Gesalig Niw Gear! (Happy New Year!)

My dears, it is possible I may occasionally write a post. No promises, just a warning.

I am stepping into the unknown this year and would be pleased if you stepped with me.

Set your life on fire.
Seek those who fan your flames.

~ Rumi

Long story short, as they say:

2015 has been a difficult year, although nothing terrible, just draining. I started off dealing with my mother’s death shortly before Christmas, scattering her ashes in March. Work got frantic-er and frantic-er, I got irritabler and irritabler, and eventually I decided to resign. As a result I am now unemployed and we have enough saved up to keep us going until Easter so are both job hunting. So far we have had a couple of interviews each but no offers. Something will turn up in the end of course, but the waiting is horrible.

We did some wonderful things too: a couple of Anglo Saxon events, where I acted as a “scop” (pronounced “shope”) which is a bard,reading my translations of two children’s stories. We also went to Andalucia for our wedding anniversary, and had a couple of weekends away, in York, Lancaster and Woodbridge, along with day trips. I did lots of knitting, Old English translation (one of which is now an official version recognised by the publisher) and am busy with voluntary work too.

Anyway, to celebrate a New Year and New Life, I made Anglo Saxon food. Obviously. You can find the recipe for it here:

Anglo-Saxon-spiced honey & oat cakes

anglosaxonoatcakes

 

Here’s to 2016 my dears. May it be full of light and love and cake.

Namaste.

 

 

Newborn Knitting

EBL returns trailing clouds of glory, to assuage your hunger for tidings of her adventures. At least, that is the dream I had last night. Alternatively, it seemed like a nice time to drop by and say hello, share a quick cuppa and even a couple of quicker tales of existence beneath the heels of oppression (or “work” as They like to call it). As if I can have my being validated by something as boring as a payslip, a piece of paper which purports to evidence the transfer of zeros and digits across the ether from an employer’s bank account to my bank account. It’s only when I raid the hole-in-the-wall that I ever get to hold a fraction of those alleged numerals in my hands, the majority of them flying straight back out into the ether and across to other alleged accounts belonging to energy companies, the council, the mortgage lender, insurance companies and so on. Honestly, it’s a scam.

It’s been a busy month and really this post is no more than another place-holder to let WordPress know I am still alive. And a chance to say thank you to all my dear new readers who have decided to follow me this month. Clearly you will not be expecting an actual post, so I hope the shock is not too much for you.

neonatal knitted squares

I thought I might go with a knitty theme this time around. I have been knitting again, as the British summer has not been so overwhelmingly hot as to prevent me. I did a little work on a jumper – more of that in due course when there is something worth showing – but more importantly I discovered a brilliant scheme at Leeds  Hospital neonatal unit. They use knitted squares to help mother-infant bonding. Because parents can’t hold and bond with their very poorly babies, the staff lie the babies in incubators on a knitted square, and get the mother to wear another one next to her skin. When she visits they swap the squares. This comforts the baby and also amazingly helps mothers to express milk as well as learn their baby’s scent. Fabulous!

There’s more info on their public Facebook page for anyone else who fancies giving it a go!

Calling all knitters! Have you heard about our Neonatal Units’ bonding square project? One knitted square of…

Posted by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust on Sunday, 2 August 2015

Obviously this makes me think of my mother quite a lot. I was a premature baby and my mother didn’t get the kind of support now available, which may well explain our rather strained relationship. A knitted square or two might have been a benefit to us both. She was, however, a keen knitter of squares herdelf; in her case to make blankets for the chilly elderly. For those interested I did write about it once.

In other news I have had laser treatment on my right eye so can now see again well enough to read, knit more than a square, type, and generally participate in humanity. This may or may not be a Good Thing.

Sigoth and I are contemplating some changes in our home arrangements, and are trying to finish the last bits of decorating and furniture moving so we can make better use of the living space now that we are Home Alone. We have been poring over the bills, changing energy suppliers, cancelling superfluous subscriptions and generally getting Affairs in Better Order. There’s a first time for anything.

Meanwhile I hope you are well and finding good things that make you happy. Tell me more, if you feel so moved. It would be good to catch up.

