A catalogue tree, a Korknisse (using Saartje's translation of Manne's pattern) and an Alte-korknisse using my variation:
Apple-cinnamon decorations - mix pureed apple (in this case a tin of baby food) with as much cinnomon as it will absorb, cut out shapes and leave to air-dry:
Tin of mince pies, cheesy biscuits and melting moments:
Oh all right, tin which did have mince pies, cheesy biscuits and melting moments, but now has mainly crumbs.
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
A catalogue tree, a Korknisse (using Saartje's translation of Manne's pattern) and an Alte-korknisse using my variation:
Monday, December 22, 2008
In the Christmas preparation saga, I have posted out all the things I should have posted. so if you expecting anything from me, you should have it soonish, depending on the postal system between here and there. Unless I don't think you're expecting anything, in which case you won't get it.
After I came back from the post office, the Kiddos started making sweets. "We don't need any help from you", they told me.
Well, there was the mix up over the weight of icing sugar needed - if you don't know how much one bowl weighs, then put a different one on the scales, and weigh into that.
Then there were problems with the powdered egg-white mix. If one sachet makes the equivalent of two eggs worth, how do you get the equivalent of half an eggs worth? (Hint, the sachet needed 60ml of warm water and the recipe says that half an egg-white is about three teaspoons. There are 5ml in a teaspoon. Thus the written sources are in agreement over volume.)
The Kiddos did clean up. But I seem to be sticking to the floor, the fridge door, and anything else I touch. Just as well, cleaning the kitchen is still on my list of stuff-to-do.
Posted by Penny at 9:17 pm
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I wrote a long and well-linked post in which I described my Christmas preparation status (seriously behind on cards, but with plenty of catalogue trees, and a single Korknisser - English translation). There was also to be the frogging of Loden and of a glove, a trip to Greenwich, Christopher Wren's buildings, and a talk by Simon Singh (of Fermat's Last Theorem fame).
But my computer crashed and poof went my post.
So, all that is left is...
I met Heather on Monday. She was knitting.
Posted by Penny at 9:40 pm
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
"You notice the firsts, but the lasts just happen and you never know until too late." So said the older mother when my children were little. And it was true. And it has happened again.
For years, teatime in December was accompanied by the lighting of the advent candle. Sometimes we forgot to light it one evening and would have to burn it for an extra long time the next night. But it was there.
It was one of those traditions that happens, not one we planned. It began when they were handed out at playgroup by the Danish playgroup leader. It continued that way while the children stayed at that playgroup, then I started to buy them. Some years I was organised and got them in October, other years I only remembered at the end of November and tried shop after shop until I found one.
This year... This year I forgot completely until today. It wasn't that I didn't get round to buying it, more that I didn't even think about it.
And the sad thing? Not one of the children remembered it either, until I asked. And then they didn't care.
I might get one anyway.
This morning I took this snap of reflected sunlight on our neighbour's garage. I didn't have time to work out what the light was reflecting off: there was nothing obvious.
Posted by Penny at 10:29 pm
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
This was the knitting I was doing when I needed a break: pick it up, knit three rows, put it down. I never looked at anything other then the last row.
And then I spread it out and arrgh! Unlike the sleeve, unlike the back, its got huge great pools in it.
It's Kid Silk Haze, so I don't really want to do much in the way of frogging, but, I think I'll have to.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
It is now past the 24th, so I declare my giveaway closed.
I am reminded of the competitions that used to be in the student newspaper when I was at University. My friend was the paper's film critic: the manager of the local cinema used to give him promotional things, like sweatshirts and LPs of film soundtracks. The competition prizes would be these promotional items, and it was fairly easy to win. Usually all you had to do was enter: they'd often be more prizes then entrants.
It is in that spirit that I bring you the winners of the giveaway. Shan will win the grand prize of the little pots, complete with something crafty to go with it. And all the other commenters - that's you, Roobeedoo - will also get a little prize. From your blogs, you seem to be mainly knitters, so it be knitting-related. And it will probably take me a couple of weeks to post them.
Posted by Penny at 9:48 pm
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Does this problem sound familiar?
