Knitting & Crochet Blogging Week

Well, after blogging some knitting here, it dawned on me that it would make sense to keep the knitting archive separate to all that this blog has chronicled. As such, there is a fresh start to accompany this blog. It can be found at www.neverconforming.merrygold.org. I’m sure I’ll still manage to pop by and blog here about as often as I ever do, but for now the knitting is moving to its own dedicated space.

Horray for knitting!

Hatsensochs: On The Needles

When I last blogged, I threatened a knitting update. As this post will testify, I have definitely been knitting but also not so good at finishing things off. So, this update is what is currently on the go, and with one exception they fall into the category of hats ‘en socks. It’s worth noting that there are also pieces of a tea cosy on the go but they’ve been in that state for a couple of years now.

So, the current pieces are:

Herringbone Scarf

A scarf for Mr Cooper (which doesn’t seem to photograph well… oh, the problem of black yarn)

It’s from this pattern: Herringhone Scarf (pdf), and is made with Rowan Felted Tweed DK

It needs to be blocked which is something I’ve not done before. This seems to involve getting it damp and stretching it so it can relax into the right shape. I hope that if I have misunderstood this, someone will let me know.

 

Stripey Socks for the Mrs

Stripey Socks for the Mrs.

The Mrs seems to do quite well with socks, as they frequently end up being the right size for her… as if by magic. Unlike ones for me (see below). These are very cool as they solve a problem with the Zauberball which annoys me… as the colour change is so subtle you end up with a stripe at the heel. By making the stripes like this, you get lots of stripes so it doesn’t matter. This is a pattern I’m making up as I go along.

 

Effervesce Socks

Effervesce Socks for Me.

These socks *might* be the first ones I’ve made which actually fit me. My feet aren’t so short and there is still a risk I’m going to run out of yarn before finishing the second one. I’ve weighed it and think there might be just enough but time will tell. The pattern I’m using is and the yarn is Admiral Bambus.

 

Leaf Hat   Owl Hat

Hats for Sarah

I offered to make Sarah a hat, but she liked these patterns (Who? or Leaf Hat) so I knitted them both. They’re made from Rowan Tapestry, which is very sadly discontinued. :( They both just need finishing touches sorting then will be on their way, along with…

 

Crazy Socks

Mad Socks

Another case of ‘whoever they fit’ came with this pattern: Spring Forward; and Sarah happened to be the latest victim. They’re made from Rico Superba Mexico which I think holds the dubious privilege of being my least favourite sock yarn to date, that said it’s still not bad at all but sits in contrast with the yarn mentioned below. Sorry Sarah.

 

All the above things which need sending need to be done by the end of the month, so they can beat the postage rise. It’s not so cheap to send things any more so hopefully they’ll get done in time.

There are two more things on the go which will be delivered in person, hopefully. And guess what, they’re both socks!

Purple Cachoeira Socks Berry Owlie Socks

The ones on the left are the lovely Cachoeira Socks made from the even more lovely Flamboyance Yarns Gallant in Space Oddysey yarn. I think it may be the nicest yarn I’ve ever knitted with, and some of the most vibrant colours.

The ones on the right are possibly the coolest pattern I’ve knitted; Owlie Socks and they are made from Ripples Craft Bluefaced Leicester Sock Yarn in Crushed Blackberries.

Both pairs need to be done by June so not too long.

 

That’s not so bad really but tomorrow I’ll post the two items I’ve been finishing off the last two days. They’re a bit different to the rest, and therefore don’t count as Hats ‘en socks.

 

It seemed an appropriate time to update this post with my current knitting. On Monday I’ll be standing to join the committee for the Knitting Society at university. It will be the first time I’ve formally been involved in knittingness, and as such it seems a good idea to keep track of what I’m working on. Ravelry generally keeps track of most of it for me, but it’s good to keep my own record too. So now is just the challenge to get the existing pieces finished off *before* moving onto the next ones… and there is some beautiful yarn just waiting for me… but it will have to wait until another day.

A fresh start

Lent is something which, over the time since starting blogging has meant different things. Some have been memorable for the good reasons (my first lent on this blog in particular) and some less so. So this year it seems as good a time as any to restart blogging and update on where the Mrs and I find ourselves.

