Sunday, 30 September 2007

An announcement

The Monkey Army would like me to make a few things clear to anyone who may be thinking of invading.

1) The Monkey Army is a supreme combat force, made up of highly trained fighting machines. They can disarm any enemy. (They are especially fond of enemies who happen to be armed with chocolate biscuits.)

Just look at those daft little grins. Who could resist?

2) They are primed and ready to defend their territory at all times, and are always on the alert. (Except when they're busy having a cuppa and a nice sit down, which occurs quite often. And during Hollyoaks. They really like Hollyoaks.)

Watching and waiting.

3) There may only be five of them at the moment, but they are not afraid to call in back up. (***An aside: I don't know this man, but I like him because he makes me look completely sane and moderate by comparison. Don't you think?***)

So if you happen to be thinking of attacking, just ask yourself this first: do you really think you can beat these guys? Really? Oh, alright then - you probably can. But if you're coming, do you think you could at least bring some cake? An army isn't cheap to feed, you know.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

A very, very strange concept

I have two words for you: Racing Grannies.

How surreal is that?? I have little to add to these pictures, except to blame them on the crazy relatives we have staying. Oh, and to apologise for another day of Granny-oriented blogging. It was a coincidence, honest - and I'll try to move on tomorrow.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend, VCx

Friday, 28 September 2007

Hooray for Grans

Earlier in the week, I mentioned that I had a nice picture of my Gran from the weekend, but I said I didn't think she'd like it posted on the Internet. Well, it turns out I was wrong - I spoke to her last night, and she actually seemed positively keen to get her face out there. So here she is:

My knitting hero (no, not the monkey)

She learned to knit at the age of three, by copying her mother, and has been doing so ever since. I don't think she'll mind me telling you that she's now 87 - so that's a lot of years of knitting. She taught me to knit, but I can't ever imagine being half as good as she is. Did I tell you guys that my Dad's side of the family are from Shetland? Perhaps not - but I have now. Anyway, she comes from a long line of Shetland knitters, and she always says she taught me to knit like a Shetlander too. I don't really know how that's different from any other knitting, apart from that she taught me to use a knitting belt, and I think there's something about how we hold the wires... but knitting styles seem to vary loads anyway, don't they? So maybe my Gran just says crazy things from time to time (I know I do, and I must get it from somewhere).

These days my Gran mostly makes these:

It's a cockleshell scarf made with 1-ply Shetland cobweb wool, and she knocks these out at a frightening rate - honestly, her hands are a blur. She makes them for a shop in Lerwick which sells traditional Shetland knitwear to tourists. If you're ever up there, do consider getting one. Apart from anything else, you might need it - it's quite brisk that far North. And I believe they're very reasonably priced :o)

So, today's post has been a little rambling - sorry about that - but I think my main point was just that Grans are great. Hooray for Grans.

Thursday, 27 September 2007


Have a look at the picture below, and put yourself in my shoes for a moment (I'm a size 6 - I hope they fit you. Ooh they look nice - they're definately your colour).


This mistreatment of an innocent member of the Monkey Army was perpetrated by my friends. If you were me, would you have felt comfortable about handing your beloved hand-knitted monkey over to said friends? Would you have been confident that they would take good care of him?

Seriously, just look at these reprobates:

(Mainly the one on the right)

On the plus side, they did seem very pleased with their gift, which probably counts for something. I suppose.

Happy, I think.

But even so, the monkey looked a little nervous when it was time to leave with them.


Equally, I was genuinely very sad to see him go. But I fully intend to steal him back eventually visit him often.

So, that was last night, and much fun was had by all. Unfortunately, today has really not been very nice. I've been feeling quite unwell with "Ladies' Issues", and work was pretty difficult - I don't know how they manage it, but I swear that teenagers' ability to be Hard Work is directly proportional to how grotty you already feel. Also, T'Other Half has gone away for a couple of days, so the flat feels a bit empty now I'm home. At a time like this, a girl really wishes her monkey was still around!

