How to find yourself a knitting group

Well, I never expected to find myself a knitting group quite so far away but a trip to Minnesota was just where I found them! We fly from New York with the briefest of stops in Chicago in time to grab a sandwich before we were off again (we’re definitely going to stop in Chicago properly next time!) and soon enough we were landing in Minneapolis. It was just as we were landing at Minneapolis airport that I looked at pao and smiled saying hopefully those people I’d been in almost daily touch with wouldn’t turn out to be axe murderers.

It wasn’t hard to spot Eileen because she had the international flag of the knitblogger in her hands – a very beautiful looking sock so that was a good start. Eileen is an incredibly good sport and had volunteered us to our first B&B The Covington Inn.

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She is forever a knitting heroine because not long after we’d arrived in St Paul, she pulled up outside Borealis Yarns 🙂 That is pretty good going as we’d been with Eileen about an hour at that point so I was highly up for some immediate corruption. Let me say that I came out of Borealis with a rather large bagful due to pao encouraging the ladies in the store to convince me to choose something else and he kept picking up balls of yarn and kept saying how nice they were. Eileen gave me the most amazing pair of foldupable scissors which are brilliant as they won’t poke a hole in me or my knitting bag. Amazingly, I managed to get these through several sets of airport security without forgetting to pack them in the hold luggage and they are now safely ensconced in my knitting bag! Hooray! Thank you, Eileen!

Finding our boat wasn’t without difficulty because the directions to it were a bit sketchy. We drove around Harriet Island a bit and eventually found someone to ask because my mobile was completely flat by then.

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The boat was amazing and I immediately wished that I’d booked all three nights on there rather than just the one. That place is definitely on my must-do list for St Paul!

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Our bed was amazing!

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We had a couple of hours to chill out on the boat before Eileen and Scott came to pick us up for the party at Jeanne’s house. We had a blast – it was great to sit around chatting with everyone in Jeanne’s beautiful garden surrounded by her gorgeous cats.

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Doesn’t pao look right at home?

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I was chuffed to meet the famous Pirate and his wench 😉

I didn’t take many photos – just these two but pao will have taken loads more which I’m hoping he’ll show you. I was having too much fun knitting and chatting 🙂

Thank you so much to Jeanne and Michael for having us round their beautiful house! Thank you to Scott and Eileen for driving us! Thank you to Chris for the really lovely gift bag (I haven’t taken photos yet but I will) and for organising the blocking wires! We had a brilliant time with all of you 🙂

Lady Liberty

I had three places on my New York to see list:
1. The Flat Iron Building – we didn’t see it so I now have the perfect ‘go back’ excuse
2. The Empire State Building
3. The Statue of Liberty

Two out of three isn’t bad!

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We got on a bus down to Battery Park where we had to catch our boat. The view of the skyline is quite amazing.

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I could have spent many happy hours sitting on one of the benches in the park just chilling out. It was an incredibly hot day after all.

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There is a very neat immigrant statue however you can only see part of it as a crowd of Russian tourists were sitting on the other part.

We were a bit tired from our adventures in Niagara so when we saw that the queue for the boat that went to Ellis Island was mega long; we went for the free option : the Staten Island Ferry.

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I loved it – much better than being packed on sardine like to the other boat.

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It was worth it to see this!

Now I do actually have some more New York yarn acquisition to show you which showed up in the post the other day but I think that the Minnesotans have waited quite patiently enough for me to get to the bit where I met them so tomorrow we are blog-travelling to Minneapolis!

A stroll in Greenwich Village

Picking up on my travelogue since the folks in Minnesota might want to see my photos of our fantastic adventures this side of Christmas; I thought I’d show you some random photos from Greenwich Village where Purl and The Point are located.

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I was struck by how wonderfully short everything was in comparison to the rest of Manhattan where everything was supertall.

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Nothing like Downing Street to make you think of Blighty!

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I liked the creativity that seemed to characterise the area. This mural was just on the side of a wall near this playground.

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Hehe – I loved the name of this place.

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It was probably the greenest part of New York I had seen up until that point (Battery Park will follow soon).

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I was amused by this display in a village pet shop.

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And the Taco Taxi!

But the two best things about Greenwich Village:
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Getting to stroke this lovely cat

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and John’s Pizzeria on Bleecker Street. Even without cheese, they make the most amazing pizza. Lucky I don’t live in New York or I would be even rounder!