I note from looking back, that I have rarely blogged in the last few years, but rather than look back over what has gone (except where necessary) this marks a fresh start. The Mrs and I moved to a new city and over the last few months have been setting up our home and settling into the new circumstances. A significant part of this is that, as seems appropriate amongst the wibloggers, it’s my turn to be a mature student. Now has finished her studies and is drawing to the end of hers, I have re-entered the academy. It’s been 10 years since I first went to uni, and I am enormously fortunate that I was able to get in before tuition fees go up, something which will significantly affect future generations of mature students. Certainly I wouldn’t be able to afford it if I’d had to wait until this September to start. However important that is, however, it is not the reason for writing this evening.

It’s about fresh starts, and I am relishing mine at university where I’m studying Theology and Religious Studies. There is much of interest in the course and in the broader environment of being (back) at uni. The madness of this is that over the last 10 years, I have been associated with different aspects of higher education for all but one year of that time! It is a little strange to have gone from being a chaplain to being an undergrad, but at least it’s not all within the same organisation! With the course emphasis being both on the study of religion as well as theology, it is really interesting to see the way in which my experiences working within a religious tradition are as relevant as the way in which I (and we in the broader church) understand and relate to notions of God, as well as doctrine and belief.

It’s hard to believe we’re half way through the second semester, but it is proving to be a valuable and rewarding change of direction. The first semester results are back, and are a solid foundation to move on with. I am really enjoying the department’s book group, and the knitting society is leading to a vast amount of productivity. In the last month, I’ve made 3 hats, finished a soft toy and mostly made a cardigan for a baby. As I rather enjoy chronicling by knitting progress, I should offer a warning that future posts may well be rather knitting themed…!

I will not make any promises as to the frequency of future blog posts but it’s nice to use the start of lent to mark this fresh start.

Something love-themed

At least a handful of wibloggers will know that two of our number recently got married. It really was a special day and the service reflected the fact that they are two people who really care what is shared and said in worship. As such, when they asked me to write the intercessions I was more than a little intimidated by the prospect, however I eventually got there and was quite pleased with the result.

I asked the groom if it was okay to blog these and he said it was, so here are my prayers for their wedding.

God who is love, and who is encountered through love,
we hope and trust and pray
in your enfolding presence.
Love is that which brings strength, companionship and wholeness,
We pray for C and S
as their partnership is blessed and united in your name.
May they find in the arms of one another,
the strength, companionship and wholeness
that comes in your love.
We pray in hope
and join our love with yours.

Love is that which brings justice, wisdom and integrity.
We pray for those whose daily lives
involve leadership, power and governance
that they may be honourable and generous servants.
May they find in your teaching
the justice, wisdom and integrity of your love.
We pray in hope
and join our love with yours.

Love is that which brings creation, new life and beauty.
We pray for your creation and all who work as its stewards
That they may find the best ways to ensure a healthy
world for these and future generations of your people.
May we see in your world and its residents your creating, living beauty.
We pray in hope
and join our love with yours.

Love is that which heals, liberates and transforms.
We pray for those whose understanding of love
is tinged by isolation, uncertainty or pain,
that these stories will reach out and teach us how to respond
in your love which heals, liberates and transforms.
We pray in hope
and join our love with yours.

Love is that which is universal, unending and ever present.
We pray for those who cannot be here today
but are with us in our hearts and our thoughts.
We spend a few moments calling them to mind.
May they be blessed and loved, as we are by them,
and may we all encounter a love
universal, unending and ever present.
We pray in hope,
and join our love with yours.

Love is that which is timeless, enduring and faithful,
we pray for communities of faith across the world.
giving thanks especially for the groups and places where C and S have encountered your love,
May we share in the fellowship of your Church throughout the ages
by saying the words Jesus taught us:

© J Merrygold 2011

From Twitter

I said: “The Mrs and I have been invited to a hen do at the local male strip club. Just wot a lesbian couple want. :/”

Reply from colleague: “Take your knitting?!”

Made us laugh.

Oops to the lack of blogging

As the regular(!) reader will notice, there isn’t so much to read on my blog these days. I so rarely log in, let alone think of anything to write about but as I log in today I discover something in my ‘draft posts’ folder from March. Being so efficient, and with that as such recent news I’ll have a go at finishing that post before starting the one I’ve actually logged in to write.

So… Local Preacher Training (originally dated 9 March 2010!)

