Thursday 30 June 2011

Small Stones

For the month of July I am taking part in an online writing challenge to write a 'small stone' every day. The purpose of the exercise is to encourage people to pay close attention to the small details of life and capture a moment in time that has caught your attention during the day. You can visit the River of Stones blog and read all contributions by clicking the badge in the sidebar, or visit my other blog that I have titled Random Affiliations.

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Life, death and knitting

I downloaded 'The Friday Night Knitting Club' by Kate Jacobs from the Audiobook Library, mainly because of the knitting, but have quite enjoyed it. It was definitely in the realm of 'chick lit', a story about a group of women, their friendships and their lives, nothing too demanding or challenging.

Georgia owns the knitting shop where they meet, and is a single mom to Dakota, struggling with the reappearance of James, Dakota's father. Anita is the long term widow, devoted friend, but also looking to her own future and getting annoyed at the interference of her grown-up children. Darwin is this weird student, researching 'women's issues' who comes to observe but not to knit. Lucie is a TV producer with a yen for a baby. Peri is the shop assistant who really wants to design handbags. KC is Georgia's former boss, mainly just turning up to be sociable. And Cat is a former schoolmate of Georgia's, now living the high life but wanting to escape an unhappy marriage. So they all have their little quirks and concerns, and their own separate story lines, that come together when they have their meetings, time to knit and eat cookies. The main story though follows Georgia and Dakota and their changing relationship as Dakota gets older and the arrival of her father disrupts their nice cosy twosome. It was all very neat and predictable ... that is until she killed off Georgia and then it got trite and sentimental.

I was not totally convinced that the author knew anything about knitting. She had this cute little knitting metaphor thing going on at the start of each chapter, but it sounded a bit like she had read some knitting books and cobbled it together; lots of tired clichés about the troubles that beginners get into and the *really* tired cliché about a jumper with one sleeve too long and one too short, I mean if you can actually knit a jumper who the hell can't measure the sleeves and make them the same size, what a pile of nonsense. So all in all a pleasant little tale of female friendship and how it makes your life better to share your problems and how friends all pitch in to help each other when the times get rough. It will make a nice heartwarming film.

Monday 27 June 2011

Work Whinge of the Week 23: victorian letter boxes

Ok, probably not number 23 but I have had a lot of unaired work whinges recently.
We have finally got the revision underway at work (in the pipeline since March), the up side being that I have moved to a 31 hour 4 day week. I have been moved from the old terraces and 1950s semis of Fallowfield down to the posh end, the Victorian/Edwardian red brick of Didsbury. And down there of course everybody is keen to preserve the authentic whatnots of their lovely houses, including the stupid tiny letter boxes that were designed for when letters consisted of a single sheet of paper folded up and sealed with sealing wax ... and I have been struggling with them all morning (letterboxes in general could be the subject of an extended Work Whinge diatribe but I'll save that for another time). The only perk of the morning was the lovely leafy canopy down all the streets that offered a little protection from today's sweltering heat. My bottle of water was tepid and my mid morning snack melted and it was a 25 minute walk back to the office when I finished. Not a good day, tomorrow must be better.

Sunday 26 June 2011

In need of a bedside bookcase

I really need a better system for my TRB (to be read) pile. I should make a list, prioritise ... or at least finish one book before I start the next.

Books that I am in the process of reading:
The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins (just a few chapters in)
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (this has been the 'breakfast table' book since I joined a readalong back in September last year, though I am past page 900)
The Ballad of Peckham Rye by Muriel Spark (it is small and thin and got lost under something else)
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (short stories that I lent to mum part way through, enjoying dipping in)
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver, just a fascinating book, but also very long, nearly down to the last 100 pages, this is my bedtime read.
The Steep Approach to Garbadale by Iain Banks is my bus book at the moment, picked up after enjoying The Wasp Factory so much.

The trouble is that the bigger the pile gets the more older things get relegated. I borrowed A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book from mum and really want to read that, but I keep thinking it should be somewhere down the queue, after stuff that I bought two years ago?
The pile has to be nice and tall to make sure the jelly babies are easily accessible though the lamp is still too low down to be helpful when I turn off the main light.

