Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I know, I suck at blogging (Stratford-upon-Avon)

So I've been putting off just about all of my responsibilities since I got home for Easter break last Wednesday afternoon, like reading and writing papers, facebooking, responding to emails and phone calls, and as you've probably noticed, blogging. It's not that I don't have anything to say, I do, honestly...I couldn't be bothered to turn on my computer (which is where I keep my pictures!) And since I won't be knitting tonight due to my stupidity leading me into a Kromski booby trap for index and middle fingers that has left me unable to spin/knit/crochet/play with beads, I guess I'll just blog.

So here's the Stratford-upon-Avon information smackdown. Stratford-upon-Avon, not to be confused with Stratford (tube stop on the district line) is a city on the river Avon, and is famous for it's somewhat famous ex-resident. You might have heard of him, I think his name was Will...William...William...hmmm...what was his name....Spear....doh! William Shakespeare. Anyhoo, I decided to spend a few days there before I made the trip back to the US and was so glad I did. I went alone since nobody wanted to go with me (they all went to Amsterdam, I chose culture over pot) and started out really early on Saturday morning and was in Stratford-on-Avon by 1, and checked into my B&B and doing touristy stuff by 2. The first stop was Anne Hathaway's Cottage, which was about a 3 mile walk up the beautiful river shown in picture 3. The house itself is in picture 1, it is one of the few houses in Stratford-on-Avon to still have a thatched roof. Apparently they get all sorts of critters living in them and catch fire very easily. So there are a whopping 2 buildings with thatched roofs still in Stratford-on-Avon, and this is one of them. Anyhoo, Anne Hathaway was Shakespeare's wife. She was (I think, don't quote me on this) 11 years older than dear William, and they apparently didn't get along well at all. I think their marriage might have had something to do with William's father being a loan shark and Anne's father ending up in a lot of debt. Luckily, both Anne and her mother were in that day, and were both willing to hold the Monkey sock.
I swear this isn't a postcard, Stratford-on-Avon just really is this beautiful.The river Avon and a random boat. I got lost and followed the river for 12 miles. The wrong direction.The beautiful swans of DOOM! (They bite. Hard.)The Garrick Pub. The oldest Pub in Stratford-on-Avon. Has three ghosts including Lucy, one of England's most famous ghosts. She was an 8-year-old pickpocket and was caught by the witches of Stratford-on-Avon (not a fabrication, they still have a VERY active Pagan community there that can trace it's heritage back to the Tudor era) and burned. She then went into shock, and then a coma and was presumed dead. They sold her body to the local doctors who were studying the digestive system. They disemboweled her and then she woke up. Died of infection. I felt her small hands around my ankle in the old Tudor building on sheep street, where her ghost spends most of it's time. That's another freaky story...I went in this haunted building from the 1500's, which had been the house of a William something (not Shakespeare) and the house was given to him by the King. He was one of the King's favorite hit-men, and his statue stands inside the front door of the house, depicting him holding a bow and arrow. It's custom to say hello to William, acknowledge his presence and ask for his protection from the 39 other spirits in the house. William and Lucy and the only two spirits that the medians have declared to be "positive" spirits, as in the "they mean you no harm" kind. There are much darker things that lurk in that house than William and Lucy. After you pass William's statue (and ask for his protection) you walk up the staircase. A man was tortured and hanged on the staircase, and many people have said that the bottom two stairs feel squishy, like you're walking on a body and not a plank of wood. Luckily, I didn't get that. We passed the red tower where the spirit of a lady in red haunts the top of the stair case and moved to the Dead Room. While they don't think anyone died in there, there is enough mysterious activity to make you pee your pants. The guide asked all of us to take out our cameras and take a picture of the room to see what showed up. So we all got out our digital cameras and unanimously came to the same realization- we couldn't turn our cameras on. Or our cell phones. Our watches had stopped ticking. Nothing worked in this room. A woman asked if I was all right and I asked her why. She said that over my shoulder there was a man with long hair and a bow and arrow. The tour guide said that was William the Archer, the positive spirit. But he stood behind me to defend me from something much worse. We left the room immediately. I'm getting chills now writing about it. The next room had been the pub where dear Lucy did most of her pick pocketing. Before the guide explained this, I felt a pair of small, cold hands around my left ankle. Then he explained what happened in this room. He said that Lucy searched for the people who had the most comforting air about them, she looks for people because she's afraid. I told her it was over and they couldn't hurt her anymore. Her hands stayed on my ankle for another 30 or 40 seconds and then she put her hand in mind. It was by far the strangest thing I have ever experienced. It still terrifies me to think about what happened in that room, but I'm glad that I am open enough to paranormal activity to experience Lucy and William. I went back the next day in daylight and took a tour through the house by myself. All of the same spots that had worried me the night before still terrified me. The man working, one of the local practicing Pagans, said that it was the Equinox, and they were much more active than normal. I was glad to know it wasn't just me. He sent me into town looking for a gypsy witch who would read me my fortune. (I know there's a lot of skeptics reading this, but I have to tell you, go to that house, see this woman, and you will be a believer) I met the gypsy woman and she sat me down and immediately told me I had a lot of choices to make, and while one was a bigger leap, it was the only one that would make me happy. I immediately thought of my potential employment opportunity. She said I was considerably more in tune with the paranormal than most, but the person who was even more in tune with the other side was my brother. She went on telling me about Clay. She told me that he had experiences before he even knew what they were, and he continues to have experiences that he assumes are normal, but aren't. We knew this to be true about his early experiences with hauntings, our house in France had a strange presence in his room, and like clockwork, he would run down to my parent's room every night telling them about the man sitting on his bed. Strange things happened in that house, much of it revolving around Clay. I know he wishes he wasn't open to this kind of thing, but the gypsy could sense it from another continent. It must be pretty strong.
Primroses at Shakespeare's mother's house, which is still a working farm where people live in Tudor clothes with no electricity or other modern inventions. It's amazing that someone would chose to spend a year or more of their lives like that. They seemed to like it, too!Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare is (was?) buried.The church is on the river Avon, and frequently, bodies that were buried in the graveyard are found downstream as the river cuts deeper into the earth and carries the bodies away. Nobody will check Will's grave though, for there's a curse on the person that disturbs the bones (click on the picture to see it bigger)Hall's Croft, home of Dr. John Hall and his wife, Susanna Shakespeare Hall. Really cool on the inside, including a museum of Tudor medicine. John Hall is known as the first man to cure scurvy, by treating it with watercress and beer. He didn't know why it worked (watercress is full of Vitamin C) he just knew that it did. Scurvy only affected the richer people, as they ate mostly bread and meat. Poorer people often ate vegetables because they couldn't afford meat or breads, and so poor people never got scurvy (maybe those vegetarians are on to something!)The Stratford-upon-Avon Butterfly GardensLook who I found checking me out!

