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?

Upcoming

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.

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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 😏

Upcoming

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.

Upcoming

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. 

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.

Upcoming

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.”

Upcoming

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.

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.

Upcoming

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.

Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds & (Week)ends #6

Knit 4 rows, rip 3 back

This has been a frustrating knitting week, as mistakes in following the pattern, and not managing to match gauge, have caused me to rip back both of my wips. The Good Intentions Club project required a rethink (I’ll update you on that once it’s blocked), while the MKAL shawl has been restarted on different needles. Hopefully, I’ll make more progress this week.

Speed Reader

On the flip side, I’ve read quite a few books this week: I finally finished Conquerors, raced through A History of Britain in 21 Women, and nursed the horrendous cold I’ve picked up with a combination of Mariano Azuela’s The Underdogs (in translation), and Sue Blacker’s Pure Wool. The History of Britain in 21 Women is a great introduction to these figures, but doesn’t address any of them in depth; it would have benefitted from a bibliography which pointed you to more in-depth resources. Pure Wool was a fascinating overview of British Sheep breeds, and will be a valuable resource to have on my shelf.

From the Mailbag

My copy of Pure Wool arrived this week, as did the Toxic Spill gradient set for my MKAL shawl. The other part of my Easyknits order was a grey gradient mini-skein set (GREYdient), for which I have plans. I also received a copy of Laine No.1 – I wanted to try it out, and I knew that there were a couple of patterns I wanted in the first issue, so it would be worth the money even if I didn’t end up liking the magazine.

Odds and Sods

  • I’ve booked my place on the Darning Masterclass at EYF 2018. I thought I was being paranoid booking at 16.00 when tickets went live, but most of the classes were sold out within a couple of hours, so definitely the right call.
  • For some reason Pukka Three Cinnamon tea is tricky to find around these parts, so I was delighted to find it, on offer no less, in a non-local Tesco this week and made sure to stock up.

Upcoming

We’re now into half term, and have visitors, so I’ll be focussing on spending quality time with family. I do hope to make some progress back on the MKAL shawl, and I’d like to cast on the Ruschia hat from A Year of Techniques as it’s this months project, and a potential Christmas gift.

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

Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds & (Week)ends #5

Cold Weather Comfort

It’s that time of year when I really want to make comfort food: ideally, one-pot meals that sit and simmer on the stove, and can be eaten by the bowlful. One such delight, which I tried for the first time this week, is Jack Monroe’s Tarka Daal recipe. Oh. My. Lord! It’s so creamy and delicious and filling. I’m usually good about freezing leftovers, but this time we ate it again the next day. If you want to try it, you’ll find the recipe over on the Cooking on a Bootstrap blog.

The Award for Exceptional Customer Service

Not an actual award – I just made it up – but had I the power to bestow such a thing, I would be sending it to Gorgeous Yarns. Last Saturday I ordered a skein of Eden Cottage Yarn from them. The very next day, Caroline was in touch to tell me that the remaining skein in my chosen colourway was not in a condition she was happy to post out, and to offer me a few yarn options in similar shades of red. We settled on a skein of the same yarn, but in Lichen green, which duly arrived (and is gorgeous) accompanied by some complimentary stitch markers, and wool wash. That in itself is great customer service. But then this Saturday I got another, unexpected, package from Gorgeous Yarns (I’ll admit it, I panicked for a moment that I’d taken to buying yarn in my sleep): Caroline had located a skein of yarn in the original Crabapple colourway I’d ordered, and sent it on to me. How lovely is that?

From the Mailbag

Since we’ve talked about the yarn already, I’ll just mention the copy of Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology. I have a complicated relationship with Gaiman’s works, in that people recommend them constantly, and I instinctively distrust anything that has that level of fandom furore around it. On the other hand, I loved Coraline, and American Gods, so he probably does deserve the high praise. In this case I was persuaded by the subject matter. Who doesn’t love Loki?

Odds and Sods

  • I indulged in my first mince pies of the season. Only Tesco Finest, but I’m happy to work my way up to the good stuff.
  • I’m finished with Victoria: a Life; it’s good, but only read it if you want to spend hours on Wikipedia trying to untangle a mess of German Princes.
  • The Edinburgh Yarn Festival class list has been released, and I want to learn ALL THE THINGS, but I can’t due to constraints like childcare, and budget. ☹️

Upcoming

The Tiny Tyrant is ill yet again, so very little will get done at the start of the week. At the end of the week she breaks for half-term, and we have family visiting, which will take us out of routine. EYF class booking opens next Saturday, so I will be poised at the laptop for that. Blogwise, I’m still waiting on some yarn to arrive before I write the third post I’d promised this past week (that should finally see daylight by Tuesday?) and I may muse on being a student again too.

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

Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds & (Week)ends #4

Slapped Cheek or Common Cold?

You’ll recall we endured snot-monster plague week here recently, and I was disheartened to note that both TT and I seemed to be experiencing a relapse. Then it emerged that ‘Slapped Cheek Syndrome’ is doing the rounds at TT’s nursery. Despite sounding fake, it’s a real thing, and the initial symptoms (when it’s most infectious) are remarkably similar to those of the common cold. By the time you get the bright red rash on your cheeks (hence the name) you’re no longer a danger to anyone. On Friday, at the height of my suspicious sore throat/raised temp/headache combo, it occurred to me that I probably shouldn’t infect a sizable proportion of OU Scotland’s student population, so I had to cancel my place at the induction day. Cue massive guilt, as had I known earlier, someone else could have taken my place.

