Sunday, 6 October 2013

'Be careful what you wish for!'

Apologies, my blog has been a bit neglected over the past six months. I blame the candles on my birthday cake. I made a wish and almost immediately my little world was turned upside down! I took a secondment at work and found myself propelled into study and exams to qualify for the new role. My entire spare time was spent learning and practising new skills. I attended tuition classes, read manuals, completed projects and most amazing of all went on a study trip to the USA, my first ever visit to the States.

The trip was short (five days inclusive of travelling) and filled with attending class at the company headquarters. My colleagues and myself had an enjoyable few days, even though it was very hard work. I travelled to Madison, Wisconsin, a lovely town, I even found the sort of shop I feel at home in - of course, it is a craft based shop selling the work of 100 local and indie artisans. A treasure trove of beautiful work. The shop was called 'Anthology, a paper and craft shop' run by a charming, helpful lady. I see from the bag that there is a website : Well worth a visit if you ever go to Madison. Wisconsin was a lovely area to visit, the countryside pretty and lots of green landscapes. Madison and the surrounding area had beautiful houses, a picturesque lake, and an amazing capitol building that resembled the White House. We visited a particularly nice restaurant down by the lake with the American team who are seeing us through the next 18months of the build of our new computer system. I found everyone friendly and helpful. For anyone reading this blog who might live in Wisconsin you will know what I mean when I say that my trip to your county was an 'Epic' experience!

As my blog and life in general has been on hold, so has spinning. I have managed to do small amounts but hopefully as the training of my new secondment role diminishes I will be able to spend far more time spinning and walking out with the grey hairy one, who at present is under the weather. He is suffering from neck pain and after a visit to the vets earlier this week is resting and taking medication to ease things (we hope), though the vet is not sure what has caused this to occur. Walks have been shorter than usual, and the grey hairy one seems to tire easily, no way his normal bouncy, curious self.

After the amazingly warm summer in the UK we have entered a warm golden Autumn. Leaves are beginning to turn colour and drop, there has been a bumper crop of apples, blackberries and horse chestnuts (or as we know them in the UK, conkers) falling in large quantities. Beautiful shiny rust coloured jewels hidden beneath their hard spiky green shells. As I write this the sky is blue and the sun is shining and I still have geraniums in bloom in the garden. After lunch I will see if the grey hairy one would like a gentle stroll down to the lode and across the fields, which are all ploughed and ready for the winter crops.

I did finish spinning my Cherry Blossom yarn and there will be a photo soon of that. Unusually, I am going to spin some merino tops for a project. I have had a request to make someone a pair of mittens, not just any mittens, but a pair that are knitted with the Union (Jack) Flag. I found a suitable pattern on the Ravelry website which fits the bill! I have just ordered merino tops in red, white and blue. I am not a knitter, spinning, yes, knitting - well at the last spinning guild meeting I told my friend about this project. My friend looked at me in stunned silence and then began to laugh. My friend is a knitter, I am not. I love knitting. I read books about knitting. I buy patterns and books of knitting patterns. I avidly read Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's books and her brilliant blog: and I know how to knit but the practical reality is that my knitting is slow (actually slow is fast compared to my attempts at knitting). It gives me a headache, although I'm not sure why. I look at fellow spinners who knit and am filled with envy that their projects, with seemingly little effort grows at an alarming rate of inches compared to my painfully slow one row.

I was for many years, whilst my children were growing up, a member of a group of friends collectively know as 'The Knits'. Meeting at each others houses one afternoon a month, the hostess providing soup and lunch. Since returning to work full time I am unable to attend but the group still meet. The Knits, eats, chats and knits, except in my case I would often bring my wheel and spin as the knitting thing did not progress from one month till the next. So dear blog reader, I hear you cry "Why is mad woman going to attempt to knit mittens?" Mittens that will require; skills in the art of knitting, chart reading, knitting in the round. working with three colours, stranded knitting (I'm not sure what that is yet) and a deadline of this Christmas.

And so dear reader, we come full circle in this blog entry. The reason is my secondment. The young gentleman in question is one of the American team helping with my secondment team at work. His eyes lit up when he found out I was a spinner. Despite mentioning that I only spin silk, he excitedly requested could I knit him a pair of mittens. I weakly said yes, having a crazy thought that mittens aren't that big, how difficult could it be? Therein lies my mistake, because in the next breath he said "Can they please have a Union Jack pattern?" So there you have it, wish me luck and watch this space, updates soon on progress or lack of it.

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