Phew!

A whole day of parcelling, running around, and basically watching my brain melt. I can barely string a sentence together now – 50 parcels wrapped and franked for the socktopus club, yarn ready for the trip to Canada, clothes packed. David’s booked our seats, we have the taxi ready… Deuce went off with Cleone his walker (and frankly it seems the love of his life. Not a backwards glance! Not one!), all appears to be ready for the nuptials!

Flight tomorrow at 3pm, a trip to the post office in the morning, to the storage locker to fetch a few more supplies….

Organised Chaos

So it’s all coming together – three days left before we head off to Canada. We are putting together a packign list, as otherwise I fear many important things may be forgotten (rings, dress! shoes….). I often forget little things – pjs, underwear even, socks, toothbrush etc, so i think to avoid craziness a list is in order.

Thank you so much for all your well wishes, we are totally excited. A couple days of skiing before the wedding itself, then we are off to the Maldives for honeymoon. A week of doing zippo, nada, niente, rien really appeals. I can’t wait!!

Am knitting away still on my Serendipity socks (i shoudl be done them by now – but was distracted by a secret project, and couldn’t stop knitting on that…but now only 18 rows left before toe decreases. Hopefully will be grafting it up tonight!! Ha, then on to secret project knitting…. and a hat (cap karma in Malabrigo), a clapotis (Indigo Moon Sunshine), then another swallowtail in camelspin (for me this time! Or actually, first my mom, then for me)…. and of course, socks. Taking probablyjane’s lead, I am going to split my socks into Challenging, Relaxing, and Brainless for various moods. My Karenina socks are next, they will be my relaxing socks. I have agreed with Diane that we will do Eunny Jang’s Chuck’s Cable socks – those are challenging (two colour cable socks!). And my brainless? Totally plain, stockinette in a variegated. Let’s see what gets done on the plane!! I may sneak the Australian espresso sock in there too… Erqsome managed to knit a whole sock in 10 hours of knitting!

Dress was picked up yesterday. There were a few little bumps, but as picperfic is actually making hers herself, I cannot complain at all, as it was really more a M&S ready meal experience than a River Cottage experience!

Clueless

I keep trying to blog about my days running up to the wedding, but then something always seems to need doing or distracts me. I still don’t have the dress – am to pick it up on Tuesday. I need a haircut, but keep forgetting to make the appointment. We have final numbers. We spent sometime tonight sorting out the table placings.

We made chilli dogs today (yay!!) as I LOVE them and saw that my cousin J had made them a while ago. David made cassoulet tonight, but it was a bit too heavy for today’s gorgeous sun.

Secret things are coming together (well, secret but not secret!). Sock club yarn has arrived. Another parcel was sent out yesterday. Printing and photos tomorrow. Eek!

Went to D’s for the launch party of the Inside Loop – watched the counters as the site visits increased – almost 2000 in the first 24 hours. Spectacular. D& Kate the founders have a great idea – and they are so professional and conscientious. Am really excited to see where they take the Loop.

Suitcases are out. Lists are being made. And most importantly, I am planning how to ensure I get my knitting on the plane home. 9 hours is a sock! or a hat! hee hee.

Snatch

Had my first pilates class at the gym on Monday- on a contraption that looks not dissimilar to the life sucker bed in Princess Bride. The exercises were deceptively easy- deceptive because the next day I found that my breathing muscles were really sore!!

Yesterday a trip to Hatton Garden to have wedding bands made. Only, I forgot to bring my ring (thought david had taken it). We walked down the street to a non descript door. Well, actually, the door looked like it led toa crack house. We were buzzed up, walked the narrow dingy staircase to another door- this one made of 3 inch thick metal- where a burly ex SAS man greeted us, and motioned us inside through another metal door. The ex sas guy must have been satsified we posed no threat as he then sat down and continued to read his novel. David's been a fair few times and tells me that the man is always reading sas novels.

The lady behind the counter (itself filled with diamonds) had on two rings, each with a massive diamond. The thing was the diameter of a penny.

