“attractive wife fat sweater mohair”

WordPress gives you statistics on a number of things, including what search terms people have used to find your blog. This can sometimes be informative, sometimes baffling, and sometimes hysterical.  This morning, I found this:

 

People found your blog using the following search terms:

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Enough said.

 

Bluebells and milestones

On Thursday, I put the last edits in on my thesis, pushed the submit button, and finished my Exec MBA.  (Hooray!)  I called Doug and said “I’m finished!”  After the appropriate cheering and such, Doug said “OK.  What do you want to do now?”  I thought for a minute and said “Go see the bluebells!”

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Bluebells are beautiful wildflowers that carpet parts of England for a few precious weeks each spring.  If you blink, you may miss them.  That would be a shame.  The best part of living in this corner of the world is going for a walk through the bluebell woods in the spring.  Below you can see a patch of bluebells in the distance; see the hints of purple?

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And here they are up close.  I love this photo, which shows that in every crowd there is a non-conformist:

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We went to see them at Grey’s Court, a National Trust property near our home, that has the most spectacular gardens.  I love this little peak of the flowering trees on the other side of the wall.

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It’s been a very busy 30 months, full of hard work and total craziness, not to mention a career change mid-way through, but I must say I loved (nearly) every minute of it!

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Whatever will I do now with all of my spare time?

 

 

So close….

I am so close to finishing my MBA.  So very, very close…

This means that I have no knitting to report, and no time to blog.  When I am finished (any day now!) I am going to knit like a maniac!  (Maybe I will sleep first.  And go out and celebrate.  And sleep some more.  But then, I’m going to knit.  And knit.  And knit.)

Wish me luck!  I’m almost there!

Just like every other day

Yesterday was April Fools Day.  I was heading into the city on the train.  As I was leaving the train station, I noticed a hand-written sign on a large white board.  It said:

Thought for the day:

Today is April Fools Day.

Don’t believe anything you hear.

Don’t trust anyone.

Just like every other day.

I did a double take, and stopped and stared at the sign while commuters streamed around me in annoyance.  This was obviously supposed to be funny; a little bit of humour to set you on your way.  I found this sign very depressing.  I left the train station feeling very down and sad about the state of the world.

I was in the city to conduct some interviews for an ongoing research project on stakeholder engagement in the mental health care sector.   My last interview of the day was with someone who had a very sad story to tell.  A sad and harrowing story.  One that didn’t end well.  Imagine, if you will, the kinds of sad and harrowing stories that could be told when discussing mental health.  Well, this was one of those stories.

The person who told me this story was elderly.  Life had dealt him a very bad hand.  He could have been profoundly pessimistic.  His story had ended tragically, but he believed in the power of change.   He believed in the power of people to make changes.  He believed in the power of people to be good.  He believed that he could make a difference.

I walked back to the train station late in the day and the sign was still up.  But in my head, I re-wrote that sign.  In my head, it said:

Thought for the day:

Someone today is making a positive difference in the world.

Just like every other day.

Juxtaposition/Procrastination

Today, I bring you a little experiment in colour juxtaposition.  Here is my Soumak Shawl Wrap, worn with two sweaters, which are identical except for the colour.

 

The above photos were taken with me standing in the shade.  Here they are again with me standing in the bright sunshine:

 

 

Please note two things:  First, there IS bright sunshine today, on a Bank Holiday weekend, in England!  Never fear, dear readers, tomorrow we are expecting blustery winds, thunder, and hail!  We can rest easy that life goes on as expected.  Second, note that I am squinting. I am, after all, standing in the bright sunshine.

I had expected that the shawl would look warm against the orange sweater, and cool against the beige sweater.  Instead, I think that it looks warm in the sunshine and cool in the shade, regardless of the sweater colour.  See how the blues stand out in the shade, while the yellows stand out in the sun?

Why am I publishing this not very enlightening post?  Well, obviously, I have something important I should be doing today. Something other than knitting, or blogging about knitting, or driving my husband crazy asking him to take multiple photos of me, while I change sweaters back and forth and try not to squint in the sun.  (Like, perhaps, finishing a very important paper that I need to write…)  But you see, I am a master of procrastination.  Thus, this post.

Speaking of which, this is me, without a doubt:

 

Here’s hoping your procrastination techniques get some practice today!

Spring green mitts

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I am now back in England and we had a beautiful hour or two of sun this afternoon (!) in which to take some photos of my new mitts.  These are the mitts which I was knitting last week while in South Africa communing with elephants.

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This is the pattern Wedgewood Mitts, designed by me.  I designed them to play around with a lovely shipment of Kate Davies’ new yarn, Buachaille.  The original pair, made for Leah, was in a very pretty mid-blue with white edging.  Just before leaving for Johannesburg, I tossed a skein of this lovely spring green, called Yaffle, and the remaining white from the first pair of mitts, into my suitcase.

