All posts for the month May, 2014

It’s not me!

Published May 27, 2014 by Jackie

This weekend I went to Birnam! Just a flying visit, arrived in time for lunch on Saturday, left at 5pm the next day. And what an excellent time I had there!

My friend Joan has just bought herself a static caravan there, in a very nice site called Erigmore. The fixed caravans and lodges are set in the lovely grounds of a large house up above Birnam village, no more than 20 minutes slow walk away. And although yes, they are definitely caravans, they bear little resemblence to the caravans I stayed in as a child, or the ones you get stuck behind on single track roads. I think this one was better appointed than my flat, and not much smaller than it, either!

I know how long it took to walk because we timed our second walk up the hill, after a fantastic night out at the Birnam Arts centre, to see the fabulous Mull Theatre Company’s take on Whisky Galore. (Well I cannot resist a wee bit o’ culture when it’s on the doorstep, can I?)

And the caravan was barely a couple of hundred yards from the historically renowned Birnam Oak. Here are some photos from our Sunday walk.

The sign in front of this tree reads “It’s not me, I’m a Sycamore”. A bit further on then….

The Birnam Oak

Finally, I impressed myself with this arty shot of some lichen on a broken branch.



There’s singing, and then there’s song!

Published May 21, 2014 by Jackie

Bird-song! To be more precise, the dawn chorus…  It’s lovely, living in the city centre, and hearing so much bird-song at the moment. Spring is well and truly here, and summer is on the way. It seems like no time since the tail end of winter flicked back and forth with chill wind and rain, interspersed with bright days, and now here we are, June is just around the corner!

I watched an item on Countryfile at the weekend about the dawn chorus, and although it was after 7 in the evening, I had to put my tv on mute for a moment to work out the difference between their dawn chorus recordings, and all the evening chorus of bird-song in my own garden. I can tell you, the latter was winning hands down!

I hear lots of birds in my garden, it’s a big communal space, and usually see them too, especially now we’ve had a few branches lopped. But there are always blue-tits perched precariously on my garden wall pecking at the rendering, a robin that bobs around in winter, fat wood-pigeons, the infamous blackbird, squabbling crows and magpies (who was mobbing who?) and occasionally, late spring and early winter, the hoot of a single owl. I’ve even been lucky enough to spot wrens, who nest in the ivy-clad garden wall.

I have to remind myself how lucky I am to hear this… but am often reluctant to do so! Like this morning, when the local blackbird decided to wake me at precisely 4.37am, but then coming in to work, learn that my colleague has now discovered the down-side of her lovely new home ~ the all-night chorus of the gulls in Leith and surrounding areas.  Yep, that’s me happy with that lovely blackbird now.

But there’s other singing going on too. Last night it dawned on me that I had made one of the best decisions of my life by joining our wonderful wonderful choir.  First of all, there’s where we do it: the fabulous Usher Hall! 
We sit on the stage in the choir stalls and look out across the 100-year old auditorium. And then there’s the sound we make. Last night, up the back of the choir-stalls, I had goosebumps and a prickle of tears, just from one verse of Amazing Grace, or was it Ode to Joy? Three hundred people singing in harmony – sopranos, altos, basses and my own tenors. eeek but it’s a magnificent sound! Specially as we are a bunch of undisciplined amateurs who mostly can’t read music, and don’t take anything much very seriously at all! Festival Chorus we are not, Edinburgh Royal Choral Union we are not, but what joy to be had from this!

Love Music Community Choir, I love being part of you! 

And some exciting (but currently top-secret) gigs later on next month! Just watch this space!


Published May 19, 2014 by Jackie

Let’s face it, I might want to, but I simply cannot knit all the things! I have (way too much) yarn already, and a head full of ideas. And I don’t have a bottomless pocket, but I wish they were a little deeper or my arms a bit shorter so I wasn’t quite so tempted. I’d have much more time if I didn’t  need to work to fund my yarn habit, but needs must and I need a salary. Mostly to pay for my yarn habit.

Once upon a time, we looked at patterns or books, we bought yarn, we knit, we wore or gifted, we thought about the next thing to knit, we looked at patterns, we bought yarn, we knit…. you get the picture?

Temptation! It’s all Ravelry’s fault. Oh and PayPal too, far too convenient!  That’s it, blame anyone else except yourself and your complete lack of willpower, eh?  Now, there’s temptation everywhere. An idle moment spent on Ravelry, and there’s a new pattern favourited by your friends, or a new finished project, and if you avoid Ravelry to avoid temptation, then there’s still Twitter, Etsy and Pinterest! (okay I don’t use Etsy and Pinterest that much, and I suppose it could be worse, because I don’t even go anywhere near that BookofFace so many people are on.)