Am back again today with ring to choose my band.

Tues morning a visit with the Saint to a few antique shops- some of which had some amazingly beautiful pieces Рone book shelf was £75,000. Ouch. One had these chinese painted plates, very delicate yellows, soft reds and blues, with hinged handles. I was too afraid to ask how much they were.

And, today is the launch of The Inside Loop- a UK based online mag for knitters, crocheters, and fiberenthusiasts in the know!! www.theinsideloop.com They are ones to watch so be sure to pop by and check out the articles and great patterns.

Knitters Rock! But are very sneaky….

Sat morning was a visit to Borough market, to catch up with Daifu, Ellen and the Saint, visiting from NYC. A little bit of strolling in the very crisp chill air, and rather stupid standing about in the shade (very very cold in the shade) despite there being gorgeous sunshine out. Not sure what made us do that! Rounded off by a little bit of P&P at Ellen’s place, with some tea and fudge to warm us up after the cold morning out.

Evening was supposed to be a meet up with Laura, Sharon, Dee & Emms for a catch up. I always have fun with these ladies – so I knew it was going to be a good night, i just didn’t know how good!

The evening started out very well – feeling a little cheeky I took a cab to South Ken to catch the Piccadilly Line to Leicester Square. The cabbie was hilarious – an Italian guy with a broad cockney accent that meandered in and out of his speech. He sang ‘O Sole Mio’ in a rich deep (and loud) voice, and he told me that in life, all one needs is a little bit of luck. Not a huge amount, but just a wee bit. I heartedly agreed – a smidgeon to make that bit of difference, that bit that we’d notice, that bit that would give us a smile, make the day that little bit brighter. Not too greedy, lagom, as the Swedes would say (just enough for yourself so that there was enough left to go round to all the rest of the Vikings). I thought it was a nice philosophy. Attainable, and somehow, inspiring.

Having left my singing Italian, I made my way through the Chelsea supporters leaving the Chelsea match and on to Leicester Square to meet Emma & Laura. Sharon was to meet us at the pub. Emms & Laura took me to the pub, via the ATM, and I happily followed them. Probably a good 15 minutes later, we arrived at the pub. I had not tweaked that the pub was actually about a 2 minute stroll straight down from the tube. We wandered up to the upstairs lounge, Emma saying that maybe they should call Sharon to let her know we’d be upstairs. I remember saying – oh, I’m sure she emailed and said she’d see us upstairs, and thinking, Emma’s reaction was a little funny. Nothing I could pinpoint, just, kind of funny.

We opened the door – to – lots of flashes and … lots of people shouting SURPRISE!!! It took me a second or two to figure out what was going on – did I know these people, had I walked into someone else’s party? But I saw familiar faces that crystallised into Justine, then Diane, then Sharon, all beaming away, then I looked around and saw Jen, and some random blond girl… who turned out to be Mel! AnnaT was also there! I think Anna being there, and then Mel having her hair down totally threw me. I was momentarily quite confused. I have never had a surprise party before, and this was, this was just so amazing. I had thought it was just going to be the four girls catching up. How wrong I was! This surprise had been in the works for a while. And Emm & Laura knew everyone, including Sharon was to be upstairs. In fact, despite Laura saying to Emma that she hadn’t seen her since, oh, was it Christmas drinks? that they had seen each other often to sew up the blanket, and more recently an hour before they met me to prepare at the pub! Totally threw me off any whiff of suspicion!!

Turns out my dear sneaky Socktopods have been scheming and planning a wedding blanket for David & I. A blanket made up of strips knitted by my dear friends – picperfic, annat, Diane, Emms, Dee, Sharon, Laura, Mel, Tracy, Ali, Jen, Justine, Jane &
Alys a new friend!! Horseshoes for luck, xs and os for snuggling. A crochet border by Diane. It’s beautiful. It makes me teary just thinking of all the positive and loving vibes in the blanket. Thank you!! Sadly my camera batteries died today, so will post piccies tomorrow. But for piccies of the evening and of the creation of the magnum opus- click here.