And I realised this morning that Creature (the daughter formerly known as M) has officially left 'school'. As of the last Friday in June she is no longer required to justify her time to anyone from the LEA. Over the years we have had a variety of ignorant intrusive visitors wanting to know what the children were getting up to, and mostly failing to get to grips with alternative ideas about learning outside the formal schooling system.
That reminds me that I have plans to move stuff from my now closed STB website onto some pages attached here. Also just for nostalgia sake to add a link to my first ever website, called unsurprisingly Silencing The Bell, that is still accessible via a web archive.

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Colourful work in progress

Disgruntled teenager (who does not like being photographed) is bored of having dull hair ... so we have transformed it into this:
though the blue has faded out very quickly, the pink is still gorgeous and vibrant.

I have started a couple of new knitting projects. I promised Carly that I would do jumpers for her twins, in fact I promised when they were little, they will be two in a month so I am finally getting around to it. I have bought some lovely multicoloured chunky yarn and am doing raglan sweaters.
I also had another ball of sock yarn hanging around and started doing myself another pair since all my hand knit have holes in the heels (though I will probably unravel them and reuse the yarn). Wanting to do something more interesting I started doing little cables, but they are very fiddly and I am regretting it. All the other pairs I knitted myself I find a bit lose so I cut down to 56 stitches and I am now worried they are a bit small ... will wait and see.

Tuesday 21 June 2011

King Lear revisited

The Travels of Maudie Tipstaff by Margaret Forster that I listened to last week was the most annoying of books with not a single likeable character, only the nice scottish accent of the reader kept me listening, and the hope that Maudie would get a bit of a comeuppance at some point.

Maudie, a very smug, self-satisfied and self-sacrificing elderly woman, decides to take herself off to go and spend four months with each of her three estranged children, in the style of King Lear, to decide which of them will provide a home for her in her dotage. The first daughter lives a neat unassuming life with her husband and only son. You would think that they would be well suited with the same neurotic cleaning routines but having been separated for 15 years they have nothing to talk about and no bond of affection. The second daughter has six children and lives in a squalid farm cottage and tends to spend her time drinking tea and admiring nature. Maudie is horrified to have produced a daughter who is so lacking on domestic talents and sets about sorting out her life, an influence that the daughter resists by being utterly oblivious to her mother's disapproval. She departs in despair and hope to stay with the son, who writes devoted letters but has been living a nomadic lifestyle, alone and self-contained. His minimalist existence in a reclaimed shed is so alien to her and she similarly find she has no point of contact with him.

What was interesting was the portrait of a person who's life was so narrow that they could not even imagine anyone living in any other way, with any other set of priorities than those she felt were important; she sets about scrubbing and whitening her daughter's doorstep and while with the son cannot conceive that people might need to wear different clothes in a Mediterranean climate than in her native Glasgow. And she was so completely unchanged by her experiences. Instead of setting out in a sense of adventure to get to know her children she sets out with a preconceived idea of who her children are, and when they don't live up to it she just withdraws from any real communication with them. She makes no concessions to them, though to be fair none of the children make any concessions to her either, carrying on with their own lives and just taking her presence for granted or ignoring her. It was kind of sad really. Poor Maudie does not have a dutiful daughter who loved her in spite of her behaviour. There was no dramatic transformation, and thankfully no violent eye gouging scenes, and Maudie goes home, deciding that she likes her independence and having her own routine and the comforting atmosphere of her own home. Much as the children were not likeable either I kept wanting her to see that there was more to life than a shiny kitchen sink, but I was disappointed.

Wednesday 15 June 2011

esoteric poetry

The Beauty of the Husband by Anne Carson
I must have read about this somewhere online then requested it from the library, and it has sat half read for several weeks, loitering on the kitchen table and then lying around the bedroom. It is a beautiful piece of poetry but I am at a loss to be able to say anything intelligent about it because it is so utterly esoteric. I mean whoever heard of a 'tango' as a poetic form? The whole book is a narrative poem concerning a marriage, documenting the stages of the relationship. It reminded me a bit of when I reviewed Billy Collins some time ago, where he makes fun of overly pretentious poetry, so I tended to skate over the little quotes from Keats and the classical references which were not helpful to any understanding. It is probably a book that you could read time and again and notice different things each time. So what I did really was to just go with the flow and enjoy the language:

"My husband lied about everything.

