Saturday, 31 December 2016

A Hogmanay post. Contains wool.

 From this...

 .. to this..

..via this!

Thanks to my parents, who gave me some money for Christmas, my new toy is a ball-winder! (I'm sure I've spent Hogmanay winding wool before; slight deja vu here.) I have a nostepinne but I can never wind a ball evenly, so the ball-winder is fantastic! And so quick.... Plus it entertained the kids. And the little cat was fascinated too.. No pouncing though, thank goodness.The bigger cat is more inclined to pounce on things like that but he's asleep upstairs.

We're at home for New Year this year, for the first time in about seven years I think. It feels a bit strange. In fact I don't even know what happens at midnight here though we've heard a few fireworks so I'm expecting more later on. We're usually in the Highlands staying with my parents (watching the village's organised firework display from the upstairs landing at midnight), but I left it too late booking the cattery, so here we are. However as I've had a chest infection and Miss M has a cough it's possibly just as well.  We've spent the last few days generally doing as little as possible, which has been nice but I've been losing track of the days a bit. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

I have no idea what I'll knit with that newly-wound ball of wool. I picked the skein from my stash more or less at random (it's Malabrigo Sock in Primavera) just to test-drive the ball-winder, but it's so lovely and soft I kind of want to cast on now. I have a cowl to finish first though, so I think I'll go on with that this evening. The kids are deciding whether they want to stay up until 'the bells' (it's 9.55pm now, past their usual bedtime, though not necessarily their usual sleep time). To be honest I'm pretty tired myself so I'm not that fussed about it. But happy 2017 to everyone!

Friday, 30 December 2016

Time travel

Hello world, I'm still here! And enjoying a few lazy days after a hectic couple of months.

Dad was getting rid of some books a while back, so I acquired a vintage 60s Penguin copy of The Divine Comedy, Part 3, i.e. Paradiso. I'd read bits of the others but never this, and I've got to say it's hard going. I'm just dipping in and out really.  But aside from that, it was interesting to find Dad's bookmark from when he was reading it - a Sainsbury's receipt.  Instant time travel to Croydon, 1965! How exotic..

Using the power of Google I've discovered that that address is still a supermarket, but it's a Waitrose now. Which isn't what you'd call stunningly interesting, I must admit! But one of the pleasures of second-hand books is finding tiny snippets of social history in the form of random improvised bookmarks.

I'm trying to write this while the kids are watching television so my mind is wandering rather a lot, so I'll just wish you a happy New Year in case I don't manage the Hogmanay post I'm planning!

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Of pumpkins and turnips

Hallowe'en has been and gone, and this year I carved two neepie lanterns, although I don't seem to have a photo of them together, and knitted a pumpkin. The pumpkin pattern was one I saw in a magazine, just when I fancied a quick, easy knit. The wool is Wendy Ramsdale, which I'd never used before, and is absolutely gorgeous.

Neepie lantern dribbling wax
I hung one lantern up outside the house and the kids took the other with them when they went guising:
Neepie lantern in action
When I took the lantern down from outside the house I managed to spill candle wax all over my hoodie so I've learned how to remove candle wax from clothes now! Actually I knew in theory how to do it but had never had cause to try, and now I know that ironing the item between layers of brown paper does actually work! Well, up to a point anyway - it got most of it out and I've just put the hoodie through a wash to see if the rest comes out.  See, you're never too old to learn something! Talking of which...

Usher Hall, Edinburgh
I graduated on Saturday! BA(Hons) in Humanities with Literature, and a very lovely graduation ceremony it was too.

Open University graduates are of all ages and, as was pointed out in one of the speeches, have almost all been studying under awkward circumstances - while working, while bringing up children, while caring for someone - so there was a real sense of achievement. I graduated from a traditional university 22 years ago having had a traditional student experience  - study, party, study, kid myself that sitting on the beach with my notes meant I was studying, beach party, study, repeat... As a young student I had a great time, learned a lot (not all from the studying part of it), and wouldn't have missed it for the world, and I did have a sense of achievement then. But really my only responsibility then was to remember to feed myself - and I wasn't even very good at that! Studying when you have actual responsibilities is a different kettle of fish entirely and I was taken by surprise at how amazing it felt to graduate with all these other people who had squeezed studying in here and there, fitting it in around families and commitments and responsibilities. So, it was a really nice, happy day!

