This is what I’m planning to call my regular posts about what’s going on and where my projects are at. This is my equivalent of the nattering bit of podcasts, where the podcaster tells you what they’ve been up to, what they’ve got coming up, and what’s on the needles, and knowing my propensity for yammering on a bit, I’d settle in for the long haul if I were you. Get yourself a brew, or maybe something stronger, a craft project (if you can do it and read at the same time, that is!), and buckle up!
What’s been going on?
OK, what happened last month…? Well, I started a blog. This one. I hope you like it! People have been reading it, which is a good start. Please keep reading it! And subscribe please – there should be a button somewhere to do that… Actually, let me just check that I did activate that… OK, I hadn’t, which would explain why I didn’t get many subscribers, but it’s there now – top of the right hand column on the desktop version, and hopefully somewhere similarly obvious on the mobile/tablet versions too!
Other than that, I had a trip up north to visit my newborn nephew, who is totally adorable, and took him and my niece some crocheted gifts (a blanket for him, and a polar bear for her – I’ll do separate posts for those later); I sang an Evensong at Askham Bryan church with the Clerkes of All Saints, which was lovely (about which more below in the music section); there was a general election, which I’m not going to talk about, because I have OPINIONS, and this is not a political blog; I met one of the Canadian members of my extended family who was in the UK for a conference – me and my cousin took him for a flying visit around York on the hottest day of the year so far (seriously, I’m pale and pasty and from Yorkshire, I’m not designed to deal with 31C and high humidity!) followed by a proper Sunday lunch in a pub (obviously); my two piano students took their Grade 2 and Grade 4 ABRSM exams last week… And the day job has been pretty busy too!
What’s happening in July?
July is looking a bit busy – for starters it was my birthday on Saturday, which was lovely, and I got the most amazing present from my fiancé: a customised (by him) Wonder Woman KitchenAid mixer!!
I knew he was up to something, but I had no idea what, so it was an amazing surprise when I unwrapped it! So naturally, baking also happened this weekend, in the shape of pretzel sticks, using this recipe:
They were yummy. Once those had baked and been thoroughly taste tested, we went for a nice sit by the river near our house – he fished, and I knitted. It was a beautiful afternoon, and he even caught a fish (which he thinks was a chub), and some sticks (which I’m fairly sure is the fish equivalent of flipping the middle finger and swimming away singing “ner ner ner you can’t catch me”).
In other stuff, I’m singing a medieval mass with the Clerkes on 15th July (see below for more info), meeting up with various friends for catch ups and birthday shenanigans, and singing another evensong with the Clerkes at the end of the month (again, more below).
What’s on my needles/hooks/sewing desk and other crafty things?
There’s not a lot on my knitting needles at the moment – at least not actively being worked on anyway (like most crafters, I have loads of projects hibernating half done….!). The main thing is a pair of socks, which is the Tour De Sock warm up pattern called Priha, by Tiina Kuu. I finished the first one at the end of last week, and am at the heel flap on the second.
I’m using up stash yarn for these – the cuffs and toes are the leftovers of Easy Knits yarn from my G&T Catnip Socks, the main colour is Knitglobal Sock Yarn in the colourway 399 Carnival, and the contrast colour is some different leftover Easy Knits yarn, Deeply Wicked + in colourway Evanora, which doesn’t seem to be available currently. People always say you shouldn’t use variegated yarn for colourwork, but I think these are fine; there’s plenty of contrast between the two, so the pattern is showing up nicely. I’m using 2.5mm needles, and a 72 stitch pattern, and they seem to be coming out about right for me.
I’ve mentioned Tour De Sock a few times, so I think it’s time I explained what it is. This is my first year taking part, so I’m a bit of a newbie to it myself too, but basically it’s a speed sock knitting contest. I think in the past it has started at the same time as the Tour De France (hence the name) but it’s starting late this year as the organiser is away or something. It’s run to raise money for charity (Doctors Without Borders this year), as there is a very reasonable entrance fee. Knitters organise themselves into teams (go Team Knit Socks And Be Awesome!), and compete for points in each of six stages. The first so many people to finish each pair get points for their team. The entrance fee gets you all six sock patterns, plus the warm up pattern above, with each one being released on the stage start date. Stage One kicks off on 15 July, and I have my yarn all sorted and ready to go. Registration is open until 13 July, so if you fancy it, you still have chance to sign up and find yourself a team! If I’m honest, I’m not really expecting to finish any of the stages before the next one begins, but I will make all the socks one way or another.
In other crafty stuff, I’m partway through making myself a rainbow monster from the Edward’s Imaginarium book by Kerry Lord of Toft Alpaca. I’m making it from chunky yarn, so it’s coming out huge, which is what I wanted. So far, I have a body/head (all one piece), one horn, and one arm!