"A lady exchanged with a friend 18 yd Damask at 3s 6d a yard for muslin at 14d a yard. How many yd of muslin did the lady receive?"
It was in an academic journal article, entitled "Bartering problems in arithmetic books 1450-1890". This particular problem was published in 1887, and was the last one that the author of the article could find in a book.
However, make some changes and you have "A bogger exchanged 18 balls of Rowan Damask for Patons Kroy Sock yarn in colorway Muslin. How many socks could she knit?"
Posted by Penny at 10:27 pm
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Remember that pumpkin? It's still in the garden, and still turning into a post-Halloween horror story.
Here it is on the 7th November - a week after carving:
But that isn't the end of it: on the 13th November:
PS Don't forget the giveaway at the bottom of my last post. At the moment you have a very good chance of winning.
Friday, November 14, 2008
My life has changed a lot in three years.
Before I started blogging, I sometimes did various journal type exercises to decide on my ideal life. Now I am moving treacle-like towards something very close to the ideas I sketched out. I don't think it was blogging that made these changes happen, but who knows?
To get to here, from there, I had to go through what I called at the time "my year of being". I'd forgotten the name until recently, but I remember realising at the end of 2004 that I simply wasn't acting on the goals that numerous journal exercises had concluded that I ought to be acting on. The Year of Being was a deliberate decision to drift: no long term plans, just to see what turned up.
What turned up was the Open University. I knew about it already, but never thought about it as a possibility for me. By chance, I found out about the T160 Woman Returners into Science, Engineering and Technology course that they were running. So I did that. And then I did the MA290 History of Maths course, and this year the AS208 History of Science. Next year, Latin will feature highly in my ratio studium.
The other major change is that I am no longer the mother of many small children. They don't quite count as a set of medium size children yet, but that is coming very soon. They still need me around, but it is mainly to be approximately here, while they go there. Somewhere I read on motherhood that "the minutes last an eternity, but the years fly by", and that is so true.
It is traditional, on one's blogerversary, to have a giveaway. My giveaway is the first of a series, and hopefully this one will be a bit of fun. Here are five little stacking craft pots: the winner will get these, and something to go in them based on their interests, whether it is beading, sewing, knitting or something else.
What you have to do is to comment on this post with a suggestion for a change I could consider for the next three years. It could be a major one, a minor one, or somewhere in between. The winner will be picked at random on or after the 24th November. If you have a blog, it might be nice to mention this giveaway there, but certainly not a requirement. And feel free to join in even if this is your first visit here.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
K-thud. K-thump. The post has arrived - but what to open first?
Should I open the latest Yarn Forward? Or should I open the Bulletin of British Society for the History of Maths?
The Bulletin won out: good articles to savour for later. Some of them are on topics of particular interest, but as one of my readers is also in the BSHM, I won't tell you the contents.
Yarn Forward was the second thing to be opened. I thought last month's was fairly dire, with nothing in it which I wanted to knit. This is the opposite: several interesting things. A lot of them are really rather modern, but not one-season wonders.
I was one of Yarn Forward's first subscribers, so there will be a number of other people re-subscribing this issue. It's almost as if they saved up all the good patterns from the last two issues and put them in this to get the maximum number of re-subscribers. Or maybe they wanted to put the boring, mass-market appeal patterns last month, to attract the audience who were first seeing it in WHSmith.
Posted by Penny at 12:45 pm
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
A few days ago, I found some old morning pages of mine. Flicking through them, I came across my first mentions of thinking about starting a blog. I was a reader of 43 folders, and a few craft blogs. That was June 2005: my blog started three years ago on Friday.
This isn't the blogerversary post: that will come on Friday. There will also be a blogaversary giveaway.
However, that is not all. Looking round at my craft stuff, there is a lot of it. It fills all the space I am willing to allocate. Although I am not in a state of SABLE it is time for me to do something with some of it. So Friday's giveaway will be the first of a sequence, probably posted on Mondays, until the time for giveaways ends. There are no promises, let's see what happens.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
This week I volunteered to help with a school trip to the National Gallery.
It was a nice trip: the girls were well-behaved and all I had to do was ensure they got to see a range of paintings and accompany them on a talk. There were some proper teachers who did the boring things like getting them to clear up the lunch room.
