Send more day light

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, Spinning, sweaters on November 5th, 2015

Time got away from me there, I’ve been spending more time than usual on parenting duty as it’s the time of year for viewing sixth forms. So far we’re up to three visits, with one school kicked out sight unseen and one more visit to go. In the time that slipped away since my last post I spun, plied, soaked, dried and knitted up the superwash and nylon fibre that I was spinning last time. It made a pair of socks with a little bit left over. They were a good match for the pumpkins, I went for a minimalist effort this year which I liked but have no record of. For the second pair of socks I picked out a ball of Opal which I thought would match the leftovers from the first pair. In my defence I would say that I made the selection under artificial light because in daylight you can see that they have very little in common.

I gritted my teeth and plodded through the shoulders of the baby jacket, I didn’t enjoy it and there was a considerable amount of ripping back to correct wrong side mistakes. I didn’t like knitting the sleeve either, it’s my own fault because I should have more sense than to be knitting black in November. You can see that the sleeve increases start off in a black section of pattern and that was my problem. The increases should be every five rounds but I couldn’t work out how many rounds I’d knitted because I couldn’t see where I’d made the previous increase. Once I’d got far enough along so that the increases fell in the light yarn it was altogether more of a pleasant knit. I’ve started the second sleeve while the pattern is still fresh in my mind and I know that I just have to stick with it through the difficult part. I’ve found what I want to knit next so I have plenty of motivation to get me through the first few inches.

I have been tidying up, I have 400g of this wool and I decided that it has hung around for long enough and it is time for it to move along. It’s going to be hats unless I think of something else before I finish spinning it, I’m only on the second braid so there’s plenty of time yet. There might even be enough time for a better photo, daylight permitting.




Pumpkin season

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, Spinning, sweaters on October 16th, 2015

It’s turned cooler, not quite fire o’clock but running that way. This is my summer stick collection, I need to store them securely where they cannot be retrieved and cashed in again and the fireplace seemed as good a place as anyway. Pebble has never been a stick carrying dog, he comes from a long line of dogs bred for beauty and manual labour is beneath him. He also doesn’t really have the equipment for it – tiny teeth and next to no jaw. Over the summer when he was out for walks with WFB junior he started bringing in sticks, some no more than twigs and a few so long that I had to break them up to fit them in the fireplace. Some days he brought in three, other days he couldn’t find any that were worthy of his attention. The deal is that I get the stick and he gets the dog treat. At some point his hard work will pay off and he can laze on the rug warmed by his burning twigs.

The wool I thought I was going to spin turned out to be not at all what I was wanting right now. I kept looking at it and in the end I put away the rather boring lilac and blue and pulled out some colourful superwash merino and bright nylon instead. That was obviously the right project because it spun itself. This looks very like sock yarn, there’s just over 400 yards of chain plied yarn here with the colour repeats in the two smaller skeins being intentionally shorter than those in the big skein. That’s because this is not sock yarn and I’m planning on the small skeins becoming sleeves. This is probably going to be a little sweater rather than socks providing that there is enough of it, I can see it paired with a deep chocolate brown in something stranded that probably is going to look very like the black and grey one that I am still knitting.

That stopped being fun immediately after I took this photograph. You can see that I’ve cast off at the front neck so I now have to knit in rows rather than rounds which means purling in pattern. I’m telling myself that it’s only for a couple of inches and I have in the past knitted entire cardigans with patterned purl rows. The difference is that now I know that there’s an alternative to purl side rows and also my knit side rows are much more efficient because I can carry one colour of yarn in each hand. I have two hands that knit but I still only have one that’s smart enough to purl. I’m planning to weigh the body when it’s done and work out exactly how much yarn I used so I can see whether there is enough of  the handspun to make another of the same shape but with less pattern.

I enjoyed spinning the merino and nylon so much that I did it all over again, except that this is normal nylon rather than trilobal nylon so it’s not sparkly. I think I picked this braid of fibre because of the orange, it’s a very seasonal colour for the next week or two and in addition I had the idea that I could use it to stretch the kingfisher yarn just that little bit further in case there wasn’t enough for a sweater. That was the original plan anyway but as soon as the yarn was dry I cast on for a pair of socks. I regret nothing.

How was your day mum?