I made a few small modifications from my original pattern.  Here is what I did:

  1. Cast on an extra 4 stitches (48)
  2. Worked an extra two rows of corrugated ribbing
  3. Decreased 4 stitches after ribbing
  4. Worked an extra 2 rows before starting gusset
  5. Worked three rows less before adding white edging

Basically, this added 4 stitches just to the cuff, to make the cuff a tiny bit more roomy.  I also made the cuff portion of the mitt slightly longer, while making the finger portion of the mitt slightly shorter.

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I am very happy with how they worked out, and am especially charmed with the combination of this spring green and the white (Yaffle and Ptarmigan in Buachaille-speak).  Obviously, I am not the only one to think so.  I had finished the first mitt and cast on for the second when I noticed that Kate Davies had designed a new hat for release at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival this weekend:

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© Kate Davies Designs

 

I absolutely love this design, which was inspired by a collection of Hornsea pottery designed by John Clappison in the 1960s; go read Kate’s post here.  Sadly, I cannot be at the festivities in Edinburgh this weekend, but I did try to alleviate my misery by ordering a kit to make this hat!  Just think how pretty it will look with the mitts.

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Happy Sunday everyone!

 

 

Knitting with elephants

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I am in South Africa for two weeks teaching, and I took advantage of my free weekend to travel out to a game reserve.  Yes, that is me knitting while standing next to an elephant.  I am standing in front of the restaurant at the game reserve, which is located next to a large watering hole where the elephants come to drink every day.  Thank you to Roy, the lovely man who took the photo; when I told him and his wife that I wanted a photo of me knitting with the elephants for my blog, they said “What a lovely idea!” instead of “Sorry, lady, but you are crazy!  You need help!”

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Above is a photo taken the day before where I am sitting on the back porch of my room while an elephant wanders in the bush just below me.  This was a very cool and surreal experience.

I went on a game drive one evening.  It was great fun.  Here is a list of the animals which we saw while on the drive: vervet monkeys, hippos, red hartebeest, wildebeest, warthogs, zebras, white rhinos, giraffes, ostriches, impala, blestbok, kudu, jackals, waterbok, springbok, nyala, and eland.  I didn’t take many photos, and am also having some difficulties with bandwidth here, so I will only show you a few.   I am not sure, but I think the beautiful animal below is an impala.

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We came across a family of giraffes, including a three week old baby:

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We were in an all-terrain open vehicle, and driving through the bush – really off-road. This last week there has been torrential rain here, so there was mud everywhere.  At one point, our vehicle got stuck in the mud, and we had to all get out and stand in the bush, while trying to get the vehicle loose from the mud.  We gathered tree branches and vegetable matter to stick under the wheels, but it took a good 20 minutes to get it loose, and in the meantime we were all sure that we would get eaten by hippos!   We drove through the game reserve for three hours and came so close to the animals it was astonishing (and a bit scary).  The rhinos were the hit – at one point we were about 8 feet away (too close in my opinion).  Here is a photo of me in the vehicle with rhinos just beyond me.  (Thank you, Ian, for taking the photo!)

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Here is a not very good photo of zebras, but it gives you a good idea of the kind of countryside we were driving through.  It is pretty astonishing to be driving along and come across a herd of zebras.  There were about twenty or so zebras in this group, including quite a few young ones.

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The amazing thing is that we were still quite close to Johannesburg; this was an 80 minute drive from my hotel in Jo’burg, but really felt far removed.  It is a whole different world from the city.  I am told that it doesn’t come close to the kind of experience you would have in the Kruger, but for a weekend break, it was pretty  cool!  On the Saturday, I sat down in the restaurant for lunch, and looked up to see an elephant outside the window. Here is the photo I took from my seat while eating lunch:

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People here are very friendly.  My driver, Sipho, is a great companion on the road and we shared many stories.  He brought his wife along on the return trip, and we all got to enjoy the elephants and good conversation.  I was traveling by myself, but found people to sit with, and chat with, and eat with.  I shared a lovely dinner with two Australians, one from Brisbane and one from Sydney, who were here attending a conference.  (Thanks, Ian and Lisa.  And thanks also for the wine!)  Today, I sat in the sun for a while sharing drinks and chatting with two lovely South African families, Nicol and her husband and young son, and Roy with his wife, who prove that 74 is the new 50!  I was knitting all morning while sitting and chatting with them, so perhaps they weren’t put off by my request for photos of me knitting with elephants.  And, of course,  I felt compelled to knit while leaning against the sign saying “Danger Elephants” in front of said elephants!

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