Namaste.

Sluggish

bst failed

Well my dears, I suppose it’s time to run a blog post up the pole and see if anyone salutes it. I haven’t been writing, as some of you have kindly spotted, and one reason has been that I have been feeling sluggish.

Not lethargic, although that has also been the case. Just lately I seem to have run out of energy to do more than gaze vacantly at Hugh Laurie in “House” on Netflix. I don’t mean that’s a bad thing at all. Who doesn’t love every Sherlock Holmes spin off going? At this rate I might even watch Elementary, which someone has recommended to me and in most cases her word is as good as a promise. I find her judgement in matters of televisual entertainment sound and reliable. Just – Lucy Liu; in this instance, why? To be fair that was also my friend’s initial reaction, apparently, but she said she got over it.

My other favourite Sherlock-wannabe, Dr Who, is off the air for now too so I am driven, my dears, simply driven, to Hugh. Life could be worse.

So, in summary, EBL is somewhat lethargic, and enjoys a bit of Laurie as much as a bit of Fry in a QI context. But that is another story, best saved for a Friday evening after a few glugs of Merlot.

The sluggishness though has been of an altogether different variety. I have literally felt as if I was turning into a slug; I was positively sliming around the house in a veritable misery of hayfever until recently when the British Summer broke in its traditional celebration of the start of school holidays, and we have been shivering under Arctic blasts and torrential downpours, and drinking hot chocolate huddled under chunky blankets while gazing at Hugh Laurie.

Sorry, he does keep on turning up unexpectedly. Perhaps he should play Columbo? “Just one more thing, EBL…”

Where was I? Sluggish, yes.

So there I was for several weeks, being positively glutinous. Mucus, my dears, of significant proportions from multiple outlets. Boxes of tissues threw themselves into the fray and laid down their leaves for the greater good. Sigoth protested that as we had a new carpet coming he would prefer it if I didn’t enter the living room until Autumn in order to protect our investment. He’s firm but fair on such matters.

I am in no doubt that other sufferers gave thanks to the gods of rain with me when the temperature plummeted and the heavens wept. I haven’t had a bout of hayfever this bad for some years. I’ll let the ladies into a secret; I hadn’t had a bout at all since the menopause. My dears, yet another fantastic side effect as far as I am concerned. EBL and Mature Age are Best Mates, it’s official. I’m thinking of setting up a new website: EBL4Aging.com, except people might think it was about living off roadkill and berries, which would never do.

I’ll just wait while you work that one out.

OK?

So now that I am somewhat less slimy, and my fingers aren’t skidding quite so much on the keys, I thought I would drop a line and see how the hell you all are?

Posts may continue slow for the time being as I am still waiting for my eye to be lasered into submission. I had an eye test last Friday and actually couldn’t see the board, let alone read that big letter at the top. But I should be all better on 10th August or thereabouts when they clear the membrane which has grown over the lens and I will be binocular again.

At which point I will see Hugh even more clearly.

Your homework this time is to tell me the best Sherlock Holmes, or SH-spin off, that you know.  Basil Rathbone Jeremy Brett, Dominic Bandersnatch? Dr Who, House, steam-punk crazy Robert Downey Jr? And if you don’t know any, then go away and do some research. It will be good for you.

Namaste.

Quick update

Alive and well, my dears.

Lots of knitting, a little embroidery and a weekend of meditation at the local Buddhist Centre have conspired to keep us apart.

Here is some of my stitchery to prove it is no lie. The cultivation of a mind of love defies my camera however, so please take my word for it.

Firstly I attended a beginner’s embroidery course in Kendal and produced this. I used to embroider as a child but have not picked up a needle since, so this was fun.

Dandelion embroidery

The stitched dandelion

I also finished the jumper I wrote about the other day – the Drops Garn pattern. I am quite pleased with it and intend to present it to Offspring in Question over Easter weekend.

11099730_10153269633013804_1777913377_nMy other activity (besides meditation) was the scattering of mother’s ashes at Scarborough. She now resides on a flowery hillside overlooking the sea and the castle. I think she will enjoy it.

How have you been?