(Incidentally, with regards to the aforementioned Ladies' Issues, I am now convinced of the restorative powers of saturated fats - they get to the parts that paracetemol just cannot reach. This morning, pills didn't even take the edge off, and I was a hair's breadth away from telling my boss I needed to go home and hide under the duvet; but one bag of mini-cheddars later and I was heaps better. I tell you, I was almost weeping with relief. Should I inform the Lancet, or is this already widespread medical knowledge?)

But I digress. And so to finish on a more positive note:

Progress. Of sorts.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

A black day

The hour is upon us, my friends. It is time to say farewell. But it appears that this fact is more distressing for me than it is for the monkey.

"How soon do I get to leave?"

Of course, shortly after this photo was taken I bundled him into his wrapping paper, which soon wiped the smile off his face. I can hear his muffled cries from here, actually. But don't worry: he'll be released again in a mere hour or three.

Speaking of wrapping him up, thanks very much for all your suggestions yesterday about the krek waiter pack a monkey (sorry, went a bit Brizzle then). Although no thanks to Michaela, whose suggestions got off to a promising start, but soon turned rather facetious.

In the end, I think it was a tie between monkey-shaped and box-shaped (I lost track rather). I decided to give T'Other Half the casting vote, who was in favour of preserving the surprise for longer by boxing the monkey. So here is the finished parcel:


You may have noticed, however, that I couldn't resist sneaking in a little clue about the contents with my choice of paper:

A broad hint

Trashalou, I'm not sure my wrapping abilites are good enough for this to be considered "fabulous wrapping", but I did my best. Please note the use of ribbons and bows (good advice, there). I'm afraid I ran out of furbelows, though.

And Tracy: don't worry, there are some air holes at the back of the parcel (more good advice). However, I'm sorry about the wrapping paper - I don't think you could call it subdued. It was quite expensive though, if that helps.

Not subdued. But cost an arm and a leg.

So, there you have it: one monkey ready to go out into the world. Well, as far as South Bristol anyway. And I think I need to go now as I'm starting to feel a little emotional. Perhaps I can cheer myself up by knitting a few rows of my own monkey before my guests arrive...

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Putting it to the vote

I need your help, guys. I have a dilemma - it's about the monkey. (And no, it's not "how can I come up with a feasible excuse for keeping him after all?". But do let me know if you have any good suggestions on that front.)

It's not a big matter, but I'm feeling indecisive, and I want to get it right. My question for you is this: how does one wrap a monkey-shaped gift?

The thing is, I think the bride may have an inkling of what her present is, but I'm not sure. So, I can't decide whether to:

a) try to disguise the gift completely by concealing the monkey inside a cardboard box and wrapping that,


b) spend ages wrapping different parts of the monkey indidually, so that I end up with an obviously monkey-shaped parcel.

I'm quite drawn to option b) because I would find this amusing - but then again, the gift isn't for me (sadly). Also, it would take a long time to achieve, and if the recipient hasn't guessed what her gift is yet, it would ruin the surprise.

Dithering. Isn't it great?

So anyway, if you fancy voicing your opinion, just leave a comment voting for the option that most matches you own view, choosing from the following list:

a) monkey in box
b) monkey-shaped parcel
c) some other wrapping method not yet considered (please give details, including diagrams where appropriate)
d) why is this blog post so rubbish?

Many thanks in anticipation of your help in this matter. VCx

Monday, 24 September 2007

More than you ever really needed to know...

... about ME!

Last week, I was tagged by my paper world. This means you get to be told some stuff about me that you probably never realised you wanted to know. I'll do my best to make it interesting, but don't hold your breath - I'm not actually a very interesting person (I know, you'd never guess).

So here goes...

