think the deal is probably over now, but all 3 patterns are giving me startitis, and well worth your time and money.


I am fighting off yet another cold virus, but determined to get those beets in vinegar this week. I also expect to get bored of hats sometime around Wednesday, and cast on something utterly ridiculous. Or the Weekender, with some of the Ramsdale I’ve accumulated. 🤔

Take care, and don’t let Monday get you down. 


Hat Month

November is Hat Month here at Casa Polymath. This isn’t something I planned, but rather something which fell together from unrelated hat needs.

None of my existing hats fit comfortably, so I wanted to knit a quick, simple hat for myself. I’d also promised the Technician a hat to go with the cowl I made him last winter. And, of course, the Tiny Tyrant demanded to get in on the action. 

The second group of hats I wanted to make were Christmas gifts, and the brief here was for a series of hats which were quick to make, and different from each other.

Inspired by Louise Tilbrooke’s #hatsforhumans KAL (mentioned in my last post) I decided that I would also use the oddments of wool left from my hat projects to make hats to donate to charity. 

I’m mostly working from free patterns: Tin Can Knits Barley, Emily Dormier’s Quick Ombré Hat, and Joannie Newsome’s Tall Celtic Knotwork Hat. I also have some Woolly Wormhead patterns up my sleeve, and invested in Tin Can Knits’ Strange Brew pattern, which includes a swatch hat and a range of colourwork motifs – perfect for those oddments I mentioned.

Surely that’s enough hats to last a lifetime, I hear you ask. But wait, there’s more: I also joined Woolly Wormhead’s Mystery Hat-a-Long. I’m making Hat B, and am a little behind, having only just finished Clue 1. I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to mention that there’s a lace element to Hat B and I’m very proud that I’ve managed not to screw it up (so far).

I’ve finished 5 hats so far this week, and am hoping to keep up that pace and end November with plenty of hats to gift.

More hat pics soon 😁

Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds & (Week)ends #9

Finished Objects and Hibernation

There’s been significant activity on the knitting front since last we spoke. I’ve now completed both the Ruschia Hat, and the Wood Warbler Cowl.
I finished the Ruschia Hat as part of the AYOT KAL, which was particularly satisfying, and I feel like it’s a pattern I’d like to perfect, so I’ll be knitting a few more of those. I also finished my Good Intentions Q1 Project. You’ll note that it looks nothing like a lacework cape. I tried, reader, I really did, but that yarn did not want to be lace. While browsing Ravelry in desperation, I noticed a shawl knitted in Janome with a similar zigzag edge to the Hitchhiker shawl: the rest is history. I’ve had some lovely compliments in the Good Intentions chat forum, so it was definitely a good change. On the unfinished front, having seen pics of the finished Speckle and Pop shawl, I realised I still didn’t have the tension right so I frogged it again. It’s hibernating at the moment; I want to give it my full attention, but my brain is full of Christmas ideas right now. I hope to come back to it in December or perhaps the New Year.

New Routine

I decided to use the clocks changing as a way to jumpstart a new routine. I am not a morning person, but I’ve found that I’m too tired to do much after a full day of Tyrant-wrangling. I do know that I function best with a consistent sleep pattern, so I’ve shifted this for a 06:00 start. This allows me to do my morning pages, and some work, before everyone else is up for the day. So far I’ve found that I’m less distracted and tired for the rest of the day, as I’ve come around at my own pace (it takes a while 😂). We’ll see how it goes.

From the Mailbag

Yes, there was yarn.

But also the cutest little teapot. I’m finding tea meditation to be a helpful self-care activity when I’m especially anxious, and dunking a teabag in a mug rather detracts from the solemnity of it all.

Odds and Ends

  • I’ve decided that November is ‘hat month’, as I feel the need to complete a series of simple knits (well, quick ones anyway). Coincidentally, Louise Tilbrooke is hosting a Hats for Humans KAL this month – do check it out if you’d like to knit useful hats for a charity.
  • I spent an instructive hour or so playing the Assassins Festival crossover on FFXV. I never got on with the controls for AC, but it’s kind of fun with FFXV’s controls and mechanics. Not as fun as actual FFXV so I think a replay may be in order.


