Whoville – my new favourite sweater

I know. It’s a while since I posted, and now it’s the new year, I’m posting again. Yes, it’s related to a NYR to “write more”. Watch this space for me relapsing and not-writing a bit more.

So: knitting news. Just around Christmas I finished my latest sweater. I seem to be on a kick with this particular designer (atelier alfa), it’s the second one I’ve done by them in a row. The first one (stripes gone crazy) has been on my to-do list for a while – we know how I love unusual construction, well this one really fitted the bill, in that it has graduated sunbeam stripes which go around the back to give small stripes on one cardigan front, and large on the other front – but more of that in another blog post (eventually, when I’ve blocked it and added its buttons).  This latest sweater, 3 in 1,  has been on my to-do list ever since I stumbled across it on Pinterest (I think) aaaages ago. Or it might have been on an “also by this designer” link. The colours spoke to me, as did the fake-layering. My aspirational how-I’d-like-to-dress pinterest board has many things featuring layers, although the observant among you will note that it doesn’t feature many brightly coloured things. It should not be news that I want to come across as being more sophisticated than I really am. Given that my sophistication level is only really above a 1 or 2 out of 10 for those who know me at all well… and that only on special occasions.

I’m also working on a blanket as part of a crochet-along and was really liking the yarn that we are using for that one – it’s a brand/line that has many colours, so is ideally suited to stripes where there are similar colours all together. I chose my colours in October, with the help of Myra at Knit-wise and could barely wait to get home to get started…

Sure enough, I ploughed through the early interesting stages, which involve ribbing (I used Woolly Wormhead’s alternate cable cast-on – my go-to when ribbing is involved BECAUSE I LOVE IT, MAN), 2×2 stripes and short rows. The curly edges for the 2 “layers” are done by casting on, on a new set of needles, working 6 rows or so in stocking stitch, then 3-needle-knit-together with your work in progress. More short rows, and on with the stocking stitch, stripes, and short rows.

I’ve said before that I “knit in” what I’m watching at the time. This part of the sweater has Orphan Black season 1 all over it for me, now :-) .

Then, of course, comes the relatively long, dull slug (while maintaining 2×2 stripes) of the body. It wasn’t as dull as I feared, there’s a bit of shaping, and before I knew where I was I’m at the neck opening. Mindful of my relatively large rack, and keen to avoid the monoboob effect that can happen with high necked garments, one of the things I like about this is the placket-open henley-style neckline. Turns out it also adds interest :-)

When I got to the neck opening, I *very briefly* considered setting myself up for steeking it in case my tension/striped/stitches lay noticeably differently when knitting back & forth around the opening instead of knitting in the round as I had been up to now. Then I reminded myself not to be quite so damn precious and just a) get on with it and b) follow the goddamn pattern for a change. So I followed the pattern, knit back & forth, and when the pattern called for it, started on the sleeves.

I did, in a slight off-piste moment (off-piste moment #1, as it shall henceforth be known), add an inch or two to the body length. Because I’m generally an inch or 2 longer than most people are in the body. I blame my Dad.

The sleeves are knitted cuff-up, so I did the same cast on and made sure they were nice & long. On sleeve 2 I went slightly off-piste (moment #2) again, and added a small heart motif on the left sleeve. This could signify many things, depending on what mood I’m in – I’m wearing my heart on my sleeve – which I frequently do – a reminder to be conscious of heart disease – which I frequently am, given that my mum and Granda both left this mortal coil due to heart attacks – and just because. Because I’m like that some days. Also, I had plenty of red yarn available, so why not.

So I joined the sleeves to the main by as instructed by the pattern, and ploughed on through the several faux-necklines – interestingly fashioned from reverse stocking stitch bands rather than rolled over actual stocking stitched until officially I was done.

However.

