Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Post christmas thinking

So I know that I've been quiet over the last week or so but I have been working hard looking after animals and my parents house. If it was my own home I don't think it would be so much of a problem but this house is big and I don't know where anything lives. Also my brother is here and he sort of ghosts around the place doing odd jobs here and there but not really communicating at all. I keep doing things that have already been done (nearly fed the dogs twice this evening) or not doing things that need doing. It's very frustrating to not have a routine or controllable surroundings. Our cats have come with us and seem to find it as weird as we do. They really hate the dogs which is proving to be a bit of a minefield. Weirdest of all though is the fact that my parents do not have word or excel on their computer. I just can't work out how they survive without them.

Anyway, one thing that I have been giving a little time to is New Years resolutions. Now I'm not one for celebrating New Year- it has always been a bit of washout as far as I am concerned, and I don't normally bother with New Year resolutions but this year I'm feeling a bit different. So I've decided to make some resolutions and see if I can stick to them.

First off is that before I start any project I am going to go to my stash first, shop second. I'm still allowed to buy yarn but I have some lovely stuff sitting at home and it would be wonderful to actually use some if it.

Second, I'm going to try and finish more projects than I start. I have a bunch of WIPS that only need time pouring into them to get them done. All the materials and patterns are right there waiting. If I really decide that its never getting finished then I'm allowed to take them apart and return stuff to my stash but I'm not allowed to just leave them there.

Third- I'm going to make things for me from all the lovely yarn in my stash. It's not that I object to knitting for other people. Nearly everything I give is well received and I enjoy making it. But I don't make things for me and it's about time I did. So I'm going to! :)

Now I know that these are all KNITTING resolutions. I am working on some other more normal day to day ones as well but I haven't finished formulating them yet. I want to make sure that they are achievable otherwise I'll just end up feeling pants when I fail miserably at them.

I also got some Christmas present updates for you all to see but I'm feeling a bit Christmassed out at the moment. I think I'm in that post Christmas slump that you get when all you want to do is curl up with a book on the sofa or take the time to do some quiet knitting in front of the fire. Everything was so hectic pre-Christmas what with packing and getting our house ready and all so that we could go away that now I'm too tuckered out to do much else.
I hope that everyone else had a lovely time of it all though regardless of who you spent it with or how it was spent. And here's to looking forward to a New Year. I feel a fresh beginning coming on!

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Bunny fur magic

I really am terrible at this time of year- all this shopping that one has to do just leads to bad things happening. This year I have managed to be reasonably restrained but only through sheer force of will power and more importantly, lack of cash. What I have bought though is the wonder of the gods. You see, I had a little accident on Etsy. I'm sure I am not the first, and certainly will not be the last to have such an accident which is a comforting thought but nonetheless I spent money that really, maybe I shouldn't have. Ah, but what the hell- when you get bunny fur magic in the post who gives a crap?
Look at the wonder:
I just wish that you guys could have touch-vision on your screens. Its sooooooo soft. I bought this from HoppittyAngora on Etsy though the lady also has a website that you can get stuff from as well. All her bunnies are home grown, home sheered and the fur homespun. If you make it to her website she even has a picture of the little snuggly bunnies concerned.
I have a real soft spot for this breed of rabbit- not because it has wondrous fur that you can spin and make scrummy things out if- but because my mum used to breed them. I must have been about 9 or so when she started keeping angora rabbits and at the time I didn't really have any interest in them for any other reason than because they are ridiculously cute. The bit I love most is their little ear tassels. That and the fact that they look like giant bouncing pom-poms. Now that I am older, wiser and knit 24/7 I love them for many more reasons, especially after having got my hands on a couple of skeins of pure angora. Each of the skeins above is 50ms long but only weighs 20gs. Now I really wish that my mum still kept them. If that was the case I think I could bring myself to find the time to learn to spin. Then I could surround myself with soft fluffy clouds of fur.
Oh, and there was one other thing that I got for myself as well. Just a small skein of Noro Kochoran. I was awarded a merit award at work this year (which was a wonderful surprise I have to say) and decided that at least a small part of it must be spent on me rather than it all going on Christmas presents for other people. That and bills. Anyway, so I bought this. I have only ever had the pleasure of owning one skein of Noro before now and felt it was time for another. I have no idea what I am going to make with it (1 skein, Aran weight, 160ms- any ideas would be appreciated!) but then really this is another one of those things that is more for the having than the using. At least for a bit anyway.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Cinematic fun

Forgot to mention this but the other weekend I went to see Changling at the cinema and I know I'm not going to be the only person to say this, but I want The Hat. If you are not sure what The Hat is then let me educate you-

Had to erm 'borrow' this picture from someone elses website but it was by far and away the best picture of The Hat. Can you see now why it gets its own capitals? In fact there are many hats in this film that I want, along with gloves, handbags and shoes. The dresses I'm a little less fussed about. They look good is you are painfully thin but otherwise are (to be honest) quite unflattering on the figure. That's not to say that Angelina didn't look great in them but then she looks like a little skeleton with skin stretched over the top in this movie. I should also say that this film, despite all my reservations, was actually quite enjoyable. The acting is generally terrible throughout apart from, surprisingly, Angelina's. In fact I would go so far as to say that she carries this film for the greater part. The sets and costumes are wonderful though and they are what really make it. You can get quite caught up in the drama of the moment just by looking at the detail that has gone into the clothing.
Anyway, enough already about the film and more about The Hat. I have been having a search around to see if I can make such a thing without, and this is the important bit, having to take up hat making. This is not because I do not want to make hats- much to the contrary. It's more that I just do not have the time or the money to do proper hat making so I am forced to source from elsewhere. The closest knit pattern I've been able to find is the Better Bucket Hat by Amy Swenson but even then its not quite right. The top of the hat is too flat. I think that if I had a head shaped stand (like hat makers do) then I could probably knit something up, wet felt it and then stretch it to be the perfect shape. Unfortunately I am lacking the most important part of that plan. If anyone knows of a good pattern then I would love to hear from you. The Hat must be mine!

WIPs = FOs

Haha! I had a brilliant day yesterday. The husband and I went to Tockington to meet up with the rest of my immediate family for lunch. We went to The Swan which was packed- and rightly so, as their carvery was just brilliant. My pa had doorstop wedges of beef on his plate. All the food was mmmmm, yummy and came in big portions. It was one of the few times that I haven't been able to fit pudding in when out for a meal (which is saying something).
Anyway, the really brilliant bit of the day was that I manged to finish not one, not two but... two and a half knitting projects off! Yay!
I completed my Best Friend scarf that is intended as a gift for one of the ladies at my knitting group. Hopefully she will be there tomorrow so that I can pass it on. The only thing that I have left to do with it is give it a quick wash and block so that stitches even out and it is done. Am quite pleased with it. The slightly fluffy yarn that I used actually quite complements the pattern. I was a bit worried that it would fill the little lace holes up but its not so fluffy that it does that. It just gives the scarf a nice halo and softens up what might otherwise be quite a squeaky acrylic yarn.
I also completed a last minute Christmas gift. I made a short scarf (the kind that wraps round your neck and tucks in to a jacket without looking lumpy) using four strands of DK yarn held together- 2 different pinks, a grey and a sparkly silver yarn. It took me a while to work out what I wanted to do with it. I had originally intended to make a loopy scarf using a strange 'C' shaped device that my mother had given me but I wasn't pleased with the results and it was going to take ages so I switched to hand knitting it. I then tried to do a simple yo/drop stitch pattern to give it a bit of interest but I realised that I didn't have quite enough yarn to make something wide enough. In the end I went for simple moss stitch though it took me a couple of changes of needles size to get the finish that I wanted. After casting off I pulled the scarf gently to stretch the stitches out a little and make the scarf a bit longer. As it was knitted on 8mm needles it grew another 6 inches or so. I was going to take a photo to show y'all the pretty twinkly bits but I have packaged it up ready to go into the post this morning.
Finally, I have finished the first sock out of the pair that I am making for my Pa (hence the two and a half projects). For some reason they seem to be taking me forever to get done so I am glad that I finally got the first one finished- and that it fits. I got him to try it on yesterday when I saw him and was very pleased to find that my calculations where correct. I couldn't have gotten it any better size wise. Luckily for me my parents are off on holiday over the Christmas period which gets me a few days grace on getting sock number 2 completed. This means that I should now have enough time to get the last pair of Spirogyra mitts finished in time to give them to the best friend as part of her Christmas present. I have a longish train journey down to Devon next week that I hope will provide me with enough time to whip through the bulk of the remaining glove. Then it's just the slightly tricksy thumbs to do and its all over bar the small talk.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Surprise parcel

I got another gift from my TSG swap buddy today which was a total surprise as I have already been spoilt rotten for this month. It's all wrapped up in christmas paper so I'm going to put it under the tree and save it for christmas day as a real treat. I couldn't believe it when I went to fetch the post- ANOTHER parcel? WOW!
I'll make sure I take some pictures of it when I open it.
What is useful though is that I have now had two parcels both from London. They were different postcodes right enough but it might be a little clue as to the person is. Hmmm, some sleuthing is in order I feel.

