Thursday, February 25, 2010

Spring - Less than a Month Away!

May with Matt 210

There's been a lack of color around here lately...unless you count the pretty blue we painted the spare bedroom earlier this week. I'm so ready for spring.  While we were at Stourhead last week we read that they've already counted twenty or so blooming plants.  The roundabout down the street is full of yellow crocus and there are snowdrops everywhere.  I saw bundles of daffodils with their buds still shut tight at M&S this morning for, I think, a mere 99p.  I might have to go back and pick up a couple of bunches tomorrow.  

Mom and Dad arrive in just a little over two weeks!  There's still so much to do but I feel pretty good about the things we've done so far.  There's still lots of deep cleaning to do - living on a busy street wreaks more havoc than I ever could have imagined - but we're so happy with the spare bedroom that, after Mom and Dad leave, we're going to move into it ourselves while we get our bedroom done.  Or maybe we'll just stay there.  It's at the back of the house which means we'll, hopefully, no longer hear drunken kids stumbling, singing and yelling to their cars.  

Ginny left a great idea/comment on my last post: to tag other people so that we could find out their knitting stories as well.  I'm not a great tagger because I'm not really sure who reads this but if you are, you're tagged!  I'd love to know how others let yarn into their lives.  

And I wish I could say the above photo was taken recently and near here but it's actually from our Rome trip last May.  I don't think I've ever done a Rome post even though I have hundreds of terrace photos - I should do that some day. 

Saturday, February 20, 2010

How I Learned to Knit and All of the Wonderful Things That Came With It

No finished projects or places to post about.  I could take a picture of any room in the house to show you the upside down and inside out state it's in but that would just depress me.  So what does one do when you've nothing to write about and your last post was five days ago?  Delve into the past. 

I recently celebrated my fifth knitting anniversary!  It feels like I've been knitting much longer than that.  I don't remember why I wanted to learn to knit - probably a blog that I read - but I remember buying one of those seven dollar "Learn to Knit in a Day!" books from JoAnn Fabric, some cheap yarn (some itchy blue TLC yarn if I remember correctly), and, I think, some metal nFirst Scarfeedles.   All of it was put aside in frustration pretty quickly.  Eventually the mother of a friend even tried to showed me how to knit but I just couldn't get the hang of it.  

Determined to learn, I asked for Debbie Stoller's Stitch 'N Bitch for Christmas. 

And I learned to knit!   

I then bought two skeins of Homespun (the last two skeins of Homespun I ever bought) and some giant pink size 15 needles and knitted my first scarf in Pepto Pink and Blackish-Gray - the Go-Go Garter Scarf from Stitch 'N Bitch.  One end is wider than the other due to many, many picked up stitches but I wore it (a few times), loved it and, of course, still have it.

I soon joined a Yahoo Meetup group for Columbus knitters and met up with one of the members.  I remember that it felt really awkward - meeting a stranger you have potentially one thing in common with.  The cafe downtown where we were going to meet was actually closed but she waved me down from the sidewalk, thinking I looked like a knitter, and, since she had ridden the bus, I drove us to a Caribou Coffee.  She was twice my age and I can't remember what we talked about but she helped me out when I dropped a stitch on my second scarf, Ribbed for Her Pleasure.  Later on she mentioned the meet up on her blog and that's when I received my first knitting compliment.  I gave good gauge.  Second Scarf

I met up with her and a bunch of other knitters another time at a cafe a few blocks from my apartment but I only met up with them once.  Living in Columbus was a strange time for me.  It wasn't exactly a friendly city to begin with and, even though a knit group is a great opportunity to meet friendly people, I can be kind of shy.  Plus the parking stunk and I hated to go anywhere if there was a chance I would have to struggle to find a place to park in an area I wasn't familiar with.  Freakish, I know.  That strange antisocial part of me still has a fear of calling people - I can answer the phone with no problem (thankfully, my nine year receptionist job was more about answering the phone than making calls) but I get a little nauseous when I have to call someone, especially a stranger. Anyway, I digress.  About the only thing I remember from that night was that a girl there was knitting an ENORMOUS bag. That was when I first heard of felting.  

I knitted a lot of scarves that year for Christmas.  Scarves that I would deem HORRIBLE now but they were made with love and I had lots oFirst Non Scarff fun making them. 