"How you doin'?"

So that's my trip in pictures. I had a wonderful time and posted another 100 or so pictures on facebook, but it's just not possible to put them all on the blog. So if you've got me as a friend on that, check them out! Thanks for reading and I'll try to be a better blogger!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Shameless Stashing

So if you haven't figured it out already, my stash has been getting a lot bigger lately. I keep telling myself it's good to buy independent when I can (with Eric, and Mandie and Lucy) and good to get things that are local to the places I visit (Rowan, Fiberspace, etc) but it's getting a little out of control and only getting worse as I start packing to come home for Easter (next Wednesday! Woohoo!) but anyhoo...I stashed again. I asked Lucy to dye up some roving for me in a couple different colours a couple weeks ago before I went to Scotland...and then forgot about it until yesterday when I picked it up from when she drove to the new Monday morning knitting group. The roving is...amazing. I got 200 g of merino in the blue/green/yellow colourway and 200 g of BFL in a reddish semi-solid. http://thebeariumnecessities.blogspot.com/ I really miss my wheel! 8 days and I'll be back to my precious... are any of you Indy knitters interested in trying to put together a spin/knit in day?
I also FINALLY got my baby hat knitted for my Versions of Modernity teacher-and wrapped too! Here is Baaarbara modeling my hat...It's a very modified version of the Umbilical Cord hat from Stitch n Bitch with 2 strands of Regia Softy held doubled...it tickled my nose and made me sneeze the whole time I knitted with it but I'm really happy with how it came out! I'll drop it off tomorrow in the English office so I can get it off my desk.
I have also knitted the skin off of my left index finger from picking (not throwing) lace socks too tightly. (Try not to laugh too hard, it happens to the best of of us) The knitting group nearly killed me yesterday and I'm going to have to go back to my Clash sweater since it's the only sweater on needles big enough to not break the skin. I have actually been cross-stitching the past couple days while I can't knit comfortably, and I've forgotten how enjoyable it can be when there's no knots, perfect light, a cup of hot tea next to me and Ingrid Michaelson in the background. Needless to say, I won't be taking my cross-stitching to the Colchester SnB tonight, as none of those conditions will exist in a bar at 7:30. Plus my weekly G&T will NOT help me when counting and trying to remember the most effective way to do a french knot...I debated taking a picture of the cross-stitching for your amusement purposes, but it's a picture of 3 sheep, so there's a lot of white on white and it's hard to see on film. You'll just have to take my word for it.