Stripped

Last night was spent doing something very naughty. My husband and I didn't go to bed on time, oh no. Nor did we make the sandwiches for lunch today or do any of the washing up. No, we left the house, in fact we left the city and headed on down to London to go and see Eddie Izzard performing his new show 'Stripped' (and you where thinking something else then weren't you!).
Normally we would not go out on a weekday night- we have very early starts in the morning and both require lots of sleep- but I couldn't pass up the chance to see Eddie live. I have been a massive fan of his for about 12 years now, maybe longer even, and this was the first chance I got to see him. Before now I've either been too young, too poor or in the wrong part of the country to catch one of his shows so when the tickets came up for grabs a couple of months back I purchased two without stopping to breathe. Am I glad I did?- you bet I am. Tickets were expensive it has to be said- we got the cheapest ones of course for a mere £20 each. You know, the kinda seats that are that high up in the flies the person on stage appears to be a Munchkin and you start getting dizzy from the vertigo. Seats nearer the ground where £40, £60+ which had I a massive disposable income to fritter away, I would have bought. But I don't, so up in the roof space we went. To be honest though the view wasn't tooooo bad. I could see most of Eddie for most of the show. He does a lot of miming but I caught everything that was important and he was so funny. Like so funny that I almost stopped breathing at one point. But, and there always is a but (could you hear it coming folks), once again the Kool Aid guy had followed us.
This seems to be happening every time we go out now. We first noticed this phenomena about three years ago at a Franz Ferdinand gig when some complete idiot in the crowd kept up a constant and repetitive cheer of "Yeah, oh, yeah!" for the entire 2 hours we were there (we left early it was that bad). Ever since then someone has felt it necessary to repeat this performance in one way or another. Sometimes we can ignore them. They kinda get drowned out in a crowd and if it's a really good gig for instance then everyone is jumping around clapping and cheering so you don't notice. But they popped up at the Ryan Adams gig that we went to recently and nearly ruined it. The guy last night, well, he didn't shout "Oh yeah" all the time but he did have a laugh that was about 5 times louder than anyone else. And he laughed at EVERYTHING. And he was sat right in front of us, yes directly in the seat in front of the husband and I.
Argh.
I couldn't believe it. By the end of the gig you could see about 40 really angry looking people all giving him evils for having been so annoying. I can't explain just how frustrating it was. Looking at him I guess it was just exuberance on his part. I reckon he was maybe 16/17 years old and really excited about being there. But so excited that he was giggling before the show even started like a five year old on a sugar high and he could not control the volume of his voice at all. I just about managed to tune him out. It helped that some brave person went and had a word with him during the interval- it made the second half just that bit more bearable. The husband however really suffered. By the time the show was over he was really tense and angry and it was only his British reserve and natural politeness that was keeping him from strangling the guy. So that kinda ruined it a bit for us. We didn't really get into the flow of the show so didn't get to leave with that wonderful feeling of 'wow' that you get after gigs and shows where you just get so caught up and carried away in it that it takes you all the way home and beyond.
Sigh.
But it was good and I am glad that I went as it's unlikely that I will get a chance to see Eddie again soon. Not only because of the extortionate tickets prices that he can command but also because he doesn't seem to be doing as many stand up tours nowadays as he is concentrating on his TV/Movie career (hopefully you've all seen The Riches and thus will be pleased to know that they are making a film version as well). The downside though is that we didn't get to bed until 1am and the alarm went off at 6am so today I am sooooo sleepy tired that I'm going to need to drink coffee until it comes out of my ears just to stay awake.
Speaking of which....

Oh, and P.S. I manged to knit some more of my Pa's socks whilst on the bus. I've nearly completed the first- just a few more rows on the short row toe and it will be done. That leaves me with two days to knit the other one. Ah. Maybe I won't be catching up on my sleep any time soon after all.

Cthulhu 2

Gratuitous link to show show you the second mini Cthulhu toy that I have made. I'm still so impressed with myself for picking up a crochet hook that I have to do a happy dance whenever I look at these guys.Only thing is that I rushed taking this picture (after getting paranoid about missing things since I missed a scarf out) so it was taken pre-wing attachment. This little Cthulhu is for a friend and I was hoping to present it to her last Tuesday evening at knitting group but she wasn't there. It did give me the chance to finish him off nicely though and he looks super spiffy with wings. Now all I have to do is try to remember to photograph him again...

Edited to add the above photo. Look! I remembered!
And doesn't he look just wonderful? I even made him a little tie using a piece of black ribbon so that he would look smart for when I gave him to his new mom.

Monday, 8 December 2008

I forgot to photograph it

I am so unamused with myself right now. I have just put Travelling scarf #12 (numbers are not sequential- this is the fourth scarf I have had) in to the post box and only afterwards did I realise that I had forgotten to take a photograph of it! Grr. I am so cross about it despite the fact that really it just doesn't matter all that much. But it's a break in continuity and that's annoying, PLUS it was quite a nice square. I ended up using a blue and green tweedy style yarn and doing a very simple moss stitch square. I had unpicked it about nine times before I finally settled on the stitch- it really needed something simple to show the nice mottled flecks in the yarn though I had tried a few more complicated ones first just to see how they would look. I also made some nice ring shaped stitch markers in gold and red that I thought quite pretty.

Friday, 5 December 2008

It's been a busy week

It's that time of year again. December is always a hugely busy month for me. I have three birthdays as well as Christmas to deal with and I have to try to be super organised with my money and time to be able to get everything done. So far this year has been no exception- it's been a case of hitting the ground running.

Last Friday we worked the open evening event at the museum. There where three of us doing the bug handling and it wasn't enough- we got totally swamped and things like breaks, drinks and patience where either skipped or ran out.

We then had to get get up early Saturday morning as my husband and I went to London to meet up with my parents. We had lunch in Chinatown in Soho (I ate so much Dim sum I thought I was going to explode) and then went to Vinopolis to do some wine tasting. My mum had bought some tickets for my dads birthday and via a long convoluted route that involved much complaining, got some free tickets as well so we got to go too. It was quite an experience. I'm not much of a drinker- I don't know why but it just isn't something that appeals to me all that much, but then it's not something I dislike either. It's kind of a take it or leave it situation and I'm just as likely to take as leave. So wine tasting wasn't ever something I really considered insofar as going out and learning the correct way to assess a wine. The 'tour' consisted of a learning to taste session, tastes of three different kinds of Champagne (none of which where any good according to our popular vote), eight tastes of 'standard' wine some of which where okay. It was amusing to see how between 4 of us we all liked different things. There was one wine from South Africa that I quite liked but everyone else hated. My mum said it tasted like burnt tires whereas I felt it was pleasantly smooth and quite drinkable. We found one really nice red Argentinian wine that we felt might be worth a revisit. We then had 2 tastes of Premium wines. I picked out a sticky German dessert wine for my first one and then had it again as it was so nice. By this point we where getting bored of queuing though. The 'tour' of the wines is more like a scrummage. You have to go to the tables that have the wine on (of which there are 3). Each table has a selection of about 6 different wines from say, 5 countries. You then have to wait to be served a taster of wine which you exchange for one of your prepaid vouchers. Easy enough but the queues where huge and you spent more time waiting for wine than enjoying it. Okay, so going on a Saturday afternoon would always mean that it was going to be busy but I think that they where packing just a few too many people in for it to be a really comfortable and enjoyable experience. Rather than it feeling classy, fun and effortless it ended up being a bit stressy and boring. At least we got a gin cocktail to finish the tour off.