Friday, 14 October 2016

Inky stuff

I really did aim to blog more regularly this autumn - so much for that! It's been a busy few weeks one way or another, and Friday swings around with the inevitable thought 'What? Already??'

One thing I've been doing recently is Inktober - a drawing a day with ink for the month of October (obviously), which you then share on Instagram for the delight (or secret supercilious amusement) of the masses. I'd resisted Instagram up until now because I was put off by all those filters that people got excited about when it first became popular - the ones that made them all look like duff family photos from the '70s. I have plenty of genuine duff family photos from the '70s of my own thank you very much. But that seems to have worn off now, and I can see why a lot of ex-bloggers go for Instagram and the like for a micro-blogging experience as it's instant (and yes, I only just got that) and very easy. I quite like rambling on a bit though, which I can't really do from my mobile, so I think I'm a blogger at heart.

I'm not going to share any more of my drawings on here because most of them are a bit rubbish really, but if you are interested I'm Peeriemoot on Instagram. Rubbish or not though, I'm really loving Inktober. I'd heard about it on a Ravelry group and thought it could be a good way to get myself to do a bit of drawing. And so far it's worked as I've managed every day - whether drawing, sketch or just a doodle. I've been doing publicity (posters, flyers etc) for the PTA's Hallowe'en disco recently so rather than just using whatever free clipart I could find I've been inspired to do a bit of my own stuff to use as well, such as my friendly bat:

I must admit to being very very pleased with the fluffiness of my bat!

I'd better finish now. It's Miss M's birthday and I've still to ice her cake, no doubt to appear on Instagram later!

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Ooh post!

Yay, the Shetland wool week annual arrived - time to sit back with a mug of coffee and a chocolate biscuit!

Monday, 19 September 2016

It's spaghetti time

Spaghetti time is when you cast on a million stitches (okay, 307, but that's bad enough) and your knitting looks like bedraggled spaghetti for the first eight or nine rows. At least the circular needle makes it curl up in a pleasing shape!

Things have been busy at Casa Peeriemoot and there hasn't been a lot of time for knitting, or not for the kind of knitting that requires concentration which is a little unfortunate because this particular pattern has a lace row every fourth row, and being me, I need to concentrate on this. And count. Very, very carefully. However yesterday I got a bit of time so the first lace row is Done. Yay! This will be a shawlette somewhat like the turquoise one I made in June, though it might take a little longer as I rashly threw caution to the wind and chose dark blue yarn. It's lovely actually - dark blue with flecks of turquoise and purple - but I really need to get the lace bit done before the equinox because this will require natural light and plenty of it! Remind me to pick a light colour next time..

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Very minor acts of creativity

Sometimes there's not a lot of time for being creative, but occasionally I can cram a very minor act of creativity into five minutes. Ages ago I bought a shopping-list notebook that had a magnet on the back. It lived on the freezer and was very useful but far too big. I think it was designed for people who do one massive weekly shop, but as I live within a five minute drive of a Lidl and a Morrison's, I'm more likely to do a smaller shop several times a week, and consequently my shopping lists are a lot shorter. The notebook was handy though because I could jot things down as soon as I realised we were running low on something. When it eventually ran out I got a very small (A7?) notebook and used that instead, tearing the magnet off the back of the old notebook and sticking it onto the new. I'm onto my third tiny notebook now and I really disliked the cover of the latest one. They're just cheap notebooks from the supermarket so they're ripe for a smidge of personalisation.

The kids had just had to cover some school jotters (notebooks, exercise books, whatever you want to call them - in Scotland a school notebook is always a 'jotter') and I had some gorgeous map-print wrapping paper left over from this so I made the boring, practical notebook a bit prettier. And transferred the magnet yet again - eventually there'll be so many layers of giftwrap attached to it that it'll be thicker than the notebook!

The trouble with a spiral bound notebook of course is that I can't get the cover completely, well, covered. But I like to tell myself that the blue strip behind the spiral binding almost matches the sea on the map..

Friday, 26 August 2016


Some flowers I saw today when I went for a quick walk after a slightly tedious trip to the retail park - ridiculous to sublime in one fell swoop!

Thursday, 25 August 2016

The Stealth shawl

Large, triangular and almost invisible.  Which just goes to show how lush my garden was looking yesterday afternoon!

