Tuesday, 16 March 2010

The importance of being Ernest

Would you like to have the little fellow below to stay at your house? Well, if you would, then do read on, and I will explain how you can have a jolly little rooster winging your way very soon.

This very intrepid and adventurous little rooster named Ernest, who hails from The Hen House, is spending his gap year travelling around Blogland, and he is at present a visitor at Pomona's cottage, being very well looked after by Princess Bunchy.

Having made the long journey east from the home of Charlotte Cottontails and the exceedingly furry Humphrey, Ernest landed on our doorstep last week. Unfortunately his arrival coincided with that of Mr Lurgy, who had obviously thought it fun to make the trip across the ocean from Dottie Angel's mossy shed, so his first few days were spent quietly in the chamber of Princess Bunchy, getting to know a multitude of cuddly friends and dust devils.

But now the sun is shining, we have woken to find that Mr Lurgy has disappeared into the night (I hope that he is not headed your way), and Ernest has had a chance to have some fun.

He has had a lovely ride in a bike basket with Mabel and Shadow Sockbunny (you might be acquainted with their cousin, Widget, who has many adventures of his own), and a little knitted cat who strayed into our house from Zoe Mellor's Double Knits very many years ago. Ernest was feeling the cold rather, so we had to wrap him up warm in Sindy's hat, coat and scarf. Yes, you read rightly, they belong to Sindy, a very superannuated Sindy, a relic from those long-past days of my childhood, whose peroxide locks are still as wiry as the day that I anointed them with Amami setting lotion.

But Ernest warmed up later and went out into the orchard to meet the girls, who have been agog at the thought that once again they would have a chap in their midst. They were naturally a little cautious at first because the last rooster they encountered had rather an unfortunate aggressive streak.

The Ploughboy appeared home with this dreadful example of machismo after an agricultural show, and the fact that he was a free gift, and we were his third owners should have stood as a warning. Despite repeated solitary confinement and intensive psychological training, he showed an alarming predisposition to attack the girls and attempt to beat them into submission at every opportunity. I will pass quickly over his fate, for which I was not at all responsible, but let's just say that one day I came home to find him gone forever.

However, dear Ernest is a thoroughly amiable sort, not at all violent, and really very cuddly. You will see that he has made a special friend. I think she must have been taken by the natty beret.

He will be staying with us for just a week, and will then be moving on to his next port of call. If any of you dear bloggers would like to provide him with hospitality for a week, and record his adventures in your blog, before sending him onto another bloggy haven, then just leave a comment on the bottom of this post, and I will ask Ernest to choose one of you at the end of the week.

I can promise you that he is the most perfect guest, not at all fussy about his food, very quiet, and doesn't make a mess at all. He is willing to join in without complaint in whatever activities you decide to organize, and he gets on exceedingly well with children and hens.

If only all guests were so easy!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Yearning for completion

I have frequently asked myself why crafty creative projects so often remain unfinished and, as I stand in yarn shops in a queue of enthusiastic, hopeful knitters, I find myself speculating how many of these skeins and balls will lose their little paper tags, and how many will be knitted up into fabric.

I wonder if any of the marketing departments of yarn companies have done research into the destiny of all these fibres, so very full of potential. Or perhaps they don't really care - as long as they keep selling these little twists and bundles of possibility, does it really matter to them if these purchases have any long-term consequence?

Is it significant that casting on is so much more fun than sewing up? Or even that reading through knitting patterns, and pondering over books full of tantalizing pictures of this world of eternal and infinite perhaps, can be even more absorbent of time than actually producing finished items?

Why do I postpone picking up stitches until the light is good, and the table free, and the atmosphere just right, when the darkest, coldest evening will find me ferreting in the gloom of my secret yarn store (just like Narnia some of the most magical excess is hidden behind a welter of coats), and comparing colour and ply and tone in the half-light?

 And why is it that the present of a gigantic ball of candy-pink yarn, which may well never come to anything, is capable of dismissing winter gloom, with its impossible ice cream colour, and crazy perfection as an object in itself?

To some of life's most profound questions it seems that there is no answer, but like the improving effects of regular piano practice (Princess Bunchy, are you listening?), a discipline of twenty minutes a day has given me world enough and time to work my way to completion on a number of constructive fronts - all accompanied by a strict austerity programme whereby I have promised myself that all projects undertaken must use up materials from my not inconsiderable stash, and be from patterns which do not involve cash outlay.