Four places I have worked:

1. A shop (Indonesian imports. Lovely silver jewellery. Sadly now closed down.)

2. Another shop (second-hand books this time.)

3. A university

4. A school

Four places I have lived (I need to cheat a little here as I don't seem to have moved about much):

1. Oxford

2. Student halls in Bristol (Nice, but too many fire-alarm evacuations. Students burn a lot of toast.)

3. A shared house in Bristol (Also nice, but very cold in the winter - no central heating, brrrr.)

4. A lovely flat in Bristol (Nicest of the lot as this one has T'Other Half in it. Except when she's out, obviously.)

Four places I have been on holiday:

1. The Isle of Wight. I was two and it was the first time I'd seen a beach. It was raining really quite hard, so for years I thought wellies and plastic macs were appropriate beach attire.

2. Caravanning (is that a word?) in Yorkshire.

3. Prague, in the winter - lots of snow.

4. Cornwall, several times (living in Bristol, it seems so close. But it's not. It takes hours and hours to drive to, especially if you want to go right down to the pointiest bit. I always seem to forget this whenever I think "let's have a weekend in Cornwall".)

Four favourite foods:

1. Pieminister pie 'n' mash with peas and groovy - so yummy. If you get the chance, I urge you to try it. It's the best ever. Fact.

2. Pasta

3. Cheese

4. Tea (ok, so technically it's a drink. But I couldn't cope without it so I thought I'd best include it here.)

Four places I would rather be right now:

1. Pieminister (now that I've gone and put the idea in my head).

2. Curled up on my sofa with a cuppa.

3. With my lovely Gran, who'll be back home in Shetland as of tomorrow.

4. Anywhere, really, given that I'm writing this at work (at lunchtime, naturally).

So there you go. I hope you all feel that you know me better now. Although really, I suspect you're all just that bit more confused. I seem to have that effect on folk. Unless it's just me who's confused - who knows.

I think I'm supposed to pass this on to four more people now. But I'm shy, and I'm not sure that I know enough people in blogland yet anyway. So I may surprise you by passing it on at some point in the future. Protect yourselves now - keep one eye open at all times. OK?

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Back home

Hey-hey, I'm back! It was a busy weekend, and I can't believe it is Sunday evening already (the worst time of the week...)

The monkey had fun checking out some pretty foliage in my parents' garden:

Very poor camouflage.

No, we can still see you.

He also got on like a house on fire with my Gran - but I don't think she would like to have her photo posted on t'Internet, so I'm afraid you'll have to imagine that beautiful meeting of minds.

I think he did have fun - although he seemed quite keen to get moving when it was time to come home again.

"Erm... am I supposed to be able to see out?"

Of course, we didn't let him drive. That would have been silly.

The very sad news is that the date when he'll be leaving us is now set in stone - the newlyweds are coming round for dinner on Wednesday, and he'll be handed over then. I'm finding this very traumatic. I will be bereft without him. So I'm going to have to get cracking on the handsome chappie to the right of the shot below:

(Apparently they were having a staring match. The one without eyes lost.)

When I've finished him, this little guy won't be given away to ANYONE. I just can't go through it all again.

Mine, all mine.

Of course, there is the small matter of having to make and then part with monkey number three, already ordered by my mother. But I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

At the moment, my top concern is the impending departure of the green guy (yes, I know he looks blue in the photos - it's just the camera), and in particular, how to break the news to the Monkey Army. But I think they're quite impressionable at that age - they'll probably be in the thrall of another ruthless dictator in no time.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Gone Fishin'

Hello lads,

Just wanted to say "hi" to blogland and explain why the chicken coop has been a little empty for the last couple of days - I've gone away to see my family, so not much chance to blog. But I'll be back tomorrow and promise to post something more interesting then. As a teaser: I brought the monkey with me as a final fling before I have to give him away to his new owner (I did mention he was a wedding gift, didn't I? *sob*) and I'll take some pics of him on his travels for you to see. And by the way, I'm sorry about the fact that he is still just "the monkey" - I'm leaving the naming of names to the new owner.

(A quick aside - my Mum really likes the monkey. I mean, really likes him - she very nearly wouldn't give him back. So now I have to make another one - another one that I have to give away, no less! Grrrr.)

Anyway, the monkey sends his love.