Update: Piccies!!

The One Day in March blanket!

These are the various stripes of knitting done by the aforementioned lovelies:
Can you see the hearts, hugs & kisses?
Horseshoes for luck. Eyelet, mermaid…
Folded up. A snuggly blanket.
Diane’s crochet on the edge.

This was a fully fledged knitterly hen night. A knitted Learner’s plate, pinned to my shirt, and a home made veil with knitted roses (from Mel). But the fun doesn’t end there! Also in the pressie was a blue lace garter to make imperative to flash a little thigh at the wedding! And some handmade stitch markers by Jen. And, a lovely book with wedding messages and the yarns &a
mp; designs used in the blanket! How cool and awesome was that??? Honestly i am the luckiest girl and the happiest too. I sound like Jane from P&P but dangitall, it’s true! Am totally touched by all the people on the Ravelry group who were involved in this venture (as soon as I got home I put in the code words – yes CODE WORDS! See, sneaky!! – and looked up the group). And who (sneaky!!) kept this all top secret. I am touched by the generous and lovely thoughts and efforts. And I am impressed by your wily cunning! Heehee.

We drank, we knit, we made friends with Italians (I think there is a theme here…), a very drunk girl tried to shove crisp packets down the side of the sofa… where Laura was actually sitting. Very odd. She apologised profusely, too rightly. We drank up, then wandered down to Spaghetti House (see! theme! We should have gotten to singing….cabbie told me I need to practice singing…) for some pasta, and mustachios. Mustachios broke out on Emms, Then Sharon, then me. Laura refused, though I think she will succumb! Mustachio also migrated to Mel’s bosom, and Woolly seemed rather a bit too interested in them. Carl watch out! ūüėČ

We headed home after that, and I wondered why people were staring at me on the tube. when I got home, a guy asked me for directions to the nearest shop for ciggies, and after I very earnestly helped him with directions, he gave me a funny smirk and asked me if I were in theatre. I’d worn my mustachio all the way home! I giggled all the way to my front door. A perfect end to the perfect day. Thank you my dears.

A heathen and a sinner but a knitter nonetheless

Most every day I go to the post office to drop off parcels. ¬† There are a few I go to, depending on what I am doing that day – one near the park if I’m off to walk deuce, or another nearer to me when I need to be home. ¬†I’ve been going to one pretty regularly now that they know me. Two blokes work there – one younger, one older. Yesterday, the younger guy was being a little crusty to me (he had a scarf on inside – maybe he was sick?), but then, out of the blue, he asks me if I believe in Jesus Christ. ?? or more precisely, wtf? ¬†

I didn’t want to get into a theological discussion with the dude behind the window (1. because I was not in a sparring mood, 2) because he is my local post office dude and 2. because he is behind a window and frankly who can have a decent conversation when it goes dude ‘blah blah’, me ‘sorry, can you repeat that?’, dude ‘blah blah’, me ‘oh, right, blahblah?’, dude, ‘sorry, can you repeat that?’, me ‘I’m sorry what did you say?’, dude…etc, with a line of people behind you casting you the evil eye for taking up their time.) so I just said yes. ¬†then he asked me if I went to church. ¬†Again I said yes. It isn’t a lie, I have been to many different churches both during service and out, United Chinese, Catholic, Anglican, Protestant, Swedish, German, Albertan, English, French, Spanish… as well as temples (both jewish buddhist and confucian, probably even taoist). ¬†Then he asked me what fellowship I belonged to. I remember thinking bugger, I was caught out… I stammered that I hadn’t been in this country (again true), that I had been in Canada… and they he whipped out a little pamphlet, and invited me to go to his church. ¬†

