Friday, 29 August 2008

Totoro Forest Project


No need for explanations- just go there and bask in the majesty and wonder of it all.


Oooh- we got Ryan Adams tickets! Yay! Only found out that he was doing a pre-xmas tour this morning about twenty minutes before they went on sale and despite the fact that tickets are £25 each(!!!!!!!!!) and you have to pay £7.50 worth of charges on top of this (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) we still bought 2. The husband and I have only been to see Ryan once before despite having had two lots of tickets for different gigs. We missed the first one because he fell off of the stage and broke his wrist and I have to say that the second gig wasn't great. We had to go to Birmingham to see him which was bad enough ;) but there was other stuff as well- they started with three songs no-one knew, nobody could figure out which one was Ryan as he was standing off to one side of the stage with his head down and his hair all over his face and by the end of the gig the crowd was getting really restless and kept asking him to play stuff that they knew- so he got in a huff and left early. Not the world's most amazing performance by a long chalk. This gig is billed as being The Cardinals featuring Ryan Adams so I'm not sure what we are going to get. He may only do a few songs or it might be just a ton of stuff we know. The problem is that this will probably be the last chance- as much as I love Ryan and The Cardinals £57 is a lot of money for two tickets and that doesn't include the cost of the petrol, food or the inevitable t-shirt that I will be forced to buy. All in it will easily be over £100 and we just can't afford that kind of money. So the gig really needs to be AMAZING for me to want to go again which is really kind of sad as I love his music and pretty much all of his albums. I really like the stuff with the Cardinals too. Fingers and toes crossed hey? And maybe the old adage of 'third time lucky' will come into play.

Garden update

Haven't written about this for a while so thought you might appreciate the update.
The Runner beans have run away with themselves and we now have tons and tons of them- and it looks like there's tons more to come!
The Tomatoes are thinking about things. We have a fair few small green tomatoes hanging around on the plants but they don't seem to be getting any bigger or turning red.
The Pumpkins are doing well- we have two, one of which is HUGE and still growing.
The Parsnips are tall and leafy but not really putting down much root. I am going to thin them this weekend to see if that helps.
The Carrots are a mixed bunch- they are relatively small but oh so tasty...mmmmm, carrot.
The Onions/Leeks are small and useless. I am hoping that by telling them off a bit at the weekend this will get them to buck up their ideas.
The squash as still too small to be able to tell whether they are any good or not but at the moment I am am just pleased that they have grown.
The Sweetcorn have cobs on and despite the fact that they are very short seem to be doing okay. I have no idea when to harvest them however.
The Rhubarb and Tree Spinach still need planting out so will be ready for next year rather than this.
The Cucumbers are coming on a treat. They are still smallish and spikey and a bit curly but I have high hopes for them.
The herbs need harvesting this weekend. I need to find some baggies to dry them out in- or I could just hang the bunches I guess but the kitchen is still not finished so I haven't really got anywhere to put them at the moment.
The sunflowers have been great and are now just starting to go over. We should get some massive seed heads off of them though which will keep the local birds fat and happy over the winter.

In summation I guess that all that can be said is that things aren't as big or as far along as I had hoped they would be. I think that this is partly because I didn't put them out soon enough- or bring them along in seed trays beforehand but also because we just haven't had great weather. A lot of the things that needed pollinating didn't get done because of the lack of bees- one reason my tomatoes are late I think.
The best bit though is that I have already starting planning for next year. I'm going to completely remodel the garden in order to make it more efficient. I think I might only have one pumpkin plant, I'll build a better trellis for the runner beans, plant the seeds out much earlier and bring them on in trays first, not bother with lettuce (or maybe only do one or two plants) as we don't really eat it and hack out the ropey old buddleia so that there is more room for veg.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Fail, failed, failure

I didn't get my Olympics jumper done in time. I am a sad, sad bear. It was all going well until I got to doing the colour work on the sleeves and then it stopped dead and died. Every evening I go home and look at the remains and try and steal myself for a bit of necromancy but I'm having trouble stepping up to the plate. I know the finished thing will look great- it will have skull and crossbones up the sleeves after all, but I keep distracting myself with things like unfinished socks and christmas presents (a bit early I realise but there's nothing like being prepared- especially after last year when I was still knitting one on christmas day!). I have managed to get a Calorimetry finished over the weekend and do a bit more of my lacy bed socks (nearly at the heel on the first one now- wow!). I also picked up my skull scarf and got on with that after having left it to slumber for two months. I feel really guilty about not getting more of that done so I'm glad that it is coming along well now. I am looking forward to getting back to a normal routine soon as well. School starts soon and although it will mean 6am rising times for the mornings during the week it will give me a bit more time to do some knitting oddly enough as my evenings will be completely free. At the moment the husband and I keep trying to get things done and go out in the evenings as he has the time to spend with me so I've been painting and fixing up the house instead of more fun things. That coupled with the bad arm/neck problem has meant a real slow down in progress. But things have picked up recently and will be picking up even more very soon so we shall be approaching christmas all guns blazing. It feels a bit weird to be thinking about santa season at the moment what with it still being the summer and all but I got a bit carried away in John Lewis the other day. Plus it's better to try and spread the cost a bit as I have so many birthdays coming up in the next 4 months it's just not funny. In fact, my mum is 50 this year which is a big birthday and I would like to make a fuss of her insofar as possible. Ideas on a postcard please :)