VC x

Thursday, 20 September 2007


Honestly, I didn't plan to bore you with any more LWHs (or not straight away at least). But today everything is a bit glum and blogging feels tough, so here is a picture of LWH3 to fill in until I can come up with the goods again:

"Who turned out the lights?"

Oh and wait, the other I thing I wanted to say was thanks so much to everyone who humoured me yesterday and left a comment like a pirate. You made this chicken very happy indeed.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Help spread the word (the word is "Arrrr")

Ahoy there, me hearties! Today be International Talk Like a Pirate Day! An' I be wishin' all o' ye a proper swashbucklin' one, mateys. Arrrr.

If ye be wantin' to join in, 'tis easy enough for a landlubber to get into th' pirate spirit. Just start off wi' shiverin' yer timbers an' hoistin' yer main sails, an' ye'll be headin' in the right direction in no time.

***Brief non-pirate interlude #1: Admittedly, this is actually quite exhausting, and I think I may soon end up with a dislocated jaw from all these "arrrs". But still - it's quite good fun, honest. ***

I be heading off now in search of some grog. I also be plannin' to suck on a lime or two - got to keep th' scurvy at bay, arrr. If ye fancy joinin' me to sing some rousin' sea shanties later, I be easy to find - just ye look for the Jolly Roger out a-flyin', an' I'll be thar, shipmates! Yo ho ho!

Now be off with ye, ye old seadogs, else I'll make all o' ye walk the plank. Arrr.

Cap'n VC x

***Brief non-pirate interlude #2. If you're really only in it for the knitting, or if speaking like a pirate just doesn't do it for you, please don't worry - I can't keep this up for more than one day. Just ignore this post and do come back another time, when things will be back to normal (or at least as normal as it gets around here). ***

Tuesday, 18 September 2007


No, I haven't made 8 more LWHs - just one, rather odd-looking one:

Dude, why are you smiling?? THERE'S AN OCTO-HAT TRYING TO EAT YOUR HEAD!!

I'm quite proud of this one as I designed it myself (well, ok, so there's not much to design - but I did work out how to space the tentacles. And in the process I learned that some numbers just don't want to be divided by 8.)

It looks a little strange on the monkey, but I think it looks ok on a little bottle (which is what it's for) - I hope so anyway. And given that Innocent want 400,000 LWHs, I'm hoping they'll adopt a 'beggars can't be choosers' kind of attitude...

Attention, Innocent - this is what you're getting, like it or not.

In the end it took me all evening to finish the little blighter off, although about 80% of the time was spent on the tentacles and on weaving in all the awkward little ends! So I may go back to simpler stripey hats for a while, to try and 'up' my production rate a bit.

That said, I do have visions of adapting the Octo-hat pattern slightly to create a jellyfish hat, by replacing the tentacles with something more 'floaty' - what do you think? Is it worth a shot?

Monday, 17 September 2007

First little wooly hat

I've made my first little wooly hat for Innocent's Big Knit. Here it is, ably modelled by a member of the Monkey Army:

Colour scheme look familiar?

I'm sorry that this is such a short post, but I really want to go and get cracking on my second LWH - hopefully more on that tomorrow!

Sunday, 16 September 2007

I just can't help myself

Below you will see another grumpy monkey shot. Please note that he's not actually sulking any more, but I can't resist posing him like this - he just looks so darn cute with his grumpy face.

Not happy

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Bad news...

... it looks as though I now have even more competition for my fave seat by the window:

Topping up the tan

But it's not all bad news! As the eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed, that there monkey is now sporting some very stylish accessories: the very latest fashion in "arms and ears"!


He doesn't seem to be at all backward in coming forward, as he had no problems with me taking many, many pictures of him. So I did. And I'd like to share with you some highlights of what he's been up to since becoming complete.

First he had a chat with Austin about how great it is to have arms and ears (finally). But since Austin doesn't have either himself, he couldn't really see what all the fuss was about, so that didn't last long.


Next, the monkey sat on the sofa for a bit, but soon he decided he wanted to make himself a coffee, and headed into the kitchen.

