The Knitting Sailor

July 18, 2013, 8:15 am
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The blog has been broken.  I don’t know why.  It’s fixed now but looks horrible – so I will be re-posting lots of the posts that wouldn’t work in the hope they will magically appear on the internet.

As for it looking horrible….. I’m working on it!


Could you not have given me another six months?
July 6, 2013, 6:10 am
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My friend has just had a baby.
Now this is a beautiful and joyous thing – so much so I promised to knit a blanket – you know – something they could use forever and would be really special. Yeah right.

That was six months. I have essentially spent this time looking at millions of patterns and suffering from knitters block.

I looked at this


Link to pattern here

This was in contention for a while

i know - SOOOOO grown up.

Link to pattern here

And I eventually decided to do this.
It looks really exciting!  And flower-like!

Link to pattern here

I also decided to knit it in purple acrylic. That’s right ACRYLIC. I think I may have been drinking at this point. It made total sense, it would be pretty much indestructible and I could knit it in purple.

One petal in I realised that this was the ugliest thing I had ever knit. I contemplated keeping going – after all it might look better if there was more of it (yes because a big pile of crap always looks better than a small pile of crap). But eventually I just left it in a discarded heap and glowered at it from across the room.

Literally. WHAT.  WAS.  I. DRINKING.

Said child has now been born. I haven’t got a blanket to give her. So in desperation I have started to knit this.

Lace.  In stripy wool.  Not sure its a winning combination....

In proper wool. It says ‘baby’ on the label however, so hopefully it will be vomit proof.

Only one problem.
So far it just looks like a scarf.

Its a marvel of scarf-alike-ness

I’m back!
July 5, 2013, 7:45 am
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So the holiday was amazing. Sailed, windsurfed (badly), water skied (terribly), drank beer (like a professional).

Only one thing. The false advertising.


There wasn’t a lobster in it.

Midweek Regatta
June 19, 2013, 4:50 pm
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So here are five reasons why sailing the midweek regatta is not such a good idea.

1. Its sunny, so a force 5 looks TOTALLY do-able. Its a force 5 – of course its not. Especially when you are sailing with your husband from whom you had a sailing divorce some years ago.

2. Having put this aside – after a capsize and a blood injury the honourable thing to do was to retire gracefully.


3. Hearing the phrase ‘I can’t move as fast as you can talk’…. Well yes, but that just means that you need to move faster…

4. Realising that the second best thing about sailing is retiring to watch sailing with this.


5. And being able to nod sagely and talk about it when everyone else is doing this.


And this


And being recovered in bits by the safety boat.

Sometimes the better part of valour… is retiring and talking about it!

Where am I?
June 18, 2013, 4:40 pm
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So everyone runs these competitions. Where am I?

Well I don’t think many people will get this, but I am here –


I know!!!!
And look at this!!!


Mwahahahaha!!!! I can do little other than cackle at the moment.

(there is no point to this post other than to let burglars know we aren’t at home… but just for the record my tall, muscular brother is dog-sitting at ours – good luck…!)

It’s not a scarf
June 11, 2013, 8:08 am
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It’s a hat and obviously perfect for June.

The back complete with rouching stuff


The front with cables

Put out the bunting (or might that be a little scarf like?).


Exciting cables


The scrunchie bit at the back – inside out so you can see how it scrunchies up!


Twissly top – I really want to put a bell on it

Its Walnut Whip by Ysolda – I know – we have history with a certain cardie – and would you know – I had to knit this twice – the first time I knit it up it was big enough for a basketball – nearly as big as my cardie – so having downsized the needles and also used the smallest pattern size I reknit and then had something that actually fit on my head. But I think I’ve learnt my lesson – nothing with sizing again from this particular knitter!

But there are some interesting techniques – it starts with a provisional cast on which is then picked up at the end of the ribbing to give a firm brim and the cables are an unusual style which really gives a different feel. The rouching at the back is created by picking up and knitting in stitches from 12 rows below – and gives a really nice fit. The little nubbin on the top is crying out for a little bell however – it really is just a matter of time before I find one to add. But the nicest thing has been the yarn – this is Fyberspates Scrumptious and is the most lovely yarn – and I have enough left for mitts (also not a scarf)! Maybe I can get those done for August…

Places I have so far worn the new hat

  • The Lake – it rained – saved me blocking it
  • Kelso races – it was Ladies day, so a hat was compulsory
  • While sitting on the train to Norwich. It made me feel happy. Looked a bit odd with my work suit, but I didn’t run into anyone I knew, so think I got away with it….

Round the Cans
June 6, 2013, 9:21 pm
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This Sunday I went sailing with my Dad. As I’ve mentioned before, my Dad windsurfed rather than sailed, and did his best to encourage me in this pursuit. I never got far, preferring to use the board as a canoe for exploring the lake.