Unit 4 of my OU module kicks off this week, so I will be getting back into my study routine. I’ll probably be taking part in the #wovemberinstachallenge and #theelementbookchallenge over on instagram, and I expect to share a little more about my ‘hat month’ with you here.

Take care, and don’t let Monday get you down.

Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds & (Week)ends #8

The One with the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

This is going to be a short post because my depression and anxiety have ganged up and kicked my butt this week. Today I saw the following on Instagram: 

and realised that I had been taking self-care breaks each day, and then getting frustrated that I’m not ‘better’. I need to accept that ‘better’ is relative, and will take time. 

From the mailbag

One bright spot this week was the arrival of The Hidden Land, the sequel to the book featured in my first Ex-Libris post.

Odds and ends

  • NaNoWriMo starts this Wednesday. I will be participating, but my plan is to use it to build a daily writing habit, rather than put pressure on myself to hit 50,000 words. 
  • Also in November, is Wovember. This year’s theme is “Woolness – where wool meets wellness.”


I have a couple of things in the diary that must happen, but otherwise I’m going to take it slow this week.

Take care, and don’t let Monday get you down.


Cast on: Wood Warbler Cowl

20170904_142054520_iOS The Wood Warbler cowl, designed by Martina Behm, was the September pattern for A Year of Techniques, and I originally planned to knit this in September. After multiple attempts to get gauge on the recommended 5mm needles, I had to resign myself to waiting for my single pair of 4.5mm needle tips (then being used to knit my lopapeysa) to become available. Then it was October and I moved on to the Good Intentions knit and the October A Year of Techniques pattern, and here we are nearly in November.


Since this is a DK-weight, garter cowl, with only a few increases and decreases to worry about, I’m fairly confident that I’ll finish this one in November too, which means I can add it to the Christmas gift pile. The Schoppel Wolle Gradient is a slightly felted 100% wool yarn, which gives it a somewhat stiff feel when knitting. I believe it will hold it’s shape well, and assume that that’s why it has been used for this particular pattern, which is knit straight, on the bias, and grafted to form the cowl. I ‘m enjoying the revelation of the gradient as I knit, and toying with the idea of knitting one for myself, but swapping the green-blue colourway for something with a touch of pink or orange. I think that decision will wait until I’ve finished this and try it on, however, as I think I may prefer something squooshier and softer round my neck.

Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds & (Week)ends #7

When We Were Young

Yesterday I took a little me time, and went to see the latest photography exhibition at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery (also known as ‘my favourite place on earth that’s not my bed’). This exhibition, full title When We Were Young: Photographs of Childhood from the National Galleries of Scotland, has been timed to coincide with Scotland’s Year of the Young Person 2018, and will run until May 2018. The photos cover the span of photography’s history, and therefore show the ways in which the representation of childhood in photography has changed, as well as capturing the ways in which childhood itself has changed. In practice this means that the collection includes formal Victorian family photos, the borderline exploitative works of late 19th century photographers like Dodgson and Cameron, early 20th century social documentary, and 21st century digital experimentation. My personal preference was for the documentary style photos from the early 20th century, I suppose because many, if not all, were taken in the hope that they might provoke change, and improve peoples lives. When We Were Young is described as the second in a series of photography exhibitions (the first presumably being the excellent Hill & Adamson exhibition which ran over the summer), so I’m already looking forward to what else the Portrait Gallery has in store for us. It was a short visit for me this week, so I didn’t go up to see the Heroes and Heroines | The Victorian Age exhibition this time, but if you find yourself planning a visit I highly recommend it.