I read the pamphlet whilst madly trying to find a way out that would still enable me to use the post office and not insult the guy, whilst vaguely wondering whether everyone got this special treatment or only the regulars? ¬†Surely this cannot be good professional practice? Or maybe the post office encourages both saving money in their new bank service as well as saving souls in certain recommended Sunday services? ¬†The pamphlet directed: ‘The most IMPORTANT MESSAGE you will ever read! READ IT NOW”. ¬†The pamphlet even had a glossary with helpful translations of quotes – “God = the Creator and Sustainer of life”, “Whosoever=You”, “The World= You and everyone else”, “Perish= eternal punishment for those who refuse God’s plan of salvation.” ¬†Just in case I really had no idea about Christianity. Maybe he thought I was a heathen needing salvation? A sinning heathen no less if the pamphlet is anything to go by!
I managed to say that I’d think about it, hoping he’d drop it. ¬†No such luck. Dude continued to extol the virtues of his church, very friendly, i’d fit right in and all that. ¬†He even offered to have his friend come pick me up in his car and take me to his church. ¬†In PLAIDSTOW. ¬†Right on the other side of town. ¬†Um… very nice offer, but frankly, going anywhere in a car with this guy or his friend was not on the cards. ¬†I declined, and finally (stupid me for not saying before!) said that I was going to get married in two weeks and wouldn’t be back for 2 months so in any event wouldn’t be able to consider until then. ¬†He deflated a little at this, and turned away leaving the older dude to speak to me. ¬†He stopped asking me to his church!! Yay. But given the effect of those words – surely I can only conclude he was trying to pick me up? ¬†Someone should let him know telling a girl she is a sinner and in need of salvation is probably not the best way to get a girl on side.
I put my parcels in the Royal Mail bags, and ran out. ¬†I guess no “Everlasting life” ( as translated =with God in Heaven forever, in a state of supreme happiness and bliss) for me!¬†

It’s okay. I can stay on Earth, with my stash and be in a pretty good state of happiness and bliss. On the knitting front have been busy! Finished my leaf lace socks (from Vogue Ultimate Socks) for a friend.

And I also finished one sock out of my first RSC kit – Serendipity in Dragon Dance STR yarn. Lovely quick knit, love the colours… the pattern looks like lizard/dinosaur skin…. neat but also slightly disturbing on the foot. Will finish the other soon and start on the Socktopus Club socks. I knit it 0.5 inches shorter than actual foot length, but because it already has about half an inch negative ease on the circumference, and because, on 2.25mm needles it is quite a tight fabric, I should have knit to actual foot length. Oh well, they aren’t uncomfortable and i’m sure they’ll have some more give.

I made the Odessa hat from Grumperina -out of hot pink Manos del Uruguay from iknit. Knit on 4.5mm and 5.5mm needles, I knit to 20 cm before i began decreasing, as I wanted a longer toque rather than fitted hat. Love it! Think will keep this one, though, to be honest, it was intended as gift. May knit another on smaller needles since… well it was a two evening knit, so could whip one up relatively quickly!


And finally, more bagels! Putting into practice things observed from the Nigella recipe, and a few tips from Cookwise, a sort of chemistry book on cooking, I tried the Bagel Oasis recipe again. They came out alright. Observations:
1) I did kill the yeast the first time. These guys really puffed up.
2) I punched down half the dough after the rising, and let it sit 15 minutes.
3) I punched down the other half, and knead it firmly afterwards for another few minutes, no 15 minute rest. These made bigger bagels (they grew more in the oven and on boiling than previous half).
4) I added half teaspoon cinnamon to the dough. Next time I’d add a bit more.

They turned out more bagel looking and a better size than the first batch, and more bagel like than Nigella’s version. Adding brown sugar to the boiling water does give them a nice brownish shine to the outside. These ones also got a 1 minute rest after boiling (to dry), were boiled for 2.5 minutes longer… and have a much much better crust than the soft Nigella bagels. I will find some malt syrup from a chemist and try with this instead of brown sugar, as trad bagels are made with it. Maybe that will bring it closer in flavour to the real thing. Still, am happy with these…. and scoffing them toasted with some butter is yummy!