The Knitting Sailor

It’s the greatest show on earth!
July 31, 2012, 9:14 am
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Here we are watching the opening ceremony!

To be fair, you kind of had to be there…

I feel so proud and humbled to be British with this barmy event.  I’m not going to go on about it – if you saw it you don’t need me to tell you about it – and if you missed it – well here is a little to whet your appetite –

Jerusalem (yup – we were crying right there…!), the Queen parachuting in, Michael Fish, the forging of the Olympic rings, Mr Bean, the AMAZING Olympic cauldron, the Elvis get up worn by our team, the trampolining beds, the floating clouds, the national anthem (including verse two!), the Archers, Texting and Mary Poppins.

Go, go now and watch it…..

Click HERE!


In memory of no wind
July 27, 2012, 7:59 am
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It’s been a bit doom and gloom on the knitting front over here recently, and on realising that I had not shared anything that had gone well recently I feel throughly ashamed.  Sorry.  Didn’t mean to get you down.

However conclusive evidence of the perfect pairing of knitting and sailing has been the completion of the May Open tank top.  I actually finished this way back before Woolfest (as of course I had to wear it for said event) having knit the majority of it up at the lake  – but I was so distraught about the cardie I just didn’t show you.  This is Rondeur which is super simple, super quick and I am in the middle of my second.

This is a lasting memory of an Open Meeting with no wind and the fact I didn’t come last (at one point in time we wondered if my poor sailing should make it onto our advertising – ‘Come to the Kielder Open – we promise you won’t be last….’).

Interestingly I didn’t even do a gauge swatch for this one – never mind wash it……

Is that a bandwagon?
July 25, 2012, 7:55 am
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The Royal Mint is offering the chance to buy a 50 pence piece (that’s right – a piece of coinage that you can buy 50 penny chews with, or put with four shiny pound coins and buy a glass of wine).  You can buy this coin for £2.99.

Am I missing something?  Apparently you can buy these from the mint – for quite literally a ‘mint’ – or you can see if you get one in your change as they are also in day to day circulation.  So how much are the ones in my change worth?  £2.99?  Or are they worth 50p – as is written on them.  I’m a bit confused…..


Small child required
July 24, 2012, 6:17 pm
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“Some of us learn from other people’s mistakes and the rest of us have to be other people.”

Zig Ziglar, Author


So this weekend – I was other people.

My husband decided to resolve the issue of the cardie by putting it on a 60 degree wash.  It now looks like this.


If I just pop it on I’m sure it will stretch

T o be fair it is lovely – if tiny – and I just don’t happen to have a small child who will fit into it!

Things that you can learn from this.

  • Always wash / block your swatch ( I know – I was proud I’d even done one… it’s just not enough)
  • Be kind to other people.  Huffing about the fact that someone else put something in the washer that you were going to anyway, and then it shrinking will not help matters (in fact you may end up with a very bruised and possibly broken toe from huffing about right into the fire pit in the garden in just your flip flops)
  • People WILL laugh – despite your mournful expression on showing a shrunken item of misfortune – so you’re just going to have to man up
  • When people try to put item on to see how small it really is…. they are just doing this to laugh even more – not because they genuinely think said item will fit
  • You should hurry up and knit something else – then you can forget about the tragedy which was six months knitting
  • If you are going to embark on a risky endeavour… wine should be taken prior to the embarkation (or in this case taking said item out of the washer)

As they say – deep breaths – pink in, butterflies out…..


Hang on a minute….
July 19, 2012, 7:06 am
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…turns out we’ve been letting everyone else practice at the Weymouth Olympic venue on the run up to the games….

“The British sailors will have some home advantage, though Weymouth and Portland have not been closed off to other countries. With his “purely competitive head” on Park is unhappy with this. “It’s the worst thing ever, they should stop them at the English Channel so we can maximise our advantage. But from a whole sport perspective we want this to be a fantastic games and want people to feel comfortable here.””

The Guardian

I know we’re British – but really???

(Actually I just think it would have been fun to see how the heck we were going to stop all sailing in the English Channel.  Giant piece of red rope?  Bouncers?  Winston Churchill?)

It’s a disaster of titanic proportions
July 18, 2012, 8:44 am
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I have gone very quiet on the subject of my epic cardie.  I have not posted photos.  I have declined to mention any further, despite said item being completely and gloriously finished.  There is a reason for this.  When you last saw it I was just after blocking it and it looked like this.

You can tell this was a long time ago – there was sunshine

I then tried it on and it then looked like this.

That’s right, by the mere application of a dab of water my cardie had gone from fitting perfectly (and me feeling really smug about it) to quadruple the size.  I couldn’t actually speak about this for a little while.