The Malabrigo Mystery: I'm really liking the suggestions you guys are sending in! So far my favourite thing is the cowl: I had thought about making it a cowl a while ago before I talked myself out of it...I also am liking the beanies. Keep sending in suggestions- I won't declare a blog prize winner until I cast on (and then there may be another blog prize for the person who guesses what the pattern is after the first 10 rows or something). That means you're more than welcome to comment twice (or more!) with suggestions. Thanks so much to those who already have!
I really should *try* to get back to my colonialism paper, even though the weather is wonderful and perfect and beautiful and I really want to walk to town for an ice cream cone or something...Oh darn this beautiful weather and 3 more term papers! Don't you realize how difficult you're making things, beautiful sparkly sunshine?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Homework for my readers....

So I've been snooping around Ravelry for a while, trying to figure out what to do with my single skien of Emerald Green Malabrigo in a worsted weight. (As if I needed yet another project!) I think it wants to be a hat, but I'm really finicky about hats...I've made many many hats and wear...0 of them. Maybe that will change after I get my nose fixed...we'll see...but I can't go another windy Purdue winter without a good hat!

Your assignment, dear readers, is to reach into your brain and think of all the cute hat patterns you've seen and leave the name of the pattern in the comments below. Or tell me that Emerald green Malabrigo is way too bright to be a hat on someone as pale as I am (which is half of the reason I haven't made the hat already). But anyhoo, I'd like your input very much! The person who points me in the direction of the winning pattern will get a Very British Blog Prize.

Some pointers for you guys that are about to go pattern searching:

1. I don't care if it's Dead or Alive, I'm not wearing a fish on my head.
2. I'm not huge on berets. You're still welcome to show me your awesome beret, but please please please don't cry if I don't pick it.
3. Nothing with I-Cord please!
4. You really want to come up with something, these Very British Blog Prizes are delicious!
5. If you know of something else to do with a single skien of Malabrigo that isn't a hat, you're welcome to show me that, too.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Crossed mojonations

So I have two distinct mojoes that refuse to cooperate, which is fine most of the time. They are the Bionic Student essay-writing mojo and of course, the knitting mojo. It's a Gemini thing: I wouldn't worry about it. They often cross where they aren't supposed to, or take each other's place at an inopportune time. This normally happens the night before a paper is due and I get the irresistible urge to knit a new sweater. To wear to class the next day. Something surprising and almost wonderful is going on right now: I'm barely knitting and writing essays at the speed of light (which still isn't going to be fast enough, I'm going to have to write at least 1 once I get home for break). That being said, I'm glad I'm getting the papers done with, but I had 4 projects I wanted to finish before I went home for break. 1 is a baby hat for my teacher....not a problem. Needs 2 hours of work. 2 and 3 are socks, and I could probably finish 1 pair and maybe throw the other pair in my violin case for the trip home. The 4th project, a lost cause at this point, is The Clash sweater. That will also go home over break and hopefully get finished there. Since I'm taking as much as I possibly can home over break, that means I'm only going to have enough yarn to make 3 pairs of socks in the summer term- which really isn't that long anyway. Plus the sock yarn blanket...and now I'm rambling.

Good news (for me at least)
I kicked ass on my Dracula paper. The teachers comments were as follows: "Not bad for a Yank".
11 days until I come home. 6 days until classes are out; I'm spending a few days in Stratford-upon-Avon first, which is another kind of awesome.
I went and saw the Three Shots Comedy Club perform last night, which I thought was pretty funny. Not for the feint of heart, weak of stomach, or the homophobic.
I'm 90% packed. And have been since Tuesday. I get excited...
I ordered some awesome roving from Lucy (Bearium on Ravelry) and am getting it on Monday.
I did laundry and went grocery shopping the other day so I now have food and clean clothes- yeah! Only a college student gets this excited over clean clothes and food.
I finished my first Soch Ness Monster. The bad news is that I have a hard time taking artsy pictures of my foot and the light isn't brilliant; but it's a sock nonetheless.
That's about it: I've got 4 books to finish and 8,000 words to write by Friday. I'm outta here!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Since the division of the Bath/Stonehenge trip into three separate blog posts seemed to work pretty well, I figured I'd do a similar thing with Scotland and Knitting content- I know some of you could care less where I go and there are some who could care less what I'm knitting, so I figured I'd have a post for each of the types of readers. Here's some of my favorite pictures!