The Edward’s Imaginarium book is a ‘pick your own’ flip book, so every monster you make will be different. There is a standard head/body piece, then you pick out your horns/hair for the head, arms, and legs, and add a tail or whatever else you want! You can use any weight of yarn as long as you then use an appropriate sized crochet hook, so the toys are available in all sizes!
I’ve also started a new project with a new skill this month – rag rugging! I bought a rag rug kit (everything but the rags) from eBay months ago after I’d been to a museum and decided it was time I made one, but hadn’t got around to using it until now, when a combination of needing to clear out some old clothes, and an attack of start-itis (you know, that feeling when you want to start a new project regardless of the loads you already have half done?!) combined to prompt me to get going. I’m cutting up my old clothes (stuff that is either a bit too worn out to donate to charity, or stuff I don’t think they’d want, but is fine to be walked on) into little strips which I’ve started hooking onto the hessian supplied with the kit. Once I got my hands around the general movements, it started going quite quickly – I’ve cut up three different fabrics so far, but since I want to do a completely random design with lots of colours, I think I’m going to have to cut up some more pretty soon or it’ll look a bit patchy when it’s finished. I’m quite happy with the fact that it looks like I feel like it should already though!
What craft stash have I been acquiring?
Only one acquisition this month, and it was one I just couldn’t resist. The very lovely Jennie of Owl About Yarn made up some Wonder Woman kits including a project bag, themed yarn, stitch markers, and a few other bits and bobs, and initially I resisted buying one – I am meant to be cold sheeping after all! They sold out super quickly, so she decided to open (limited) pre-orders for one last time to get one, and I might be able to resist temptation once, but not twice, so I caved and ordered myself one. It took a little while to arrive, because I had to wait for Jennie to make them up, but it arrived on my birthday!
The yarn is Jennie’s Sparkle Owl sock yarn (75% merino, 20% nylon, 5% stellina) and is just fabulous! I was going to use a different yarn for my first Tour De Sock sock, but I’m not sure I can resist using it. And it might give me extra Wonder Woman speedy knitting powers… You never know!
What music has happened and is coming up?
On 4 June, I sang an Evensong with the Clerkes of All Saints at St Nicholas Church, Askham Bryan, near York. It was a slightly odd set up – we were sat up in the balcony at the back, with not a lot of room! Our MD had to stand off to one side, so that those of us on the front row had to sing more or less sideways. But that wasn’t the weirdest thing – if we’d been facing properly forwards, we’d have been singing face on into a massive wooden beam!
The music was good though – Tallis’ Preces and Responses in C (chosen by the church, not us), a Lords Prayer setting by Chris Hamlett (our MD) which is fabulous), Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis by Jeremy Jackman, Justorum Animae by Lassus for the anthem, and two psalm settings (because they were short psalms that day). Plus about 4 or 5 hymns. And a sermon. It was a looooong service. But the most surprising moment came when we sang for the first time with the organ – not only did we have big beams to contend with on that balcony, but seemingly all the organ pipes too! These were hanging above out heads, and the bigger pipes were right behind where Chris was standing so it was very loud!
Scared the living daylights out of us all when it first cranked up, and not least because the organist was clearly missing out on his life’s calling as a seaside cinema organist. It was a good giggle though.
Coming up in July I have two Clerkes gigs, breaking my personal rule of one per month, but there aren’t any in August, and the second one is so close to the end of the month it might as well be in August, so it doesn’t really count, right?
First up is a Medieval Mass at All Saints, North Street in York on 15 July at 2pm. This is an entirely plainsong service, sung in Latin, and is the only one of its kind anywhere in the world, so it’s worth coming to hear us if you’re in the area. All Saints church is worth a visit anyway – it’s mainly 14th and 15th century, with some of the finest medieval stained glass in Europe. The mass is celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of North Street, and the music is taken from the 15th century York Masses, as transcribed by one of our tenors (and the former priest in charge of All Saints church), and it will be first time that some parts of it have been sung at all since the 16th century!
Of a slightly more normal persuasion (I expect, anyway), is the Evensong at All Saints, Market Weighton church. I believe this is to mark the retirement of the current Vicar. That’s about all I know about it though – I don’t know yet what we’re singing (we have a repertoire of music that is always ready to go); I assume we’ll find out at the rehearsal next weekend!
I think that’s about all for this month – well done for sticking with me, if you’ve made it this far! I promise there won’t be another long round up like this for another month, but I will make sure I do FO posts for any of the Tour De Sock projects I actually manage to finish – wish me luck!