Sunday was a horrid wet and rainy day. The husband had lots of work to be getting on with so I shut him in the back bedroom and went out to do some shopping. I had to do the weekly food shop by myself which is a real mission at our local Tescos on a Sunday. I had much dodging and weaving to do to get through the shop but thankfully found a cash only till which was a real break as it meant that I could walk right up instead of joining the usual mile long queue. I really hate the weekly shop- its such a boring chore so on this occasion I treated myself to some girly shopping at TK Maxx afterwards. I didn't find half the things that I had been looking out for but I did some therapeutic trying on of shoes (all very pretty but none fitted), rummaging through handbags, laughing at the awful tacky tack that seems to end up in the household goods section and browsing the books in hope of a knitting book bargain (they have come up before- it's one of the weirdest places to find knitting books and you only get one for every 10 times you look but its so pleasing when you do find one its worth it). I did come up trumps on 3 Christmas presents though. I got gifts for both grannies and something for my mother-in-law. Awesome. The final part of the day was spent trying to get some knitting done. I say trying as I ended up ripping out nearly everything I did do but I was working on a travelling scarf and couldn't quite figure out what kind of stitch I wanted to use.

The work week has mostly involved moving furniture (we are getting new carpets next week). I worked late on Monday, went to my knitting group Tuesday (I created fugly things with a crochet hook and sparkly yarn) and then made an emergency trip to see my grandmother on Wednesday. That's been the worst part. Wednesday was meant to be my catch up day when I could write my blog, sort my knitting out and get an early night but my Nana has caught a cold which has developed into a chest infection which has developed in pneumonia. The husband and I went over to make sure she got some food and took her tablets. I love my nan and it was nice to spend time with her but she's so ill at the moment that all I can do is worry. I couldn't stop myself from fussing around the house the entire time I was there though it didn't help that I had a constant stream of relatives phoning up to find out how she was. We were exhausted by the time we got home but happy that we had visited. Thursday finally arrived and my husband had to work late and I spent the evening baking a cake for him to take into work. Now that should have been all nice and restful but the kitchen was a bomb site as we hadn't been able to do anything in the house all week so actually it meant a lot of work. He does at least have a pimp cake to take into work today (no competition there of course).

So that's my week for you. Not terribly exciting really though busy busy busy. And it's just going to continue like this for the next few weeks until either I die or Christmas arrives. It's kind of nice though. My swap group for TSG on Ravelry are sending nice messages thanking me for my work and it's real good to catch up with family and friends. Today is going to be especially nice as its the husbands birthday so we have an evening in for the two of us planned with nice food, nice wine and a new wii game to play. Yay!

The arrival of Saturday will herald yet more chaos as we have stupidly busy weekend planned but for now I'm just going to sit and relax for a few minutes. I might even try and find something fun to do at work for the day as a treat for working so hard for the last 7 days. Actually, speaking of treats- I did do one really naughty thing this week (ssssh, don't tell anyone!). I have done nearly all my Christmas shopping this week (that's about £400 on to the credit card then) and just happened to be on Etsy. Complete accident you understand, and I might have accidentally ~hushed voice~ bought a couple of skeins of Angora bunny yarn. I don't know how it happened. I was looking at it and now I own it. I can't wait for it to arrive. It's coming from America so it'll take a little while. I so totally shouldn't have bought it as I no money to spend on myself this month- I don't have enough for presents for everyone else let alone me! but I keep thinking about how lovely and soft its going to be and it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Ah, it can help line my happy little place :)

Friday, 28 November 2008

The Light Fantastic

More knitting news for you all- I have, as well as finishing my cthulhu, finished my Pratghan square for this month. This is for book 2 of the series (see name of post) and I think I'm pretty chuffed with how it turned out.

I started off by knitting the blue square background and using intarsia to put the turtle and the sun on it. I then added the detail in by hand and embroidered on the fun bits like the elephants trunk, shell detail, baby turtle, and the discworld. The elephants ear and the turtles flipper I knitted up separately and stitched on afterwards. The variegated yarn edging was necessary to make the square the right size but I picked a colour that was meant to represent the swirl of magic that fills the air after the book has been read. I had to crochet this border on which was a new one for me. I really struggled to get that part completed but thanks to someone nice on Ravelry giving me some ideas it got done. I was ready to scrap the whole things at one point and put it through the paper shredder but I'm glad I stuck with it.
The next book is going to be harder I think. It's Equal Rites and so far I can't fix an image in my mind as to what I think might work. I'm still reading the book though so maybe by the time I've finished it I will have figured something out.
Oh, and it is square by the way- it just got a bit scrunched up in my bag.

Excitement

So you know how I said that I wouldn't ever do any crocheting until they made a left-handed crochet hook? And how I said I had a secret project that I was going to spill the beans on today. Well, guess what- I've only gone and done some crochet!

Cthulhu: "Mwhahaha! Hear me brief mortals for I am the Harbinger of Doom!"
Everyone else with fingers in ears: "I can't hear you!"

Ain't he just the cutest? I used the Tiny Cthulhu pattern that a most wondrous lady has posted on Ravelry and given all us mere mortals access to. There is also a blog accompanying this that has even more details than you can shake a stick at.
I've been thinking Cthulhu thoughts for a while now. This was mostly set of by the best friend e-mail me a link to Cthulhu slippers. After having delved a little deeper and coming across him in his many incarnations (most recently in Munchkin Cthulhu which is another topic for another rant as Munchkin is one of the best board games ever!) I realised that I just had to have my own. So I set out to find a pattern and after hurumphing my way around the internet for a few months I gave in and decided that crochet really was the only way to go. I enlisted the help of a friend who has been telling me I should learn this skill for ages and set to it. I think she quickly realised that I wasn't kidding when I said I was cak-handed and inept at crochet but she persevered and lo! Cthulhu was born. To say that I am feeling all pleased and smug would be a huge underestimation. I did manage to turn his head inside out before doing the tentacles so he has a weird ridge around his brain cave but I think it only adds to his appeal. And now that I've figured out how to do the pattern there are plans for more. I already have a mark2 cthulhu underway- this time with a spiffy red jumper, but what I really want to do is a giant cuddly sized version that I can squoosh when I'm watching films in an evening. Finding the yarn for him will be the trick I think.
Anyway, I'm off to play with my new toy :)