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, Spinning, sweaters, Weaving on September 30th, 2015

Thank you for asking sweetheart, my day was good. I did two loads of washing, dealt with the recycling (as I keep telling you, there is no recycling fairy), ironed a score of shirts, walked the dog, did some boring banking stuff, bought your father’s Christmas present, acted as your agent and booked you on a workshop, bought a length of shirt material and buttons to match, vacuumed the floors and baked a batch of bread. Then I went to my mother’s and devised a series of tests to determine which part of the wire-handset-mower combination was at fault, causing her robot mower to not mow. When I got back I decided to ignore the dusting for another day and instead played with wool and did some thinking.

I’m plodding along with this, it will in time be one of those looped scarves that ends in a V. It’s not exactly flying along and that’s because of the multiple colours in the weft. It’s all stop-start and I don’t like that. It is using up odd bits of yarn so it is a worthy thing and someone will like it when it’s done, possibly even me. Sitting with it gave me some valuable thinking time and as a result I’ve decided not to beat myself up about the lack of progress on the big grey blob of a sweater. There’s nothing about it that’s making me happy, the knitting is boring, the spinning is ok but not exactly exciting and combing is not right at the top of my list of favourite things. I will not freeze this winter if it isn’t finished so what does it matter if it isn’t? I would rather spend my time on something that make me happy and the grey sweater isn’t it. This time I will pack the pattern with the sweater when I put it back where I found it.

The knitting that is making me happy this week is the little sweater that I started last week. I can be certain this time that we are looking at the front here, you can see that the central black pattern is starting to divide. In about an inch there will be a few stitches cast off and a steek for the neck opening. I’ve not made a neck like this before and that is the single reason that I bought the pattern. I had a bit of a yarn crisis with this, I decided that I wanted a grey, black and olive colour scheme and then google assisted me with choosing the accent colours. Where it went wrong was that when I went to the sock yarn bag there was a marked absence of undyed yarn. I buy it a kilo at a time and although I assume that the bag will always be full it stands to reason that there will be times when it isn’t. There was just enough yarn to dye the grey and the olive and then I had to ditch my carefully planned colour scheme and look at what yarn I had. The blue is left over from baby Sirdal and the purple was sitting about from the neckwarmer that I ripped back last week. It’s not exactly what I had in mind but “good enough” will do. The blue and the purple look to be more uneven than the black/grey, it’s not my knitting but the wavy twice-knit wool

Now that I have recognised that grey Wensleydale is not a priority in the spinning queue it means I am free to spin some pretty things that I actually want to spin into yarn that I want to use. This is superwash Cheviot and if it behaves itself it is going to become a pair of socks or possibly mittens depending on how I’m feeling when I get that far. It’s hard wearing and washable but it’s not the softest of wools so that knocks it out of the running for baby wear. Before I start I need to decide whether it’s going to be one ball that transitions dark – light or two balls (ideally matching) that run dark – light or whether I mess about with it for something more random.


The right sort of a carrot

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, Spinning, sweaters, Wensleydale, Wensleysweater 1 on September 23rd, 2015

After all that moaning I did about the boring, boring sleeve I managed to knit my way through the whole ball of yarn by Sunday. I am still out of yarn, I’m working on the combing but realistically a ball of yarn a week is all I can manage and that’s if I actually pull my finger out and get on with combing. If I pushed myself I could find the time to comb 100g a day but that’s a bad idea because when my attention starts to wander I find myself combing my left hand. Wool combs are sharp and pointy and you swing them about – it’s a painful combination that means that it is a really good idea to keep your mind on what you are doing. The house rule is to stop when you draw blood,  I’m aiming to stop before then which is why I’m only aiming for 50g a day. I don’t dislike combing but there’s some set up and clean up that I’m not too enamoured of – it’s always easy to say that I’ll skip it today because of [reason]. I’m hoping to have another ball of yarn by the start of next week so that I can finish this sleeve and probably start the next.