I’ve been chronicling my journey throughout my Local Preacher Training and it wouldn’t seem appropriate to let Sunday go unmarked. It was my service of recognition so I’ve officially finished (even if I do have to present my project still)! (Come September, strangely it has now been completed and was accepted – I’ll stick a note on about that too).

A group of friends gathered to share in the special evening – someone from university who has journeyed with me throughout; friends from SCM who have challenged, critiqued, encouraged and supported; local friends as well as a good collection of people from the local church, and the circuit. It was a really special occasion. The sermon was something to be beheld, by virtue of the length and the enthusiasm and exuberance of the preacher.

It was a really lovely way to celebrate the end of, at times, a gruelling course. It felt like a fair end to the journey through my time in Birmingham – I started the course within 6 months of starting my permanent job in Brum and was accredited during my period of notice as I prepared to move out of the area.

After the service, we gathered back at the Community Flat (and finished the feast we started before heading to church). A few celebratory drinks were shared before people headed homewards – all except one good friend and the Mrs. It led to the most fun conversations, and entirely unrelated to local preaching. This friend wins the award for most laid back bride to be: “Well, it took a while for me to work out why there aren’t more 11am wedding ceremonies. The other brides faff on with things like hair and make up… well, I *might* brush my hair!”

(Well, come September it’s hard to keep much more of a focus on the event than has now been reflected on. Eh, well…)

Since the service of recognition in March, a couple of noteworthy things have happened. My presentation on my project went well, even though I was 45 minutes late (horray for buses). I reflected on the things we, as preachers, can learn from artists who use words to make and form their art. Whether poets, creative writers, sculptors or painters, artists use words to form things beyond what is immediately expected. My sister’s artwork inspired me to consider this, and her work can be seen on her website. I reflected that, as wordsmiths, we should be encouraged to practise, to seek new and unexpected inspiration, to seek to improve skills and undertake training. I can’t remember what else I reflected upon, but I got some good feedback and provoked some interesting responses. The Local Preachers Meeting formed the final of my preaching duties in Brum and it seemed a nice exit. My final services were led jointly with a good friend and colleague, at work. Again, it was a nice place to share the goodbyes.

As my job changed (in July/August) I started exploring getting my local preaching fully recognised within my new home denomination. That led to a fascinating series of reading and essays but I now (still, in September) am awaiting a(nother) assessed service. Hopefully once that is done, all the assessed services will be done for the time being. So preaching is very much a ticked box for now and it’s nice to have all the written work out of the way.

So now those studies are done, what shall I do next?

We’ve gone on holiday by mistake

Well not quite, but that’s almost what it felt like. Without much notice, I found myself heading upto Northumberland for a few days and the Mrs came with me. The reason for this will become apparent but it meant we had a good 3 clear days available to us – even if the clarity was of diary commitments rather than the weather which obviously hadn’t received that message! It’s the first time I’ve been to Northumberland for any time. This Devonian Expat has made it to various places considerably further North than she ever thought, but you can’t get any further away from Devon before reaching the national border! It meant I was rather keen to explore and eager to see what is so special about this area of which I’d heard so much about. All the people I’ve met who have spent much time in the North East have praised it very highly.

So, our travels started with a good drive through mid Northumberland along the coastal road with a rather keen castle-spotter telling me about each as we found it. Devon’s not big on Castles… Northumberland on the other hand… We stopped for lunch at a really beautiful village (with a motte and bailey castle, apparently) for lunch. Should you ever find yourself in Warkworth and need a bite to eat I would very highly recommend the pub on the left, although the one on the right looked good too. Also, the cake shop with the chocolates looked an experience worth having although we were rather stuffed from the food at the Mason’s Arms. The whole area is beautiful.

We headed over to join the coast road in order to see the views… we hadn’t, however, managed to combine this sightseeing trip with appropriate weather. It was foul! Visibility was non-existent and it’s worth saying this was the weekend of the severe weather warnings and flood alerts for Northumberland! Despite this, the environment still managed to look good. We headed up through Seahouses to Bamburgh, whose Castle was the most impressive in stature of all we saw that weekend. Bamburgh, too, was very beautiful but very different to Warkworth. The plan was to stay there for a couple of nights and head over to Holy Island. The weather, however, suggested this wasn’t the best plan.