7 days, 11 books

Despite suffering from another iteration of the snot-monster plagues TT keeps infecting me with, I somehow managed to read a hefty 11 books this week: A Stash of One’s Own, Knitlandia (both Clara Parkes), The Secret Country (Pamela Dean), Juniper Time (Kate Wilhelm), The Suffragettes (various), Wailing Ghosts (Pu Songling English translation), Mushishi Tome 2 (Yuki Urushibara French translation), Night Mare, Golem in the Gears, Heaven Cent, Isle of View (all Piers Anthony). 20171022_153211676_iOSAll told, a rather random mix of exquisite prose, excellent story-telling, and utter trash. I thoroughly recommend the Clara Parkes books even if you’re not a knitter: Knitlandia is just as much a travel guide (the Iceland trip in particular will have you in stitches), and there are some truly powerful essays on creating/making, grief, connection, and feminism in A Stash of One’s Own. The Secret Country was every bit as good as I remembered it’s sequel being (check out Ex Libris #1 to make sense of that statement), and Juniper Time was as excellent as I’ve come to expect from a Prudence and the Crow vintage book box choice. I hesitate a little to recommend Mushishi, as I have no idea what the English translation is like. I first encountered the anime series on Netflix and was captivated by the spacious, thoughtful stories. I’ve found it easier to source the French translations of the Manga however, though that may be less of a problem in the US than in Europe.

From the mailbag

Some of this week’s reading materials were new arrivals; I’m planning on getting stuck into the N.K. Jemisin book this coming week, and trying to stay cool about it as I’ve heard such good things about this author. I also picked up a Westknits pattern book on sale, and am itching to cast on some of the accessories.

Odds and Sods

  • TT and I made ‘fish biscuits’ from a recipe in her Octonauts magazine today; or, as the Technician unimaginatively pointed out, we made shortbread. It was delicious.
  • If you’re a Science Fiction fan you may be interested in Wonders and Visions: A Visual History of Science Fiction, which is currently taking pledges on Unbound.20171022_204329000_iOS
  • Q-Workshop (purveyors extraordinaire of polyhedral dice) have Halloween Dice sets on sale. I have a single Halloween D6 from last year, and it is awesome.


I’m expecting to finish the Ruschia hat in the next day or so, and get something new cast on. As mentioned I’m also looking forward to the N.K. Jemisin book. TT will be back to nursery this week, which means I need to hit the (study) books hard, but I’m hoping to find time to introduce my next project, and deliver the next Ex Libris post.

Take care, and don’t let Monday get you down.


Cast on: Ruschia Hat

Last March Arnall-Culliford Knitwear launched A Year of Techniques: a book of patterns which each addressed a new knitting technique. The initial 6 patterns were released on a monthly basis as pdfs, with options for a hard copy or ebook of all the patterns to be delivered when it launched in September. Each pattern, designed by the likes of Bristol Ivy, Sarah Hatton, and Ella Gordon, is small enough to complete within a month (in theory 😂), and accompanied by step-by-step instructions; there are also online tutorials available at the Mason-Dixon Knitting website.

Although I signed up to A Year of Techniques in late March, and I have the yarn to knit 9 or 10 of the 12 patterns, I’ve yet to complete any of them. I’m hoping the Ruschia hat (designed by Woolly Wormhead) will prove different, and not only because I have a recipient in mind come Christmas.

The yarn I’m using is the recommended Fyberspates Scrumptious Aran (55% wool/45% silk) in the slate colourway. The technique in question is short-row shaping, but the pattern also draws on techniques from previous months: a provisional cast on, and garter stitch grafting. I have used short rows before (for the Studies in Ice pattern), but I didn’t feel confident about them, so it’s nice to have a reason to practice. I recently acquired Woolly Wormhead’s Elemental ebook, so I’m also seeing this as a bit of a test run for all those gorgeous sideways knitted hat patterns.

I’m not overly fussed by the yarn, but the pattern is excellent: easy to follow, requires a little attention to keep straight, but not so complicated that you can’t let your mind wander. I think I will definitely knit this again, just maybe in a different yarn.