Monday, 24 November 2008

Travelling scarf- next installment

Sorry for the extended hiatus people- I have been either lolling around in the doldrums or zipping around like a very busy bee. I do have a number of exciting things to share with y'all now which is good though I'm only going to let you have a little taster today and save the really good stuff until tomorrow. Not that this scarf isn't exciting you understand but I have something really peachy to show you tomorrow- I just have a little bit left to do on it and then I can show you.
Anyway, here is the latest travelling scarf that I have just posted on:
Hmm, the pictures doesn't do it justice at all as it's really lovely in real life. All the colours blend into each other very well and it is so soft in the hands. My section is the top one with the red thread through it. I have taken a close-up photo of it
but as you can see- it's really not that good as it makes it look like a grey blob. I did do something a little more funky than a plain stocking-stitch block I promise. I used some slip stitches with yarn forwards so that there are little lines of yarn across the block in a staggered pattern. The lady the owns this scarf requested something in black or grey and that we keep it manly. I love how many different shades of grey have been added. It's like a little monochrome rainbow.
As I have done for the other scarves that have passed through my hands I have added in some stitch markers. I thought that I'd put in some really pretty girly ones on this occasion.
In other news I have been working busily away on my secret project. I'm not going to say anything else as it deserves an entire post to itself. I have also been getting on with my next Pratghan square. Well, more sort of despairing over it really but I had a break through about three days ago and I'm feeling much better about it now. I had been threatening to put it through the shredder at one point it was driving me that crazy. I think that that was all linked in to the general meh feeling that has been getting me down for the last week or two. Thankfully I seem to have shaken most of it off now and I'm generally in a much more productive frame of mind. I think that this is partly because I have so much to do now that Christmas is creeping closer and closer. I have three big birthdays to deal with in December- my husbands, my fathers and then my mothers (who has her birthday on Christmas eve), so there's lots of organising of presents, visits and parties to be done. It doesn't help that my husband is absolutely pants at Christmas shopping. I knew that this year was going to be both hectic and expensive so I started my shopping and knitting in October. Those presents that I have yet to buy have at least been thought about. I think I know what I am getting for everyone now except maybe my brother-in-law. Yes, you heard it I'm sorting out my brother-in-laws present. I asked my husband this morning about his lack of concern over all this and he protested that he had done some stuff for Christmas as he had already got a present for his father (he bought two birthday presents by accident so it's been sat on the side for like three months now). I pointed out to him that that was all well and good but it wasn't much use it being on the side in our house when his father lives in Scotland. I think I was a bit mean to him bringing this up so early in the morning whilst he's trying to drive me to work but I had this horrible premonition about the next phase of the plan and just knew that it was going to involve me going out and buying wrapping paper, wrapping said item, writing the card and putting it in the post.
Anyway, enough about Christmas as I'm almost bored of it already. What I really want to enthuse about is the Traveling Scarf group that I am a part of on Ravelry (yeah, like you didn't know that already). Other than having the chance to work on all these fantastic scarves that I've been showing y'all I've also been helping out on the Welcome Wagon Team and taking part in the Big Swap. I got my first swap gift yesterday which I still haven't stopped humming about yet. I really wish I had had the sense to take a picture of it as it is just so beautiful. It's a skein of Indigo Moon fingering weight yarn called 'Sunshine' and its a lovely soft buttercup yellow colour. Oh, it's so scrumptious that every time I think of it I get a little warm feeling of squee inside. Now all I need to do is think of a project for it which is almost as much fun as receiving it. Yay! I am definitely feeling a bit more cheery now.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Not quite there yet

Well, I'm almost back to normal. I still have that distracted feeling that is preventing me from really getting on with anything but it's down to fits and starts now rather than a full-time experience. I think it helped that we had friends over for the weekend which distracted me from the meh and after a few hours I was starting to get itchy fingers. I couldn't work it out at first but suddenly it struck me- I wanted to knit. Normally I sit and knit when we have friends over as I'm more than capable of knitting and talking at the same time now after many hours of practice but on this occasion I just hadn't been interested enough to touch it. Once I realised though that the mojo might be sparking a bit I decided that I would deliberately ignore it. I didn't want no bitty bit of mojo- I wanted the whole thing back! So I sat and ignored the feeling and it was almost getting to be too much and then our friends slapped down the trump card and produced the new Mario Kart for the Wii. This then took up several hours as we raced our way around mushroom kingdoms. I won three trophies for coming in first- once just among our little group and twice for winning outright overall mwhahahaha. After this glorious triumph I picked up my needles and started to knit up a storm. I worked on the scarf that I am making for a friend from knitting group and then tackled the next square for my Pratghan. I manged to intarsia a passable discworld, elephant (not sure which one of the four that it will be) and Great A'Tuin all floating around through space. Only problem is that the square is a bit small so I am going to have to pick up some stitches and knit a bit more around the edge. Better that than the other way around though- I can add as many stitches as I need but there's no way to take them back off again. I filled in a whole afternoon with this little diversion and finished it off just in time for bed. The positive feeling of achievement was just delightful and I think it's the first time all week that I felt proud of something that I had done so it was time well spent me thinks.
Two other good things happened over the weekend (and not just that we had lovely guests over). The first thing is that I got my new winter coat on Friday. It is my Christmas present from my in-laws so it's a bit early but I was cold and the coat is just beautiful so I wasn't going to put it away for a month and half. It is a red wool coat. A wonderful fire engine red knee-length warm as toast wool coat. It has a belt with a big buckle round the waist, buttons to do it up and a high collar that can be worn either flat like a normal coat collar or done up so you look like Wilfrid from the Bash Street Kids (only more pretty). I love it. I didn't expect to- I have been searching for a red coat for ages but with extra vigour since the in-laws said that they would get it for me as a Christmas present. I have wanted one ever since I saw one in Paris when I was on honeymoon. I have regretted not buying it ever since and when searching for this one it was the idea I had in my head for how the coat should look. This led to much searching through shops and on the Internet. Nothing quite matched up until I decided to stop looking for a coat like that one and just see what they had in the shops. A week later I own a wonderful coat that I am so so happy with. Just goes to show really...
The second thing that happened was that all the potential problems that I might have had with my swap group on Ravelry have just melted away. No need to stress there then so I am very glad that I decided not to worry. This has left me free to get on with sorting out my first swap gift (which is now complete and oh, how I would love to show you a picture of it as it is just so pretty), my Pratghan square on which you have already been up dated and finishing off the two remaining Christmas presents that are to be done. I just need to keep the mojo revved and hopefully all will be well.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Bubbles make me feel better

So after a looooooooong soak in the bath and a couple of days of not doing anything I am starting to feel a little bit more like myself. My knitting is still on stand-by though I have come with a fab little idea for something to make for my swap partner in the Travelling Scarf Group on Ravelry. I can't share it with you for about another 5 months so I'll try not to mention it again.
Talking of the TS group I feel compelled to mention just how great it is- in fact, it's awesome. Everybody that I have met via this group is just amazingly nice. One of members is real sick at the moment (much love going out there) so what do you think has happened? They've started a collection to buy her a laptop thats what because she keeps on insisting on crawling to her computer just to look after the group. How wonderful is that? It's so wonderful to see the outpouring of emotion and love that is being sent to her to say thank you for all the support she has given us. I've hardly been in the group any time at all and I already feel happy in my new found family.
The swap that the group has been working on has been going real well so far though I have a couple of potential problems in my group. I'm trying not to mention it to anyone at the moment as it's a bit too early to panic. Oops, maybe I shouldn't be saying anything here?- ah well, it really is too early to worry about them so it doesn't matter. Anyway, I'm off this evening to the shops to hunt down the necessary item for completeing this months gift for my swap buddy and then I can get it in the post next week. I really hope I've pitched it right- her main interest is in something that I know very little about so I hope that I'm on the right track. Of course the main problem with all this is the amount of time I have to spend snooping around the internet looking things up. I keep finding stuff that I want all the time. The thing that I now want most of all in the whole world is one of those little sticks and chart kits for working out wpi of yarns. Many of the patterns that I love turn out to be american and say things like 'sport' or 'worsted' weight on them which confuses me once I get into the shops to buy yarn.
Ah, it's that age old problem of shopping isn't it girls?

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Can't beat the feeling?