I like hoods, and I like the blues of the “underneath” layer and wanted more of them to be visible. So, with the sage advice of my friends at the Wednesday night knit & natter at Knit-wise I worked out how big a hood would need to be, given my gauge & preferred hood size (90 stitches), compared that to how many stitches I had on the pins (130), and then ploughed on regardless. I attached a second ball of dark bluey purple at the far end, did 8 stitches-worth of garter stitch at each end, and continued until the hood was 14 inches long. Then it was a simple 3-needle bind-off starting at the outside edge (so that I didn’t have to actually spend time finding the middle) and I was done.

Sewing the ends in was a bit of a bugger, although I carried the yarn across the stripes, but still, there were more than usual, given the different colours and many start/end places.

I chose some tasteful wooden buttons so that they were a bit of a stand-out feature rather than something that melts into the background, and they are now one of my favourite things about the sweater.

This is, in fact, my new favourite sweater and I’ve worn it pretty much every day since finishing it a week or so ago. It’s lovely and warm. The sleeves are maybe a little bit too long, but I’m coping with this adversity well. Given that they are meant to look like some of them are pushed up a bit, if they are all pushed up, it’s not the end of the world…

The pattern is well-written and easy to understand, I thought – there are helpful diagrams at each stage so that you can see what the instructions are on about. I’d thoroughly recommend having a go, if this is a style you think you’d like to wear.

Why Whoville? It struck me, when I took the picture of the sleeve trying to escape from my project bag that this sweater, with its many-coloured stripes, looks just like something from a Dr Seuss book. So, Whoville it is :-)

 

Are *you* feeling the hexagon love?

Bizarrely, the best colours photo I’ve been able to get of this yarn is when my hand is also in the picture forcing the light levels (or so I guess).

hexagon socks in progress

I’m close to the end of the “smooth” hexagons on this sock. It’s shaping up to be a little baggy, however, I have (and I know this will shock you) followed the instructions pretty closely so far. Let’s see how they go: these may have to end up being “indoor” socks or a second layer with big boots. I’m liking how the colours are matching up – or *not* matching up, actually. No unexpected colour boundaries here, folks.

Even though these are my shiny new thing to knit, I’m already anticipating severe second sock syndrome, to the extent that I’m considering starting sock 2 once I’ve finished the smooth hexagons here. It could either be a Really Smart Plan or a really stupid plan that leaves me dazed and confused and gibbering in the corner with abject confusion. Only time will tell. I’m deferring the decision until I’ve actually finished the smooth hexagons.

If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s The Procrastination.

In other “even though these are my shiny new thing to knit” news, I’ve also cast on something else.

work in progress - grey knitting

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Can you tell what it is yet, kids?

An aside: we had a discussion in the office this morning about good festival acts we’ve seen. It’s no longer fashionable to say so, but I really enjoyed Rolf Harris’ performance when I saw him both at Guildford and at Glastonbury (although Glasto was hot & crazy-busy because everyone else had caught on by then). I also really liked his art. Clearly, I enjoyed these things not knowing how he was apparently behaving away from the public eye, but he was good at the stuff he did. It’s a damn shame.

No, it’s not the latest in chic gothic styled accessories… no wait… it kind-of is. Well, maybe not gothic on account of it’s not black, but the photo above made me think of a bat so I find myself going down this path. Arguably the end result (I’m hoping) will be a bit more steampunk than Goth – this will be a dark grey kinda-fitted waistcoat. I’ve been meaning to make one for a while, so clearly now that winter is over and the warmer weather is on its way I’m casting this on in the hopes that it’s completed SOMETIME IN JUNE. Because who *doesn’t* want another layer of aran yarn hugging them during the hottest months of the year?