So this weekend’s temptation: the Jamieson & Smith Colourbox ~ 8 colours selected by J&S each year, for a special prize at Voe & Cunningsburgh shows.  That’s alright, I hear you think, those shows are only open to Shetland residents, surely? True! And much as I’d like to, I don’t live there yet.

Only someone on Ravelry suggested having a virtual show, open to anyone in the J&S Ravelry group. Except I don’t have any of those Colourbox colours in J&S yarns, oh maybe half a ball of one, but that’s all.

But that hasn’t stopped me investigating how much the yarns would cost to order from Shetland, and suggesting sharing a shipment ~ or even splitting the balls! But 3 hours have passed, and I’ve not given in and ordered….. yet. That’s something in itself.

So I shall go home, investigate my Shetland shoe box (actually it’s at least 3 shoe boxes, and they are shoe storage boxes not cardboard shoe boxes…) and see if there’s something I could use for a design that would be show-worthy, but just not in the colourbox colours. There are certainly enough ideas buzzing round my brain today, and more than enough stash to satisfy the most determined colourwork knitter.

Except there’s bound to be just one colour I really, really need … and there’s the slippery slope all over again!

About not feeling guilty

Published May 16, 2014 by Jackie

It’s funny how we change as we get older, isn’t it? I was just chatting to some friends over an impromptu lunch meet-up, and mentioned that there are weekends where I realise that it’s tea-time on Saturday, and I’ve not even got dressed yet!

Once upon a time, I’d think how sad not to be going out on a Saturday night, but now I rather love pottering around the house in my pyjamas, doing this and that, then curling up on the sofa for a good knit session. If my toes get cold, then some hand-knit socks, or the pink blanket comes out.

And I particularly love the weekends when my lovely cleaner has been, and I really don’t even need to potter round doing washing and housework, I can just sit back and enjoy the tranquility of my home.

I sometimes think I ought to feel guilty, but frankly I don’t. Nor do I feel bad about not inviting people around. My home is where I escape from the world, I get absolutely no pleasure from cooking dinner for myself, let alone playing hostess to anyone else. And even tho I thought things might be different after my major home/life declutter and flat refurbishment, now that five or six years have passed and I find myself living the same lifestyle, but just in a tidy environment, I don’t think that is ever going to change now.

If you’ve been reading my other posts, you already know it’s not as if I never go out ~ I am out more than a lot of people I know, I just choose to do my socialising mid-week. And I have no problem being in my own company, much as I enjoy the company of others.

So in this busy world we live in, don’t be afraid to shut the door and take time to recharge your batteries. Frankly everyone else is worrying too much about themselves to take the slightest bit of notice of me!

Deep (stash) diving!

Published May 12, 2014 by Jackie

So I promised I was going to do some deep stash diving, mostly into the Box-of-Frog, and that I would report my progress here. I’m still working on my little blue toddler gilet, and that has been my social knitting of choice this weekend. A couple more cables will see me ready to start the sleeves.

But there are more babies on the cards this summer and autumn, several already here, and last year’s babies to celebrate their birthdays.  A wee ponder on Saturday had me thinking about how many items I need (three, maybe four) and as I’ve been eyeing up Ysolda’s Wee Liesl pattern for a while, and it has sizes through to age 3-4, I decided that I could just make several Wee Liesl in different sizes. One (make that two!) newborn… one 1yr, one 2yr, why not throw in a 6-month or two while I’m at it! None of the mums are connected so won’t know it’s the same cardi again and again.

Pattern duly purchased, I knew exactly which yarn to dig out first.  I’ve a ball and a half of something deep pink that I picked up at a previous knit-group yarn party ~ no labels, no nothing, Sarah had thought it might be a bamboo mix.  So I started with the age 2 size, for a baby about to be 1, but barely fitting 18months at the moment.  Am already closing in on the hem, except I managed to knit a whole repeat without the pattern row, so had to frog back 4 rows late last night, oops.

Next shall be a newborn size, using the second skein of NDS Dazzle HT Blue Faced Leicester that is making a Vivid blanket.  And the third will either use a pink Fyberspates skein from the latest yarn-party, or something else from my deep stash, maybe another pretty variegated Dazzle with its lovely cottony feel.  And then Moira tells me she is to be a granny again… come October… so that one can wait a while! (but I have some lovely bright red alpaca that just might be perfect for Christmas-time)

Far too busy to work…

Published May 12, 2014 by Jackie

I’ve just been updating my Outlook calendar at work… however, it’s been with all the events in my social life! I might not go out much of a weekend evening these days, but midweek more than makes up for that.