People would ask me about it and I would say ‘long story!’ and move on.  I hid it in my spare room – occasionally popping in to just look at it in dismay.  Eventually I asked a fried for advice.  She came up with two options.  So I tried the first.


That’s right – I really did take a photo of my washing machine

This is me putting my beautiful hand wash only cardie into a thirty degree wash in a vague attempt to shrink it.  This is what it looked like afterwards.

So essentially no discernible difference except dying the pillow case I had washed it inside pink.  I tried again on a forty degree wash.

It really is no better.  So I am left with either risking a 60 degree wash which I am too terrified to go for, or going with option 2 – friend or charity.

And just before anyone asks – yes I did do a gauge swatch.  I just didn’t wash it.  I know I know…. but it’s really boring and who would have thought washing mattered?

RIP dear Cardie – I will mourn you while I knit something that doesn’t need to fit.  Like a scarf.


Those Five Rings!
July 17, 2012, 8:06 am
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I can’t believe I am actually excited about the Olympics, but I have to admit to a creeping sense of butterfly’s as the first athletes arrive, the news is jam-packed with images of the venues all across the UK and we have the lovely Boris (London Mayor) popping up to add to the general madness of the event (favourite press conference of the morning – after a bus driver taking athletes to the Olympic Park got lost for 4 hours Boris’s response was that the athletes would have had “more of a scenic view of London“.  Gotta love him.).

He is as mad as he looks….

There was also an unfortunate  incident where BAA managed to ‘lose’ the Australian Sailing teams sails – surely a minor point….

As usual though we seem intent on shooting ourselves in the foot with huge amounts of coverage of things that are going wrong – but you know what?  There is always something that goes wrong – can we talk about some of the good stuff???

The Olympics have been great for Sailing in the UK with lots of additional funding for training across sailing clubs in the UK, and an amazing venue at Weymouth that hosted its first events –to ‘practice’ – last year.  I had the opportunity to go to one – the RS games, but couldn’t make it – something I bitterly regret as having heard about how fantastic the sailing was from others who went, it really was a big miss.  But what of the legacy?  Well its been a great few years, with UK Sport pumping in £22 million to the sport – this has provided training and coaching days at clubs, grants for equipment as well as some big investment in the new sailing academy.  We’ve topped the medal table for the last three Olympics, so this seems completely worthwhile…. but what about after the Olympics?  Well the indications seem to be that that’s it.  Within our own club we have had training funding to allow for an adult coaching day every year, been able to provide a heavily subsidised summer camp for the kids complete with full complement of trainers and coaches, and also some new equipment in the form of a Wayfarer and 6 oppis.  there have also been ‘Sail for Gold’ events and regattas across the country – and even inflatable torch relays taking place!

But all of this will be stopping post-Olympics – although we can keep the equipment!

So will it harm us?  I think the biggest problem facing Sailing in the UK is not all about investment – our big problems are membership and participation.  Across the North East we see falling numbers in clubs as a whole, and even in healthy clubs falling numbers on the water.  Some local clubs are now pooling resources and members to keep afloat, Open meetings are seeing few boats travelling and others hitting critical points in revenue.

So what does this mean for us?  We sail at Kielder – Britains most remote village.  That means we are a ‘destination’.  We don’t run anything during the week – because we can’t get people here!

So it’s all about the weekends, and with the weather as it has been (for anyone not local, continual torrential rain has lashed the North East pretty much consistently for the last six weeks throughout the worst drought the UK has ever seen and hose pipe bans galore), the price of petrol, and general economic doom and gloom we have definitely suffered in terms of numbers at the club of late.  But it’s not a new problem – ever since we have been at the club it’s been a continual cry – although membership is pretty steady we have  declining numbers in our racing on a Sunday, which is seen by some as a key indicator of the health of the club.  But since we joined the club now also has an active Cruising contingent who sail on a Saturday, and from the enthusiasm of just one member we are now established as a Windsurfing club – complete with new members, training centre accreditation and a dozen new boards (courtesy of another grant!).

My problem is I can only do one thing at a time.  I can either train or sail, windsurf or dinghy sail, be or duty, or go on a cruise.  So the more activities we provide the more options there are – and our club is becoming a more varied and diverse place to be.

So is this a bad thing?  I don’t know and maybe only the coming years can tell us if this diversity is what saves or sinks us.

The Olympic sailing starts on the 29th of July – we have a fantastic team and its all being televised – maybe I start the membership drive there?  Go GB!

Wool – it makes you sail faster
July 9, 2012, 1:47 pm
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Following an exciting adventure to Wool on the Wall this weekend, I have been fascinated to discover that Viking sails used to be made out of heavy woollen cloth – woven on massive looms.

Speedy sail fabric?