I had another I-enjoy-knitting moment on Sunday night with this project as well (regular viewers will remember that the pink & purple yarn above is in the process of being re-knitted). Having worked on it all through the day (well, off & on and mainly during a skype meeting) and getting a good 6-8 inches up from the beginning (further than I am now) I decided that it was shaping up to be a fitted waistcoat for someone who is larger than me, so decided to undo and do the “large” size rather than the “extra-large” size where the measurements matched the size I know my chest to be. I did (round of applause or HIGH FIVE required here) remember to check my gauge before frogging, and it was bang on. So, well done to me. This is the WI aran which is sold through the large nationwide hobby supplies shop we don’t mention in front of artisan retailers in case it makes them come over all funny and I really like the way it’s knitting up. I got 2 massive balls so will probably be able to make everyone accessories to match my waistcoat, plus an extra one in their 3 for 2 offer which means I also have some bright red yarn. I *was* thinking a sophisticated match of the two yarns but actually red is the school colour for Excel Emmanuel and Forrester schools who partner with Porridge and Rice so I may just go into hat-knitting overdrive and send them out in dribs & drabs. Because, as we now know, the crazy kids in Kenya wear woolly hats when English people are sweltering in a skimpy thong.

Something I Really Like

Taking a leaf from www.yarnsfromtheplain.co.uk‘s book (who I’m guessing copied it from somewhere else – I’ve heard other podcasters do something very similar) – HERE’s a thing.

Background: I have a general intention to raise my wardrobe game a bit at work – wear shirts rather than t-shirts, not wear jeans so much, generally dress a bit less like a Software Developer and a bit more like a BA/Solutions Architect who could reasonably be expected to be pushed in front of clients. Basically, if I want to do more work alongside my boss who wears a suit to work every day, I want to look the part a bit more. However, I’m clearly not going to turn the dial straight up to 11 or I’ll just get asked what time my interview is all the time.

At the beginning of last week I took a step I’d been meaning to take for a white and sent off for a blouse from Charles Tyrwhitt. Blouse arrives – is a plain white blouse as ordered. The fabric is smooth and lovely, the sleeves are long and luscious, it’s generally pretty lovely. Except that when I’ve got it on, I can’t put my shoulders back for fear of bursting out of it. It works, but it doesn’t fit terribly well. Also, a button fell off in the first half hour of putting it on.

I’ve had a brief look at Pepperberry, but their stuff, in spite of being fashioned for the larger-booby lady, also doesn’t feel like it fits super well. I may re-visit, I’m not sure.

I went shopping on Saturday to see what M&S had to offer – just in case they had something that wasn’t a terrible fit and that I didn’t have to get 3 sizes too big to accommodate the rack. My hopes, I have to say, weren’t high. They have form in this area, after all.

Well.

It’s fair to say that I made a discovery that made me SO HAPPY that I don’t believe I’ve been THAT HAPPY in a store changing room since… possibly puberty. Not since I developed these lumps on my chest that make things NOT FIT in ALL THE PLACES. M&S have styled 2 extra buttons between the normal buttons, only facing inwards in an invisible fashion, and called them the “no peep placket”.

Oh. My. Word.

In spite of the silly name, this is a goddamn REVELATION. No more gaping buttons for me. I may even get my sewing machine out and sew extra inside out buttons onto all my other blouses (er… when I get them) because, man alive this thing really works. Complete lack of gaping.

I could go on for a while, but suffice it now to end on I think this is a really very good idea, and I will be buying more blouses from M&S in the future. But probably not the mint green spotted one.

 

Nearly famous

On Wednesday, instead of going to Knit-night at Knit-wise like usual, I went to a Special Event organised by Knit-wise to launch their new status as stockist of Baaa-ram-ewe yarns. Held in a restaurant/tea rooms just around the corner, the event was very well attended, with 50 or so eager knitters attending, including all the people I know through knitting, and some people I knew from other things.

The yarn was very well pitched – it is indeed lovely yarn – and we were clearly meant to come away with the impression (which I’m sure is accurate) that although the yarn is made entirely of British wool (heads-up: wool can be scratchy), it’s very soft and drapey. A finished garment or accessory had been placed on each table, and select individuals were asked to model them. Fran, on our table, did a marv job – if only she weren’t so busy becoming the next Mary Berry of the crafting & jam making world she would be a shoe-in for the UK’s next Top Model.

 

I’m very tempted, and it’s good to know my LYS will be stocking the stuff. Watch this space.

