The Knitting Sailor

It’s Raining
November 26, 2012, 8:50 am
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: , ,

I understand that it’s no Superstorm, but it’s not stopped raining for pretty much three days now.

We aren’t flooded, but most of the rest of the country is, and it turned into the reason I didn’t go sailing yesterday.  I was all prepared.  I was going to take my little boat out to play with.  Not to race, not to teach, not to end up crewing for somoeone else because you feel guilty that they can’t sail without crew who hasn’t turned up, not going in someone else’s boat because a Vareo is not really a cruising boat (and you get dizzy sailing round and round the front and back of the fleet as the cruising boats make their way to the picnic point over several hours – a distance DiagoNelly is capable of in mere seconds (especially with the kite up and even with the inclusion of the inevitable swimming).

No, I was going to take my boat out and sit in it for a bit and maybe survey the lake.  It was the last ‘official’ day of sailing, so there would be hot lunch after and probably some banter.

It was raining.  A few of the roads on the way were already closed.  It was too windy for me to sail, going from the forecast.

I went to the beach instead.

The dog enjoyed it


Meet Zelda
November 20, 2012, 8:03 am
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: ,

These are definitely Alpacas. They had a sign on them and everything.

She’s an Alpaca.  Please feel free to carry this photo for regular reference.  I do however understand that they are obviously not as amusing as Llama’s, although considerably less dangerous (I can’t believe everyone missed this one…. the Llama Song).


(With thanks to the lovely husband for taking me to visit them at the weekend – don’t you love a man who knows his Camelids?  If you want to go see them too they are at Jesmond Dene’s Pets Corner.  As if the Alpaca’s weren’t enough, they also have chickens and Pygmy goats).


Is a sheep a hasty choice?
November 15, 2012, 7:10 am
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To take true consideration if all of the options here is my list about why it would be great to have an alpaca / lama in the garden.  This is to endure the full facts are explored before I bring an animal into my suburban back garden.

I say alpaca / lama as I have never really understood the difference between them. I think lamas are taller. I’m sure someone clever would be able to tell me.

  • If I had an alpaca in my back garden then I could make heaps of money by selling the fleece as its really expensive fibre
  • I could hire it out in the winter to star in nativity productions
  • It would be able to peer over the fence and entertain the neighbours grandchildren (if it was a tall one which makes it a lama)
  • I could run visits for knitters and sell them alpaca / lama related items – e.g. a book in the shape of an alpaca / lama, alpaca / lama flavoured wine etc.
  • In the summer I could take it to the beach to take the kiddies for a ride
  • I could make my own cheese (or is that goats?)
  • My lawn would still be beautifully manicured – but so would my bushes due said animals increased height

Concern may be that they spit and don’t get on with the sheep, and as they are part of the camel family they might find the North East a little chilly….  Also, the last time I met a camel I had to buy a rug.

It’s a real camel. Or dromedary. Or something.

Don’t ask.


New Plan
November 14, 2012, 7:04 am
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Get a sheep to live in the back garden.  Reasons why having a sheep in my back garden would be a good idea –

  • It would save me lots of money on wool
  • It would be locally produced, organic wool and of the finest quality
  • I would not have to mow the lawn again
  • The sheep would be a friend to the little dog and the fishes in the pond
  • It could be a business investment as I could spin the wool and then sell it for lots of money to pay for the sheep’s upkeep
  • I could knit it a scarf and then sell photos of it wearing the scarf for Christmas cards
  • It would feed itself on grass so would be very cheap
  • In the winter it could live in the Mr’s shed – so it would have the added benefit of getting the shed cleared out
  • It would mean I could find out what sheep nuts actually are
  • We could take the sheep for days out to Kielder and it could play with lots of other sheep
  • People would visit and make a fuss of the sheep so it would become a talking point

Thinking about it, maybe I need two?


Is getting good, bad?
November 13, 2012, 6:47 am
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I finished my spinning!  So last time I wrote about this I had spun one ball and knit up half a pattern.  I had done this because

  1. I was too excited to wait
  2. I really really really wanted to prove it was real wool and not pretend wool
  3. Lots of people who spin, spin what they need as they go
  4. I was scared it might turn back into fluff if it wasn’t quickly marshalled into a knitted item
  5. I was too excited to wait

But I only had enough to do half of the collar and it looked like this


You can see why I was excited

Inspired to dash on, I then got straight back on with the spinning!  I was a little bit quicker this time and a little more careful.  If I got a big blobby bit of wool then I would go back, tease it apart and re-spin it all tidily.  I was quite chuffed with my attention to detail.  I seem to have got through a lot of fluff very quickly with this project – I guess because I am making quite thick wool due to inexperience.  I also think that there must be something that you need to do to make thinner wool – if I let the thread get too thin then the weight of the spindle (and the already spun wool) makes it snap.  So I think I have a chunky wool spindle.

