Archive for August, 2009

The two-year-old had a ball today. Unfortunately it was my ball, and I didn’t want him playing with it. Here’s why.


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The house is very slowly being put back into its usual state of trauma after enjoying a quiet week off while we were in Cyprus. The little ones are apparently unable to play with anthing for even a minute without upending the entire box of Lego, or Playmobil, or both (but it’s at least an hour’s work to put it back). I am eyeing the grown-like-Topsy garden and considering my next move in the case of Virginia Creeper v The Householder, and gently reacquainting myself with the Blessed Trinity of washing machine, dishwasher and tumble dryer, so I haven’t had much to show for myself creatively in the last few days. A sock, a couple of rows of my holiday shawl (and then an irritating couple of rows painstakingly back, because I had failed at Reading Patterns 101), and this:


A needle roll, made – gratifyingly – out of nothing but odd scraps. The main fabric I bought a while ago on Etsy, the lining fabric is part of a never-ending magical length of raw silk I’ve had for years. I’ve already used it to make a top (long defunct) and a very long wrap-style baby sling, and there’s still some left. The inside pockets were once a child’s cotton top, and the perfect ribbon was randomly lying around. I’m on a roll: what next?

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Well, I haven’t been on an Official Holiday for a few years, and it’s even been a couple of years since the 12-hour flight to (and from) the in-laws has been accomplished. So I haven’t had the Holiday/Aircraft Reading Decision Drama (HARDD) to deal with. The plane reading part is definitely the worst. The long-haul flight book trauma is the worst of all, especially if you are a tantalizingly far way through a book shortly before you are due to depart on said holiday.

Quick quiz. What kind of HARDD-bitten traveler are you? Assuming you are one at all.

Do you –

  • a) just take the book you’re reading and hope for decent movies for after you’re done
  • b) take that book, and a another one for after
  • c) as above, but a with very, very long book for after (to hell with ‘too heavy for carry-on’)
  • d) as above, but with a choice of books for after, because you never know what mood you’ll be in by then (to hell in a handcart with ‘too heavy for carry-on’)
  • e) make damned sure you’ve finished the current book before you go because you’re congenitally incapable of carrying aboard something you know you’re going to finish (it’s ‘inelegant’)

I’ve always been an e. If there’s less than 10% of a book left, I find it hard to travel with. I have been known to rush to the end of a perfectly delightful book in order to tick it off like an item on the packing list, and I have been known to carefully plan the pre-flight countdown period to ensure the problem doesn’t arise (this is like the pre-Yom Kippur caffeine weaning). I have also been known to stay up absurdly late to finish the book in question, but that was before I had children, and learned to value sleep.

So, contemplating this problem for the first time in a while, I realized that I now had simultaneously both more problem and less. In other words, enter holiday knitting.

So firstly, what kind? What pattern(s)? What needles? What yarns? How much? How many projects? The Book-in-Progress has close kin, in the knitter’s WIP (Work in Progress, incidentally a much more complex creature altogether). I left the zebra/ring-tailed-lemur socks in progress at home, but needed the needles, so had occasion to do a bit of nifty work with the oh-so-misnamed “waste yarn” (you know by now what I think of that particular concept), but took some rubbish socks I’ve just started and am not actually very interested in, and some self-striping caked yarn for if I got desperate and lazy at the same time, and some solid red yarn I thought might make nice socks (and the 50g skeins were an inducement, since there’s a limit to my benevolence towards holiday yarn-winding) and some merino/silk blend yarn and the pattern for a shawl. Most of this went in the hold luggage, to be fair. I mention it merely to delineate the extent of the problem. Also, because it took many holiday-prep hours to produce this traveling mini-stash.

On the plus side, it was still a lot lighter than the product of equivalent indecision in books. Altogether, maybe one book’s worth all told, and it would certainly keep me fueled in entertainment for a lot longer. Not that I didn’t take books too, of course. Just not so many.

There was just one more problem. The crazed-lunatic-security-personnel problem. The guy – outbound – who made me take off my watch, in addition to my necklace, and my shoes (I’m afraid I did not facilitate this: I made them give me paper shoes to put on, because I said I didn’t fancy walking on the airport carpet after a million other feet). Thank you. You were so busy explaining why my watch was a potential menace that you failed to notice the certain danger inherent in five cocktail skewers. I’m quite sure you wouldn’t have let me board with them if you hadn’t been so fiendishly distracted.

Coming back, I had half a shawl’s-worth of garter stitch on the needles (and they were needles I didn’t care to lose, either) so I was more concerned about them being taken away. Never mind that they were shorter, and less sharp than pencils. The cable was 24 inches long. Perhaps someone would consider it a strangling hazard. You never know. Or maybe the 550 yards of yarn was a strangling hazard. I was worried, I’ll admit, but I’m a high-risk kind of gal, so I stuffed the whole lot in a bag with assorted toys and – yes- pencils, and hoped.

And then I made the Beloved prove his belovedness by sitting next to the children while I knitted my smuggled shawl all the way home. And actually, now I think about it, that was quite generous of me, because he, poor lamb, was quite out of holiday reading and woudn’t have had anything to do on the journey if it weren’t for the wee Beasts to keep him busy.

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