Namaste

DPNs

I recently changed my working hours so that I now work four long days and have Mondays off. It’s marvellous – although my workday evenings are now compressed into the following: stretch – eat – speak briefly to Sigoth – sleep. Usually I take the Monday to do jobs that need attention, which may be anything from sorting out a bill to (more commonly) catching up on jobs I have agreed to do for my local Quaker meeting. Sigoth also uses Monday for his Quaker jobs and so the days formerly known as “Monday” are now called “Quakerday” in EBL Towers. However, this weekend we spent much of Saturday and Sunday being Quakerly, so this Monday I am taking time out officially to do Leisure.

As a result I can proudly announce that today I shall be mostly knitting with toothpicks.

Well, that’s what it feels like. Youngest Offspring has requested a jumper and so that is what he will receive if it kills me. The one he wants is this one:

The thing is it requires 3mm double pointed needles for the rib.

Now, I love circular knitting. No seams to sew up. But I am not happy using double pointed needles (DPNs). It’s like wrestling with half an octopus that has porcupine in its family tree, an octopine as it were. It’s scratchy and jabby and catches in my own sleeves and requires my fingers to bend in inhuman directions. Doing such digital gymnastics with the slender 3mm variety feels like a nightmare involving a speed-eating competition at the kind of Chinese restaurant where they won’t give you knives and forks even when you ask nicely and admit you are an inadequate human.

This is what I am working with.

I swear - toothpicks!

Half an octopine (or possibly a porcupus)

See what I mean?

Now I know that some of you out there will be massively competent at DPN-whispering. I admit I am slightly less likely to twist the first row and produce a Mobius Strip using them instead of a circular needle. I admit they look cool and entitle the user to claim a minimum of + 3 Knitting Ability at a Knitting Master’s Convention. Yet with all that admittedness, it’s still enough to drive a body to crochet, where only one needle is involved; although somehow that’s almost as bad. As George Orwell said, two needles good, four needles (or, alternatively, one) bad.

Suffice it to say I am most keenly anticipating finishing the rib of the second sleeve and bidding the toothpicks farewell.

Do you have this kind of love-hate relationship with your hobbies? After all I am supposed to be doing this for fun, but there are parts of the process (and I find this is true of most of my other hobbies as well) which really make my heart sink.

Namaste.

Knitting mojo

While I am away in York, through the miracle of technology, and scheduling software, I thought I would keep you company by telling you about my knitting. Let the good times roll.

It has been a while since I did much knitting, as my head has been in a different plane of existence form my hands, and I haven’t been able to concentrate on anything as tricksy as counting or remembering whether to knit or purl a stitch. I am pleased that the msits seem to be clearing at last, and I have now achieved two important goals.

The first was to finish my Killing jumper. For those unfamiliar with the garment in question (I believe there may be some people left in this unfortunate position), I am referring to a particular jumper which was the star of a Danish crime drama a few years ago. Naturally I set out to create my own copy, being a fan and all. It’s a pretty basic pattern but it was first time I knitted anything entirely in the round (no seams, just tubes) and I had a bit of a job sorting out how to keep roughly to the pattern while increasing and decreasing. I hope I got away with it – at least I now feel happy about a) making another next year in reversed colours, and b) wearing the article in public.

Look out if you are a Danish criminal - EBL is now fully equipped to bring you to justice

Look out if you are a Danish criminal – EBL is now fully equipped to bring you to justice

The second important thing was finally learning to crochet. This means I can now crochet about as well as the average crochet-enabled 5 year old, which is more than I have ever managed before. I went on a course in November, but understood even less than I thought I knew. My poor saintly aunt had tried to teach me as a child but it never worked. Somehow my brain didn’t bend that way. It’s like trying to write with the wrong hand; I’m just not ambidextrous.

But then something switched on in the grey matter and suddenly it made sense and I managed a circular object. It was untidy and uneven and ungood, but it was a real thing and I was very happy to have got that far.

crochet by EBL

A trumpet against the nay-sayers! This old EBL got there in the end

So this EBL learned a new trick against all the odds and almost 50 years of evidence to the contrary. Who says miracles can’t happen?

Have you ever had a sudden epiphany like that? Do tell!

Namaste.