One of the things I enjoyed was being able to
bore tell a new set of people about the things I find interesting. So instead of walking through a room with four paintings based on the four elements, we stopped and I gave a precis of the ideas about earth, air, fire and water.
"You don't go to a library and expect to read all the books in one visit" said the speaker at the start of the talk. She compared art galleries, museums, zoos and libraries as collections of things to study, and made the point that studying each of them took a bit of time.
One painting she took us to see was "Bacchus and Ariadne" by Titian. While we were looking at it, she explained that if one of the figures is looking at the painting's viewer, it was like an invitation to join in. Although one of the characters is looking out, the painting next to it had the sitter staring at us.
The man looks sideways at me, a clear invitation: he is ignoring the painter, and with that quizzical look of his, is trying to engage me in his activity. I was in two minds as to whether to buy the postcard, until I saw the name of the painting : "man with a quilted sleeve".
Another painting we were taken to see was "An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump": she couldn't have chosen a painting that was of more relevance to me. The contrast between the dark background and the candle lit circle of participants was much greater in real life. After the talk we went back to have another look at it, and I explained to some of the girls about eighteenth century understanding of air, and the role of the traveling lecturer.
The other picture I particularly liked (not in her talk) was 'Still Life: An Allegory of the Vanities of Human Life'. Again this captured some of my interests, the idea of a curiosity cabinet, an un-themed collection of things that were interesting.
Posted by Penny at 7:32 pm
Monday, October 20, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Some people only take photos inside Alexander Palace, but when I left the building on Sunday the views were so stunning, I had to take some pictures. It was clear enough to see the hills on the far side of London - the North Downs in Surrey perhaps?
I was struck by the linear forms of the tower blocks in the distance. They don't show up well in these little versions, but click on them for the full size versions. I think the sunlight was reflecting off them, making them so bright and clear.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
These are the three items I selected from the box swop organised by Trash.
The pompom maker in the middle was one of the first things I saw when I opened the box and it was something I wanted. Then I saw the squares, and I really wanted them: I've been collecting 6.5"ish squares for ages, for a background project I'm doing some of the time. The Jungle Babies pattern looks like it will be fun to do.
All of the fabric squares:
My exam was on Wednesday, and there were four questions I felt confident abut answering, which is always nice. I spent most of the time writing, which is good in an essay paper. I think I showed enough breadth of knowledge, but depth? Not sure about. Results in December, fingers crossed.
I have done nothing for the last two days, since the exam. Well, apart from read the odd blog, and done some washing. I have a huge backlog of stuff to do, but I haven't even really thought about it. I feel like I've just been washed up on the beach, having being swimming frantically for the shore, only occasionally coming up for air. Now, I know I'll have to go into the forest at some point soon, and start building a shelter and foraging for food, and doing all the things one does when washed up on a distant island. But right now, I'm lying on the beach, resting until I can summon the energy to get on with them.
I will be going to the Knitting and Stitching show on Sunday. Just off to check whether anyone has blogged about it yet.
Posted by Penny at 9:19 pm
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
I've been swotting up for my History of science exam next week, which means I haven't been doing anything blog-worthy. Oh I suppose I could tell you about the Freiburg Mining Academy, but really, you don't want to know.
However you might be more interested in a program about the history of maths starting next Monday (6th October) at 9pm on BBC4.
memo to self: set the video
As a break from studying, I have been making steady progress on the Loden Jacket. However it doesn't change much, just gets longer. This photo was taken at the University of Birmingham, where I went on Saturday for a meeting organised by the BSHM. I wanted to take a photo of it with the University's red brick buildings behind, but then I would have had to explain what I was doing to other BSHM members. And I couldn't quite bring myself to do that...
Posted by Penny at 7:09 pm
Thursday, September 18, 2008
said the sign in the shop window. "No Ferret's not", I wanted to say "she's in Scotland". Then I read the rest of the sign "three ferrets escaped from their cage".
Another thing that is missing is my camera. On my camera are the pictures I need for my next planned blog post. That's all right, I thought, I'll just take a photo of...