It was nothing but scarves for a long time.  Eventually, though, I knitted the Chinese Charm Bag, again from Stitch 'N Bitch.  Of course, all of this was knitted with the limited supply of yarn you could find at JoAnn's.  It wasn't until I took a vacay to Sanibel Island, Florida that I first ventured into a knitting shop (this one, I think).  I had no idea what I was doing and ended up with a very small, very expensive ball of novelty yarn that eventually used in two projects that I never ever wore (a head band an a wrist band). 

It wasn't until I moved back to Dayton that I really learned what yarn was all about and, strangely, I bought my first skein of useful yarn online.  I had no idea that there was a yarn shop - albeit not one of my favorites - right down the street from my office.  That yarn, Noro Kureyon, became one Kolenya Fingerless Glove and gave me my first taste of Second Anything Syndrome.  

Ravelry changed everything for me like I'm sure it has for a countless number of knitters.  There I not only found a wealth of patterns and ideas and the ability to try new things, I, most importantly, found friends. Some I already knew but got to keep in touch with in a different way - Delly, Miss V and Bertha (I first heard of Ravelry through her blog).  And one particular new friend - a fellow Alan Rickman fan.  And then there were the real life friends - a maid of honor, a photographer and a small group of people who met every Sunday night for coffee and knitting.  I loved the silliness, support and camaraderie of the group and the drive home chats with Ginny and the way my yarn would smell like coffee when I brought it out at home later that night or the next day.  

Now I knit nearly every day and am making more new friends via Ravelry and another Sunday knit group here in Salisbury.  For all this I think I'm very lucky to know what to do with two sticks and a ball of yarn.

Move Along, Nothing to See Here

If a strange, title-less post that includes a pretty terrible looking gray and pink scarf shows up in your blog reader please ignore it.  I'm in the middle of finishing it and wanted to check my picture placement but accidentally hit "Post" rather than "Preview".  Thanks!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Bookplace


So this is what I was talking about yesterday - a non-functioning fireplace stuffed full of books.  When I first saw this on Apartment Therapy a few months ago I thought it might just be perfect.  At first I put a small chest in there stacked with some of Matt's coffee table books on ships from the 1800's and a giant shell but yesterday I decided to give the books a try.  It could totally be seen as messy but I really like it and I think the stuffing turned out perfectly.  I did it while Matt was at work but, thankfully, he loved it, too. 

What do you think?  Cute?  A total mess?  Or an abomination?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sneaky feeling, sneaky feelings, you can't let those kind of feelings show

I just spent an hour or two talking to my grannies for the first time, I think, since Christmas.   I've been terrible about keeping in touch with anyone (save my parents - we have an almost weekly video chat with them) and I finally figured out today why that is.   Talking to people from home just reminds me that much more that I'm not there. 

I had a surprisingly good grip on my homesickness during the Christmas season and I thought maybe I had seen the last of the worst of it but, no.  It still shows up occasionally.  Sneaks up, really, and I find myself in tears during something as mundane as a walk around the cathedral, thinking how much I'd like to be back in Ohio. 

Because of these sneaky feelings, talking to my grannies is kind of like going to the gym.  I dread the way I'll feel before I call them and am even a little sad while talking to them but it leaves me feeling pretty good.  And it's really nice to hear the excitement in Granny Creva's voice when she says, "Am I talking to who I think I'm talking to?"

It'll get better and it is better some days's really hard.  I miss my family and my friends.  I miss American restaurants and shops that are open past five-thirty.  Thank goodness I have a supportive husband whom I love very much or I'd be a mess.  So far - knock on wood - the married part of life has been easy, wonderful and a million other positive adjectives.  It's just the living in another country that's hard.

Sigh, enough of that.


I'm knitting a sock!  Actually this isn't an entirely new concept.  I've probably mentioned that I've knitted two other socks before - socks who will never find their mates - but this time I'm determined to cast on for the second straight away.  Granted, I haven't actually finished the first yet - just another inch and a half to go - but I'm going to hang on to that determination.  I really want to be a sock knitter. 

Lots of painting and rearranging going on around here in preparation for my parents' visit in a month and a few days.  I did something in the sitting room tonight that I'm going to ask for opinions on tomorrow (it was too dark to take photos by the time I'd finished). I like it but could also be thought of as just messy or maybe even as a shocking abomination.   Ah the suspense....

Yesterday was Date Wednesday so we drove to Alresford where we hadn't been since my very first visit.  They have a great coffee shop there called Caracoli and it was - along with a couple of shops and a creepy bookstore - the reason we decided to spend the afternoon there.  Their hot chocolates are very artistic.      