Yesterday there was a tweeted photo (actually I think I saw it as a re-tweet by Matthew Bourne himself) of top dance picks in the Sunday Telegraph. Four dance events listed, and I have tickets for two of them as they tour! YAY!! Scottish Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet is in Edinburgh in 10 days time, and in a month, Moira and I head over to Glasgow for Matthew Bourne’s Lord of the Flies, as Edinburgh is not on the tour.

Now that I’m no longer back-up for tomorrow night’s Choir outing to Madama Butterfly (phew, not the biggest opera fan out there) I’m still going out, to this month’s offering from Lyceum, Pressure, with my pal Bill ~ lets see if he arrives before the curtain goes up this time?* (I’ve told him it’s a legal requirement ~ do you think he gets how irritated I am by this?) Pressure is the true story of a Dalkeith weatherman who decided the fate of D-Day, thanks to his meteoroligical predictions. (*see update at end of this post)

Friday past saw me down at the Brunton Theatre in Musselburgh for the final night of Tie Up Your Fingers, about the herring girls and the great storm of 1881. Not ashamed to say I wept my heart out at the end, 129 men lost at sea, only 30 bodies recovered ~ and half way through that awful final scene of the impact in the community back on shore, I suddenly realised it was also the anniversary of my brother’s death in 1997, the sea never gave up his body either, but very different circumstances of course.

And today, I put my next visit to the Brunton into my calendar, we’ve been trying to find some way to celebrate birthdays, Lesley and Moira are celebrating within a few days of each other, next week or thereabouts, and mine is a month later, so the three of us usually get together around this time. Lesley has also invited us round for tea, as her partner Andrew is away for her birthday. So we’ve decided to head back there and see the National Theatre’s Live (Encore) screening of A Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night.

Phew! what a full calendar for the rest of the month. The wonderful thing about living in Edinburgh, is that the world comes to you! We have Festival tickets booked for August, and some into the autumn season too.

Just remember, you’re a long time deid!

*edited to add: I had asked Bill to be at the theatre for 6.30 (that’s when parking restrictions end here) and he arrived only a few minutes later at 6.45, having told me at 6.35 that he was searching for the elusive parking space. Excellent, I said as he arrived, we’ve got loads of time for a drink before the curtain goes up at 7.45! He did admit later that arriving early, having a drink and a chat was a whole lot less stressful than driving round and round at 7.40 when everyone else was arriving… Result!

Encouraging or incorrigible?

Published May 8, 2014 by Jackie

I’d been thinking about what my next blog post would be about, probably yarn and the purchase of… or more about the projects I’m working on, and just 5 minutes ago bumped into my friend Fiona on our respective ways back to the office from lunchtime errands!

As is to be expected, chat soon turned to talk of yarn, and Fiona mentioned that my mention of Drops Baby Alpaca Silk arriving in the post had been enough to make her think ‘Hmm I need me some of that too!’. (She’s already waiting for a jumper’s worth of Drops Lima to arrive, plus more! However, I will say that Fiona does actually knit these jumpers, unlike me, who stashes for a rainy day and/or retirement)

Did I mention there’s a worldwide Drops sale on at the moment? We have another knit-group friend, Ruth, to ‘thank’ for posting about that one…. Yeah, thanks Ruth! Honestly, what a group of enablers we are! You’d think that natural fibres were scarce, and not a sustainable resource! And I suspect that our knit-group alone has made a significant impact on world trade, let alone the British wool trade. This, however, is the only down-side of modern social knitting that I can think of at the moment, everything else is a plus.

I’d started the year by yet again saying I planned to reduce my stash! For months I had a suitcase full of the yarn I’d bought last summer and autumn, waiting to be used or stored, but really just hidden from my cleaner… Trips to Dublin, London, Shetland and a day’s magical mystery tour all conspired to fill the kind of suitcase you take on holiday, ie the kind that meets the 20kg capacity for hold luggage. EEEK! Granted there were only a few kilos of yarn in there, but I was forced to do something about putting it all away when I needed the suitcase at Christmas time.

So once again, I started with a resolution to buy no yarn, and knit only from stash. Ha! Lasted a month or so… and the down-side of putting things away is you forget what you have and then do what I call stash-skimming ~ buy it, log it in your Ravelry stash, then cast on right away…. sigh

I just looked at my projects page ~ I’ve started and/or finished just short of 25 projects since the start of the year, and only 3 of them are with yarn that’s been in my stash for a year or more.

OK so my birthday is coming up in June, I’m going to challenge myself, for the rest of 2014, for every new project started, to either make or finish one item from the box of yarn and abandoned projects I set to one side last month, specifically the OLD YARN ones! And I really ought to clear the other works in progress before starting anything new too.

And I promise I shall post my progress too… but can I start this new resolution from my birthday please? NO? Ok, how about from my birthday month?