Then join it. I had another frustrating day yesterday where I seemed to spend all my time flipping back and forth between one job and another and not really accomplishing anything. My house is littered with bits of knitting and projects, my office looks like a hurricane passed through it and me?, well I'm starting to think that someone new has been put in charge of the brain controls and they are just fiddling round with all the dials and switches to see what happens.
So today I'm taking a new approach. I figure that if I'm feeling a bit dysfunctional at the moment then instead of fighting it and getting stressed out I'm just going to have to quite literally press the reboot button. So this evening I intend to go home, run a hot bubble bath and sink into it. I'm not going to touch my knitting, think about how much work still needs doing in my house with regards to painting and decorating or how much cleaning there is that could be done. In fact I'm not going to do anything other than lie there until the water gets cold and then I'm going to go to bed. Everything that needs doing to going to go on pause and I'm not going to feel guilty about it at all.
I will probably be thinking of knitting though. The next travelling scarf has arrived and is going to take some thinking about (although not much as it's quite a simple one really), I have to work out what I'm going to get for my swap buddy as her final gift. I have figured out most of it but not what I'm going to get as the final gift that is to be sent in March as it has to be something a bit special. I also have to work out what I'm going to do about gifting the organiser of the swap who has been working tirelessly behind the scenes on our behalf. I have to send some other stuff to her anyway as she has also been running all the competitions and sending out prizes but I think she deserves a little something for herself. The only problem is that she's been getting a lot of RAKs recently so I think that she's going to be stocked up on soaps, candles and yarn for a while.
So there's a few things for me to muse on. I think the important thing will be not to expect to get anything done and then I can't feel bad about my indecision. Hopefully this will drown the meh out.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Gratuitous linking to get extra competition entry

Go here for a chance to win a copy of the sequel to 'Friday Night Knitting Club'. It's a put your name in the hat competition and just requires you to leave a post. Don't say that they didn't make it easy enough for you :)

Monday, 10 November 2008

Meh

Harumph, harooo, am feeling a bit meh. I have had an extraordinarily long day at work and now I am tired and feed up and can't decide what to do with myself. Unfortunately this is not a state of mind precipitated by my day at work, it is something that has followed me since yesterday. For the first time in ages I had a whole day where I didn't have anything to do. No plans, no commitments, no nothing. And so what did I do? I sat around on the sofa watching House whilst being plagued by indecision. Nothing I started seemed to keep my interest for more than five minutes. I couldn't get comfy, I couldn't decide if I was thirsty or hungry, or if I was, what it was that I wanted. I tried reading, playing cards, three different knitting projects and still I could make my mind up and before I knew it it was six in the evening and I had wasted the whole day feeling bad about not doing anything whilst not getting anything done. If only I could have decided not to do anything to begin with then anything I did do would have felt like an achievement but no, that would have been too easy.
Instead I wasted a day, felt bad and then carried on with it today- though I did kinda get good stuff done today but in a very slow, boring, cold way that very few people would appreciate if I told them. What I want is a big, warm, furry project that has loud, brash results that give me the instant gratification and feelings of fulfilment and success. I am fed up with feeling meh but can't do anything but sit here and go meh at the thought of doing anything. A paradoxical situation me thinks but when the meh has got you then there's nothing that can be done but to try and find the reboot button.
Where, oh where did I leave that thing this time? If anyone finds it out there could you give it a good prod for me please? Even my knitting is failing to inspire me at the moment which must mean that its a serious case. Oh well, for this evening I will just have to hope that chocolate has all the answers.

Friday, 7 November 2008

In knitting news

Gosh, for a knitting based blog I seem to have been wandering away from the subject quite a lot recently. So in knitting news: I am working on my pa's socks and a third pair of spirogyras for Christmas gifts. These have kinda not been going anywhere recently as I had to first finish off my Pratghan square for October. The first month was for the book The Colour of Magic and I go a trifle carried away with it all I can tell you. The basic square was very easy to make- I knitted it out of thick black yarn and added in some hand spun octarine wool. This was the first time I had attempted to spin yarn so the results are a bit lumpy but I was pretty pleased with it by the time I had finished.I needle felted the skull on and then embroidered the rest. There are little links to the book all over the square- the octarine is knitted into a octagon shape, there are eight tentacles, the dice add up to eight, I worked snake eyes onto two of them as a sign of bad luck, finally the little symbols stand for Rincewind (wizzards hat), the luggage (check out the tiny pink feet) and two flowers for Twoflower. I am immensely pleased with way it turned out and can't seem to stop gloating to anyone who will listen.
The next book is the Light Fantastic and I have already picked out what I am going to be doing for that one- in fact I knew that before I started this one. I got the yarn for it out of the knitting groups box the other day so I am all set to cast on this weekend.
The other thing that is slowing me up is this scarf:

I got the pattern for this from the Ravelry group 'Almost Knitty' which hosts patterns that were rejected by Knitty for on reason or another. To be honest I'm not sure why I cast on for this as I have so many other things to be doing right now. I guess it was because I thought it would look nice in this yarn I had in my stash and one of my friends from knitting group said she was drawn to grey wool at the moment and it all kinda happened from there really. I've been enjoying knitting it. It is just complicated enough to keep me interested whilst be easy enough that I can memorise the pattern. The only thing I don't like is that it has an obvious front and back- normally I would refuse to knit a scarf with such a blatant error in it but I really liked the finish look and I knew that it would be going to a friend. It is quite a short scarf as well, more the sort you tuck into a coat than the ones that I usually wear that are super super long even after you've wrapped them round your neck three times so she should be able to wear it right side up without any problem. I'm about half way through and have been steadily adding three or four inches a night. Really I should be working on the last of the Christmas gifts but I can't seem to find the enthusiasm for them at the moment. Hmmm, the wips are building up again.
Sigh
Better do some knitting then hadn't I? ;)

Still on catch up

Can't believe how busy this week has been. I think it comes from volunteering myself to help out with the swap that the Travelling Scarf group is doing on Ravelry. I've had sooo much fun and have met so many nice people from doing it but it does mean that I've become totally addicted to checking my rav page every five minutes. I really want my swap group to have fun and for all of it to go really smoothly for them so I've been putting in a lot of time to keep up with e-mails and correspond with people. I'm gonna have to kind of rein my enthusiasm in a bit this weekend though as I need to attend to my own swap buddy and get her first gift sorted out. I have it planned but I need to go buy something from town before putting it into action. I shall say no more...
Anyway, in an effort to finally catch up with myself from over a week ago I want to share just how wonderful my pumpkins were for Halloween this year.

This is Hoshi enjoying a scratch. I was trying to get her to sit next to the pumpkins to pretty the picture up and provide some kind of size reference but she kept trying to get me to stroke her so this was the best that I could do. Both of these pumpkins are home grown. The one on the right is mine. My husbands pumpkin died so technically I win the pumpkin competition but I did say he could have the one on the left after the other snuffed it so he's arguing he won. The massive pumpkin was rejected by both of us as being too weedy- guess we don't know a thing about pumpkins then.
This is what my husband cut out of his pumpkin- a big Red Sox 'B'. My mum found a pumpkin carving kit for him via the internet that has stick on stencils and the most awesome little carving saw with a handle in the shape of a skeleton.

And this is what I did with my pumpkin. You can't see it terribly well (I was taking arty photos at this point) but I carved a quote from Funny Bones on it- it says 'on a dark dark night' round the top and then I attempted to carve a wood, a road and a town with street lights.


Finally, my best friend had given me the cutest smallest pumpkin I had ever seen when I visited Cambridge the other weekend. I decided to go with a more traditional approach for this one and I think it probably ended up being my favourite. It took an entire ten minutes to cut, scoop, carve and get a candle into.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Boosh, boosh, stronger than a moose!