I'll never tire of taking photos of things I eat and drink.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Doesn't It Feel Good?

Doesn't it feel good when you take a moment to sit down after a strenuous task - in my case, getting the kitchen back in order after finishing the painting this afternoon - and you look up too see your cat hurrying down the stairs towards you? And doesn't it feel doubly good when that cat hops into your lap, turns around a few times (butting your hand with her head as she does, asking for a little love) and then settles down with her little head on your knee?

Yeah, I think so, too.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hey Matt, What Does This Mean?

 One of the great games we played at my wedding shower (thanks, Ginny!) was the British Equivalent Matching Game with words like plaster, postman, chemist, torch, lift and hoover.  Mom won that one but, strangely, not because she's familiar with anyone British but because her best friend is Australian.  Anyway, the US and the UK do speak the same language but every once in awhile there have been phrases that I've had to ask Matt about.  One that I came across recently stuck in my head so I thought it might be fun to make these new to me words a reoccurring feature here at Viking Tea Party.  Those in the US might learn something and I know my friends here in the UK will get a good laugh at words that sound strange to me but that they use every day.    

That said, I give you the first installment of

Hey Matt

lurgy: an illness or disease, especially one that is not serious

I first heard this one when Karen used it in a thread on Ravelry about our next knitting meet up. "Unfortunately I don’t think I’m going to make it as I have the lurgy, again."  (Not that your lurgy wasn't serious, Karen!)

doddle: an easy task

I first heard Nigella Lawson use this one in a commercial that Good Food runs about a million times a day.  "Delicious and a doddle." Google "doddle" and "Nigella Lawson" and you'll get a good grip on how to use the word properly - it seems everything she makes is a doddle.  

I haven't incorporated either of these words - or any others - into my daily vocabulary because they feel large and awkward in my mouth.  Hopefully, some day soon, I'll be casually saying things like "Ah, getting over that lurgy was a doddle."  Or, um, something like that....

Tune in next time for more strange - to me, anyway - words! 

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things


Matt made this for me when I wasn't feeling well the other day and it's my new favorite drink: Twinnings Chamomile Honey and Vanilla* tea with two teaspoons of honey, the juice of half a lemon and one lump of brown sugar.  It's doubly good when served in a cute Cath Kidston mug as is the one I'm drinking right now.  :)


I think we've just about reached the end of clementine season which makes me a little sad but we've certainly eaten lots this year.  Perfectly sweet, easy to peel and those little sections are so freaking cute.  And you get the added bonus of having this song stuck your head all day long. 


Catherine sent me the recipe for Anzac biscuits the other day because it contains another of my favorite things: golden syrup.  Sadly, I didn't get around to making them until last night.  Why "sadly"?  Had I made them the day she sent the email (I even bought coconut that night at the grocery so I had good intentions) they would have been in my life a few days earlier.  They're that good. 

*for aesthetic reasons I used another brand of chamomile - the Twinnings comes in plain white bags with no tea tag which would make this look like it was just an empty mug sitting next to a lemon

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Yet Another Hat

I had to knit this hat for two reasons.  One, the pattern is called Acorns and two, when I purchased it, a portion of the proceeds were going to Haiti relief.

Suddenly I can't stop knitting hats.  First Odessa, now this and I've already got another on the needles - Minerva - and the patterns and yarn for a Sloochie and a Ripley waiting patiently in my knitting basket. 



Acorns up close

And then there's the sock pull I'm feeling.  I read a little of a pattern from the most recent issue of The Knitter before taking a little nap today and I had dreams of sock knitting.  Obviously this reading before sleep thing really influences my dreams because, after reading his blog the other night, I had a dream I was dating Jorge Garcia ("Hurley" from Lost).  In case you were wondering, Dream Date Jorge was very nice and rather shy.

Ahem, I digress.  Back to the hat.  I used the Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Amber Heather that I had left over from my FLS and size 7 needles.  I added one repeat of the lace pattern horizontally because I wanted a hat that was less snug.  If I were to knit it again, I would delete the last vertical repeat of the pattern so that I wouldn't have to fold over the brim to make it fit.

In other news, I made a rhubarb crumble today and, I have to say, it was freaking fantastic.  I used this simple recipe - seriously, only six ingredients - and was afraid it was going to be terrible.  I couldn't even wait until after dinner to find out so we had dessert first.  Thankfully, it was slightly sweet and perfectly wonderful.  It's a quarter after eleven now and much too late for a dose of sugar but I'm awfully tempted to have a second serving....