Greyfriar's Bobby: The owner of the dog died and the dog returned to the grave and sat there every day and night for 14 years, only leaving for food from the local bar, which was renamed Bobby's Bar and is shown behind the dog statue.
Part of the walking tour: the graveyard. Considering we went on a haunted tour of Edinburgh the night before, I about peed my pants when the sexyface tour guide told us we were going to a graveyard and torture chamber that had known haunted spots. It was fine during the daylight though...Edinburgh Castle: I strongly believe that the Scottish exhausted their attackers by making them walk up three miles of hills to reach the castle. Inside they had yet another torture chamber, the crown jewels of Scotland, the chambers of Mary, Queen of Scots, a dog cemetery for soldier's dogs, and free whiskey samples on Saturdays!St. Margaret's Chapel: the oldest building in Edinburgh, dating back to 1302. Popular place to get married, but it only seats 12.
Hello! (Hello! Hello! Hello!) BOOM!Dolly the Sheep...on a turntable.Taking "American Ex-pat" a little too far...Baaaarbara the sheep enjoying a Mojito at Hard Rock Cafe. She must be a relative of Dolores- I'll have to ask Franklin.View from the Sir Walter Scott Tower...maybe the 4th floor? Anyhoo, it's about 300 steps up in an itty bitty spiraling staircase. Not for people with claustrophobia or people over 90 lbs- it's tiny in there. But great views of Edinburgh.I love this poet, man.
The Scottish Parliament Building, ironically, the newest building in Edinburgh. I was expecting something more like the British Parliament building. It is next to Holyrood Mansion, so I'll give it props for that.

There were a lot of things that you just couldn't take pictures of, like all the museums. We went to a few museums, my favorite of which was the portrait gallery. They had a floor of Italian Renaissance paintings, which I have a soft spot for ever since my Medieval history class at Purdue. Those are the painting where they use metallic (especially gold) paints and draw halo's around religious figures. The paintings also depict women with very far back hairlines; the fashion at the time was to actually shave the closest 3 inches of hair to your face, then bleach the rest of it blond and have super pale skin. Since this was way before peroxide, women used horse urine and sat in the sun with covers over their faces to bleach their hair. The ammonia in the urine was activated in the sunlight and served as an early peroxide.

We also couldn't take pictures of the ghost tour (well- you could, I just refused to take my hands off my purse- I've heard terrible stories about thieves grabbing people's bags when they were engrossed in Scottish ghost stories) and I think I had a supernatural experience (or two) on the tour. The first was just seeing a guy standing in the alleyway with a top hat and a cloak and a vacant expression on his face; I figured he was one of the actors just hanging out to scare the next group of tourists, so I didn't think anything of it. It wasn't until I was telling the tour guide later that I knew he was going to jump out and scare us at the end that I started to think it was more than just an actor. She said that someone did jump out and scare us, but it wasn't anyone dressed like that. She said that I had (like several before me) described the night watchman of Cockburn road from the early 1800's. This explanation was at the end of the tour, after my other...experience. We went into one of the underground rooms that merchants used to store their goods in between workdays, and I felt immediately sick to my stomach as soon as I walked into the room. I instantly cursed the Indian food I'd had for dinner and left the room and stood in the hallway so I didn't puke. I waited outside until the tour guide was done explaining the story of that particular room- I didn't really pay attention- I was waiting for someone to jump out and scare me the whole time. The tour guide came out first and looked straight at me and asked if I felt like I was going to be sick and I explained that I did, but I felt fine as soon as I left the room. She said some people were more sensitive to the poltergeist than others...great. So in one night I saw the dead night watchman and was nauseated by a poltergeist raised by a group of Edinburgh Wiccans in 1996.

