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Showing posts from December, 2011

New Year Gift!

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Had a lovely evening in the country yesterday.  Our friends Kate and Ron live in a Georgian farmhouse on the Castle Howard estate and arriving there was magical. The castle really goes to town at Christmas and their drive is flanked with trees festooned with lights as far as the eye could see - complete non sequiteur I know, but if you'd like to see for yourself, come and join us in May on the Lakes & York tour.  The farmhouse track is about half a mile long and as you go along it the rest of the castle light show is twinkling amongst the dark fields - certainly more than made up for having to open a couple of farm gates in the mud and drizzle!
There was a warm welcome at the end of the track with their new beast of a wood stove at full throttle, making the house toasty warm. Kate's wholefood veggie cooking is renowned throughout Yorkshire (if not even further afield!) and the food was as fabulous as ever.  Made a note to myself to have her do a guest visit to my blog with…

Post Xmas dip

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Is anyone else feeling like me - partied out, bursting with food and in need of a good walk to blow away the cobwebs?  Can't decide whether the aching limbs and headache are symptoms of flu or just a bad hangover.  Even the kitties are flagging. Arlo and Django are usually partners in crime, going about their business making mischief all over the place. However, today they're very snoozy - obviously decided they need a day in bed, which is what I would be doing if there wasn't so much to do before New Year's Eve.  
There's been a long run of festivities both before, during and after Xmas this year and no time at all for recharging the batteries. Santa was very kind, he brought me lots of treats, as well as my alltime favourite perfume, Mitsouko, vintage Guerlain, created in 1919 to celebrate the end of World War 1.  It's a scent I've worn for years and never tire of, this quote from the link says it all - After all, as The Bombshell Manual of Style declare…

United!

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No time to blog today but wanted to share this... pure magic! 
Merry Xmas to you all!

Sweet Shawlettes est srrivé - piles of books, tofu and prezzies!

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So exciting - my author copies of Sweet Shawlettes arrived yesterday in time to distribute before Christmas.  Yaaaay!!!  I wasn't expecting them till the New Year so I was utterly delighted when the postman arrived with one very heavy box.
The tofu is piled high in preparation for our veggie Xmas.  We'll be having lots of no-fuss dips and nibbles with stuffed peppers and baked tofu steaks on Xmas Eve, to give me a chance to finish off the wrapping (finish off is the understatement of the year, see the sad and lonely tree below!).  Is there anybody out there who enjoys wrapping?  If so I haven't found them yet.  Seems like one too many mountains to climb at this stage.  Being an avid recycler, I try to be mindful of the impact of my actions, reusing old wrapping paper whenever possible.
However, a prezzie is not a prezzie without its wrapping, so I shall dutifully if speedily wrap each one, whilst endeavouring to make the task more appealing by sitting on the floor under th…

Xmas cake pics

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As promised here's a pic of the finished Xmas cake from the recipe I posted a few days ago.  I've decorated this one earlier than usual as it's to give to a friend who's coming round later.  Note the cake's very own knitted shawlette!  Hope mine will spark off some great ideas for doing yours.  Send me some pictures, would love to see them. 
Had to include this picture of Django who thinks he's a part of the Xmas tree, it's become his favourite spot to view the world from. Hope your holiday preparations are going smoother than mine are. Nearly there though, just need to go into town this afternoon for one last foray... I hope!

Carl Sagan - stellar astronomer!

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'The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what's true.'
'The cosmos is also within us.  We're made of star stuff.  We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.'
'For small creatures such as we the (universe's) vastness is bearable only through love.'
So said the great Carl Sagan, visionary and astronomer par excellence - can't believe it's fifteen years since he died. Brilliantly clever, he also had rock star looks and a voice like velvet.  This letter to him from Isaac Asimov, renowned Sci Fi author, says it all. Dear Carl, I have just finished The Cosmic Connection and loved every word of it. You are my idea of a good writer because you have an unmannered style, and when I read what you write, I hear you talking. One thing about the book made me nervo…

Xmas frenzy!

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There's not been a chink recently, so much to do in such a short time now.  I think I'm suffering from SPD (seasonal panic disorder)!!!  I've just got to teach myself to be more Zen at Christmas,  what gets done gets done and the rest doesn't matter. Started two last minute holiday gifts, a zip-up-the-back sweater (available on Ravelry) and a couple of pairs of fingerless mittens.  These don't really stress me out as I love to wind down in front of the fire in the evening with a glass of wine (or even sherry or port at this time of year) and my knitting.  However, all the other little things which I haven't addressed drive me mad and it's made worse in our family by many birthdays also falling over the festive season.
 So... the to-do list gets longer by the day. Wrapping the prezzies, getting the last minute gifts once I've managed to sort through what I've already got, more food shopping, decorate the cake etc etc,  On the positive side, things I…

Playing for Change

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Had to share this brilliant Playing for Change video with you.  The PFC Band + special guests send holiday greetings from Sao Paulo.