So this is my Boneyardish shawl, which started off as a Boneyard shawl, but I completely forgot the garter ridges until way too late. I don't think it matters though. The wool is Colorimetry (dyed by my friend Purplejen) and I'm pretty sure it's 'Shetland Jumper'. Although I have a number of her hand-dyed wools I actually got this from another friend who wound it all into very neat little cakes (I really must get a ballwinder) and then decided the colours weren't really her after all. They are however very me, so that worked out well!

Miss M modelling again, because I'm rubbish at selfies. And really because she's a much better model than me.

This was a very quick summer project, an easy knit-until-the-wool-runs-out effort, which I actually finished while we were in St. Andrews so when I'm wearing it in the middle of winter I'll have some sunny, summery memories associated with it. I'll probably wear it neckerchief-style with the point at the front when I'm wearing my stupidly v-necked winter coat. Not going to think about winter now though, the sun is still shining, just!

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Well, that was a long day!

Starting with being rudely awoken by two alarm clocks half an hour apart, only one of which was mine. I'm just not a morning person. But the sun shone (somewhat surprisingly - the forecast was for 100% cloud cover), and I even got out into garden briefly in the afternoon to take a few pictures, so not all bad!

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

creeping back in

St. Andrews  - East Sands, pier and cathedral

That's been a long break - almost five months..

Things have been hectic and there have been family (and cat) illnesses, and blogging just fell by the wayside. Luckily things are calming down now, so here's the update!

I've finished my Open University degree and will be graduating at the end of October. I got a 2.1 (Upper Second). Again. I already have a 2.1 in Social Anthropology from the Olden Days of my youth. I was very close to getting a First with the OU degree but not quite. And if I hadn't taken that pesky Literature in the Modern World course partway through, maybe I'd have got it, but it turns out I hate 20th century literature. I blame Mrs Dalloway. I'm sure I'm not the first to say that. I am, of course, very happy with a 2.1, but I admit to being just slightly wistful about not getting that First.

The kids are back at school now but we had a pleasant summer - a week in St. Andrews again, a few days in the Highlands visiting Mum and Dad, a lot of lazing around reading.

St.Andrews - North Street at sunset

Falls of Pattack, near Loch Laggan

I started knitting again! I did hardly any knitting over the winter, probably because I was studying a lot, but as soon as I submitted my last assignment at the end of May I picked up the needles again to knit a present for a teacher at Miss M's school who was retiring after 40 years at that school. She's a lovely person who's done so much for the school and the kids, and taught both my children, so I wanted to make her something special. But as she announced her retirement quite suddenly we were all a bit taken by surprise and there wasn't much time! Luckily I'd come across the pattern for this shawlette (Sunburnt by Nidhi Kansal) which is quite quick and straightforward to knit up, even for me. I think I only messed up the lace section once, which is pretty good going for me!

Cat assistance
Modelled by Miss M

I was really pleased with how it turned out, so the next time I'm at the Yarn Cake I'll get some more of the yarn (DROPS Alpaca) in another colour and start one for myself. I also knitted another Boneyard shawl over the summer but I've totally failed to get a photograph of that. Actually it's more Boneyard-esque - I used yarn-overs instead of the left- and right-leaning increases and I completely forgot about the garter ridges.

Okay, none of that sounds very exciting! But the main thing is that everybody is healthy again. 

Thursday, 31 March 2016

holiday snaps

I've just been looking through the few pictures I took when I was back up in St. Andrews for a reunion at the beginning of the month. I was only away overnight but I had a lovely time - feels like ages ago already!

St. Andrews is frequently photogenic:

These two pictures are ones I took on the Sunday morning when I went for a wander before heading back to where I was staying to pack. It was probably about half past eightish and the light was silvery and amazing..

And this one is from the evening before, on the way to a restaurant to meet up with a bunch of people, some of whom I'd never met before, some who I'd not seen for more than 20 years. It was slightly intimidating actually, but it turned out to be a completely lovely evening.

South St at dusk

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

baking sand; or odd things to do at the weekend

Hello to any OU A334 buddies!

And to everybody else, here's how I came to be baking sand.

One of the interesting bits of independent study I was doing for my OU course recently was learning about writing technology of the past. If you're a bit of a stationery nerd, as I am, this is pretty interesting stuff.  The independent study options were related to the section on Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's Turkish Embassy Letters, so that we could imagine intrepid Lady M writing and rewriting her letters (she kept copies) with the available technology - quills, oak gall ink, writing slopes, sanders and what have you - knowing that some of her letters might never reach the recipients at all.