Money, meetings, mistresses,
the birthplace of his parents,
the store where he bought his shirts, the spelling of his own name.
He lied when it was not necessary to lie.
He lied when it wasn't even convenient.
He lied when he knew they knew he was lying."
(Part VII p.33)

"His letters, we agree, were highly poetic. They fell into my life
like pollen and stained it."
(Part VIII p.37)

"Well he said.
Do you know she began.
If I could kill you I would then have to make another exactly like you.
To tell it to.
Perfection rested on them for a moment like calm on a lake."
(Part XII p.53-4)

"they watch stray drops of this fact condense on the air between them."
(Part XVI p.70)

"Even to receive this letter was to be transgressed
by an iridescence of him
which I could not keep out of me like a fine plaster dust
it came in at every pore."
(Part XXVIII p.134)

She manages to express the subtleties of the situations so exquisitely, sometimes you are not really sure what has happened but you are left with an atmosphere instead. It is a story that runs the gamut of emotions, from intense passion, through anger, guilt and sadness. It is about the wordless bonds that bind people together and tear them apart. The kind of book that makes you wish for a group of thoughtful people to talk it over with.

Tuesday 14 June 2011

A bit of Joanne Harris

Blue Eyed Boy by Joanne Harris.
Joanne Harris is a consummate story teller and I have enjoyed her books before (Lollipop Shoes in 2009) so was quite confident picking this one to listen to, and I was not disappointed. It is like her other books that I have read but also very unlike. Her stories are full of enjoyment of the senses and this one is no exception. In 'Five Quarters of the Orange', which I read a few years ago, the emphasis was very much on scent, and 'Chocolat' of course is all about taste. In Blue Eyed Boy the main character has synesthesia, where sensory impulses are confused by the brain, so, for example, words might have smells or colours. The book is written in the form of online journal entries, some of which are 'private', others of which are 'public', including comments made by readers, and which are presented as being works of fiction. So, Blue Eyed Boy writes for us the story of his childhood, his murderous intent towards people who have upset or merely irritated him, and the story of Emily White and what became of 'The Emily Phenomenon'. What I loved most was the way that you never knew which bits were actually a true telling of the tale and which bits were part of the twisted imagination of BB (as he is known). He cleverly makes you think you know something and then you discover that all you thought you knew was utter invention. The relationship between BB and his Ma is also twisted and unpleasant, both sucking the life out of each other, and you are never sure how much of that is true because we never get Ma's side of the story. There is a little bit of a Cluedo thing going on with Mrs White and Mrs Green and Professor Peacock, though the only suspect is really BB himself, and you never quite have enough information to be sure enough to make an accusation. A brilliant story with endless twists and turns, BB playing the puppet-master to all the goings on, at least he thinks he is, and you think he is, but at the finale the reader is left precariously dangling. Excellent stuff.

'Jigs and Reels' has been my bus book since last week, and though I have read it before I have enjoyed the stories very much. I almost think her short stories are better because she has the perfect method; draw you in, give you an intriguing character and a strange dilemma, give you just enough line to get you hooked ... and then leave you hanging at the end, without a certain ending but enough information for you to finish it in your head. Several are based around society's obsession with appearances and celebrity, a couple are slightly creepy or futuristic. The one I really like is 'Tea with the Birds' about a quiet young woman who becomes obsessed with a japanese man next door who, it turns out, carves exquisite birds out of vegetables; a lovely example of how an encounter with someone different from yourself can change your outlook on life. She also makes an interesting little comment at the start of each story about what inspired her or caused her to write it, I like it when writers let you in to their world a little.

Wednesday 8 June 2011

Two deaths, three kisses and a punch-up

Following on from my experience of sitting in on a rehearsal nearly a month ago I went up to Ancoats on Monday evening to view one of the preview performances of Hard Times. Although the play is sold out there are apparently a few 'on the door' tickets available for each performance, you'd have to contact the theatre to find the details. The post I have written for the Library Theatre blog is up now and you can read it at (this link goes to my post, just click the header to read the impressions of the other bloggers as well.)

I realise that I concentrated very much on my response to the entirety of the performance rather than the 'play' so I just wanted to add that all the components that made it up were just perfect; the performances were all powerful and convincing, particularly Louisa (who I think had the most interesting and challenging part), the set design, the music and sound effects, the costumes and the circus performers were all wonderful, and I just loved the slow-motion fist fight, it was excellent. These elements all came together to create a simply amazing experience, but it was the staging that turned it into something utterly unique. I am not sure I would have been so interested to see this play performed on a stage, it would have lacked so much. It was just the most captivating evening, I am going to keep an eye out for future projects with great interest.