By the way, Joao de Castro has discovered strange fluctuations in compass readings off the coast of Bombay. In other words I am revising for my exam in the History of Science. I may be some time.
Posted by Penny at 3:03 pm
Monday, September 08, 2008
My aim was to buy more patterns then stuff to make patterns with, and I think I succeeded.
First the books:
I've been looking out for the Mason-Dixie book for a while, and hadn't seen it. From a casual glance it looks as good as I was hoping.
The gingerbread book has ginger recipes, including beef and orange stirfry.
Helene signed the Icelandic book - the charts are really intriging, although the patterns themselves might best be described as terse. But its the history side is fascinating.
Then the wool: a kit from Heathland Hebridean to make a bag using wool from rare breed sheep.
Two balls of sock yarn:
Correction, two tiny balls of sock yarn, 4 buttons shaped like rulers and a collection of badges.
Posted by Penny at 10:22 pm
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Yesterday - I Knit Day - seemed to fly past.
I did some knitting in the charity knitting area.
I joined a very wet queue to enter the other hall for Stephanie's talk - we were standing outside in a downpour.
Stephanie's talk was very funny, and the audience was very enthusiastic - for a British audience. We even laughed out loud.
The audience knitted.
Then, it was back to the main hall, where I heard Helene Magnusson talk about Icelandic 'rose' patterns. She is a French lawyer who moved there and came across knitted slipper inserts. She has now written a book about them - and I have a signed copy.
I didn't queue up to see Yarn Harlot, because the conversation would go something like "I sometimes read your blog. It's quite amusing".
My purchases were fairly scant, and may be shown in the next post. Just as a hint - cute balls of sock yarn.
Posted by Penny at 8:29 pm
Friday, September 05, 2008
Thursday, September 04, 2008
I have an essay which is 1996 words long, excluding the footnotes and essay question. I've used the word 'good' twice. There is a 94 word paragraph that is pretty neat, if I say so myself. The rest of it - well, I've got 24 hours, must be able to do something with that.
The good paragraph is about Euler. He went to St Petersburg (Russia) because Peter the Great wanted an academy full of German-style scientists. He was recruited to the Berlin Academy, but unfortunately Frederick II wanted an academy full of French-style academics. Easiest thing would have been for Frederick II of Prussia to have changed jobs, and become King of France. Peter the Great could have left his job as Tsar of Russia and become Emperor of Prussia. That would have left a vacency in Russia, but that job could have been offered to Louis, King of France.
(Actually Peter was dead by then, but that would spoil a good story. And I don't know who the King of France was without checking, but Louis is a good bet, they had 16 of them.)
Posted by Penny at 10:27 pm
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
On my list of "things to photograph" I've still got the holiday lace.
On my list of "photos to transfer from the other camera" are a whole load of photos from our holiday.
But this is what I'm knitting right now:
It's the Loden Mist cardigan from Knitter's Magazine, Spring 2007, in Kid Silk Spray (ie variegated Kid Silk Haze). The KS was an absolute bargain - £1.85 a ball in John Lewis sale - that's only 25% of the recommended retail price. I hardly ever get that type of bargain.
I loved Loden Mist when I first saw it. However it wasn't until I got the KS and saw (on Ravelry) that other people had made it using KS that I realised that it was a perfect match. To begin with it was really hard to knit, due to using bluntish metal needles, but I went through my collection and came up with some wooden DPNs which make it much easier to work. Unfortunately they are DPNs, and as my sleeve gets wider, the chance of one falling off the end is getting much higher.
OTOH, I am going to the i-knit day next weekend (thanks to the generosity of a poster on ravelry who sent me her ticket, thanks Clare). If, as seems likely, I can't get to a shop this week, I'm sure to find a nice pair of wooden needles there.
 That's "holiday" as in "vacation".
Posted by Penny at 8:40 pm
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I was a bit naughty - I used blogger's advance posting feature to put up some posts, and left you thinking I was still here, when I'd actually sneaked off on my hols. Then when I got back from my holiday, I didn't get round to posting
We were on Fuertaventura in the Canary Islands. I could show you lots of holiday photos - including the ones of the water carriers, sunning themselves by the pool - except they are on the other camera.