One thing led to another - an article on how quills were made and re-cut led to Youtube videos on making quill pens, naturally leading me to a walk round the local loch to see if the geese had moulted anything useful.  They hadn't, so I ordered some goose feathers from ebay (is there anything that you can't buy on ebay..?) and on Saturday I thought I'd have a go.

Stage 1 - cutting the feather down to a comfortable length and stripping the barbs. With the first feather I cut the barbs off with a knife but with the second I just pulled them off by hand which is easier and leaves a softer edge (so more comfortable to hold, I imagine).

Stage 2 - baking sand.
Apparently heating the quill in hot sand and then letting it cool makes it easier to cut and less brittle, so I baked some sand in the oven for 20 mins, then took it out and stuck the feathers in it. This makes you feel a) very silly and b) as if you're at playgroup again.

Actually while I was baking the sand I took one of the other feathers and thought I'd try skipping the heating the quill stage to see if there was a discernible difference (for Science! - and also for impatience and curiosity).

Stage 3 was the cutting. I have no pictures of this because I was too busy muttering and swearing. The sharpest knife I could find was my husband's Stanley knife which only had the tiniest bit of blade left, so it was a bit awkward. I may invest in a craft knife.

Quill 1, the unheated one, was indeed an absolute pig to cut, as you can probably see from the first bit of writing: 

However it was still exciting to have created a writing implement, and Miss M, who had been to a birthday party, decided to have a go too, hence 'The party was fun!'

Quill 2 was easier to cut but needed some trimming to get it to write in a vaguely satisfactory manner. If you click-to-embiggen that picture above you'll see it was writing double, so I was trying to smooth out any scratchy bits to make it clearer.

As you'll see from the next two pictures the writing can be pretty variable. My natural writing with a pencil or ballpoint is pretty small. With a fountain pen I write slightly larger and more slowly. With a quill, my writing was forced to be a good bit larger still, just to make it legible, though I imagine some of that would improve with practise. The first picture is the only half-decent one I managed to get of the tip of the quill. I imagine cutting the 'nib' would improve with practise too!

And finally, blotting (see this clip from The Wrong Box, 2 and half minutes in). Actually this was my editor. She likes to check everything I write. Or do. She was most offended when I wiped her paws after this, but I don't know how toxic ink is to kitties. (Incidentally, if you're one of my stationery-nerd chums, the ink is Diamine in green-black.)

What surprised me actually is how much I could write before dipping the quill into the ink again. I thought I'd be lucky to get a couple of words but I probably got at least three-quarters of a line each time. It does make me curious as to how much time Lady M spent on her letters, not just on the writing itself but recutting quills. It's also made me view the various letters in Pride and Prejudice in a different light - how long would it take Mr. Darcy to write his fairly epic letter to Elizabeth? Well, if he were me, ages.  I'd have given up, it would be a rather shorter story and Colin Firth wouldn't have to listen to jokes about wet shirts.

Monday, 29 February 2016


I should probably do a leap post - I don't think I've ever done one before.  There's not much to post about though. There has been a bit of a study frenzy and the assignment from hell. Judging by the Facebook group for this course most people found it difficult, despite there being a choice of two questions and a choice of texts to apply them to. I don't quite know why it was such a nightmare (writing it was like pulling teeth), but at least I wasn't alone in finding it tough going. Part of it was the subject - seventeenth century literature - which didn't really grab me and I know others felt the same. It's always easier to write about things which interest you. I did enjoy the Turkish Embassy Letters by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu though, so it wasn't all bad.

To celebrate vanquishing the pesky varmint assignment I bought a cheap but lovely fountain pen and some ink, and I have been practising writing more neatly, because nothing makes you want to use a pen as much as fighting a keyboard. The pen comes with a thing called a converter so you can put bottled ink in it, meaning you can break away from boring blue and black.

So I get a soft brown ink called Sepia because that's how it looks.  Also like tea.

Oooh, shiny. (Yes, we had sunshine!)

 Should anybody be pen nerdy the pen is a Jinhao X450 and the ink is by Diamine.

And that's it really!


Edited to add: I did a leap post in 2012!

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

being organised, part 2

just five more minutes..

The cat fancied a duvet day - don't we all? January does that to you, but, hey, nearly done with January so that's good!

The kids are back into their routine, I'm throwing myself into studying, though in a slightly haphazard manner, and stuff like laundry is getting done. I am moderately organised though it all goes to pot when I'm in a rush, such as last night.