Clearly something happened to make me knuckle down and get on with the boring sleeve and it’s not snowed so it isn’t that. I found the right motivational tool in the purchase of a new pattern because there’s nothing like the promise of a new start to make me get a move on and push through the boredom. This is the very start of a Dale of Norway pattern, it’s a Geilo in the twelve month size. I’m doing the sweater rather than the cardigan because the neck treatment will be new to me. The black edge will be only half that length, there’s a picot turn hiding in the middle of the hem and when I’ve sewn it to the back it will stop rolling up so I can actually see what I’m supposed to be knitting. This is the centre of the front or maybe the back, you can see that the diagonals of the pattern are reflected around that central blob. The next pattern doesn’t do this and I can’t wait to get there because I am not coping well with this reflection business. Maybe at some point my autopilot knitter will figure out that there’s an intentional change in the centre but at the moment she’s screaming ERROR when what I’m counting doesn’t fit into the space that I have. There are only a few rows left in this section, I don’t think I have enough time to get the hang of it before the pattern changes.

Sometime this side of Christmas I will need a gift for someone I don’t know very well, I’ve seen a photo of her but that’s all. I’m running with the idea that everyone has a neck (I’m certain she does, it was in the photo) and that you can’t go wrong with soft and fluffy. What I thought I had in the bag was a hundred grams of cashmere but when I came to open it the label (in my handwriting, there is no excuse) said 30% cashmere, 70% merino. I wasn’t expecting to get it all on the bobbin but a positive mental attitude (also known as “stubbornness”) did the trick. There are about four hundred yards here which will certainly be plenty for a little neck thing. I have to decide whether it’s going to be a beaded thing before I decide what colour it is because I have bags and bags of beads that I’ve bought for projects and then not used. I’m going to shop the stash and then dye the yarn to match the beads.

Return of the prodigal sweater

Posted by Caroline in Spinning, sweaters, Wensleysweater 1 on September 18th, 2015

The blog has not seen much of the Wensleydale sweater started last autumn and it’s not alone in that, neither have I. Each year when the Christmas tree goes up the spinning wheel comes down and because I’d knitted the last of the handspun I packed the sweater away too. Time passed, seasons changed. The pattern was living under the coffee table and whenever I came across it I had a vague feeling of unease because I wasn’t sure where it was that the sweater was living. I didn’t hunt for it because that would be admitting that I’d lost it but as the year went on I’d reduced the search area so that if I did need to search for it I knew the places where it wasn’t. I cleared out the spare bedroom while I was getting ready for a spot of quilting and it wasn’t there, we emptied the assortment of random stuff out of the cupboard under the stairs and it wasn’t there. I’d looked in my wardrobe, on top of my wardrobe and then I was out of ideas. It was September and nine months is a long time for a sweater to hide. I was out of ideas and so I came clean about it being lost.

My husband suggested that it might be in the drawer under the bed. He meant well but it was a daft idea as that’s where I keep the sock yarn and you’d think I’d have noticed a big lump of knitting in there. In the interests of marital harmony I went and looked and that’s where it had been all of the time. I looked for the pattern because I knew exactly where that was, except of course that now it wasn’t. I will never know the detail of the notes I made on it because it’s gone, I’m assuming I told myself what I was doing when I ignored the directions to knit the sleeves first and then pick up for the body. Providing it fits when I’m done it doesn’t matter if I changed track part way through, at least I’m sure what size I’m knitting and what needles I’m using and the rest is minor stuff.

The one thing that I managed not to lose was the spinning sample so I was able to make a skein of yarn that looked just like the last one I made before Christmas.  I decided to ignore what I had been doing on the body and start with a sleeve mainly because I could start from scratch rather than having to figure out what adjustments I’d started to make for the body. When I’ve knitted all of this ball I’ll have a clue how much more yarn I need to finish the sweater, at the moment I’m thinking it’s another ball for the other sleeve and two more after that. I’m not worried about running out of fibre, no doubt I will be at some point but not this week.

The blue that was briefly a striped cardigan didn’t all get packed away. This is a dickey to go under a sweater with a wide neck, I’ll need something like this to wear with the Wensleysweater as I think it’s going to itch. At the time the photos were taken it had a flaw that you can clearly see here – the top button is too big for the space it is in and it’s sticking up above the fold of the collar. I liked the buttons, they were exactly right or at least they would have been if the buttonholes had been in a different place. As it is they are not going to work and are coming off. I cast on for with another cowl come dickey and got very near the end of it before deciding that I’d rather have the yarn than the finished object. It didn’t sit right on the shoulders and I knew that I’d never wear it.

The only knitting that I have now is the sweater and it is such a mind numbingly boring knit. There is one interesting cable set in acres of seed stitch with a pair of decreases every three rows. If I didn’t have so much time invested in it I’d rip this too but I know that I’ll wear it once it’s finished and I just have to survive the sleeves.



