Getting nice things in the mail makes you better

First of all thankyou thankyou you lovely readers who left such nice comments on Wee Tweedley. I'm honestly relieved that it's not a total disaster as there was so much winging it going on.

Those of you in my neck of the woods will know that a great cloud of papists descended last week and in their wake they left the Great International Stretching of
Hands Viruses Across the Oceans. Thanks guys.
That's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

I have been so sick with flu all week- and what's left of my mind so addled- that I've barely been able to get past Row 11 in a straightforward cabled beanie I'm making without making the same mistake twice thrice so many times the fibre has almost ceased to exist.
And speaking of existence, I've been extant in parallel universe of Deadwood (all 3 seasons) on DVD. I have to be very careful now not to walk around calling everyone a c*^$@+^$~r . I had to see a specialist this afternoon, can you imagine how that would've been received? Hilarious.
Still, there's always nice things arriving in the mail to cheer us up.
No, not opium or gold nuggets but almost...

A skein of Koigu KPM in dark chocolate (mmmm.. num nums) and a book of
cunningly folded and pleated Japanese skirt patterns awaiting post-flu deciphering

A huge apology to everyone whose blogs and flickr photos I usually comment on, I've been missing what you've all been up to! Back soon.


Wee Tweed-ley O (& a bit of baking)

My friend with the -now 3 year old- son hinted to me last Christmas of sepia visions of Enid Blyton-esque boyhood: side parted hair, baggy serge shorts, brown T-bar sandals and of course the fairisle vest.
Well, seeking to not only facilitate this romantic vision, but also to make as much of it from leftovers as I could this is what I came up with

Wee Tweed-ley

The first attempt was a more 'Norwegian' chunky snowflake motif until I got about 80% finished and realised the tension of my floats (yes! I am au fait with the lingo now thankyou) was, well, tense. Do the words tight and bottleneck mean anything to you?
A world of ripping and re casting on later, we cut to a smaller, fiddlier pattern with much shorter floats. This time I am so consciously getting loosey goosey with them I'm starting to fear they are
just going to be positively dangling and drooping down the back! But no, a good stretch in the blocking takes care of that.

Pattern: Adapted from Blank Canvas Childs Vest by Cari Luna
Modified to knit in the round and with a round neck. (The first ill-fated version I worked with original v-neck. Lots of dangling bits of yarn either side of a v neck? OY! All I can say is now I know why steeking was invented).

: Grignasco Tango (discontinuted? thanks Grignasco!) Leftovers of dark grey/blue from my Here and There Cables Scarf, plus a few grams of green, pale blue and cream. Love this yarn.

Motif: From Inca Hat by Zoe Mellor (on ravelry)

: Colourwork? Yes I think I've had my experience now. No, I don't need to do that again thank you kindly sir. But cute vest though even if I do say so myself.

It's very rare that I come over all Nigella Lawson -like but when I do I tend to go a bit berserk. Not only did I finish, block and photograph this little vest, I also -in between dishes and laundry- simultaneously baked up a batch of cupcakes.
Oh let's face it I was really just avoiding the final really boring bits of a freelance job I'm about to delive

Voila, or indeed "Hup ho" as habitual would say. I love that and I'm going to walk about saying it for the next few days just watch me.

Recipe: Adapted from Donna Hay's Carrot Cake

1 1/4 cups brown sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bi-carb powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 knob grated fresh ginger (a knob = how much you like fresh ginger or not)
2 1/2 cups grated carrot
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 180 C.
Beat sugar and oil for 3 mins.
Add eggs gradually , beat well
Sift flour, baking powder, bi-carb, cinnamon and ginger over sugar mixture
Add carrot and walnuts, mix until just combined.
Pour into muffin pans lined with baking paper circles or those little pattycake things
Bake for 25-30 mins.

250g softened, unsalted, cultured butter (or you may prefer 250g cream cheese)
1 cup sifted icing sugar
Juice and zest of 1 orange
Splash of vanilla essence

Beat butter in a mixer until light and creamy, then add icing sugar, juice, zest and vanilla. Continue beating until combined.

Makes approx 1 dozen cupcakes.


Henry Fool

Ok, you poor sods that googled Henry Fool hoping to find perhaps a synopsis or the cast list for Hal Hartley's -by then sadly hackneyed- film of the same title*
Surprise! you follwed the wrong link here buddy. Sorry 'bout that.
However if you film students/1990s indie existential arty movie buffs also happen to be interested in fine handcrafted neckwear, well keep reading because we may be able to interest you in this:

Pattern: Henry by Marieke Sattler
Yarn: Sublime Yarns cashmere merino silk DK ravelry link
Mods: adapted for a DK yarn. See post.