Recently I gave it another go, but found that as I have no coordination or balance this wasn’t as easy as it looks. Essentially I spent short periods of time wobbling on a board, followed by much longer periods of flying through the air and landing in the water.

So a few years ago when my Dad started to sail and come up to the lake it was really nice to have something we could all talk about and share.

This year for the first time we are doing a series together – him helming and me crewing. I’m not bad crew usually, the ‘bottom of ballast’ is a key advantage in a boat like my Dads (Flying Fifteen) and at key moments I do indeed deploy the bottom to tactical advantage. Pass me another pie.

So this was the first race – and the weather was lovely – really hot with a 3 with a few gusty bits in it, so it was always going to be a slower race with plenty of time to chat and pontificate about how much better than the rest of the boats we were doing. Well we could dream…

But as the countdown came to an end and we got over the line we weren’t doing badly following Ernie (the fastest milkman in the west) on the beat up the course. The wind was patchy, but we had headed for the right hand side of the course where there was definitely a little more wind. Our first concern was where the first mark was – we had a vague idea but with some of the recent weather the marks are all over the place – and as we overtook Ernie it became increasingly important we worked out where it was. We sighted it and got on a good line – just as a couple of bothersome future-Olympiads in a Laser 2000 called starboard on us. We tacked and had to follow them round the mark – our only consolation being that we were still holding position in second. Catching the wind as we headed off across the lake we sailed straight for the next buoy. I don’t mind telling you we were a little stressed – we were second – ahead of four other boats (I know – poor turnout. A lot of people weren’t back from the away cruise at Tighnabruaich) – and we realised there was only one way to keep our position – get to the gybe point and get the kite up!

Little nervous about this – last time we’d done it I’d ended up spending slot of time crawling around on the foredeck in windy weather.

But against all expectations we got it up smoothly enough, and without me braining my Dad with the spinnaker pole, and with a bit if tinkering the boat took off – closely followed by Ernie and Rob (the newly incumbent sailing commodore) in a race rigged Wayfarer who had also managed to cleanly hoist and were bearing down on us!

But we made it to the bottom of the run, and with only one adventure on the foredeck got the spinnaker down, hardened up and tacked up through the gate, beating back up the course.

At this point we remembered to breathe and looked at each other going “Really?!? We’re still in second?!?! “

We lost some water on the way up to the mark, but were heartened to see the children swimming rather than sailing around the mark – but the Wayfarer was gaining – we pointed up and made the mark as the Laser 2000 took back off across the lake. With a bit of wind we were pulling away – only to find ourselves being overtaken to leeward by a bright pink Dart 18 which was steaming past in our dirty air – and glancing back Ernie and Rob were hoisting the kite – that’s right they were going to reach across and then gybe it round the mark.

With one thought my Dad and I prepared the ropes and… didn’t hoist as we plainly knew there was no way we would get it through a gybe – and besides we were nearly there – we came round the mark a little enthusiastically and did a perfect hoist at which the boat lurched up onto the plane – I was just hanging on to those sheets as we held the line right down the lake, brought it down, rounded the mark and made it through the gate in third.

We both looked at each other and started to breathe again – while being vaguely hysterical as we watched Ernie, my brother and the boat fixer finish. We even did a cool hand like we were down with the kids!

We knew we would be reshuffled with handicap, but it felt good – it tasted like victory.

And you know what? Even with handicap we came third – 32 corrected seconds behind the fastest milkman in the west and the sailing commodore – with those irksome kids in first.

So if we can just learn to gybe with that kite up….!

“So cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a fox…”
June 3, 2013, 10:41 am
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If you remember my cunning genius plan was to sell my Vareo and buy a new boat – and currently it’s well underway. Its getting picked up at the weekend, having been sold on eBay. Some people can be a bit sniffy about this but the bottom line is you get your boat sold quickly for what the market is prepared to pay for it, so you can get on with the rest of your sailing season.

So I went to look at a new boat this weekend. This didn’t go so well in that this quickly changed to touching new boat, stroking new boat and identifying that new boat and I were always meant to be together, swiftly followed by buying new boat.

It’s on my drive. I am very excited.

I am just as excited as I am suddenly ‘one of the gang’ people with the same boat are excited about it too and discussing when we are all going to go sailing together and how we are only one boat off our own class start. We are messaging exciting news about the boats and our sailing, texting and facebooking.

I’ve never been one of any gang, ever! We are all going to a coaching day next Sunday and going to inspect each others boats and do tinkering! We are going to stand around and talk about it all together! We might even get them wet! It’s we and not I!!

So far so good. Only problem is, I’ve bought a boat to sail with a fleet at… Kielder! Looks like I’m back racing there again! So I am still on the lookout for a cheap boat (for cheap boat read floating wreck based on the pennies I have left…!) to join a Wednesday fleet at South Shields.