Thursday last the husband and I drove over to Bristol to see the Mighty Boosh live at the Hippodrome. It was a bit of a rush as we had to leave straight from work and drive flat out to get there in time. We almost managed it- just 5 mins late so missed the first few lines of banter between Howard and Vince (aka Julian and Noel). The show was really good- both of us enjoyed it immensely. It didn't really have so much of a plot as their first theatre tour (which we saw on DVD) but it did have some hysterical linkages throughout the show.Some of the best bits were where things went wrong though- Tony Harrison nearly fell through the chair that he was sat on, Howard lost his beard and Rich Fulcher came out with a classic (and very rude) line that reduced the cast to giggles.
For those of you that have not yet come across the comic genius that is the Mighty Boosh then I suggest that you jolly well get yourselves on the case and find out now. Its worth reading the wiki link but you really want start with the first episode, first series and sit down to do some serious watching. Just so that you know the Iceflow song is one of my favourite bits from the first series.
Friday was spent painting, cleaning the house and hosting friends for dinner (after a quick nip round to a Halloween party that one of my friends was throwing). I trucked out all my knitting for them to see whether they liked it or not- mainly my Pratghan square though as I knew one of them was a massive Terry Pratchett fan as well. We had a highly amusing game of Munchkin that I won!!! but only because the husband let me apparently. Munchkin is rapidly becoming one of my favourite games as it is possible to win after having lost nearly everything you have with regards to equipment and bonus points. I am still an amateur player and haven't quite figured out all the nuances of the cards yet (it doesn't help that I usually have a glass of wine nearby when playing) but I can see this becoming a well practiced game in our household.
Saturday we drove to Hereford to see some friends and on the way back stopped off in Hartpury to see the Bee Shelter. It was a last minute visit as we only found out about it via roadside signs. It was freezing cold day but it was well worth the short stroll from the car to see it. I spent the rest of the day enthusing over bees and making zubbbzubb noises.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Miscellaneous items

Let me fill you in on a variety of other fun things that happened before I start on the really good stuff :)
Monday my brother came to visit me which was a bit of a shock but he obviously felt that it was time for his biannual visitation. We had a nice day out looking round the shops and touring the most horrible parts of the town centre (that was accidental- we needed somewhere to park the car and ended up at the edge of the hellmouth). What was most useful though was that it allowed an exchange of stuff. My mum sent things for me and I sent things for her. Unfortunately for my bro there wasn’t anything for him but I bought him a milkshake and took him to Krispy Kreme* for doughnuts, both things that you can’t do when living out in the sticks. Hopefully this made up for being a shuttle service for the women in our family.
I feel utterly compelled to tell you about one of the gifts that my mother sent me. In fact let me show you in picture format:

Ain't it cute? Apparently these where all the rage in the 70's. You just HAD to have a siamese cat climbing up the side of your brandy glass and a little mouse at the bottom. I can't imagine how anyone actually drank from them so they must have been an ornamental thing. Apparently the cats come indifferent sizes and colours which makes them more collectable. My mum showed me a picture of one a few months back and I must have squeed over it so much she decided to buy me one. This is now taking pride of place on my sideboard.
Despite being ill Tuesday (as I have previously mentioned at great length as I take headaches as a personal attack and not just a process of nature) I eventually struggled into work late in the day to find a surprise present from my upstream raveller (Travelling scarf group). Apparently she had been over visiting a family member and thought to drop off a little something for me where I work-


I was a) extremely surprised and b) chuffed to pieces with this gift. How sweet is that? (No pun intended). I’m not going to mention her by name here as it’s a policy of mine never to name anyone without permission and getting permission seems to be too much of a hassle for me BUT if you are reading this then THANK YOU! once again with extra glitter and gold stars for being wonderful. I’m still hugely pleased with it all especially as I love jam. Mmmmmm.


*BTW I feel that I should point out that Krispy Kreme has only just made it to the UK. I think that there are about 15 stores in the entire country and the nearest one to my brother is over 100 miles away hence his excitement at being able to actually visit a store with inhouse doughnut making technology :)

First of many catch up posts

I have already mentioned this but I have to start at the beginning of the past (which is the furthest away point rather than the nearest as most beginnings are) to be able to make any sense of anything in my own head, let alone yours. So, two weekends ago I was in Cambridge to see my best friend as it was her birthday. Because I love her so much I left work on Friday and climbed onto the grim, grim Oxford to Cambridge bus that travels via Milton Keynes and Bedford (also grim in my opinion but then I do only ever see the bus stations) and takes 4 hours. The buses are old, rattly and have a disturbing habit of smelling of burnt plastic. I managed to entertain myself reading and knitting socks for most of the journey and was feeling only mildly psychotic by the time I reached Cambridge. I had wanted to nap for the last hour or so (looooong day at work) as I knew I'd be up late and didn't want to flake out but there were a couple of people sat near me who had taken the cramped bus conditions as an opportunity to strike up a conversation. The fact that everyone else had to listen to it for over three hours didn't seem to bother them.
Anyway, this was all quickly overtaken by the fact that I had arrived and I was on the way to the pub. I met up with the best friend, was introduced to her friends and work colleagues, handed out her presents that I then forced her to open in the pub and went to the bar. The kinky stockings I had bought her went down a storm (teehee) as did her gloves that I had knitted for her. Unfortunately I was enough of a bonehead to forget to photograph them so I can't show y'all the mystery project that I was working on. I was very pleased to see that they fit and everyone made nice appreciative noises and admired them which made me smile. We had a great night out and as predicted, didn't make it to bed until very late. Saturday we wombled around the shops, stopping tea and hot chocolate wherever we could. We dropped in to a craft event where people were selling handmade clothes and jewellery. The Cambridge knitters where also there and if I had taken my knitting along I might have felt brave enough to go over and say hello but I suffering from a lack of sleep so decided to lurch in another direction. I got to meet some of the roller derby team which was nice though I was mostly asleep on my feet so they probably thought I was mute or maybe just plain weird. We spent Saturday night huddled on the sofa knitting and watching movies. The best friend is working on a wonderful jumper that is made from yarn that she bought from Shilasdair when we visited Skye at Easter. It is soooo pretty and I felt compelled to steal it for a quick fondle when she wasn't looking. Sunday we just lazed around talking shop about yarns, books and TV. I was treated to hot pink milk for the first time in my life and it was wonderful. I couldn't believe I had been missing out all this time!
The only other thing of note is that I bought the wool for making my husband a pair of baseball socks. They are going to be red and blue with little Bostons 'B's down the sides in stripes. The pattern looks a bit complicated but it involves learning a new technique called festive knitting. Having read the instructions I think I have an idea of how it works. Its just putting it into practice that is the hard bit. I haven't started the socks yet as I want to knit them in secret as a Xmas gift but as soon as I have made any progress I'll get some pictures up as the construction really is quite interesting for any geeky knitters out there.

An unplanned absence

Apologies people for my prolonged and unusual absence from this blog. I was a trifle unwell last week though it was not the snot demons that got me I hasten to add, but the migraine monster. I am prone to getting headaches as I have a bad back and neck so changes of bed (for instance) cause all my muscles to shift around and spasm. This then leads to severe headaches or migraines and I got caught out after a jaunt to Cambridge two weekends ago. The bed I was sleeping on was fine for the first night but on the second I was joined by my husband and I was forced to sleep on about 4 inches of mattress. I managed two nights before things went pear shaped- I woke up in agony Tuesday morning. This led to a couple of days of nonsense on my part before things got really busy and I was unable to be ill anymore due to having too much stuff to do (last week was half term in our county which meant that the husband was at home hence the hectic week). It does mean that I have a ton of stuff to tell y'all and pictures to prove it as well. Despite the awful headache I managed to do everything I had planned and enjoy it all. We've done lots of travelling to see friends, been to a gig and eaten enormous quantities of food. I also managed to get some knitting done in amongst everything else so have some updates there as well. In fact I have so much to say that I'm not sure where to start but you can be expecting a higher than normal number of posts over the next two days to make up for my enforced break. Hope you didn't miss me too much ;)

Friday, 24 October 2008

Travelling scarf update

Eurgh, before I start talking about scarves and the like I just want to say that one more time- eurgh.
I have been suffering from a horrid little cold all week that has finally decided to manifest itself on the day that I am due to be travelling to see my best friend and celebrate her birthday. Boo! Have been feeling crappy all week but now the snot goblins have moved in (attractive) along with extra fluff monsters that are making it almost impossible to think. To make things worse everyone else at work is feeling the same way so there's no sympathy coming from there and once I'm finished here I've got to go sit on what may well turn out to be the worlds most uncomfortable bus for three hours. At least I have books and knitting to keep me company and I packed a nice thick jumper so I can curl up and try and sleep if needs be.
Anyway, the reason for my post was to show you my next block of completed travelling scarf:

The only remit for this scarf was that it be in autumnal colours so I picked out a lovely thick fire engine red. I was a bit worried that it wouldn't be considered 'manly' enough (these scarves are supposed to be for our SOs after all) but red is one of the most evocative colours for me when it comes to the fall and I figured that it would look nice once accompanied by more sedate browns and russet colours. I used a very simple broken slip stitch to give it a little bit of texture for interest. This stitch leaves an almost plain back however so there is no really obvious right or wrong side to the scarf. The stitch markers that are pinned to the scarf are ones that I made for the lady that this belongs to. I decided that I would send a little set of stitch markers for each of the ladies that are in my group so I've been pinning them to the sections as I finish. As I don't know much about any of them however I've just had to guess at what people might like so for this one I picked out beads that matched the block that I had done. I think that the scarf group will slow down a little now after all the initial excitement which gives me a chance to finish off my first afghan block for the pratghan-along that I joined. I washed and blocked my square last night so that all I have left to do is some embroidery and a bit of needle felting to embellish it to add the detail in. This will have to wait until Monday now however- I'm off to party for the weekend!