The following day, rather than head to Lindisfarne (barely visible due to the morning weather), we went back and explored a couple more coastal settlements. Seahouses offered us a good set of proper fish and chips as well as a look over the very large waves to the Farne Islands. It wasn’t the day for a boat trip round there either! We carried on, and the weather improved so we set off for yet another castle… Dunstanburgh. Accessible from Craster, it’s a walk along the coastline and it was truly stunning. The rough seas had brought with them the beauty of a soggy and windswept environment but it also meant only a few people had decided to do the walk. The moorland, complete with sheep, went right down to the coastline. The coast I’m most familiar with has cliffs but these gentle slopes meant we had such a great view. The castle looked like it had always been there; it’s ruined form looks truly part of the landscape and I could never imagine it in its fully functioning state. We didn’t make it over to the castle itself, and heard later that the tide made it inaccessible. What, for me, was also an interesting part of the landscape was both a sad but rather striking aspect of the pollution. The strong tide had left a track of foam in its path. The foam formed interesting shapes and danced in the wind, reminiscent of some of the mythical creatures seen in Hiyao Miyazaki’s films. They did almost seem to have lives of their own, especially when the wind caught them and they began to dance. Our return to Craster wouldn’t have been complete without picking up some of their world famous kippers, and the smell of the sea and the smoke house was definitely a defining memory.

Our evening trip included a trip to Seahouses for some fish and chips which we duly ate in the car while watching the sea and the lighthouses of the Farnes. The final element of the trip was a visit, on the final morning, to the RNLI museum to Grace Darling, a heroine of the area who I’d never heard of. It turned out she was a figure of celebration in the Victorian era who, along with her father, had been involved in a notable rescue. It turned out that she didn’t want to be a famous person so I shall not linger on her any longer, however interesting her story was.

What made the holiday so special was the knowledge that we didn’t have to rush around and see everything in that visit. While it’s not an area I’d seen much of before, I would almost certainly get the opportunity to go again as the Mrs and I will be moving to the North later in the year.

The holiday had been something of an accident, rather than a mistake, because I’d been up North for a job interview, and it was one I got. I found out the night before we set off on our Northumbrian mini-holiday. It is hugely exciting to know where we’re going, that we’re going together and we can settle. I always intended to move from this job towards the second half of this year and now we know to what role I’ll go, and when. Horray for these things, and horray for an exciting and beautiful place to settle.

Random socks

Has anyone (other than me) come across a book called “Coloured Socks” which formed part of the Zebra Easy Learning and was published in 1983? Unsurprisingly it’s about socks. Regular readers may know I’m rather keen, if not mildly obsessed with (knitting) socks.

As my socks are being requested by a fair variety of people, I’ve decided to start selling them and other creations drawn from my knitting stash. Having sold a couple of pairs while at home, there was a suggestion that I brand but I need a name. The winning suggestion so far is related to the above book, but you kinda need to know the story for it to make sense so I’m curious to know whether anyone else will understand what I’m on about if I opt for ‘Benbo buns’.

Notes on my Spiritual Journey 6 – Current Job

After leaving SCM, I found myself increasingly drawn to community-focussed lay ministry. After applying to run a residential community which subsequently didn’t feel right enough (and I withdrew), I was delighted to discover a community being created on my own doorstep. Drawing from the experiences of growing the sense of community within SCM, I came to my current role and have had a very special opportunity to set up a residential Christian community. With a shared ethos, commitment to sharing in worship and a desire to serve Birmingham through volunteering, four of us now live together. In engaging with this community I continue to share in the corporate development of faith I valued from SCM and the convent. In the leadership of the group, I find myself being constantly challenged, and rewarded, in the way I am called to serve as well as manage the residents.

Some of my work time was left free to pursue projects of interest to me. This gave me the opportunity to think big and outside the box. While the initial dreams stood aside for the more functional and necessary, I found work as one of a team of volunteer chaplains to a local University. The projects which have been of particular interest in this role are in producing a prayer resource to be shared with all the churches in the city centre, regardless of doctrine or denomination. This required a partner project mapping all the relevant contacts, and in this way I have been able to get to know the central Birmingham communities in a unique and highly invaluable way. The understanding and observance of the changing life within this area affects the whole city, regardless of where each resident lives.

The nature of a community orientated project like the one I lead focuses on living out the faith we all proclaim. It balances elements of worship (as I also preach in addition to running the prayer ministry for the centre and organising community prayers), action, service and fellowship.

Note: this was written several months ago and some of the reflections have changed but I need to do a final reflection prior to my last interview as part of my training.