I’m turning the heel on pao’s birthday sock now and it is quite clear that I am going to run out of yarn before the end of the first sock so I have had to email my enabler (yes, you, wicked smooshy yarn woman!) for emergency supplies. I weighed the yarn last night before I started on the heel and it was clear that 21g wasn’t going to be enough by any means.

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As pao has gone out, here is a sneak preview. Shhhhhhhh (although he will keep seeing it as I have to get him to try it on…)

Bonkers but happy

I survived my first set of lectures both on web technologies and for my English MA today. I am starting to think I must be completely bonkers to do both those things at the same time but I am so glad that I am.

I have thought for a while that intellectually I’m stagnating a bit and what I’m doing at the moment isn’t giving me any sense of what is going on outside of my little domain and I have been yearning for more. Yes, I could have gone on the internet and set myself little projects to work on and develop my skills but to be honest that is a lonely existence and I really enjoy being in lectures and having someone to ask about things. The web course is a real eye opener to some of the newest and emerging technologies. Even though CSS is old hat to a lot of people, it is new to me and I will get to learn a bit of Javascript which should help me rediscover my programming skills.

I completely love my MA programme. I’ve elected to do a course called American Modernism which covers Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Anderson, Dos Passos, and Cather. It is a period of time which I’m really quite interested in so I’m excited about rediscovering The Great Gatsby again – we touched on it in the introduction to the period and the course this afternoon and I just want to rush home and read it again as I’ve forgotten what happened and hints of it come back. We’re starting with Winesburg, Ohio next week which I read a long long time ago so it will be interesting to see how my opinions have changed (if I can remember my original opinions at all since I manically threw out all my undergrad notes the weekend before we moved house).

The final seminar of the evening was about textual criticism versus scholarship which was very interesting indeed. I guess I didn’t realise how much scope there was for errors to creep into a text particularly through the editing process. We learnt a lot about copyright and how publishers are managing to recopyright materials which are really rather old. I certainly have a lot to think about. We’re going to be pulling apart one of Emily Dickinson’s poems next time in about 4 weeks so that will be interesting.

We spent most of the weekend trying to rest up a bit but it turned out that we did lots of cleaning and tidying and pao built our bookcases.

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I did manage to finish the socks I cast on when I arrived back in the UK. These were made out of a beautiful yarn called Shibui which I bought at Borealis Yarns when I was with Eileen. They are simple Garter Rib socks from the Charlene Schurch book except I made a plain heel rather than the fancy heel which is described in the book. Shibui is a dream to knit with and the socks whizzed right along.

And here I make a shocking announcement: I’m making pao some socks for his birthday in just under a month’s time. As I unpacked the swag from Minneapolis, my eye fell upon the yarn which Chris held and said was “smooshy” when we visited Depth of Field (more on that trip another day). It was none other than Soxx Appeal in red. It has elastic in it, I’ve knitted over a hundred rows and it fits over that pesky navicular bone – it is almost perfect. The only slight problem might be that I may not have enough as pao has enormous feet. I am knitting like mad when I am not doing other important things and weighing the skeins as I go along because I think I may just have enough yarn to finish both socks. Unfortunately, Soxx Appeal hasn’t reached this country yet so there might be an SOS if I don’t have enough to finish the first sock.

Fingers crossed!!!

Back to School

I had my first formal session as a new postgrad student today. It was pretty strange because I am at least 10 years older than all the other people I’ll be studying with. I don’t know how well I’m going to like it but I’ll give it a try. I met a nice girl called Kim who is doing Boundary Busting with me next term so she was rather chuffed that someone else had signed up.

I’m doing American Modernism this term – a lot of books I did as an undergrad but after 14 years away from study I needed to give myself a reminder of why I enjoyed that period so much. My timetable is a bit gruelling as I’m doing a course on Dynamic web for work this term as well so I have an hour on Monday and Fridays for that during the day then at 4pm every Monday I have my American Modernism seminar until 6pm then Research Methods from 6pm-8pm straight after. All that after a whole day at work, too!

I am already exhausted after spending quite a lot of extra hours at work this week and last. When I got home, I was too tired to knit!

Next term will look easy in comparison as I only have the one seminar during the day mid week! I’ve got to read Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson for my first seminar which I remember enjoying all that time ago.

Socktopus Sold Out!