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Further weekend fun

So after all the fun at the bug fair during the day on Saturday I then managed to make it back in Oxford in time to get to my friends house for a girly evening. I met lots of new people, the thought of which would normally have me hiding in a cupboard but I was brave and had a good time. There was pizza, Guinea pigs and watching of Heathers (which is film that I haven't seen since I was in my teens and made me realise just why I had such a bad crush on Christian Slater at the time. Mmmmmmmm. Still think it was a bit criminal letting him kill himself at the end of the movie- oops, that's gonna spoil it for a few people isn't it? Sorry, but I have a soft spot for the bad guy in movies- it's normally the man in black that makes me go weak at the knees rather than the hero of the piece). Getting to cuddle the piggies was the high point of the whole evening though- so fat and warm and squeaky!! And they make such cute noises when they crunch their way through lettuce leaves. Squee.
Ahem.
So I got home late and decided that rather than going to bed and getting up again an hour later to watch baseball I might as well just stay up and read for an hour. I set the game up for my husband so that it was ready for him when he came down from bed and watched the first three innings with him before retiring myself from the side. Luckily the Saturday night game was one that the Red Sox won so he was in a pretty good mood come Sunday despite the lack of sleep.
Sunday we finally got our carpets fitted!!! I am soooooo pleased with them its unbelievable. And they make such a difference to the house. It no longer sounds like a herd of elephants when someone goes up or down the stairs. The landing is all squishy and comfy on the feet. My bedroom has a floor that is one colour- it looks finished and grown up and comfortable. But the best bit is that we had to empty the back bedroom in order to get carpets in. This now gives me a chance to go through all my knitting, sewing and beading stuff and put it away properly in a wonderfully anal order. I can set my work area up properly- get my sewing machine out of storage and be able to use the space rather than just having a stack of stuff that we keep meaning to go through two years on from having moved in. The back bedroom is the most multifunctional out of all of our rooms. It acts as a spare bedroom, a library, an office space for the husband, a storage space for craft goods and misc sundries and as a work space for me. Except its only ever managed to perform three of those functions at any one time since we moved in. Normally it only manages one. At the moment it remains empty yet full of potential. The contents of the room are stacked in our lounge currently which isn't so fun for the husband and I but the cats love it. I'm going to start slowly taking stuff up over the course of the week. There will be much, much sorting out of things. Bliss.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Bug show

So I held off posting at the end of last week as I knew I'd have a ton of stuff to talk about today. I've had a super, super busy weekend but above all a FUN weekend.
Most of Saturday was taken up with attending the AES (Amateur Entomologists Society) Show at Kempton Park Racecourse. This is the biggest insect show in the UK as far as I'm aware. It has everything insect/arachnid related that you could possibly want from live specimens, to collecting equipment, to storage, to squishy rubber toys you can bounce off of the floor. I love going as it's a great chance to catch up with people. I've been going for about four years now and each time I go I have a great time. I spent this year wandering around with one of my best friends who I hadn't seen in ages. She was hunk spotting (normally quite a difficult thing to do with entomologists- we are not the prettiest race) and we giggled our way around the show assessing what was on offer. There was one particularly attractive young man who put me in mind of an elf from LOTR that won first place. As expected he has a girlfriend though so she was unable to pick up that bargain.
What I did get for myself was a couple of keys to identifying flies, some stripey cockroaches (I'll try and remember to take a picture of these for you. I defy anyone to tell me that they are icky after they've seen how pretty they are), some prints that I intend to frame and put on my bedroom wall and some stick insects for my husband to take to school. It was a fairly restrained outing all in all but then I wasn't on a mission to purchase much in the way of livestock and I have access to most of the books that I need so I only bought my keys because they where going cheap.
I also got given five Chile Rose tarantulas which was unexpected but seeing as how they are so cute and fluffy I couldn't help but be chuffed. There is one in particular that is just adorable expect a picture of her soon as well. My love of spiders is slowly growing and having to look after so many forces me to get used to being around them (we now have 10 in the department). One day I'll work up the courage to hold one but until then I think we will just have to be friends that remain separated by a pane of glass.
The really exciting point of the day had to be the fact that Bill Bailey turned up with Mrs Bailey and all the little Baileys. My friend and I squeed over this from a distance- I'm not the sort of person to go rushing up to someone just because they are famous but I do appreciate the fact that I've been within ten metres of them. It was also completely unexpected. I think Mr Bailey is about the most famous person that has turned up to an entomology gig that I've been aware of so far. I'm just holding out for Johnny Depp...
Anyway, getting away from that thought for a moment, I also got to play with a bunch of other live things (those with six legs not eight that is) including some of the most beautiful mantids I have seen yet. I managed to swap a couple of my red legged millipedes for some white legged ones which was cool and hopefully managed to encourage the people who run Metamorphosis (the ultimate livestock supplier and owners of all the mantids that I was playing with) to come in and spend some time in the collections.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Peruvian alpaca

Hmm, after all my alpaca yearnings yesterday, it seems weird that I should be gifted with some today. Oh, yes, you heard me right. I am now the proud owner of two balls of genuine Peruvian alpaca blend yarn. One of my friends has just returned from a once in a lifetime round the world trip and was wonderful enough to get me some yarn whilst she was in Peru. I asked her to get me any yarn, any colour as long as it was the same stuff that the locals use rather than the stuff that we get over here. And look what I got- one ball of green and one ball of white:



There's a 100gs worth in each ball and it looks to be about a 4 ply or maybe a little thinner. It's an alpaca/acrylic blend that's knits to a tension of 15 stitches and 20 rows over a 10x10 cm swatch on number 5 needles. Oh, and it was produced in Lima.
The two things it doesn't tell me is the percentage blend (though it does have good washing instructions) or the yardage. I'm estimating it at about 400m a ball which seems to be standard for a 100g of 4 ply sock yarn.
I have yet to come up with any good ideas as to what to do with it (answers on a postcard please) though I'm kind of thinking of maybe doing lace shawl over Christmas. I feel as though I should try and make something special out of it that I can keep for a while, after all my friend went to all the effort of carrying it around the world for me!

Monday, 13 October 2008

I opened the trapdoor...

Have just out for lunch with a friend of mine from my knitting group (mmmm, bean soup and hot bread) and I may have accidentally ended up in Port Meadow designs afterwards. It totally wasn't my fault in any way, shape or form I should just point out. But she was going there after lunch and I knew that they had yarn and I hadn't been in in aagggggggggeeeeeeeeeeeessssssssssssssss.
So I went in.
I just about managed to restrain myself from purchasing anything but it was close. They have a new and expanded range of yummy, yummy yarns. Previously they only had a few select lines and most of these where high end Rowan or Debbie Bliss (from what I can remember- it has been about 2 years since I went in last). Now, they still only have high end stuff but they have lots of it- and lots of choice. They have started stocking Manos yarns which I feel in love with the minute I saw so I was really pleased to see an Oxford outlet for them. They also have other Artesano yarns and some Jitterbug, which is great as I think I've only seen it for sale in other shop in the UK. So it looks as though Oxford might be crawling to the point of having a decent Yarn store. We'd almost have one if you combined Port Meadow designs with Brambles which kinda does the low end stuff. Oh, if only I had the capitol to invest and then I could have a yarn store all of my very own.
Anyway, of course the major problem with all of this is that I now know about it. Whereas before I was living in blissful ignorance, now I know that those nice yarns are there. And the lady who runs the shop just had to go and show me some wonderful alpaca yarn which was both reasonably priced and had great yardage. What am I to do? I feel like Berk who knows he shouldn't open that trapdoor but week after week, goes right on ahead and does just that...