Which, to be honest, is a spur to creativity. The thought that I must not buy any yarn until I use up what I have is enough to impel me to knit day and night for however long it takes - even down to candy-pink welly socks.

And thanks to Marmalade Rose's initiative, and my steely and determined fixity of resolve, not to mention austerity plan, I have finally completed a fetching little tank top for Princess Bunchy. And such is the success of this little bit of motherly love that Princess Bunchy has pronounced it 'much better than she expected it would be'.

Which considering that she gave prior approval to the pattern, and personally chose the yarn (Sirdar Snuggly DK, which I think is probably for babies, but that would enhance its attraction in the eyes of Princess B), is perhaps a little less than an adoring, industrious mother would hope for. But she then modified her comment by adding that she was only referring to the sizing, as she thought she would probably have grown out of it, because it had taken such a long time to finish (it had come to temporary halt at aforesaid picking up and sewing up stage, unfortunately, whilst I had been sidetracked by playing with yarn, aprons, etc, and, of course, the obligatory casting-on of several new projects).

But I must admit that I am feeling quite pleased with myself, especially as the pattern (Sirdar 8752) was obtained for only 20p in the sale, being an ex-display copy. Now there's a thrifty mother for you!

And here for your delectation is one I made earlier: my very first shawl, completing which I feel is quite a momentous rite of passage. I am now revving up for Gabriel's Wings, Ishbel, Multnomah and Forest Canopy, which I feel are all significant steps in the life of a knitter, perhaps not quite up to the skill level of the Clapotis scarf, but hey, at twenty minutes a day, I am sure that I might be able to make Princess B a Clapotis for her graduation ceremony.

Now please don't look too closely at the stitching, as I am sure you can find mistakes in the yarnovers if you allow your optics to linger long in that direction (I have always wanted to use the word optic, just like Charlotte Brontë). And also the eagle-eyed among you might have noticed the bits of fluff, which is because I have been wearing the shawl almost daily since I finished it. After the trauma of the odd-armed jumper, which was rather too disturbing (I blame the Big Wool), I have only knitted myself socks, so to make such a success of a shawl was really quite encouraging.

My lovely sister has commented on the Little House on the Prairie effect inherent in the wearing of such a garment, one which is only enhanced when accompanied by my second-best wellies and bargain skirt with the petticoat hanging down (even more of a bargain), and slightly reinforced by turning up to a meeting with the accountant with my pinny still on (I was in a bit of a rush), but the books are very entertaining so I feel quite taken with the idea of adopting the persona of a character from a book recounting life in the last century but one. Personally, in my head I feel a bit more like a character in Adam Bede, but unfortunately am far too old to be Dinah, and what is even sadder I have a good few years on my heroine, Mrs Poyser. I think I am more Old Feyther Taft, now, more's the pity - read the novel and tell me what you think.

But I digress, to borrow a phrase from my dear papa, the Commander-in-Chief, and in case you, too, wish to adopt my style of dress, I will give you the technical details for the shawl, which is a good one with which to start your shawl career, being a very simple pattern by Laura Chau, called quite appositely Simple But Effective Shawl. I used just under one skein of Skein Queen Enchant, in the dreamily-named shade Lazy Swells, but any sort of sock yarn or 4-ply will do.

I am sure that, when I started writing, there was a point where I intended to end up, but somehow in the process I have lost my thread, but finding it would involve rummaging in the yarn cupboard again, and I really must get on to the macaroni cheese.

But I did want to make a public information announcement first - I don't know how many of you have noticed, but Blogger have been up to their old tricks of mystifying us all, and if you look at the comments for posts between mid-December and mid-January a great many of them have disappeared from the Dashboard and the total at the bottom of the post, although if you click on that disappointing little '0 comments' they are still there in the ether. You can register your complaint here, and perhaps if enough people do, then the darling little elves who operate the system might get on and fix it.

And with that I depart for the macaroni cheese, and hope that in the hurly burly of life you can hang onto your own threads, and perhaps even work your way to the end of a skein.


Related Posts with Thumbnails