On the Subject of Diversity

Another result of my immune system throwing up a white flag is that the blog post I meant to publish on Wednesday or Thursday finally saw the light today. Since the topic is current, I thought I’d add here that June Sarpong has a book due out on the topic of diversity. According to the blurb, Diversify looks at the benefits, both personally and for society, of seeking out “the unfamiliar”. It’s due out on the 19th of October, and I shall probably pick it up as I suspect it will prove useful for my course.

The Machinist

Back in May I impulse-bought a sewing machine because I really hate hand-sewing (I know, don’t @ me). While I checked everything was working when I got it, it took until this week for me to get it out again. After half an hour of swearing and fighting to get the bobbin back in properly, I fixed the seams on two duvet cases that I’ve been promising to fix since before TT was born (I really, really hate sewing, OK?). With that modest success behind me, I’m planning to make new covers for my floor cushions (currently languishing in an under-bed bag because a toddler proved too much for the original batik covers), and to repurpose some trashed jeans. Judging by my current form, you can look forward to that update in 2018.

From the Mailbag

Yes, there was yarn. Some more Squidge from Easyknits, because I’ve been pondering what to do with the one I got as a mystery skein a few weeks back, and there was only 1 skein of pumpkin left.

Also some Pretty Floral Bonnet, and Cold Sheep from Old Maiden Aunt (shown with a skein of To the Black), for a project that I’ll talk more about this week. We also got post for a house 2 streets over: an occurrence that generally suggests our very capable postman is taking a well-earned day off 🙂

Odds and Sods

  • New boots: my feet and I have agreed that we hate heels, so I am bidding farewell to the knee-high boots I never want to wear, and have bought a comfy pair of black ankle boots. Life is too short, and I am too old, to wear uncomfortable shoes.
  • To the moon! TT announced that she and I need to go to the moon. I suggested that she pursue a career in STEM, but she seems to think Despicable Me has her covered.
  • The holiday that shall not be named. I may have started shopping for Advent Calendar things. Also, it’s October, when mince pie season officially begins (1st October to 31st December, in case you were wondering), and I’m very worried about how my current healthy eating goals will affect my long-held dream of eating my own body-weight in mince pies.

Upcoming

Saturday marks the start of my course, so I aim to gradually ease back into a study routine this week. On the blog you will mainly find knitting posts, as the Lopapeysa is off the needles, and two other projects will be cast on. I also have plans to cook a couple of scrumptious looking curries from recipes by Jack Monroe.

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

Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds & (Week)ends #3

Autumn has Arrived

Mistaking brightness for warmth….

I’ve spent much of this week mistaking brightness for warmth, and debating unleashing the knitted accessories. Despite that, it has been lovely to be out among the autumn colours. The change of season has also inspired some autumn cleaning (is that a thing?) as I took stock of my book shelves and yarn stash, and cleared some of the clutter which had developed over the summer. The stash was a little overwhelming because it’s now sorted into projects, and there are more than I anticipated. My sister informed me that I’m unstoppable though – in writing, no less – so I just have to keep reminding myself of that.

 

It’s Alive!

I’ve finished sleeve no.2, joined the sleeves to the body, and the Lopapeysa at last looks like a sweater. I’m working on the short row section as we speak, with a view to getting the colourwork done by the end of the week. Although the KAL deadline is the 15th Oct, I have a personal deadline of the 30th Sept as I’m aware of how many Christmas gifts I still want to knit.

From the Mailbag

How did I only just notice this?

Yes, more yarn: I changed my mind on using white for the colourwork in Studies in Ice, so ordered a couple of balls of Léttlopi in Sand. I also grabbed some Wendy Merino DK in a discontinued colour for the Tiny Tyrant’s winter hat. Back to School means stationery so far as I’m concerned, and the discovery that my Gemma Corell lever arch file was faulty gave me a perfect opportunity to browse First Stop Stationers (who are my go-to for new Leuchtturm notebooks btw). Along with a new file, I picked up Pilot Frixion pens in black and purple. I’m obsessed with Pilot’s BPS-F Fine (sadly discontinued in the UK), so this feels a little like cheating, but I was seduced by the erasable nature of the Frixion. It’s perfect for adding notes to my Mini Happy Planner, re-fillable, and comes in a range of colours; I will definitely be picking up the highlighter set before my course officially starts. My secondhand copy of A.N.Wilson’s Victoria: A Life also arrived this week: while my 2017 Reading Challenge is still ongoing, I’m already beginning to plot my 2018 Challenge, which may take us to the 19th century – more on both of those to follow in future posts.

Odds and Sods:

  • I finally finished Bronowski’s William Blake and the Age of Revolution. Dull. Dull. Dull. Though I’m not sure if the fault lies with author or subject matter.
  • Lily Kershaw’s Midnight in the Garden has been the soundtrack to my week. It’s fairly old – 2013? – but new to me, and I’m so very in love with her lyrics.
  • The Tiny Tyrant has learned about Santa (thanks Max and Ruby!), and I’m trying to persuade her that he likes mince pies and whisky, not hot chocolate and cookies.

Upcoming

This week I’m going to a Welcome and Induction day with OU Scotland, which I’m surprisingly excited about given it requires a number of public transport changes, and meeting new people. At home the ‘autumn cleaning’ will continue, as will the knitting. Here on the blog I shall taking stock of my 2017 Reading Challenges, and hopefullycelebrating the completion of the Lopapeysa. I may also sneak in a post about the next KAL I’m doing if I have time.

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