The highlight of the trip was probably resting in the hammock during our siesta. I knew it was time to end the siesta when the sun had moved enough that the hammock was no longer in the shade. Clocks? Hardly used at all.
We went to the beach, swum in the private pool we had access to, walked into the village for our shopping, visited the tourist town close by, read, did sudokos, played patience games with real cards, and generally chilled out.
Dh had decided that we would only take hand luggage, so I couldn't rely on doing my planned sock knitting. Instead I took my Fleece Artist yarn, and some crochet hooks - but I didn't do very much with it. I concluded that I liked to have a choice of things to do, and to know what I was going to do next.
One of the main local crafts was hardinger embroidery, and I brought back a small piece. It didn't include my favourite stitch, which I was told was called "windmill" and looked like the spokes of a wheel, with a circle round them. The pieces I found with it on were larger then I would use, so I got a smallish one instead (about 20cm x 30cm), which I can envisage using as a table mat. I got anther small piece for a Christmas present, but I'm not sure how it was made.
The other crafty thing I bought was a lovely little crochet butterfly. It was interesting to look at the local craft shops. The state-sponsered ones seemed to sell things made by the same people - I saw the butterflys in at least three shops. The also had some sunbonnet sue and other patchwork, felt flowers, pottery and jewelry.
Anyway, it was a lovely break, and I am definitely planning to show you some photos.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Given that we are off to foreign climes, one of my major pieces of crafting has been making a selection of water bottle carriers. The idea is that everyone is responsible for their own water, rather then the adults having to lug them round the whole time.
It is also a good stash-busting exercise: I've finished four balls of cotton making them.
Posted by Penny at 12:22 pm
Friday, August 08, 2008
Remember the post I made about Mazz, and the Adipose knitting pattern?
The Open Rights Group, who have been supporting Mazz, have an update on their blog:
"The BBC have agreed to meet with Mazz and turn her knitted designs into, at the very least, a limited edition of exclusive promotional products. Apparently the production team love her works and can’t wait to get their own."
That's one of the secret things I've been doing. Nuff said.
(You may also have seen the supplement in the Guardian a week or so ago. The ebay seller who caused the kerfuffle must be really annoyed with themself now.)
Posted by Penny at 8:08 am
Monday, August 04, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
I haven't been posting many pictures, because I seem to have been mostly doing secret projects.
These flowers were for a swop on knittingforums. We were supposed to have knitted during May and sent them by the beginning of June.
I choose a pattern from Knitting Loves Crochet, for the Ice-blue Openwork scarf. The knitting was easy, but there were also a load of crochet flowers. Each flower took a lot longer to make then I was expecting. When it came to sewing them in place - each flower had 4 ends to finish, and was held in place by 5 sets of two or three stitches. There were over 100 bits of sewing to do, on a three colour scarf!
It finally got posted a month late and the package had arrived. However the woman I'd knitted for was away and hadn't seen it. So I didn't want to put pictures on my blog, jon the off-chance she saw them.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Today's tea was going to be pork and leek stir-fry.
Well, that was until I saw the caterpillar, which had been hiding in the leek:
I did what everyone does in the circumstances:
- called the children for an impronto natural history lesson
- decided to add it to the pot for extra protein
- got out the camera
OK, maybe everyone doesn't do all of those - darn thing tried to make its' escape:
(I took it to the compost heap, along with the rest of the leek.)
Posted by Penny at 9:15 pm
Monday, July 14, 2008
Penny tagged me from a meme ages ago, and although I've had it written up for a while, I haven't posted it.
So here goes:
The Rules: Each player answers the five questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.
1. What I was doing 10 years ago:
Ten years ago I was pregnant with my last child and feeling overwhelmed.
2. What 5 things are on on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order):
- Write a blog post
- Ring up about car insurance
- Do lots of washing
- Cast on for an adipose baby
- Write the Scout Group minutes
3. Snacks I enjoy:
Cherry tomatoes, marmite crisps, pineapple, coffee and walnut cake.
4. Things I would do if I was a billionaire:
I posed this question to the family and Kiddo said she would write a will. After a little more reflection that she added that she would put the money in the bank. A child after my own heart, especially as I think she really would..