Edited 5/7/12 to include the text of my contribution to the Library Theatre blog since it was sitting around in the list and had not been posted here:

The clean air, the sanitised streets around Murray's Mill and the quietly dozing geese by the canal-side don't give much of an impression of the harsh reality of the lives of Victorian mill workers ... but the atmosphere that has been created inside the building does a much better job. We descend into the basement to the scents and sounds of Victorian street life and a few moments later I am startled out of museum mode by the thundering footfalls of a woman in a shawl and in a hurry; the play has begun without ceremony or curtain raise. After watching the comings and goings for a little while we are unobtrusively invited to go up to the main performance stage. The space is huge, and emptier than I had anticipated; the props and furnishings are minimal, authentic but unassuming, and benches for the audience are the only physical dividers between the sets.

My fears about the audience were totally unfounded, they were, as predicted, 'very well behaved'. It never felt crowded and everyone was quietly attentive to the occasional need for the actors to move among us. The lighting and sounds were used to direct the audience's attention when the action moved to a new area but it all felt very low key, with no rushing back and forth. Often action was taking place in adjacent sets so our attention just followed the actors as they moved. I noticed the director Chris mingling unassumingly with the audience, paying just as close attention as he had done in the rehearsal. I wanted to go up and ask him if he had to stop himself from interrupting the performance and asking them to try something again. The concentration of the actors was just incredible. They focussed so entirely on each other and seemed utterly unaware of our presence. Louisa and Cissy brush past us to get their hats at the end of lessons as if we were all merely other class members. The direction makes wonderful use of the space; twice Bounderby stalks the length of the mill, once with Louisa and once alone, both times his coat tails fluttering behind as he disappears into the shadows, a powerfully dramatic departure.

What I enjoyed most about the performance was the way it flowed so beautifully. The lack of dividers made the mill feel like just one set, not a series of mini-sets. Unlike a stage play where the curtains close for a scene change and chop the performance into pieces, this felt like one continuous piece of theatre (I was sorry for the interlude, though I am sure the actors needed the break). Even when not participating in a scene the actors were often still on set, unmoving and unspeaking, continuing to be part of the whole. At one point, when Mrs Sparsit has fainted and is carried into the bank, the action moved from the central area back to the Gradgrind living room. I remained where I was on a bench as the rest of the audience followed, and I found that the scene left behind in relative darkness continued silently, without audience, as Bounderby and Mrs Sparsit prepared to re-enter the fray a few moments later.

The experience was so unlike watching a play on a stage as to be almost a different art form. I enjoyed being able to walk through the sets and look closely at the details ... a letter on Gradgrind's desk is addressed and stamped with a Victorian stamp, and being able to see that the tea was real tea and Bounderby really ate his dinner. The scale of the cast was an important part of the whole effect, the role of the Community Company was vital to creating the atmosphere, lots of people milling around, often just passing through, apparently on their way somewhere else, as if life really was still going on while the Gradgrinds go through their family crisis. The feeling of intimacy was enthralling, being so close to the performance made it so much more intense. With actors and audience sharing the same space I felt almost part of the story. I was sorry when they came on to take a bow, it broke the spell. I wanted them to just vanish quietly into the night, to be able to imagine their stories continuing, thrust back into the twenty-first century street I wanted to hear the sound of clogs clattering down the cobbles into the dark.

Sunday 5 June 2011

Busy weekend

I have been feeling a lot better and enjoying the sunshine on Friday Jules and I sat in the garden to do stuff for a stall she is having at a summer festival thing next week. The Boy is going to the World Scout Jamboree in Sweden this summer and they are raising money to pay for it (It costs a lot so the rich kids can subsidise the children coming from poor countries. If you have a spare fiver you can pop over HERE and donate to their fund.) Julie is mainly doing crochet hats, quick to create and always popular. I dug out some novelty yarns that I have had in my stash for ages and made this funky belt/scarf, am really pleased with it, hope it sells.
Then I got out this chunk of gleaned camel fluff that we collected two years ago on a trip to the Cotswold Wildlife Park. It has been combed and cleaned out a bit but had been waiting for ...
... me to spin in into something that resembles garden twine!! It's kind of soft in bits but mostly rather rough and hairy.
I had been thinking of a rustic look bracelet but think that they are a bit too rustic for the stall so now me and M have matching mother/daughter bracelets. I liked the nice simple pattern though and will knit some more up in nice coloured cotton for the stall.
I was also very bad (not supposed to be buying books) and popped around a couple of the charity shops on my way back from seeing the nurse yesterday, and came away with these four for under £3: Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver (because I am reading The Lacuna), Midnight All Day by Hanif Kureshi (short stories), At Paradise Gate by Jane Smiley (because I loved A Thousand Acres) and We were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates. So I am all set for the summer now.