Sew, knit, spin

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing, Spinning, sweaters on May 21st, 2015

This looks to be the last shirt I’ll be making for a while, I’ve used all the shirt fabric I have and the shirt wearer doesn’t seem to have ordered any more. This was another piece that I bought as a three metre length, I cut out a short sleeved shirt first and that made the cutting of the long sleeved one very tricky. Sleeves are bigger than you think and it was a close thing as to whether I could make a long sleeved shirt with what I had left. It does look as if you can get two shirts from three metres of fabric, I’ve done it twice now but it is much easier if you are cutting the short sleeves at the end. This one has hidden buttons (you may need to click on the photo to be able to see that they aren’t there…..). I think that this is worth the effort and that little extra fabric involved in forming the placket because you don’t need to fret about getting the buttonholes perfectly aligned. I got the idea from watching an episode of QI where Mr Davies had a shirt with hidden buttons so we can chalk this one up to their props department.

I was close to running out of thread as well as running out of fabric. The worrying thing is that I knew that I couldn’t go out and buy another spool as this one is most certainly not available in the shops. It’s probably older than me, certainly old enough to be considered vintage, but it was the right colour, perfectly sound and free. I have custody of the family thread collection as I now do more sewing than my mother does which means that a lot of the time I can match thread to my project simply by opening a suitcase and rummaging through the contents. It’s a bit short in the purple range and I use a lot more grey than there ever was in the case but for most colours I can find a close match. Finding two shirt’s worth of close match is another issue.

The cardigan is crawling to a finish. I’m on the bands now, they are “zip bands” rather than “button bands” so there will be two button bands with no holes. I steam blocked the body and the first sleeve before casting on for the second sleeve so that if the first was the wrong length I had the chance to correct it on the second one. I can’t see the point of making two identical wrong things if you have a chance of getting one of them right. I basted the first sleeve in to the body to check the length and the fit of the cap and it looked like a sleeve should look so I made the second one the same. I have to finish the bands, sew in the sleeves and add pockets to the fronts and hopefully by the time I’ve done that I will have got the zip that I haven’t ordered yet. This was supposed to be a stash reduction project but it doesn’t look to have reduced it by very much at all. It’s difficult to see how much yarn you are using when you are knitting with three balls at once because you can knit forever without making any impact on the yarn. I haven’t counted the balls I have left (they are upstairs, I’m not) but I don’t remember going upstairs to fetch more yarn more than once.

It’s been a while since I spun anything other than grey Wensleydale so this was really enjoyable. I have a big plan for this, one of those plans that looks wonderful in my mind but may or may not transfer to the real world. Next time I will have yarn and perhaps more of a clue whether my idea will actually work. I’m pretty sure that when it comes to sewing the fabric made from the yarn I’ll be needing to match the green because I’ll have no chance at all of finding thread to match the purple.

Do you have a collection of vintage thread? Do tell, I’d love to hear about it especially since the sewing machine man told me that “no-one uses thread like that any more”.  He’s wrong – I do and I suspect that I’m not on my own.

Countdown part two

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing, Spinning, Weaving, Wensleydale on September 23rd, 2014

THREE cushions. The cushion pads are 18″ square and the covers needed to be a bit smaller than that to make a plump rather than a flat cushion. There’s a difference between “a bit smaller” and “too small” and the width of the cloth put me very firmly in the “too small” camp. Had I started with a grand plan then the purple cushion would not have had the silk inkle trim but that was the one that I made first. I needed something to cover the join in the panels and I had a length of silk tape left from something else so that’s what I used. It would have been better if I had used the same purple wool trim that I used in the other two cushions, that would have tied the three together.  After I’d finished the first cushion cover I had to think about what I would do with the join on the second. There wasn’t enough of the silk inkle left but then I remembered the thin purple wool fabric in the top of my wardrobe. I’ve been surprised by the number of times that my son has worn the jacket that I transformed with dye but he didn’t want the trousers and after he wore them for the photo I put them away with the idea that I’d use the fabric for something. It made the ruffle in the second cushion and the tape that covers the seams in the third one, it’s fine enough to use with the smallest bias tape maker so I can see that the rest of it will find a use too. You’re not getting a close up picture because the checkerboard was sewn with child labour (they’re his cushions after all) and they’re best seen from a distance.