First I'd buy a big house, and install some staff to do the boring-but-necessary stuff - a cook/housekeeper, a gardener, some kind of tutor/governess/nanny/chauffeur, a secretary.
Then I would buy a building in the next village, the one with a main road running through it, and open a shop which sold yarns and fabric, to use as my own personal stash. There would be one or two managers (it makes sense for there to be one for the wool and one for the fabric). When new ranges came in, I'd put some aside for my own personal use, but if I changed my mind, they would go back into the shops main stock.
For my creative time, I would only make the things I wanted to, knowing that if they weren't of any use to my family or friends, I could put them into a rich person's charity raffle and the time taken to make them would not be undervalued.
Meanwhile I would buy as full a set of Robert Recorde's books as possible - he wrote the "Pathway to Knowledge", "Castle of Knowledge" etc. I would probably buy a copy of "Historia Piscium" (in English - "the History of Fishes"), which is a notorious book in the history of science. I'd really delve into some topic, researching and writing books about it. I'd follow Brian May's example and work on a PhD.
For charitable work, I would use some money to promote the study of science, right from primary school through to university level. It would probably be physics/astrophysics or chemistry which I concentrated on, but maths would be in there too.
Posted by Penny at 9:01 pm
Sunday, July 06, 2008
Well, I have at last finished my 2000 word essay on English Natural Philosophy 1660-1720. I hope my tutor doesn't mind that that I said there was "a confusing web" of ideas.
My creative impulse has been to make a XXXX for a swop, and until I know the swoppee has got it, I won't be posting about it.
I also gave a Greek geometry lesson to Kiddo's class during their Ancient Greek Day. That was fun, and they seemed impressed that you could draw an equalateral triangle using a ruler and compasses. I'm tempted by the idea of going into help with maths on a more regular basis...
It also gave me a chance to see what the other mums had done about costumes. Put it like this: Kiddo was the only Hoplite, but I saw a lot of bed-sheets.
I've started making water bottle carriers for our summer holiday. I ought to take some photos...
Posted by Penny at 4:46 pm
Friday, June 27, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
I'm feeling smug - I managed to post about the latest Yarn Forward news on Ravelry before anyone else, and the news isn't yet on the Yarn Forward blog. The news came out in an email sent out to subscribers.
We’ll be sending out a pdf press release throughout the day to major knitting retailers, designers and companies. We’ll also be posting on all the big forums, blogs and anywhere else that we can to spread the good news.
Posted by Penny at 7:48 am
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
I was in the South Bank yesterday, with a few spare minutes to look at the Hyperbolic Crochet exhibition. I only had time to gather impressions rather then descriptions.
The dominant impression was of the soft velvety texture of the reefs made from thick chenille yarn, which longed for me to touch and stroke them. This contrasted greatly with the hard, defined, jewel-like reef made of seed beads, shut away behind protective glass.
The one structure that stood out was a knitted sea anemone.
It got me thinking. If I was alone in a room with a net guru and the hyperbolic crochet reef, would I use it to explain the database that was ravelry? What if I was too unimportant to have a name badge, and he was too important to need one?
Posted by Penny at 8:49 pm
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
I haven't been able to show my knitting, because it is for a swop. A swop with the dealine for posting at the end of May. However I chose a very pretty pattern, without reading the Ravelry comments about it. One would have warned me "there are a lot of ends to sew in".
Part one of the pattern was simple but each repeat of part two took longer then I expected, and I could only do a limited number at a time
Actually I exaggerated in the title, there aren't a million. But there are about 100, (unless I've under-estimated) and I did the 36th today.
Posted by Penny at 9:12 pm
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
When my parents were well and healthy they did things like knit multiple ponchos for my brother's bridesmaids, and did much pruning in our garden and travelled to Machu Picchu and met princes and former ambassadors. I talked proudly to the other mums about what they were doing at playgroup when I collected children. And my friends talked about the interesting things their parents did.