Saturday 4 June 2011

Science Twaddle

Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm.
I read a review of this and was obviously interested enough to pop over to the library website and search and request it. Not sure why I bothered. And never has a book had such a meaningless title that has nothing to do with the story.

Anyway, this large extended family decide to survive the coming end of the world on their isolated farm, where they somehow magically get money to build a hospital and then a state of the art research thingy buried in the caves behind, where they develop cloning of first livestock and then people (since all the people are inexplicably becoming infertile). Lots of sciencey waffle ensues that is trying to con you into thinking the author knows something about cloning technology. The family are kind of nice and I tried to give it a go but then the clones take over and it was tedious. They were, as you might anticipate, rather monotonous, but strangely had some kind of telepathy between groups of 'sisters' and 'brothers' and developed this really nasty controlling society. The 'scientists' literally start producing 'drones' for particular tasks and anyone found to be fertile gets shipped off to the breeding hospital and made to produce children till they are too old and are then euthanised (as are other undesirables and useless people). It was tedious because the clones were devoid of personality and the terrible 'passage of time' inconsistencies irritated me. The clone people all thought being clones was great and that it was far better than the normal way of reproducing but they were all stupid and incapable of real learning or adapting and could only function within their known secure environment. One young woman who goes on a research expedition ends up being ostracised by the community because she can no longer bond with her sisters. She has a child in secret, is discovered and forced into the breeders colony, escapes and runs away, leaving her son to be a disruptive influence on the community. I skim read the last third while watching Britain's Got Talent just to ensure that it reached the tediously predictable conclusion that he would go off and be the eventual saviour of the human race and the clones would all die out. Trite, repetitive, badly written, what could have been potentially interesting threads or ideas were left dangling, she was trying to make some clever point about the importance of individuality and creativity but utterly failed.

Never mind. I am plodding my way through 'The Lacuna' by Barbara Kingsolver (Orange Prize winner 2010), not because it's boring but because it is very long. We watched a film about Frida Kahlo and her relationship with Diego Rivera some time ago which was fascinating, and this is partly about her so I am persevering.

Thursday 2 June 2011

The Wasp Factory

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks.
I have occasionally thought that I dwell too much on women writers, if I look closely at the TBR pile I don't think there are many men, so in the spirit of adventure, and without even looking at what it is about, I picked out The Wasp Factory on CD. (Having said that I checked back to my two reading roundup lists and find that in fact male writers make up only slightly less than half the books read.)

This book was totally and utterly engaging. It is a first person narrative by nearly seventeen year old Frank, who lives with his father on a small, isolated island by the fictitious town of Porteneil in Scotland. In a quirk of experimentation Frank is a non-person as his father failed to register his birth, and as such he has lived an almost idyllic childhood running wild and waging battles against imaginary enemies and the local wildlife:

"I probably know more about the conventional school subjects than most people of my age. I could complain about the truth of some of the bits of information my father passed on to me, mind you. Ever since I was able to go into Porteneil alone and check things up in the library my father has had to be pretty straight with me, but when I was younger he used to fool me time after time, answering my honest if naive questions with utter rubbish." (p.14)

He has a brother, Eric, who, it transpires, has just escaped from a mental institution, and is making his way home. This is their first phone conversation:

" 'I'm fine. How are you?'
'Mad of course,' he said, quite indignantly. I had to smile.
'Look, I'm assuming you're coming back here. If you are, please don't burn any dogs or anything, OK?'
'What are you talking about? It's me, Eric. I don't burn dogs!' He started to shout. 'I don't burn fucking dogs! What the hell do you think I am? Don't accuse me of burning fucking dogs, you little bastard! Bastard!' " (p.18)