It took me another three days to repeat the process, but my spinning was definitely better – more even and finer looking.  I don’t know if you can see it on the photos.


More perfect-er wool?

And two hours later I had finished the knitting.  There are lots of bonus’s here.  For six days making wool I reckon I got three hours knitting (if that).  Based on this calculation I am never going to be able to keep up with enough spinning to fulfil the knitting side of things.  Therefore I am still going to have to buy wool too – yay!

So what does my finished item look like?

I added extra buttons because they are super lovely buttons… and I put the first one in the wrong place.  It’s a lovely pattern, and I definitely think it suits the homespun nature of this wool – it’s also really easy to knit – I am contemplating dashing out 27,000 of them for Christmas presents.  Pattern is HERE.

So this only leaves me with one problem.  The wool looks different!  The first lot is less ‘spun’ than the first lot, and the second lot is definitely got more definition about it – I suspect I would have got different wpi if I had actually checked (of course I didn’t check – who do you think I am!).

So the knitting to the left is more fluffy than the knitting to the right, right?

So I am now doing that thing where people compliment me on it and I say – ‘oh thank you!  I spun the wool myself!  But what you can see is that I did it in two lots and I think I got better as I went on and if you look where these two ends overlap you can really see that there is a big difference in the wool I ended up with so it doesn’t quite match….’.

Please shoot me.  And pass me some more fluff – it won’t spin itself you know.


Bonfire Night
November 5, 2012, 8:19 pm
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: , , , ,

Today is the day that here in England we celebrate the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot.  We do this by burning effigies, letting off fireworks and eating bonfire toffee.  I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on that one.

So here are a couple of really poor photos  from my phone of the big event on the seafront this year – the light displays on the Spanish City Dome (yes – that the one made ‘famous’ by the Dire Straits ‘Tunnel of Love‘ track) and the somewhat dissapointing fireworks.  Never mind.  Sure they saved us a fortune in Council Tax….

Don’t you feel like you were actually there?!

November 4, 2012, 10:17 pm
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The year has definitely turned, this morning there was frost on the garden which was covered with fallen leaves  – the end of the year seems to be creeping ever closer.

Today was also an important day for us as it has been the day that my husband’s time as Commodore of the sailing club came to an end.  Following the AGM he stepped down and handed over to the new incumbent.

Having held the position for two years, it is obviously the end of a period in which we have both been heavily involved in all aspects of the management of the sailing club – from the glad handing and prize giving, to the politics and procrastination that goes with any volunteer role.

I don’t really think either of us had any real idea of what it was all about in the beginning, it was the job nobody wanted (and were a little nervous of, given previous events) and it was only with commitments of support from many others that the Mr felt able to step up.  We felt very strongly that the future of the club was uncertain without leadership, and the club was important enough to us both that I encouraged him to take the role – but really, I was unsure as to how he would cope and what it would mean.

Over his time he has brought his own stamp to the role – accessible, approachable and down to earth, he has shown a completely different side of himself than that I knew, and his time has seen the Club continue to stand firm in a difficult time for sailing in the North East.  He has encouraged new blood onto the committee and ensured the inclusive nature of the club is maintained as well as juggling relations with the water authority and the legal entity we operate via.

There have been lots of highs –

  • the annual prize giving – always went well despite the run up stress of making sure all the prizes came back and that everyone knew who won what
  • the rib replacement program – a long drawn out process but working with the treasurer we have a shiny fleet of fantastic boats at our disposal for rescue and patrol
  • celebrating 30 years sailing at Kielder along with the Yacht club – bonus points that we remembered!
  • encouraging Windsurfing and supporting the enthusiasm of one member who has now developed a full program complete with equipment mostly gained from grants thanks to the support of the committee
  • getting approval for the new bar – and financially supporting it by drinking the stock!
  • getting the Water Authority on board with a new boat registration system to make members lives easier
  • actually doing some sailing!  Although obviously this threatened his title of the None Sailing Commodore!

The lows?  Well let’s not dwell on those – but I bet he would say that it was that only a couple of weeks ago a long established member still identified him as ‘Vicky’s Husband’ – he threatened to get a badge made at one point.

His action, hard work and commitment have meant that we still have a thriving club to be a part of, that we are coming through the recession strongly and with some new revenue streams open to us and some great people to take us on into the future.  So it’s an ending of sorts – but also a new beginning too.

So from the bottom of my heart – thank you for wearing the big hat Mr.


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