And then my parents got old and ill. And when they decided to move house, I had to travel for two hours (each way) to meet the estate agent and show them round the house. And then my mother went into hospital, and the move happened around my father, and I signed the things that had to be signed, and orgainsed the storage unit. And when I mumbled about this to my friends at the school gate, a different set of friends told me about the daft things their aged parents and parents-in-law were doing, and I realised that my parents were part of a different set of parents. Some people's parents might be climbing mountains, and talked about with pride by their grown-up children. Other people's parents found climbing stairs beyond them, and their grown-up children kept quiet.
And that is today's installment of messy Tuesday.
Monday, May 26, 2008
I have a 2000 word essay to write about Descartes, which is one reason I haven't written anything here recently.
While researching it, I discovered that Pascal carried out experiments on a variety of things, including wine and wool. That led me into checking up about wool and experiments in the seventeenth century, and it seemed that wool - by which they meant fleece - was a useful metaphor for air. They were investigating about air pressure. We are used to thinking about air as having weight, but in the seventeenth century this was a matter of debate.
Torricelli compared a column of air to a cylinder filled by wool. When a weight is placed on the top, the wool is compressed. He said that if a knife was thrust through the cylinder, the wool-pressure is unchanged. Pascal pointed out that the weight of the wool itself compresses the wool at the bottom of the heap.
Boyle used the analogy in a different way, referring to wool that was being compressed. He states "upon the removal of the external pressure, by opening the hand more or less, the compressed wool doth, as it were, spontaneously expand ... till the fleece hath either regained its former dimensions", or at least as close to its dimensions as the "compressing hand... will permit".
Descartes too used a wooly analogy, but unfortunately his was wrong. Asked why mecury did not flow out of an inverted tube, he said that the air was like wool and "the ether in its pores to be like whirlwinds moving about in the wool." Everything was moving in a circle: there couldn't be a vacuum at the top, because Descartes thought vacuums were impossible.
Posted by Penny at 5:15 pm
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Or maybe that should be the BBC versus knitters.
If you hang around the same knitting groups I do, you'll have come across this Angel Knits thread, and this Ravelry one.
And now even the BBC itself is posting about it.
The BBC article does seem really quite fair from my understanding of the story: it refers to the "unscrupulous" other people who were using Mazzam's patterns. (I think their legal team have checked it very throughly.)
The essence of the story is that Mazzam created a pattern for knitted Adipose babies from the first episode of the current season of Dr Who and posted it on her website. Then someone started selling copies of the pattern on ebay, and I think Mazzam complained to ebay and the patterns were removed. After that the BBC got in touch with Mazzam etc etc. My guess is the ebay seller shopped her to the BBC, but who knows?
FWIW, the nice thing about Dr Who is that I always see the latest episode within 24 hours of its' first showing. I never need to worry about spoilers on the net, unlike almost every other sci-fi program I watch.
Posted by Penny at 10:15 pm
Thursday, May 08, 2008
I'm not normally a person who gets scared of spiders. However when I saw an enormous one  in the basin before I had my coffee, I couldn't help but let out a little screech.
(All pictures clickable, but you might not want to look.)
It took about an hour until I was brave enough to deal with her, with a plastic cup and a piece of junk mail.
After I took the cup off her, she paused as if to pose for photographs.
Then suddenly she scuttled in the direction of the open front door...
... but instead scooted behind a flowerpot and off into the shrubs.
 That's enormous spider for England, not enormous spider for places like Australia.
Posted by Penny at 9:14 pm
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
It is possible - no, easy - to get from silver mining in Saxony in the sixteenth century to Knitty, 21st Internet Knitting magazine.
1) Georgius Agricola was a sixteenth century doctor who lived and worked in the town of Chemnitz, in Saxony. He was extremely interested in mining - it was the main industry of the area. He studied the diseases of miners, the technology of mines and geology.
2) He synthesised all his knowledge into one great work, De re metallica, which was published the year after his death. Before any one tells you it was 'modern', well it wasn't that modern. It wasn't an alchemical work, but he still thought in Aristolean terms.
3) De re metallica was the main mining reference well into the eighteenth century. It was written in Latin.
4) A copy came into the possession of Lou Hoover, the wife of the future United States President. She had studied Latin and geology at Stanford, and after she discovered there was no English translation, she and her husband worked on the translation together.