This gives you a hint of where things are going, and the phone calls that punctuate the book get worse and crazier from there. However Eric is not the only person in the book to worry about. Frank is very honest, and we learn early on about the murders. I liked the way that he drops little hints about things and then leaves you dangling on the bait, waiting to tell you the details until it seems to him like the right time. So you have to wait to find out about the deaths, the 'Tale of Old Saul', the Bunker, Frank's 'little accident', the bad experience that turned Eric into a crazy person ... and of course The Wasp Factory. So we follow Frank as he spends his time, eating meals with his dad, getting drunk with Jamie, collecting stuff from the town dump, building bombs in the shed, performing peculiar little rituals and patrolling his territory and reinforcing his defences:

"I stopped to look at the shore. There didn't seem to be anything interesting there, but I remembered the lesson of the day before, when I had stopped to sniff the air and everything seemed fine, then ten minutes later I was wrestling with a kamikaze rabbit, so I trotted down off the side of the dune and down to the line of debris thrown up by the sea." (p.46)

I won't give away too much about the kamikaze rabbit incident, other than to say if you have a slightly moody and unpredictable teenager reading this will make you feel a whole lot better and grateful for normality. What I liked was that Frank doesn't just describe his activities but also his physical sensations, from the pleasures of showering to the extreme exertions of running across the island, and taking pains to explain his own actions and reactions to events. I just loved the relish with which he recounts how much he enjoyed the performance he puts on after the 'disappearance' of Esmerelda:

"Someone stayed in my room all night and, whether it was my father, Diggs, or anybody else, I kept them and me awake all night by lying quiet for a while, feigning sleep, then screaming with all my might and falling out of bed to thrash about on the floor. Each time I was picked up, cuddled and put back to bed. Each time I pretended to go to sleep again and went crazy after a few minutes. If any of them talked to me, I just lay shaking in the bed staring at them, soundless and deaf.
I kept that up until dawn, when the search party returned, Esmerelda-less, then I let myself go to sleep." (p.94)

And then he goes off into a bit of a fantasy of what might have become of her (yes, it does say 'giant kite', it's nearly as surreal as the kamikaze rabbit):

"I would like to think that she died still being floated by the giant kite, that she went round the world and rose higher as she died of starvation and dehydration and so grew less weighty still, to becomes, eventually, a tiny skeleton riding the jetstreams of the planet; a sort of Flying Dutchwoman. But I doubt that such a romantic vision really matches the truth." (p.95)

What I am reminded of most, when reflecting on this book, is 'We have always lived in the castle' by Shirley Jackson (reviewed nearly 2 years ago). In that story it was Merricat who was supposedly protecting her crazy elder sister, who similarly used strange rituals and buried talismans to guard her home, and who was definitely not so sane herself. I loved the sensation that you really did not have any idea what was going to happen next, it is an anarchic and unpredictable story. In spite of the world that Frank has created for himself being so far from reality and that he is so completely outside any accepted moral code, he is totally credible and has a unique voice. I couldn't say that you exactly identify with him but it is so wonderfully written that you understand him and just accept the course of events and his actions as they unfold. I don't want to spoil the disclosure so I will leave the quotes now. At less than 200 pages it could easily and best be read in one sitting. The main narrative takes place over quite a short space of time so there is quite a sense of urgency to the story. Eric's phone calls warn us that he, and the climax of the tale, are getting rapidly closer and you just know that there has got to be some profound revelations alongside the expected conflagration ... you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday 1 June 2011


I am awaiting a photograph of mum and dad in their lovely (secret) cardigan and jumper but since finishing those projects I have also completed the cardigan I started for myself back at the bank holiday. It is a Rowan pattern called Rainbow done in summer tweed, a silk/cotton mix yarn. I am really pleased with how it turned out, the colours are wonderful, though the yarn is aran weight and as such is really quite heavy and warm.
In spite of doing long sleeves and not buying any extra yarn I found I had nearly half of what I had bought left over and so I began a little something for the Babe, just because knitting for little people if far more fun:
Strangely for her she was not that interested in being photographed in her new cardigan as Dunk was doing something fun on the iPad
These fantastic vivid socks are for my son Jacob. He missed out when I did the christmas sock knit and I have been promising him a pair. I confess I am not 100% sure what size his feet are these days, I just have to hope they haven't grown too much. I have been working on them for weeks and I finally finished them off today listening to 'The Wasp Factory' by Iain Banks, which I will review in the morning (am on Dunk's 'puter, M has mine and refuses to relinquish it) ... stand by for a rave as I absolutely loved it.