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Lets go Red Sox!

Yes, game 1 of the AL final is in the bag. The husband and I got up real early this morning to watch it. The game started at 1:37am our time so we camped out in the lounge and caught a few zzzs before it started. Luckily it was a good game full of suspense and excitement. Not that I wouldn't have liked to have seen a sluggers game where we piled on ten runs or so but with DiceK and Shields up to pitch it wasn't going to be that kind of game. Game 2 is on at about the same time tonight but I think we are going to be sensible and not stay up for this one. This will also give the cats a chance to get a bit of sleep. They stayed up with us last night bless. Fenway came and snuggled down on my lap and watched the baseball with me. Look I have proof!

Travelling scarf spoiler

So as promised, here are some pictures of the first travelling scarf that has passed through my hands. I'm really pleased with the section that I knitted up for it and it was so much fun to try out a new stitch. I'm not a huge fan of knitting swatches as it always feels like it is eating into time when I could be doing some real knitting but I am a big believer in the process. You have to knit swatches to try things out. Doing these travelling scarves is kind of an ultimate swatch method for me as it feels like each little section is like knitting a swatch- it's about the same size and I get to try out new stitches but it's not pointless. It's going on to make something beautiful and useful and best of all, I can maintain my enthusiasm without any effort. I always find that no matter how excited I am about starting a project the swatch knitting bit beforehand always gets me down. But not with this- it's great!

This is the scarf so far. I'm only the second person to have it hence it's so short. The first section is double moss stitch and my section which is in the slightly lighter grey is a mock cable stitch from volume 1 of the Vogue stitchonary series. It's the first time I'd tried it and after spending some time puzzling out the instructions (vogue always seems to be using another language to me) it turned out to be easy as pie. I will def be using this one again at some point.




Grey yarn is a real pig to photograph though! The final picture should hopefully give you some idea of how the mock cable is constructed but it basically comes from knitting into a stitch three down the left hand needle, then the first (which would be the next stitch normally), then the second and then dropping all three off of the left had needle at the same time. In essence all you are doing is creating a really long stitch over the top to make it look at though there is a twist there. Sneaky clever- I love it!

Friday, 10 October 2008

A very insecty day

I treated myself to a new knitting bag today- I've been oggling these in the museum shop for a few days now and finally decided that seeing as I have been so good with getting myself organised for Christmas this year that it was time I bought something for myself. They are being sold as wash bags or pencil cases but it turns out that they are perfect for a set of dpns and a skein of sock yarn. I took a shot of the inside of the bag with a smaller ball of yarn in for y'all to see but I reckon a big 100g ball of Opal or something similar would fit perfectly in there.

NOTE: I have now tried this out and I can get a 100g ball in as well as the one in this photo which is a skein of Rowan cotton 4 ply (it fits in sideways at the end) which means I now love this bag even more than I did before.

I was so pleased with it being covered in insects that I then got a bit carried away taking pictures of some of the things that I have been working on today- as well as some of my favourite beetles . So attached for pleasure below are a couple of shots of the bugs that I re-curated this afternoon (all go aaah, pretty...!) along with my favourite beetle from this week.

The two photos above are species belonging to the Hemiptera (true bugs that includes things like shield bugs, cicadas and leaf hoppers) family Scutellaridae. All members of this family have an enlarged scutellarum that has evolved to form a hard waterproof covering for their wings. They still have two pairs of wings which differentiates them from beetles along with different mouth parts. Scutellarids tend to be well camouflaged with spots and camo patterns but there are some that go for the metallic shiny version as well. The species in the second photo range in colour from green through blue/purple and onto hot pink. The ones in the above photo are green/purple/blue as their colour changes as you move them in the light. They are much prettier in real life than the picture would have you believe.


The beastie above belongs to the beetle family Erotylidae which is the one that I have chosen to study. They come in all sorts of glorious patterns and colours as well as having interesting biology. Nearly all of the members of this family are nocturnal fungus feeders which makes them fun to hunt out at night. The ones that I am particularly interested in live in tropical rain forests of central and south America.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Right, I've thought of a compromise

One of the other projects (besides my travelling scarf) that I have signed myself up for on Ravelry is the Pratghan project run by the Discworld group. We are doing one afghan square a month for the next three years, each square being modelled on a Discworld book. This is the first month and we are starting with The Colour of Magic. Now, I haven't finished working out everything that I want to put on my square just yet but I have made a couple of decisions about things to go around the edges. One idea is to add in some octarine coloured yarn. Octarine is described a being a 'greenish-yellowish-purple' so, and here comes the compromise, I'm going to spin myself some octarine coloured yarn to use in the square using my new spindle. I have a ton of fluff ready for spinning thanks to my mum and it's in all the colours of the rainbow so finding green, yellow and purple is no problem. I'm going to make it my mission for this evening after I've finished grumbling over my choice of stitch for the travelling scarf (I found a lovely stitch but I just can't make my mind up as to whether it needs slightly thicker yarn than the one that I'm using. I need to knit a bit more before deciding I think). This way I get to play with my new toy, have a go at spinning AND fulfill my need for knitting as I only have to make a small amount of yarn that I will be using almost straight away. See, a compromise!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Check me out

I got 2 projects finished last night! Yay, I love it when I complete things in time for my knitting group. In fact, I think that's where I get the energy from to get them done because I love taking stuff in to show people, especially when they've all been so helpful and supportive when I was making it. I've found that there is nothing better for spurring me along with something than having other people take an interest in what I'm doing as it makes me feel it's worthwhile. And the ladies in my knitting group are just brilliant and hopefully they feel just as proud about the things I make as I do, as without them there'd be heap of things that would have been put aside or never even attempted. Speaking for support of the things I do, I love the fact that people are reading my blog and leaving comments. I'll admit that I didn't think it was going to make all that much difference- I mean I have always written my blog with the thought that it didn't matter if anyone else read it or not but I have found that it is so much more satisfying writing when I feel that there is an audience. The Lesser Known Skeins group on Ravelry is to thank for all of this, but you know what the best part of it all is? It's finding other peoples blogs to read. It's been so distracting over the last week that I have to keep on reminding myself that I really should be working and not giggling over other peoples posts or dribbling over their knitting. I have major amounts of yarn envy and I'm trying not to think about how much fun it would be to learn to spin*.
Luckily for me I received scarf 1 of the travelling scarf round robin. I now have a couple of weeks to find a nice yarn and stitch for my section before I have to post it on. The colour palette is black/grey/white which means that I should have something in my stash to fit the bill and picking out the perfect stitch should take up a lot of brain space that might have been diverted to other things. I have time after my knitting group this evening to read the stitch dictionary (I love that I will have a bimonthly excuse to do this) and come up with a few ideas. I might need some help though so look out for future questions on the subject!
Oh, meant to post this earlier- here's a picture of one of my newly finished projects:
Can you tell that it's meant to be Fenway?

*For those of you that are new to my blog I feel it's important to state that I am desperately trying to avoid becoming entangled in spinning as I know it would suck away any of my free time that I might have had left in my life. That and it would eat into my knitting time which is too precious to me for anything else to come along and remove it. Having said this I was recently gifted a spindle. I am managing to be good at the moment but then I have had fun projects with which to distract myself. These are now done... (eek).