So that's pretty much my trip: castles, museums, nice restaurants, tours, shopping... and I loved every second of it. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Scotland: the knitting

So I did manage to knit just about half a sock on my trip to Edinburgh, and I really like it. The sock isn't the big news of course, because you guys want to see my stashing experiences...right? I have a couple to share- all were pretty exciting. First I went to Jenners, which is like Saks 5th Avenue with a yarn department. While I was there I figured I'd go big or go home, right? 4 skiens of Rowan Kidsilk Haze and 2 skeins of Regia Sock yarn found their way into my shopping bag. I actually had a nice chat with the lady working there (hi Sandra!) about all things knitting...and even went back a couple days later to chat again. Didn't buy any yarn that time. I found K1 yarns on Sunday but I already posted about that. Bought 2 skiens of laceweight cashmere and 2 skiens of sock yarn, and then 3 mini-skiens of the Harry Potter Opal yarn in Ron, Hermione, and Tonks. They should go pretty well on my mitred square blanket. Lastly I made the mistake of walking by a John Lewis, which isn't quite as posh as Jenners, but is still pretty awesome. And of course- they had a Rowan display in the window. A look couldn't hurt, right? 3 skeins of Kaffe Fasset Colorscape later, I found Baaaarbara the sheep and she was so cute, she had to come home with me too. So that's the yarn updates, but I did get some yarn-related pictures at the Scottish Museum, which I think you guys might like, too.
My name is Paige, and I have a Rowan Problem. So does Baaaarbara the Sheep apparently.

Mary, Queen of SocksDolly the Sheep. Forever displayed standing in her own poo.The first knitted sock in space!The soch ness monsters are not impressed by your tartan weaving....:p!Scottish highland socks: not too shabby. Oh- Mandie! Are these the gloves you were talking about?This is just about as happy as I could ever possibly beYsolda and my sock- of course, the only blurry picture in the 2oo that I took on the whole trip!The knitting doctor of awesomeness and her spinning inventing hubby. I need to find a guy like that!

Sunday, March 8, 2009


So after 2 days of wandering around Edinburgh looking for West Bow Street (and the yarn store that happens to be on that street) I finally asked the guys at the front desk if they knew where Bow street is. I was expecting them to tell me it's a good hour bus ride away but the one guy said, "oh- it's around the corner"...which I wasn't expecting. So, less than a minute later I was standing in front of K1 yarns- which didn't open for another hour. Whatever. Went to the museum, saw Dolly the sheep and some of the first knitted argyle (I love it here!) and then went to the Elephant Cafe, the cafe where JK Rowling wrote the Harry Potter books. So by this point, my day has been pretty flippin' awesome. Went to the yarnstore, asked if they had any local yarn, bought some local yarn and some beautiful Welsh cashmere in a beautiful but slightly intimidating laceweight, sat down to work on my monkey sock and looked up and holy crap- that's Ysolda Teague sitting across the table from me. I was honeslty startstruck- I couldn't speak. When I finally could it was something like this:

me: You're Ysolda?
Ysolda: yeah?
me: I love you.

For those non-knitters reading; Ysolda is a designer of all things sweatery and awesome. I have like all of her patterns and can't wait to start them. Now I really can't wait!

I got her picture with my sock, but didn't bring my camera cord, so I won't be able to show them off until after I finish my £$%^)£ feminism paper on Tuesday. But I also got pictures of the other knitters who were equally awesome, like the knitting doctor and her spinning husband, and the knitting EMT. I kinda feel like a dork for saying this, but that was very likely the highlight of my trip.

Since internet is expensive, I'll do a proper post once I get back, I just had to announce to the world: Ysolda held my sock.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Phone Conversation with Stansted Security

All of us knitters generally have common enemies: moths, velcro, cats, and airport security. I'm going to Scotland in less than 12 hours and I thought I'd make my call to security to see if Stansted airport has lifted the knitting needle ban yet (rumor has it that Heathrow has, so I figured it was worth a shot). My call went like this:

Me: Hi, may I please speak to someone from security?
Security Lady: (in a disgruntled voice) Yes?
Me: I was wondering if the knitting needle ban had been lifted yet? I'll be traveling and I don't want to pay 30 pounds to check my knitting, but I really can't go 4 days without it.
Me: Not even 2mm wooden 5 inch double pointed needles?
Me: Okay, but I can still take pens, pencils, scissors, pencil sharpers, and razors on board without question?
SL: Yes.

Dear UK Airport security,

You are a bunch of idiots.


Monday, March 2, 2009

New Commenting Rules

Sorry for this brief interuption of the normal blogging schedule.

Someone (I know who you are- nobody else is that immature) has felt the need to leave hateful and rude comments. I have been forced to change the commenting format so that it will be more difficult to leave comments. Any more comments of the sort left this morning will be reported the authorities and you will be removed from William Morris Tower. Harrasment laws are a very serious thing.

Thanks and have a nice day.

If you are a normal reader/commenter, please feel free to continue your comments. MOST comments are much appreciated.