TWO big skeins of Wensleydale, the surprise here (to me at least) is that they are not the four ply I set out to make. Once I’d got my six bobbins full I made another sample of the four ply yarn and a three ply just to see what it looked like. I liked the three ply better. If it had been frosty then I might have leaned more towards a thick sweater but just now a medium weight one seems like a good idea. It doesn’t actually matter seeing as I didn’t have a pattern in mind, I can either find one that works with the yarn that I have or alter one that I like the look of. These haven’t had their beauty bath yet, I’ve been waiting for a fine day where I can hang them out to dry (which as you can see from the lighting might be today). There is 400g of yarn here so another two skeins should do it. I need to start up the comb-spin-ply cycle again.

ONE new project. I felt that I deserved a break from spinning grey so I turned the bright braid from the last post into bright yarn. This is another Ulina (the first one I made is here), it starts with a provisional cast on at the centre back and works outwards from there to the cuff. The wide black stripe was my insurance policy because at that point I wasn’t certain that I would have enough yarn to reach the cuff. I thought that if I added a wide stripe early on by choice then if I needed to add another to the sleeve from necessity it would look less obvious. When I was half way down the sleeve I weighed the remaining yarn, worked out how many rows were left in the ball and knew that I was in the clear. I didn’t even get as far as the purple in the ball.  I split the top into four and made two balls of two ply yarn so hopefully the second side will look similar to the first. I’ve learned my lesson with this one, I’m only putting three buttonholes on it rather than five so that I can use buttons that I already have. I’m also putting buttonholes on both fronts so that I can choose which set to use once I’m done (sewing on the button closes the hole that you don’t use so it’s not obvious that you were indecisive).

It’s a lovely sunny day here so it’s time to soak the Wensleydale and hang it to dry. Now I know what yarn I have I can start looking at patterns.


Countdown, part one

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, Spinning, Wensleydale on September 19th, 2014

SIX bobbins of Wensleydale. One may turn out to be slightly different to the others because my sample card went walkabout for a couple of days. I’m not all that worried, these are going to become a four ply yarn so hopefully the difference in one ply won’t be all that noticeable. I’m going to start plying now, I decided that six bobbins would be the perfect number to kick off a four ply yarn. The first skein will leave me with four part bobbins, the second one will be made from the two full bobbins and the four part ones left from the first skein. There will be a significant amount left over but that’s fine because two skeins isn’t going to be enough for a sweater.

FIVE – buttons on the cardigan. I bought the first set of buttons while the knitting and I were on holiday. In my mind they were perfect but I don’t know whether this is true because they never got near the cardigan. I’ve worked out how I came to lose them, they were in a small paper bag in my handbag for weeks before they mysteriously vanished. I remember sitting with a coffee and clearing out all the shipping receipts, shopping lists and till receipts that I stuff in my handbag. It’s more than likely that the small paper bag went in the bin with the rest of the rubbish. I’m now at the stage where I want this finished (because last week I met a baby that it could be given to) so the button tin that originally had nothing suitable now has something that meets my newly lowered standards. I understand that not-matching-on-purpose is a thing these days. The pattern is Butterfly Net, it’s knitted bottom up in one piece with the sleeves picked up and knitted down. It would be a good use of leftover bits of sock yarn because the overlay would make the background stripes less prominent. I thought I’d be knitting one after the other but one was quite enough.

FOUR – socks from the sock blank. Yes I know I’m stretching it a bit here with the numbering but I have a theme and I’m running with it. I don’t have four of anything else but I do have four finished socks. That’s not quite true, it seems that I have a lot of buttons in fours which is telling me that I should stop making buttonholes in fives. It would have been simple to start at the top of the blank and knit until all the socks were done. I didn’t do that because of the sunset in the middle, the second sock would have been very much more yellow than the first. My second sock was knitted from the other end of the blank so both missed the sun. This was a good idea, bonus marks to me for thinking ahead and planning, except that I then went on to make the second pair exactly the same as the first pair so really I needn’t have bothered. I probably could have knitted as it came and paired socks one and four together. The leftover sunny yarn will go into another pair of school socks when I feel like it, for the moment I’m done with black topped socks. We’re entering the season of grim, grey days and I don’t appreciate spending dark evenings trying to count rows on a black sock.