So, there was a woman of about my age sat at the same table as me who I’d never seen before. I was chatting amiably to her, when my eye caught the rubber bands on her wrist. I saw “BLOODWISE” and a switch flicked in my brain.

That’s the charity Sam Heughan supports. I wonder if this lady is doing myPeakChallenge? I carried on staring surreptitiously at her wrist, for the clue was there. It turns out she is. So, when there was a suitable gap/segwayopportunity in the conversation (which was already going well, I thought) I took the opportunity to reveal that I had spotted that she was most likely an Outlander fan much like myself.

We compared who had read what – Nic (for that is her name) has put in more hard yards than me and has read All The Books, whereas I am rationing myself because otherwise NOTHING WOULD GET DONE EVER. On that note, I’ve just decided (you heard it here first, folks) that I need to set myself a target or reward at which point I get to read the next one. Otherwise I’m just punishing myself indefinitely. Maybe after I’ve read a non-Outlander book I get to read an Outlander book. But I digress.

As if that isn’t enough, I then also twigged that I knew the name on her t-shirt. Turns out Nic is also a podcaster WHO I LISTEN TO. Yarns from the plain is one of the several podcasts I listen to (admittedly somewhat sporadically) while doing the totally easy and not at all unpredictable and dull commute from Ormskirk to Knutsford. I went all groupie on her ass, and got Fran the not-famous-yet Model to take a photo of us.


…which I instantly made a mess of blurring and winged into the ether.

So – I met a famous person who I’m sure is heading to big and fantastic times with her new focus on running an independent yarn dyeing company and studying textiles (see I do pay attention a bit) and who shares (and clearly outstrips me in dedication terms) my unhealthy obsession with Outlander (“whatever, Mum, nobody cares”) and who makes a podcast. My plan now is to internet stalk her (Hi Nic!), buy her yarn, attend her fibre festival and generally scare the crap out of her.

Or not. Have you recorded the next podcast yet?

An aside – Justin at work said that Knit-night sounds like a super-strong treatment for nits (nit-knight). I know. He’s put that thought in my head, so I’m making you share the pain. It’s OK for you. I have to work with him. 

Quick dash

I got some off-the-shelf orthotic insoles last night, on the hopes that I might be able to walk further than from the car to my desk without causing pain. It was late when I got in yesterday & Steve is the one who does the walking after-dark, so I went out for a quick dash around the block at lunchtime today. I only had about 20 minutes as there were timed support tasks to be done, but I thought that would be enough to whizz round the block.

It’s been so long since I did anything approaching proper exercise that I’d gone about a third of the way before I remembered to turn on runkeeper. If it’s not in runkeeper, it didn’t happen, so by that rule I only walked just under 2km ~ boo!

However, I only over-ran my timeslot by 5 minutes and so far there are no crippling after-effects. These old-lady shoe-props might be just the thing…

Gentlemen, please… (Waddesden Manor at Christmas)

When we knew we would be in Aylesbury for New Year, the suggestion was made & eagerly accepted that we should book to see Waddesden Manor’s Christmas decorations. We had tried a couple of years ago, but timed tickets for the house sell out in advance, and it would have meant a 3+ hour wait in cold, windy gardens, so at the time it was felt to be too big a commitment.

So this year, we booked the house & restaurant and a stress- and wait-free time was had by all.

Lunch in the restaurant was most civilised with Joel having his first taste of shell on prawns, and several helpings of hot chocolate, some including a tot of Baileys. As I said: very civilised. Edited to add: Joel did not have Baileys. Only grown-ups drank Baileys.

We pitched up for the house tour two minutes before our appointed time and were somewhat concerned to find a group ahead of us being turned away because they were too early. However, it transpired that they were 12 minutes too early and we were allowed straight in.

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While the outside of the property is styled like a French Château the inside is more like a classic country house… only on steroids. A deceptively modest entryway leads to a generously proportioned corridor in which there are a couple of pictures as big as my living room, and some equally generous Christmas trees. The children had a passport to collect stickers in, where they had to identify which country the Christmas “legend” the room was themed around related to. Some of the attendants were more generous than others in giving the children the answers, which frankly weren’t tricky, but the last lady around the trail was especially strict and insisted that they go to see the relevant boards before claiming their stickers.