I was somewhat stunned by this as I have never thought of sheep as particularly aerodynamic, until I began to think about it and wonder what EXACTLY I thought sails were made of pre-Mylar (and pre crispy-fabric.  And pre fabric that used to be crispy but now just sits in a heap – dependent entirely upon how old and rubbishy the boat I had just bought off E-bay actually was).  And it turns out I’m not the only one – in fact there have been actual studies on what these sails were made out of – and seem to prove that woollen sails can outperform some of the other sail materials throughout to be used at the time – Hemp and Linen –

“In 1975 Svend Larsen concluded his book, ‘Vikingsernes hav’, by stating that beating to windward cannot be done with woollen sails because they are ‘fleecy, nappy, yielding and leaky’ (Larsen, 1975). It is now known that high cover factor woollen square-sails could beat at 66 degrees into the wind and most likely out-perform linen and hemp sails. Furthermore it has been proved conclusively that the process of smorring enables the properties of the wool sail to be improved and ‘trimmed’ during use.”

“Viking woollen square-sails and fabric cover factor” – Bill Cooke, Carol Christiansen, Lena Hammarlund

I was also a little disappointed to discover that they were likely red from dying with ‘Madder Root’ rather than from the blood of their enemies as I have always thought – well to be fair the practicalities would probably have been a nightmare….

Its a plant. Not a weapon of mass enemy destruction at all.

Now I was actually quite excited about this as my degree was in Ancient History and Archaeology.  This was purely due to an Indiana Jones fascination.

The many faces and talents of Indiana Jones

However turns out that doing this degree doesn’t

  1. Turn you into Indy
  2.  Help you meet a man like Indy
  3.  Help you do anything that Indy actually does

Maybe I should have realised this as it’s been awhile since any mad Nazi’s have been chasing archaeologists around the globe, but I do think the university should have a disclaimer – “Doing this degree will NOT help you find the Holy Grail”.

It actually consists of lots of scraping in the ground hoping beyond hope (and the evidence of the last three months in the rain) that this trowelful of earth will actually be the one that reveals a magnificent mosaic floor or similar*.

*N.B. this only ever actually happens on Time Team.  It’s not real archaeology.

So I am thrilled that someone with this background has spent time investigating this.  The looms they use are huge – and these wouldn’t be big enough for the size of sails we would be talking about, so there would be a massive amount of work involved.  In fact it probably explains why the Vikings had to steal all those sheep.

Ginormous Loom

I am now wondering if I should be knitting myself a new sail – although not in red – I don’t have any madder in the garden and I think the authorities would have something to say about me collecting the blood of my enemies.

It seemed like a good idea at the time
July 4, 2012, 8:07 am
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Earlier this year it seemed like a great idea to do something for charity.  And having been *ahem* ‘rescued’ by the RNLI it seemed only right and proper to support the charity my brother works so hard for.

So I foolishly signed up for the Great North Run – a half marathon.  Foolish for several reasons –

  • I hate running
  • I’m not very fit
  • It rains allot in the North East – and running in the rain is really miserable
  • I like cake
  • The idea of doing a run with thousands of other people all forcing me to keep going makes me feel a little sick
  • It’s 13 miles
  • Running is REALLY BORING
  • I would rather sail than run
  • If I’m doing it for charity then I HAVE to do it
  • I would rather clean my house than run
  • It’s still 13 miles
  • No one else likes running either so I have to do it on my own
  • Everything wobbles when you run – and not in a good way
  • You can’t drink wine while you are running
  • I really, really hate running
  • The Olympic torch bearers all do running – but only go about 200 yards – why didn’t I think of that instead?
  • It makes your legs go all fat at the bottom (I believe ‘muscelly’ is the technical term)
  • Did I mention its 13 miles?
  • There are actual magazines about running – thats right – whole books, websites and magazines about running – essentially putting one foot in front of the other faster than walking (if you Google running, it brings up more than 369 MILLION sites?!?!?!?!).  That’s terrifying.
  • Everyone who runs on Facebook does ‘log my run’ stuff which is just totally intimidating
  • I really, really, really hate running
  • If you are exhausted and stop running, because you are wearing running stuff then everyone knows you are a skiving off wobbly runner who likes cake and give you that look to tell you they know you are weak and pathetic
  • People from work have run it in the past and therefore feel it is helpful to share how horrible it is and how much it is going to hurt.  Apparently there is a big hill in it.  I hate hills.

In retrospect there are lots of other things I could have done instead.  Like just give them some money – remind me of this one next time.

So I have been doing training.  What this actually means that I have been going running (a little bit).  I thought I had been doing OK until I saw in the training program thing I should be doing 5 miles by now.  I nearly am, but I guess ‘nearly’ doesn’t get you through a half marathon.

So guess what I’m doing tonight?  Wish me luck.

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