In their own words: Playing for Change is a multimedia movement created to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music. The idea for this project arose from a common belief that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people. No matter whether people come from different geographic, political, economic, spiritual or ideological backgrounds, music has the universal power to transcend and unite us as one human race. And with this truth firmly fixed in our minds, we set out to share it with the world.
And now, everyone can participate in this transformative experience by joining the Playing for Change Movement. People are hosting screenings, musicians are holding benefit concerts of every size, fans are spreading the message of Playing for Change through our media, and this is only the beginning. Together, …

Ask Jean revisited 3

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Thought this question from my column might be helpful to anyone who's relatively new to knitting and its jargon.  Technical abbreviations are usually included in patterns but for new knitters joining online conversations things can get a bit sticky when the acronyms come out. 

I have to say though that the only acronym I'm getting excited about right now is SCD, can't wait for the final on Saturday.  I think Harry should come through, although Chelsee is also a fabulous dancer and Jason seems to have come good at the right moment - take a look at his brilliant Argentine tango - fab-u-lous, my favourite dance of the series... so far!  I love dancing so watching Strictly is the next best thing for me to actually doing it - pure unadulterated delicious escapism, without moving a muscle other than those needed when I'm jumping up and down getting excited about the moves and the judging! My favourite judge is Craig, he tells it like it is, but I also love Bruno, who's an…

Favourite Xmas cake recipe

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Just want to have a little rant at Blogger before I start the recipe. Thinking I'd save myself some time in a very busy day, I did this post last night and set it to go live at 10am this morning.  I wanted to edit something this morning and somehow the whole post got wiped out and Blogger's autosave then immediately saved the post as empty, much to my anguish!  Ten minutes later after googling the problem I find this has happened to so many people. Isn't it about time this was sorted Blogger, it's just devastating to have to try to retrieve work you thought you'd already finished?

Hmmmm, sorry about that, where was I, oh yes, my favourite Xmas cake recipe. I make this cake every year, because it's SO easy and it's suitable for vegetarians and even vegans. I usually make the vegan version, as I do a swap with my vegan friend Kate - her Xmas pudding for my Xmas cake, but you can add the eggs if you like a lighter cake.  It doesn't matter if there's an…

Xmas gift - easy shawl

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Merry Christmas to all my online friends, may the New Year bring peace and happiness to you all.
Here's my Xmas gift, Topaz, an easy knit in Manos Silk Blend, guaranteed to keep you cosy through the party season.

SIZES
One size approx. 20 in wide x 66 in long / 51cm  x 168cm
MATERIALS MANOS Silk Blend (270m/300yds per 100g skein): 5 skeins Rust 6610 4 mm (US 6),  2 extra-long circular 4mm (US 6); or size to obtain tension, markers TENSION 21 sts and 38 rows =  4”/10 cms over garter st when blocked.  Please work swatch and check carefully.  If wrong alter size of needles until correct tension is achieved. NB  Before blocking the piece will be smaller than required size, therefore block your swatch before measuring. STITCHES GARTER ST Knit every row BOBBLE EDGING Multiple of 22 sts + 1 Bobble Cast on 1 st Row 1              k1, p1, k1, p1, k1 into this st   – 5 sts Rows 2-8         slip 1, k4 Row 9              k2tog, k1, k2tog Row 10            k3tog Row 11            Place point of LH needle into cas…
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Happy Birthday Lyra! If you've been following my blog you'll have realised that last night was the 19th Xmas party at The Shed, a venue that's become renowned over the years for the very best live events.
Alfred Hickling of The Guardian wrote:
For the past 19 years, The Shed, near the market town of Malton, has been responsible for some of the smallest and most inspired art events in the country.
The Shed's reputation certainly won't be harmed by last night's gig - Hank Wangford & the Lost Cowboys were on top form, playing their unique brand of country music with an ironic twist.  Misery is their trademark and they did us proud.  Of course the audience knew every song and sometimes practically drowned out the band with their enthusiasm - suffice to say our lungs were well oiled. It could sound as if there's more than a little country music mickey-taking going on, but it's all good $in$ere fun and their country pedigree and passion for the genre shines …

Sweet Shawlettes Blog Tour Schedule

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Until very recently a book tour meant physical visits to book stores for book-signings, talks, workshops etc to promote a new book. I don't know who thought up the idea of making it a virtual event, but well done you! Having a US publisher and a fairly busy life, it's not always easy to schedule a trip to the US to coincide with the publication of a new book. A blog tour provides the next best thing and sometimes is even better as it potentially opens up a much broader audience for authors.  

So I'm thrilled to present this stellar list of blogs and would like to thank each of them for hosting a stop. If you follow the tour you'll have a good chance of winning a free copy as most stops will be doing a review and a giveaway. There'll also be Q&As, conversations, podcasts and more, so get involved - I'd love to hear what you think. Mon 2 Jan        More Yarn Will Do The Trick– Jean Moss      Tues 3 JanWendy Knits- Wendy Johnson Wed 4 JanKnitgrrl- Shannon Okey Thur…