Kettle spotted at one o'clock

Now, as it turns out, monkeys have quite a low tolerance of caffeine (or at least, this one does). So this is him hanging from the ceiling ten minutes later:


And this is him 'playing' with The Eyeless One after I'd coaxed him down with the promise of more coffee:

"Can't ... quite ... breathe ..."

And this is him sulking when I told him that I'd been lying through my teeth, and that he was never drinking coffee again:


He's now refusing to talk to me. Or look at me.

The cold shoulder

So, all in all, it was a very successful first few hours, with lots of excitement for everyone. But I think I need a little lie down now.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Favourite knitting spots

I was a bit stuck for something to blog about today, so I was pleased to discover Monkee Maker's proposed Social Networking Experiment that invited folks to share their favourite knitting spots.

Most of my knitting currently takes place here:

Scene of many knitting crimes

I like to sit on this end of the sofa, next to the big window. It's nicest on a sunny afternoon (best time of day for the angle of the sun to warm my toes without the light blinding my eyes!) but I usually knit in the evenings, if I'm watching TV. Unfortunately I have to fight for that side of the sofa, as T'Other Half seems to like it best too (yes, it's closer to the table that holds the TV remote).

Although I tend to knit at home most often, my favourite place to knit is the armchair by my Gran's fireplace, with her sitting on the sofa knitting too. That doesn't happen very often as she lives a long, long way away, but it is definately my happiest knitting spot. (So much so that I once took a photo of my Gran's empty living room so I could look at it when I'm not there. It's in my album of favourite pics. Weird? Yes, I think so. But I dont care. I took it pre-digital days, so I would need a scanner to post the picture, and I don't have one - lucky escape, guys, you're spared.)

Anyway, now I should get back to knitting, rather than just banging on about it here. Only T'Other Half is just home, so I may have missed out on the best sofa spot: damn.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

I will master this blogging lark yet

Someone gave me this today:

It's part of a series of booklets that are being given away all week with a newspaper. I can't tell you if it's any use - I haven't read it, just in case I discover I've been doing everything wrong until now...

Wednesday, 12 September 2007


This is how I imagine the Monkey Army must have looked bringing the shiny thing to The Armless One (or 'Oh Great Leader', as I think they've taken to calling him):

Step 1: Fetching and carrying

"Well don't just stand there - help me put it on."

Step 2: Manoeuvring

"Mind my face. And hurry up."

Step 3: Profound thanks

"I have no further use for you. Please go away now."

Re-enacter's note: these activities are likely to have taken place under cover of darkness originally.

Less photogenic

(Yes, this is all very silly. I blame Monkee Maker for encouraging me.)

Tomorrow: no more ridiculousness with monkeys or shiny things. Honest.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007


Last week, I was fortunate enough to win a '1000 views' freebie from Monda's blog, and the parcel arrived today!

Pretty golden ribbons

It looks exciting, doesn't it? And that's because it was, very much so! Inside was the lovely bespectacled monster, Austin. He made himself right at home.


And look what else he brought with him:

The small print: "made in Paradise since 1979"

So big, big thanks to Monda! Austin is quite the most dashing monster I could ever imagine, what with his funky specs and all, and I think he is fab. Equally, I really love the bag - bags are my biggest weakness, and this one is just great. I do believe that Austin and I are going to get on just famously - andf if you were wondering where you could get a lovely monster all of your own, then head on over to Monda's etsy shop where there are monsters galore (but none as nice as mine, 'cos he's the best).

While I'm busy thanking people, I also wanted to say 'hello and thanks' to all the nice folks who have stopped by my blog and left comments. You've made a new girl feel very welcome, and I do appreciate hearing from you all and checking out your own blogs.

That said, some of you are blatant stirrers. Trashalou: thanks a bundle for putting worrying suspicions in my head about The Armless One - I'm now convinced he wants to murder me in my sleep. Great.

And in response to the debate about how The Armless One managed to get the shiny thing around his neck without any arms: I think he has joined forces with these fellas...