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The upstairs dining room was my favourite room with an astonishing chandelier made from broken crockery – very stylish. I’m hoping I might build to achieve this with my own dining room one day…

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There was a “snowy” corridor which for some reason reminded me of some aspects of Farmaggeddon… I’m not sure why.

I also especially liked the treatment of the stairs which could’ve been a complete non-area however decking it out for Chinese New Year made perfect sense and was done really really well.

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As we are National trust members, there was no entry fee to pay. I think I would have baulked at paying the full price for the portion of the house that is open this time of year – just the gentleman’s wing – the rooms themselves are indeed splendiferous and were very nicely decked out for the season.

The light-trail outside would also probably have been significantly better in either the dusk or the night-time …but we were there during the day, so they were a little underwhelming, as one might expect.

All in all, if you’re a member then it’s a good trip out but do make sure to book your tickets in advance. If you’re not members then it could prove to be a little bit pricey and not feel like awesome value for money. I plan to go back to the house in the summer to see what I’m sure are some blow-you-away awesome interiors…

This is a Thing, then

I thought I should post an actual post on the timeline so that anyone stumbling across the blog will know…this Sunday I will be running in a 10km race at Weston Park near Telford in an effort to raise funds in support of a forthcoming charitable trip to Kenya that I am doing in January. I’ve set up a special page which tells you all about it – read all about running for Kenya (not *to* Kenya, that would be insane) on its own special page (see the Kenya-ish link on the menu if you don’t click through here)

If you want to donate but don’t really care about the detail, use THIS DONATION LINK to send sponsorship money.

Shortly I will be selling xmas stockings – if you want something special or novelty, get your orders in sooner rather than later.

I had my second set of travel vaccinations this evening so am feeling a little bit pin-cushion-y and there are A LOT of things I’m not supposed to do or touch or go near when I’m there – it’s an awful lot to remember…

ONWARDS & UPWARDS, though, eh?!

Chicken shit..

In the aftermath of tree-mageddon, I went out this morning to make some progress on winter prep and to get some stuff in t’ground. This is the new view from the vegetable patch towards the house. You’ll notice that where there was once a whopping great big tree there is now a stump and a big pile of future firewood. It’s a lot clearer. We loved Oakie and agonised for a long time over the it, but overall I think we’ve made the right decision.

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It’s fair to say the neighbours are quite pleased and I’m not surprised – they’ve gone from having a line of 50 foot trees to having full exposure. Aren’t we good to them! So – below is the pano for the post-work vegetable area. As usual the progress isn’t necessarily obvious… Working left to right, I re-planted a couple of the raspberry posts and tied the raspberry canes back a bit. I picked a decent bowlful of raspberries (still – at this time of year!) and mulched around the bases of them. In re-planting the stake at the far end, I must have dug up about 5 tiles-worth of broken tiles. Definitely a fork job! I put some more mulch around the lilac trees at the back – the lower branches of these need some trimming I think – that’s a job for next week. (click to get the full panoramic effect, as usual.)

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I dug some compost into the bed-formerly-known-as-the-strawberry-patch and had to pile some of the earth up against the remaining strawberries as it’s getting quite full and would have been pretty humpy. I might have to re-distribute some to somewhere. It’s good quality – not too weedy & plenty of worms. This weeks evening task is to research setting up a wormery so I might be able to use some for that. We were given a wormery as a wedding gift (from Steve’s Essex Uni chums I think) but the worms died in transit to it never really got going. We still have the barrel with the tap at the bottom so I think we can work some free-fertiliser magic with that… I’ve now planted 4 rows of onions – 2 rows of white & 2 rows of red. The red ones are called “Red Winter” so if they fail because they’ve been planted at the wrong time of year I’ll be wanting my money back! Let’s see what happens, eh?! There were some sets which have started to sprout already which, I understand from the RHS site, makes them more likely to flower and thus make rubbish eating onions. My plan is to plant these & let them go to seed and then I’ll have some onion seeds to start a new crop with. Yes, it’s a long game, but at £1.99 for 20 sets, if I can get them for free I’m going to consider it a bonus :-)