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Crazy crazy day today so we went to Ikea after work. You think I would have had enough of travelling after a two and half hour round trip to another site then a breakneck dash back to Canterbury in time for another presentation at 2pm. No siree, we hopped in the car and went on the two hour round trip to our nearest Ikea at Thurrock (please powers at Ikea, build one nearer – Ashford’s good, there are lots of houses there and it is just off the M20). Our car was rather full when we left Ikea – we now have lots of bookcases and something for Ariel to sit on. We did try and convince Merlin to sit on it (it has a tail!!) but he wasn’t having any of it so Ariel has claimed it for her own. I have also bought them a very cute cat tent but you won’t see that til it’s been built at the weekend.

We have to go back to meatball heaven again in a couple of weeks to get some extensions so we’re going to try for a Socktopus then. Apparently, they only got them in last week and they are completely sold out.

Now I am going to collapse in a heap. Yet, again it has been one of those super rushed days where nothing has gone to plan but I’ve survived and I’m ready for a nice cup of tea!

New York Yarn Shops

I got home earlier today – woohoo!

I think you’ve been enjoying the yarn-a-logue so I thought I’d tell you a bit about the yarn shops we visited.

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First up was Purl which Lolly mentioned on her blog a while ago. We visited on a Sunday so it was a little hard to get around because the whole shop was full of ladies and pao! I was bemused to be taken to one side and told about some other yarn shops by another customer in a very conspiratorial air when she realised I was visiting.

I fondled a lot of Malabrigo and Rio de la Plata but mostly settled on a few skeins of Koigu (KKPM and Kersti) and some Alchemy Yarn which was on sale.

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I liked the range that Purl has but it was difficult to choose because there wasn’t a lot of space to move around in. I suppose we could have gone another day but it wasn’t a big shop. The little sweaters by the door were extremely cute!

We then felt the need for tea so headed over to The Point which wasn’t too far away. The Point was much bigger and more enjoyable as we were able to sit down for a bit. Thank you, Obsidian Kitten for recommending The Point as it was fun to go and sit for a while and it is in the most amazingly lovely neighbourhood. There wasn’t a lot of stock in the shop which I couldn’t have gotten easily at home – I did fondle some lovely Sublime yarn and realised that it came from Wales.

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They serve up very nice cakes in The Point. I was a little puzzled as we didn’t get any milk with our English Breakfast tea but it was just nice to have a cup of tea. We had had one of the horriblest cups of tea at the diner in the morning so the tea at the Point was much nicer.

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The yarns were mostly in wire baskets which stretched right up to the ceiling which was quite fun. I just bought some cones of Habu in there because all the sock yarns I liked had only one 50g skein left.

I had planned to just go to the two yarn shops but we had to go over to Battery Park to see the lady in the harbour and I had realised that my precious Chibi needle was at home so we took a stroll in the Financial District and found Seaport Yarn. This was quite somewhere else.

We arrived at the address that was on the piece of paper that I’d compiled about yarn shops etc but thought it was strange because it looked just like an office building so we rechecked our address and it was right. I went in and asked the guy on the security desk if it was where Seaport Yarn was supposed to be. He told us it was and asked us to sign in. A little unusual for a yarn shopping experience.

Seaport Yarn was on the fifth floor of the building and to say it was like an Aladdin’s cave is a bit of an understatement. pao was shown to a comfortable leather sofa by Andrea whilst Margaret took me on a guided tour.

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This is just the corridor! There were several large rooms filled with yarn and related items. It was incredible and very difficult to decide a small amount of stash to take away. I bought a lot of needles in there because they had lots of lovely different ones including square needles which I’m going to try soon!

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This is Andrea – hi Andrea! We were highly amused because she also knows Nic who I met at knitting class (and I saw on Sunday). It really is a small world!

Niagara Falls

(click on tiny photos for larger versions)

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The photo which pao and I were standing in the way of on Saturday is of the American side of the Falls. When we were planning our trip back in April, we booked through Expedia and after we’d booked our hotels, we saw one of the trips they organised was to Niagara Falls. Well, we were a bit startled by the price but then I pointed out to pao that it was possibly unlikely that we’d have the opportunity to go on such a trip ever again so we bit the bullet and booked it. Are we glad we did? You bet we are! It was the most awesome sight I have ever seen.

We were picked up from our hotel at stupid o’clock and put on a plane to Buffalo where we were met by our Venezualan guide. Being the only British people on the tour was quite unusual so we shared our guide with the Spanish and German contingent.

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We were standing close to this bridge when I took the previous photo.

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This is another location on the American side.

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If you think that is amazing, the Canadian side blew us away.

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A trip on the Maid on the Mist was included in our excursion – wow! We were really close to the Falls.