Rent-a-Crowd (aka the Monkey Army)

... so now I think they're out to get me too. *Sigh*

Would you be afraid of these guys?

Would you?

Monday, 10 September 2007

Driving a hard bargain

My shiny thing is being held to ransom. Apparently I can only have it back in return for one pair of arms.

Get knitting.

I seem to have created an evil mastermind. (Or more accurately, half-created one - I think that's what's bothering him so much...)

Sunday, 9 September 2007

A shiny, shiny thing

Yesterday I promised to deliver a very exciting post today. Well, I may be the only person who finds this very exciting, but today I RAN A HALF-MARATHON! For the first (and possibly last) time, I managed to shift myself around 13.1 miles of Bristol's finest roads using the power of run. And just LOOK at the lovely shiny thing I have to show for it:

I'm a magpie*

For a long time, I doubted that this was something I could ever achieve. I'm not what you would call naturally athletic, so the many months of training runs have been Hard Work. Luckily, I was born under a stubborn star, which may be the only thing that stopped me from giving up!

Granted, it was a fab experience to run under the Clifton Suspension Bridge (twice) and around the city centre with 14,999 other runners - but I'm quite glad it is now all over. I can eat chocolate biscuits again. And drink wine. Mmmmm.

I can't, however, walk down stairs without looking like a geriatric crab. But such is life.

*Arty photo courtesy of T'Other Half, who seemed to have fun tinkering with the camera's macro zoom...

Saturday, 8 September 2007


Last time I checked, I was not a chicken. Also, I'm not that vicious (too often). So why the blog name? Sadly, the explanation is not really very interesting - but I'm going to tell you anyway (kind, aren't I?)

Several years ago, I moved to Bristol. Not long before I was due to leave my old city, I watched the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail with some friends. At one point, the character Brave Sir Robin was said to have managed many feats of courage, including 'nearly standing up to The Vicious Chicken of Bristol' (you have to concentrate really very hard for this reference - blink and you miss it). For the rest of the evening, I was called 'the vicious chicken' by everyone, purely becasue I was soon to be 'of Bristol'. And it kind of stuck.

So there you go - nothing to do with farmyard animals, or my temperament - just a rather obscure reference to the city I still call home. Told you it wasn't that interesting.

But do tune in tomorrow, as I hope to be posting about something VERY exciting indeed.

Friday, 7 September 2007

So near and yet so far

For weeks now I have been sloooooooowly knitting away at two monkeys in the style of Monkee Maker's fabulous creations. Mine will undoubtedly be poor imitations but I'm still ridiculously pleased with them so far. They are currently in the 'almost nearly finished' stage - that is to say they are a stone's throw away from being not quite done.

As of last night, the monkey that I'm making for a friend as part of a wedding present is now missing just one arm and one ear. The main body and head are all done and stuffed, and the legs are attached. Also, one arm and one ear have been knitted, sewn up and are ready to sew on when their respective pairs are finished. So, I am determined to try and bring him to a state of completion this weekend.

For motivation, I'm finding it very helpful to prop him up in front of me in his current state - a monkey with no arms or ears is a mighty folorn sight to see, I tells ya. As you can see:

My other monkey is an even sorrier sight:

"who said that?"

I promise to give him some eyes soon. And, you know, limbs.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

A little corner of the Internet to call 'home'

So here's the thing: I don't really need a blog. I don't really know what I will blog about. But I've been a lurker and then a commenter on other people's blogs for a while now, and to tell the truth, I'm starting to feel a little bit left out - it looks like fun, and I want to join in!

So, here I am - and I'm secretly quite excited about getting on the property ladder in blogland :o) It may take me a while to make the place feel cosy, so if you are a blog neighbour who happens to be passing by, please bear with me while I attempt to learn the art of blog. I will try to spruce things up a bit - add a lick of paint, find some nice cushions - and make sure everything's spick and span (I worry I might get evicted from cyberspace for making a mess. Or deleting half of the Internet.)

If you're having a look round, do say hello. And if you could remember to wipe your feet on your way in, that'd be great - ta!