There were some accidental potatoes growing next to the rhubarb, so I lifted & split them up to hopefully increase yield a little. Some bit the dust in the meantime but I don’t think we’re going to be short. I very nearly inadvertently planted some with the onions which came from the compost, so I have some teeny tiny potatoes which might seed at some point. I also have a plan to build up the soil along their little row to try to increase yield yet again – so maybe this is a good destination for the excess soil from the other bed.

My friend Ken who, among MANY other things keeps chickens brought us some chicken manure last weekend, so my final job was to dig some of this into what I’m going to refer to as the spring planting bed. Apparently this stuff is so strong that you need to leave at least a month after spreading for the chemicals to bed in, or water lots daily. My plan is to clear the second half of this bed and dig it in there – and then not plant anything until the spring. And, as it apparently gets very smelly when damp, my plan is to stay well away from it when it’s raining… It was all a really good workout, and I really enjoyed just pottering.

I’m thinking that we may need to come up with some names for the various veggie patches so I’ll apply my brain to thinking of something appropriately themed… But while we only have 2 beds it’s not really urgent!

My plan for next week includes lifting & dividing the rhubarb, planting some over-winter broad beans (omnomnom!) and further clearing of the spring planting bed. You heard it here first, folks!

This evening will be some crochet and a project involving this:

…for a family who use re-useable plastic bags we sure do have a lot at the moment…

New favourite cardigan

According to Ravelry my new favourite cardigan has taken me 3.5 months to knit. I’m really pleased with this – there was a time not so long ago when I would plan *months* ahead and not be able to bank on finishing a garment until after the season after next. Those days are gone.

Well, for the projects I work on, clearly. For others, the months rules still apply.

I got the yarn for this latest project from the New York Sheep and Wool Fair, or Rhinebeck for short.

rhinebeck-trees

I could have sworn I took a photo of my Rhinebeck haul but a cursory search in a single location didn’t yield fruit and the picture wasn’t all that great anyway. I took yarn weight and quantity details with me, as I wanted to get something lovely to make a Lavandula with, and this seemed like the right place to get it. I wanted to get something in a dark grey.

When I saw the skeins of dark grey alpaca hanging in the booth, I thought “that looks like the color I’m after” (I was in the US, so clearly was thinking in US spelling). I reached out and felt it and -ooOOooh!

I was in love.

This is possibly the smooshiest yarn I have ever felt, smooshier even than previous alpaca yarns I have loved. For the next few weeks, my favourite trick was to hand a skein to someone who was in full conversational flow, and -ooOOooh. Yes, it’s conversation stoppingly smooshy. I quite quickly moved on, though, from petting it to winding it. I wound each of the 3 skeins I got into 2 balls so that I could knit a row in each of the skeins, thus preventing any colour-pooling or having the arms in a different colour. For, as the lady at the booth said, although the yarn is undyed and all from the same fleece, the underbelly might have been a different shade to its back. The balls of wound yarn were also very smooshy.

The first part of this pattern requires one to knit 12 inches of very long rows of 1×1 rib. This is not my favourite kind of knitting, being 1 step up from the dreaded moss stitch, but needs must. After quite the ribbing extravaganza, you get to knit a lacy pattern so I hung on in there.

ribby-alpaca

Through series 2 of The Bridge and I think some Game Of Thrones I ploughed on, having memorised the lace pattern (to the extent that the second sleeve has slightly more lace at the row-ends than the first – I got more confident by then) and much concentrating and checking off through simultaneous raglan and neckline decreases. And The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I had to do the button band twice because I didn’t pick up enough stitches and it pulled in too much.