And the boat? Well someone has to encourage the Mr onto the water – I’ve bought a Supernova, the same as him.

Its not a car, its a boat.  Honest.

0 to 60 in not very much time

May 29, 2013, 6:05 pm
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So in the fairytale, the beautiful princess was locked in a dungeon (/ tower/ cellar /pick your own inconvenient place to be imprisoned) and made to spin straw into gold.  It is so obvious this fairytale is built on fact – because trust me the stuff I am spinning is worth more than gold.  It is, in fact, as the American Express advert says, priceless.  This is because of the time it takes.

But I am so totally proud of it that I have taken to carrying bobbins of it around in my handbag to show people.

From Shetland sheep

Turns out people aren’t interested.

Even the dog is a bit bored and would rather go sniff the sheep fleeces.

I get it, it’s from an alpaca. Can I have a sausage now please??

Actually, that isn’t true.  Lots of knitty people are interested, and I can totally get kudos when I explain that the purple stuff is all the way from the Shetlands (bought last year at Woolfest) and the rest is Alpaca.

I’ve kind of fouled up with the Alpaca however.  Look at it.

It's Alpaca
It’s Alpaca

It’s not just pretty its also soft and warm and totally beautiful.  And I made a foolish promise.  My brothers fiance wanted to create a felted Alpaca bag.  Alpaca yarn is very expensive, so when we were at another wool event (I know – there are more than one, but I didn’t admit to it in case you judged me…) I foolishly promised to spin her the wool myself.  reasoning that it would save loads of money, and be fun and could be her Christmas present.

It wasn’t finished for Christmas, so I bought her lama wool to use instead.  It didn’t cut it…..

And now I have my first spun Alpaca finished.   I don’t think I can give it to her.  To be felted.  Do you think she would take my firstborn instead?

Damp days
May 20, 2013, 8:13 pm
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So what did I do on the weekend? I did magic things. I taught Childers to sail. How old? About 4ft.
They were all boys and I am starting to get a little paranoid – I feel like starting a ‘your sex needs you!’ campaign to get more girls and women involved – although ironically the majority of the instructors (in fact all bar one!) on the day were women.

This course has not had a good run – we have been down on Oppies, waiting for new ones so for the first two days of the course we ran the session in Wayfarers and in pretty strong wind.

You’ve never seen the fear and exhilaration on a little persons face as when you give them the helm on a boat with two other kids and an instructor in it and tell everyone else to lean out to balance the boat. Small fists grab the tiller extension and knuckles whiten as the wind gusts into the reefed small sail.

I decided to stop if one of them cried.

None of them did, but there were a few wobbly bottom lips, and a degree of peer pressure coming into play!

The weather for Saturday had not looked much better throughout last week, blowing 18 gusting through 38 – with rain all day. I had visions of theory all day. So the surprise was arriving at Kielder having driven through torrential rain (a months worth fell on the North-east in the one day) and finding mist, drizzle and … No wind.

It was about the only thing I hadn’t planned. Well when I say planned, I mean thought about with a glass of wine cup of tea during the preceding week.

There were however brand new Oppies to unpack we actually unwrapped them from the plastic!

I would love to say they were quickly rigged, but of course they weren’t – not helped by myself and the AI actually having only vague ideas on this – note to self – really need a crib sheet. But we were finally ready to go with boats lined up, helmets on and a lot of shivering – it was freezing, still damp and really overcast.

So we started on sending them out like little ducks one after the other pushing of boats towards a patrol boat – asking them to tack (or in childers speak ‘push the stick away and duck)’. Some got the hang of it quicker than others, but with expert coaching from the patrol boat we soon had the whole group rotating through the boats. Some kids had got the hang so well they went round and round and round for some time.

The only problem with this was the direction of the wind. There wasn’t much, so there was a lot of sitting around, it was also an onshore wind which meant that we had to send them across the foreshore to keep them on a reach – with the added complication of trying to stop small enthusiastic not-very-good-at-steering boys from running the brand new boats aground or clipping the foils by coming in too close to the shore.

The thing with seven small boys as well is that the second your back is turned they are off doing something you don’t want them to do. Like swimming in the lake, checking what holds up the jetty, playing ‘splash the other kids and only by mistake the instructors’. I was a little unamused.

Got my own back by explaining to everyone we would need to do capsize before we finished for the day. Apparently the lake was cold. I really hadn’t noticed having spent the day up to my chest in it catching and returning boats.

As always they delivered the goods and they went to get changed having had ‘the best’ day.

They were happy. I was cold. And wet. Turns out my drysuit had a leak. I drove home with no socks and recovered in front of Eurovision.

Bonnie Tyler was our entry – famous of course for ‘Turn Around‘ – maybe she had spent a lot of time up to her chest screaming at kids to push the stick as well.



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