5) After the translation was published, she became First Lady, which meant people were interested in her knitting. The letter she wrote describing how to knit a blanket was the source for the "Hoover blanket" published in an early issue of Knitty.
6) That Hoover Blanket was one of the first internet knitting patterns I really noticed, and it was one of the few things I connected with Lou Henry Hoover.
And that is the trail of links from sixteenth century Saxony to Knitty magazine.
Posted by Penny at 9:49 pm
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Whoops, I thought I'd posted more recently.
I thought about doing a Messy Tuesday post about defrosting the freezer yesterday. It was a little bit overdue. The post would have shown a photo of the inside of a slightly icy freezer. Then there would be a photo of lovely clean freezer, with a stack of home cooked frozen meals neatly wrapped in foil. But the latter picture would have gone completely against the Messy Tuesday ethic, and I wouldn't have wanted to post just the first picture.
On the creative front, I wrote two essays last week. One was on whether Galileo's trial came about because of his book the Assayer, published in 1623 (summary of essay: "no"). The other was whether the Spanish Inquisition had an effect on 16th century science (summary of essay: "maybe)". However my essays were supposed to be 749 words longer.
I also knitted a bit more of my entralac bag from Yarn Forward.
Posted by Penny at 8:47 pm
Sunday, April 20, 2008
When I started making my scarf, I wrote exactly what I did, so I could put the pattern on my blog. The general plan was to use the Delve stitch pattern for the ends, with a stocking stitch section in the middle. The only reason it wouldn't be perfectly symmetrical was because the chart pattern would continue in the same order.
The reality was different. Somehow the two ends ended up being sufficiently different they would be suitable for a spot-the-difference competition.
There are 3 stitches of garter stitch at the sides, to stop stocking stitch curl. Due to the limited quantity of yarn available, I wanted pointed ends: squared off ends can look rather chunky.
Here are selected notes from my pattern file: more a recipe for adaption then a pattern.
Delve Swatch Scarf: Extended recipe:
Triangular end of scarf
Put a loop on your needle and knit into the front and back of it to have two stitches. (Fudge this however you like.)
Kfb, K to end of row
Repeat this row until you have 7 stitches on your needle. This is the equavalent of a 3-stitch border, a pattern area (currently one stitch) and another 3 stitch border. However in one row a stitch from each border is 'borrowed' to form part of a K2tog stitch.
Next row - wrong side
Kfb K1 P2 K3
Kfb K1 K3 K3
Kfb K1 P4 K3
(Row 11 of Delve chart) Kfb K1 K1 YO K3tog YO K1 K3
Carry on increasing at the beginning of each row while simultaneously including more of the chart stitches, until you have 29 stitches in total.
(If I was making it again, I'd stick to 27 stitches, with several rows borrowing from the border.)
Keep going until you have used about two thirds of the skein. At this point change the pattern to go into a stocking stitch section: keep the side diamonds, but have the central section in plain stocking stitch.
Around here, I made a section with 5 yarn-over holes, so that I'd know later that I used 5mm needles. This is the first time I've tried this technique: using purl bumps isn't effective.
Stocking Stitch to the end of the skein, plus a little bit further.
The start of the next section was where I got muddled. I knew what I wanted to do: make the stocking-stitch-to-pattern section as a mirror image of the pattern-to-stocking-stitch section, but continue with the chart in the same direction. In my mind it was straightforward, but in actuality I couldn't do it: my mind doesn't work that way. I can picture most of it, it was just translating from what the pattern showed to the actual knitting. After I had got part way through, I had the right number of stitches, and it looked OK, but it wasn't a mirror image. So I decided to leave it as it was.
I carried on with the Delve part until I got to the place where I had to start decreasing at the sides. This section ended one pattern repeat shorter then the other side.
The end section:
starting with a row 7:
K2tog K2tog YO K5
K1 K2tog P22 K3
Decrease one stitch at the start of each row, continuing with the pattern
until you have 8 stitches left.
K1 K2tog P3 K3
K1 K2tog P1 K3
K1 K2tog K3
K1 K2tog K2
K1 K2tog K1
Finish off remaining stitch (by passing thread through it).
Sew in ends.
Posted by Penny at 8:08 pm