The title
Henry Fool kept springing relentlessly to mind as I tried to finish this taskmaster as a birthday gift. Mainly because you would have to be ever so slightly on the foolish side to attempt it.
That or extremely patient. As patient as the fabled turtle.
This scarf is knit sideways (between this and the Woolly Wormhead hats I'm currently obsessed with this sideways is the New True Paradigm for me).
Adapting the pattern for a DK yarn, I cast on 180 stitches.
Is a long row.
And while I'm very pleased with the fine herringbone patterning, the cast on and cast off? Oy, don't get me started. If you do want to make this, I'd recommend your regular cast on and the K2tbl cast-off. I spent an entire afternoon unpicking 10 centimetres of Elizabeth Zimmerman's sewn cast-off which I'd tried as an alternative to the pattern. The yarn? Well she is a delicate delicate thing and does not take kindly to that sort of maltreatment.
Silent gnashings of teeth towards the end I tell you.
Blocking: Henry was subjected to the
Patent Needle's Edge Flatten-Out-You-Bastard-Thing! System TM (with which I'm generous: if you want to trial this at home take one (by now empty after unpicking 10 cms of sewn casting-off) bottle of wine. I recommend a nice Sauvignon Blanc but if pressed then any dry white will do, and one thick beach towel. Wrap thoroughly damp scarf and beach towel layers very tightly around bottle sushi roll style in a commanding 'take-charge' manner. This will really show the scarf who's boss.
I have to admit though that even after this punishing Treatment TM, Henry stills curls at the sides.
Worn doubled, however it's less of a problem I think.

And I have to say looks pretty swell teamed with this Ted Baker coat.

*Outraged Hartley fans, I am more than happy to engage in a learned discourse vis a vis the conceptual devolution of his filmic career, you know how to contact me!!



it turns out,
funnily enough,

is a sunny, warm, spacious, well-appointed suburban somewhat 70s house.

Well it is for a chronic urban dweller such as myself.
People who know me will appreciate how hysterically funny that is.
Of course it does help that the house is on the beach.

And not just any beach but 7 miles of isolated, pristine coast with just the odd local doing a bit of line fishing or a pair of retirees in comfy pants and floppy hats out walking their golden retrievers before breakfast/cocktail hour.
Does this make me sounds old?
Yes it probably does but I'm with Elly Varrenti (excerpt here) in that now I'm on the other side of the big 4-0 I realise things really do change. And it's not necessarily about decrepitude, conservatism or
Just, change.
Change and different needs.

Yes, I've been away on holidays

We rented a beach house down the coast for a few days, where if you could rouse yourself away from the soporifically comfy couch nestled between sun-trap floor-to-ceiling windows and hypnotic wood-fuelled fire, all you had to do was slip on a warm coat, some (by now utterly impregnated with sand) Birkenstock flipflops, usher the dogs out the door, pad a few metres down through the Casuarina canopy and into a tunnel of dense, cool Melaleuca scrub with its clean, resinous smell, yielding to an utterly glorious expanse of beach.

And oh how 7 mile walks twice a day on wet sand works muscles you never knew you had, I tell you if you did that every day you would have buns of steel.
That and the fact that my ever-present 'drafting back' -you know that awful knot of tension between your shoulder blades-? Miraculously melted away people! Along with the neurotic solipsistic mental chatter that fills my mind back in the city.

Hurling yourself into wintertime surf in your underwear (it's Winter; it's not like I packed my cossie and I didn't want to scandalise said fisherfolk/retirees that much) -if you survive the cardiac arrest-?

Makes you feel Really. Alive. So. Very. Very. Alive.
Last thing you'd expect at 8 oclock on a Sunday night in the middle of winter in Orient Point?
A lovely Lebanese extended family cooking you some beautiful fresh perch for dinner and making yo
u eat their home made Baklava.

I should go on holiday more often.

Pattern: Marrow Joe by Woolly Wormhead's Going Straight, in my new 'desert island' yarn: Trekking XXL Degrade. Mods: omit slip stitch detail; 9 repeats rather than 10 (no matter how tight I try to knit, it's still loosey goosey) Instructions: Team jauntily with Icebreaker jacket, pop on head, go on long beach walk. Feel warm.