Do I have a three, two, one? Not yet but I’m working on it. I’m sure by next week I’ll have something that I can force to fit the theme.

Piles of grey

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, Spinning, Wensleydale on August 25th, 2014

I put the Wensleydale away before we left on holiday but before that I had grey wool piled up in various formats. The first stage pile is a messy one resulting from me pulling individual locks from the mass of wool and opening them up. The fleece was muddy and two soaks, two washes and a rinse wasn’t enough to get all the grot out. If I don’t open up the locks I need another combing step and that means more waste. It’s easier to open them up by hand using paper to catch the fine dust that falls out. When the pile threatens to topple over I put the bag of washed wool away and get the combs out. What comes off the combs is lengths of smooth roving with no sign of the original lock structure, all ready to spin. I’m putting those in a wicker basket (lined with a silk scarf to eliminate snagging) and when that pile starts fighting its way out of the basket I spin it. There is exactly the same amount of wool in the photo on the right as in the photo on the left, all of that big pile of fluff went onto one bobbin. So far I have four bobbins full of single, enough to start plying but I’m not going to do that until I have another three bobbins full. This is not going to be a quick project, the majority of my time is spent in fibre preparation, the spinning and plying are the last stages of a time consuming process.

The other fibre that comes off the combs is made up of shorter wool together with any tips that have broken off the locks and any second cuts. This is the combing waste although it’s only waste if you don’t use it. I’m throwing it into a carrier bag and then in the evening I sit and spin it into something thick/thin and lumpy. In the morning I chain ply it and by the evening the yarn is dry and there’s just enough to knit what looks like a small hat. Once it’s had a vicious hot/cold wash the lumps and bumps all vanish into the thick fabric. I want five of these little bowls, one for each weekday. The husband needs cash each day for the station car park but as a household we use plastic more than cash and so don’t generate many coins. We’ve had little piles of change lined up on the kitchen counter but they get knocked over so I’m moving to the five pot system. After that there will be a matching but larger pot to organise the free range rechargeable batteries that have multiplied and are running out of control across the breakfast bar. Only then will I be generating proper combing waste or maybe slippers, depending on how the mood takes me.

I don’t have a pattern lined up for the yarn, I’m not even sure yet whether I’ll be making a cardigan or a sweater. I have plenty of time to consider my options because I worked out that there’s about four hours work in a bobbin of single which means that there’s about 48 hours more work before I have enough yarn for a sweater.

TdF week three, return to Wensleydale

Posted by Caroline in Spinning, Wensleydale on July 23rd, 2014

Last week I combed the last of the Oxford Down and said that I had no fleece in the garage. At the time that was correct but it isn’t now.  This is Wensleydale, the left hand side is the original chocolate colour, the top right corner is what it will end up as when washed. It’s seasonally hot this week so a good time for wool washing because it dries quickly. I’m still working out the best washing strategy, my first batch had a cold overnight soak, one hot wash and two rinses but that produced a finished product that was still too sheepy. My second batch had a cold overnight soak, two hot washes and two rinses and that resulted in acceptable fibre but I’m going to see if a second cold soak will substitute for one of the later steps. The reason for this is that I have two big water butts full of rainwater that I can run off for soaking and the resulting bucket of very brown water can then go on the border plants. It seems a shame to use lovely drinking water for washing wool and then pull the plug and have it vanish down the drain. This is going to be a long term project and I can guarantee that the blog will be seeing it again at different stages.

The Tour de France is still on and I’m still spinning. I’m now on the third bobbin of what will be a three ply yarn, the last bobbin looks remarkably like the other two which is something that pleases me greatly. The bobbin on the left has more of the burgundy, the right one has more of the green and the third has equal amounts of both. It’s superwash bfl and nylon so will be good for baby things or socks, should it meet my exacting quality control standards it will end up as shop stock but if it’s “too” something then it will have to stay at home. Oh dear, what a shame that would be.

I had a trip out on Monday to deliver the heir to his first summer music course, had I taken a photo it would have been identical to the one I took last year so let’s just run with that. He’s at the same venue, assigned to the same room and he bagged the same bed. This year I had no worries about turning him loose with his peers, last year the pastoral care was excellent, the accommodation was good, the food was good, he enjoyed himself and he wasn’t out of his depth musically. Habits are hard to break, it’s day three and I’m watching for the school bus going past in the afternoon and walking about at night as if he’s in his bed.