A quick beef about this. Why say “pick up 90 stitches”? Why not say “Pick up 3 stitches for every 4 rows”, especially when the body of the garment is measured in inches rather than rows. Eh? A lot of misery could be avoided that way.

nearly-done

…and so it was nearly done. I sewed the buttons on straight away (I had planned ahead and bought some before starting to knit. Get me, with my thinking ahead) and thus found out straight away that I had one button hole too many. I think, however, that I do indeed have one button hole too many and not one button too few as doing up the top button, were there a button there, would look really quite odd.

And so here it is – my new favourite cardigan.

finished-cardigan

I had a moment of crisis about half way through making this that the combination of raglan sleeves and rib over the belly would only serve to accentuate my negative features ~ however, in spite of the amount of sucking in that’s going on in the photo above (note the blue shade around my lips) I think it’s actually pretty flattering. And the snowflake pattern works well. As does the colour. And it’s still very smooshy. If a bit hairy.

I just hope the large amount of negative and dark telly I watched while making it hasn’t affected its aura. I’d hate to start growing tattoos as a result…

50/50

Steve was away at the weekend which meant that on Friday night I got to choose what we watched on the TV. Scratch that, I got to choose what *I* watched on the TV. After the children went to bed. Before that, we watched 3 episodes of Dr Who in place of the usual Friday night film & pizza night. We kept the pizza in the mix, just ditched the film in favour of the programme of the moment.

I took the opportunity to watch something I’ve had my eye on for a while – 50/50. Starring Joseph Gordon Levitt, who I’ve liked since he was the child in 3rd Rock From The Sun, the review on five live’s flagship film review show was good. The premise is that JGL’s character is diagnosed with a tumour on his spine in his late 20′s, a cancer which typically has a 50/50 chance of survival, and the film follows him through treatment, his family and friends’ reactions, and so on.

It’s very good. There is a touch of humour, it’s not laugh a minute, and it’s nice to see Seth Rogan, who plays JGL’s best friend, in a serious role. Although, I said that about the last film I saw him in, the title of which I can’t remember just now. It was something like The Last Tango (I’ll have to check that). It was a quiet companion for the evening – some laughs, some smiles, a fairly predictable denouement, but it’s all the more satisfying for that. I cried more than once, but it wasn’t in any way mawkish.

I managed to remain knitting obsessed, as when JGL’s character loses his hair he takes to wearing hats. As he’s in Seattle, he can wear nice knitted hats. My favourite was black with a grey, red and white stripe. Mmmmm, knitting.

I left with a similar warm, wistful feeling that I had after I’d watched The Station Agent. One to go back to one day, and I may well make Steve watch it as well.

I love the smell of Brasso in the evening…

Many, many years ago I was able to claim to be a trumpet player. Sadly, I wasn’t super-keen, and when I hurt my shoulder and lived in unheated rented accommodation in cold, windy Leeds, I didn’t need to search deep in my soul for the desire to stop. Several times in the intervening period I’ve felt a bit of an urge to pick it up again, but it’s never been super strong.

One of the reasons why is because the instrument (a cornet) I have at the moment isn’t fab. It feels a bit blocked (although that could easily just be that my lungs are out of condition) and after about 15-20 minutes of playing the valves stop springing up when you release them which makes playing anything which has more than one note in it a bit tricky.

Another reason is that I now live in Brass Band country. I’m surrounded by people who haven’t just taken a 20 year break and who are really super good. This makes me very nervous about trying to find other people to play with. But, if I’m going to take this up again and keep at it (these words will sound very hollow in about a week when I haven’t touched it again, I know) that’s what I should do as once I reached a certain level, swing band and concert band were the things I liked best. And Christmas Carols by a Brass quartet are just awesome. I want to be able to play in this (seriously, go listen to that – it’s my answer to It’s A Wonderful Life, only shorter). But I’d probably need music because I’m old and my memory is pants.

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However, this evening I went for that first 20 minutes. I can still remember quite a few of the scales although anything above “top” E is a bit of a challenge and I really can’t get above the top G. More lip resilience is required.

So, what has prompted this new-found enthusiasm?

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I may get to play duets without leaving the house.