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We had to dress up in a wrinkly blue plastic affair which was great for keeping us dry as it was a pretty wet trip!

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It was pretty incredible! I loved every minute on the boat even when at times it felt a little overwhelming. It was absolutely gorgeous.

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I loved watching Due South but pao wouldn’t let me leave the shop with the mountie hat!

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We loved Niagara and would definitely go there again if we got the opportunity for a longer visit so we can stare and stare at the Falls without worrying about being back on the bus in time. It was a bit sad that we didn’t manage to meet up with Mama T but that just gives us the perfect excuse to go back again.

Happy hour and knit spots

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I am interupting the travelogue for today as we travelled to Romford to meet up with Nic and to meet up with some other knitbloggers including the very talented Kerrie from HipKnits. As the very lovely Deb is hosting a virtual happy hour competition, I thought that our afternoon knitting away in Starbucks might be a good entry.

We had a super time – Romford is just under an hour and a half away. We got there about midday so we had a quick look round Hobbycraft which had some very nice Sublime Yarn and I got some sunny yellow yarn for a baby kimono I’ve promised to make someone. We found the Starbucks we were meant to be at really easily and settled into some very comfy chairs and chatted and knitted and cooed over babies. A perfect happy hour on a Sunday afternoon 🙂

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My photo of Nic and Pete isn’t very good but trust me – he is cute and destined to break many girl’s hearts!

I really enjoyed myself and was glad to meet up with poor Kerrie who brought the yarn which I’d ordered a while ago for my trip but due to the vagaries of Royal Mail has been returned to her twice and now has gone missing completely despite it being sent Special Delivery (e.g. guaranteed delivery with tracking). I have sort of dreaded mailing her to say that the package didn’t make it (again) so it was really nice to meet her and her family. It was also lovely to meet Lucy and chat yarn with her – I have tried to stay firm with myself and say I’m not going to Ally Pally this year as I have to be at lectures during the week and the weekend is usually pandemonium.

We had a pit stop at Bluewater so that the beleagured pao to get sustenance and for us to see if we could find any decent and cheap bookcases in John Lewis’ clearance sale. (No bookcases but yarn and sushi were purchased (partly with pao’s loyalty vouchers)). I think we are destined to take a trip to Ikea in the near future as we still have quite a few boxes we can’t unpack until we have bookcases and I would like to get the spare room sorted out.

Now I am home again and feeling a bit tired as I woke up in the middle of the night worried that I wouldn’t get the work I needed to do before Monday done in time. (I got up at 3.30am, did the work and then went back to sleep until 9 feeling a bit happier.) It’s the usual pre-term rush but what with a website upgrade happening last week which meant that I couldn’t do any updates until Friday evening at 5pm. I’ve got another couple of late finishes this week as some software was upgraded last week and all my documentation needs to be rewritten and screen shots redone – gah! I know I’ll be shattered by next weekend so I’d better make the most of my delicious Sunday evening of knittery tonight – so that leads me on nicely to my favourite knit spots which Monkee Maker wanted to see.

The lovely knitting bag gifted to me by Sarah when I saw her in Cape Cod will represent me 🙂 Thank you so much, Sarah! The other goodies which were inside the box bag will be revealed soon – I’m making you wait!

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Joint top-favourite is our cherry red joyfulness in our lounge. I like the corner near the lamp best. The basket next to it has needles and yarn 🙂

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This is also top favourite as it is in the corner of the dining room and if I open the window I can hear cricket being played on the green opposite. It is such a peaceful and lovely room 🙂

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Yep, another sofa. We have a lot of chairs in the house now but sofas mean the cats can sprawl out next to me and the yarn has half a chance of not being pre-tasted. This sofa also has a beige cover which I like better but it is nice to have a change.

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If I hadn’t been going to Romford, this is where I would have had the photo for the virtual happy hour taken. These are just really cheap chairs I got from Asdas but they are fairly comfortable (they seem to be stuffed with paper!) and they recline completely and don’t collapse when a cat jumps on me. I love our new garden even though I miss having grass. Patio seems a whole lot more easy to maintain especially now we’re students again.

Daddy pao

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Conversation at student registration today.
Me: So where can I get information on getting a student discount card?
SU person: Well, your father (looking directly at pao) has picked up a leaflet already.

Hey, I’m not complaining especially since I was carded twice in the US.

Poor pao.

(The photo is just a hint of the photos we took at Niagara Falls)