I'm still doing a daily to-do list/bullet journal-esque thing most days and my new diary and notebook thing is working out much better than the Filofax did. The Filofax was brilliant in principle but the rings really do take up a lot of room.

In one of my notebooks I've been making (don't laugh) notes on ideas for blog posts. So I just have to put it into action! Which I am, just now. How very meta.

In other news I have started knitting a sock. Cue the fanfares!

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

The waves are rolling on


It's been one of those nights when nothing works out as planned. I drove over to my brother's flat, as planned, to watch the Up Helly Aa live webcast. I took stuff to make bannocks, as planned. And my brother ordered a Chinese takeaway (shut up, bannocks totally go with sweet and sour chicken; bannocks go with everything) as planned. Well, the takeaway arrived, so at least that went right.

The bannocks just went horribly wrong. I was adding the buttermilk gradually, but it went from 'too dry' to 'horrible claggy mess' in the blink of an eye. Eventually I got the mixture sorted and got them on the griddle but although they looked perfectly cooked on the outside they were still sticky on the inside.

So we started on the (excellent) takeaway and watched the procession. Every year tlhe coverage gets better and better and they seemed have more cameras including what appeared to be one in the playpark this year. Incidentally the commentators kept saying 'the burning site' but I still think of it as the playpark, which is exactly what it is on a normal day. They were reading out many of the #uphellyaa Tweets, including mine about the bannock disaster so that was my 3 seconds in the limelight!

Then I got a text from my husband asking if I knew where the keys to his car were, and I got that awful sinking feeling. Sure enough his keys were in my jacket pocket and he was supposed to be picking Miss M up from gymnastics at nine. So rather than sitting around reminiscing with my brother I had to head back out at half past eight to go and fetch Missy.

 Talk about wanting to kick yourself.

In other news I bought a fountain pen for 60p today. It would have been cheap anyway, we're talking a Sainburys' basic effort here, but it was in their sale so 60p. Sixty pee!  So I've been practising my neat writing.

Swings and roundabouts (and burning galleys).

The waves are rolling on.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

as if by magic

It stopped being dreich yesterday afternoon and decided to snow. And snow and snow. So today everything has changed, and everything that was grey and drab has been transformed into something a bit more magical. So I went for a short walk and took some pictures!

Yesterday these trees were sad, grey and bare and the ground was muddy. Add a bit of snow, and instant Christmas card scene!

 I loved the way the snow had made fluffy clouds on all the plants.

 I'm pretty sure this is the tree from my six-years-ago picture from yesterday. It's grown a bit I think, and I've taken it at a different angle - and of course the snow was very much deeper in the other picture!

I like this one, with the pale yellow of the cornus just showing through so it's not quite monochrome.

And the postbox just for a splash of colour!

The sky was looking very heavy and blank, and an hour or so later it started snowing again, though quite lightly. The forecast is for rain tomorrow so I'm glad I got out and enjoyed the snow however briefly. It does brighten things up a bit, even with the heavy sky.

And the boy cat was glad to get out and be actually camouflaged for once!

Friday, 8 January 2016

On this day in history..

.. And by history I mean my own history:


Six years ago today. That was a chilly winter.

This morning there was a frost and there are sleet showers predicted for later, but that's all - a normal grey, dreich January day, brightened up by a bunch of daffodils on my kitchen window-sill:

I am still recovering from whatever lurgy I had over Christmas - that's been over two weeks now so I wonder if it was actually some form of flu. I still feel very drained. Normally on a Friday morning I'd go to a Zumba class but that's still out of the question. However I do have a bit more energy today and have managed to get the kids to school, go to the supermarket (briefly), do laundry, clean out the cat tray and do the washing-up without having to go for a lie down between each one. I slept through most of yesterday so you can see that's a big improvement!

I've just realised this is my first post of January and it's not a very positive one! I don't really do New Year's Resolutions or anything like that, apart from the usual entirely sensible desire to get back into a normal routine after the Christmas break. This year however I do want to start knitting again, having had 2 or 3 months without knitting at all, which is most unlike me, so I'm on the hunt for something relatively simple and soothing to knit. I have some DK alpaca that I was going to make a hat from but I couldn't find a pattern that I liked enough and didn't require a gazillion different needle sizes, so I think I might possibly make a cowl instead as it doesn't require much thought or arithmetic to invent a pattern.

Time for a coffee I think.