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Soggy cat

No time to write a post today so thought you might appreciate a picture of a soggy Hoshi instead- she looks about half her normal size in the this photo! Teehee

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Celebrity spot

Ooooh, Steve Backshall has just hopped his way through our department. My ex boss Dr. George McGavin has just been touring the museum with him and stopped by on his way through to get his post. Steve had to hop as he is on crutches at the mo after hurting his back in a climbing accident which increases the aah! factor somewhat and lets the girls get a better look at his arse.
Which they all did I should just point out. We have a few volunteers and visitors in today, all of which are female and all of which burst into fits of giggles after Steve left. I should just point out though that I attempted to remain unimpressed and true to who has to be my default TV hunk, George, as I would feel as though I was betraying him otherwise. We entomologists have to stick together don'tcha know.
For those of you who have no idea who I am talking about then tut tut. You should have been watching 'The Lost Land of the Jaguar' on wednesday evenings (set in Guyana). It was the follow-up series to Expedition Borneo which was out last year. George has been on both; demonstrating both how wonderful insects are and how mad entomologists can be. They are set to do a third series in Papua New Guinea but they have to wait for Steve's back to get better. I think the phrase that they use in 'the business' is 'man candy'- and they couldn't be doing without that now could they?

Monday, 18 August 2008

They're all cute an' fuzzy

Have been doing some work on the tarantula collection today- not so much on the specimens themselves but more on compiling a usable checklist for arranging them to. We have huge numbers of Theraphosids (true tarantulas) coming into the department nowadays as we have a contact in the spider world. At least, I thought it was huge numbers until I realised that there are about 900 described species of theraphosidae. I reckon we have between 5 and 8% of the species in our collection as it currently stands but then we have a lot of unidentified stuff as well.
True to form I have gotten really carried away with organising the collection and started incorporating all the tarantulas I can find in the near vicinity. I have run out of jars twice and alcohol about 8 times. Luckily I have managed to scrounge up the things I needed and find people to help me write thousands of labels. I'm only part way through the job as I have to sort out all that has gone before me which inevitably slows me down. Luckily however there has been minimal work done on this part of the collection so it's not too difficult to do. I just wish that editing the catalogue didn't take so long. My back and shoulders feel like they have fossilised into position from sitting in the same position at the computer all morning. I have been doing a bit of surreptitious yoga every now and then to try and loosen things up but I think it's really just a case of going for the burn on this one and getting it done. The collection will look fabulous by the end of it after all.

Saturday, 16 August 2008


Hahah! Not only do I get to reference Jeff Tweedy (of Wilco fame) but I can cunningly link this in to my recent purchase of tweed yarn.
I have just been into Glasgow for the day to do a little mooching around the shops and catch up with a friend of ours. I had really wanted to visit K1 yarns- if only to cross them off of my list of wool boutiques but they are shut for two weeks over the summer holidays! Yes, that's right- SHUT!?! What on earth is that all about I hear you cry. How can a yarn store shut at any time? Well folks, I hate to break it to you but it seems that knitting just isn't such as big a thing as one might expect in Scotland. I went into the John Lewis in Glasgow today in order to get a shot of yarn-supplement (seeing as how all the others places had closed) and was presented with the usual line-up of yarns. Nothing jumped off of the shelves, the sock yarn choice was frankly just crap and I was stared at by tiny shop gnomes who obviously thought that I was far too young to know what I was doing and therefore should be pitied like the poor wretch that I am.

Grr, Grr.

This kinda infuriated as I'm sure you can tell so out of spite for the shop I only bought exactly what I had gone in for and avoided purchasing any of the scrummy looking alpaca yarn they had out. I shall go somewhere else and spend my money thank you very much.

P.S Tweeeeeeeeeeedy should be pronounced with the extra long vowel sound and at the highest note you are able to reach :)

Friday, 15 August 2008

Scotland ho!

I think that this is the first time that I have posted on my blog from another country. How cool is that? Very cool that's what, and not only because its a bit parky up here.
The journey up yesterday was a long one. It took over 2 hours to get out of the Oxfordshire area alone. Luckily the roads after that where nee too bad (as they say roond here). It did allow me to get some knitting of the Olympic jumper done which was an absolute bonus. I am now almost halfway through the front piece and about to go and add a few more rows whilst watching the husband and brother-in-law compete via the x-box. (Thank goodness for the knitting otherwise I'd be bored stupid watching that. It's some kind of tedious racing game with whiny engine noises. Blurgh).
Today has been disappointing in all other respects as well I have to say. We had a nice long lie in but I kept waking up with my bad arm throbbing as its a completely different kind of mattress. Where ours is firm and foamy this one is squishy like a marshmallow and full of springs. Every time I lie on it I kinda slither into the position set by the mattress rather than the comfortable one I was aiming for. I'd get used to it after a while but we are only here for a couple more nights so no chance on this trip. As long as it doesn't have any permanent effects then I can cope (crosses all fingers and toes firmly). After the lie in I hustled the husband up and out of the house to visit Troon. I wanted a nice walk round with a chance to pop in to all the charity shops and the nice wool shop along the way. The first thing that went wrong was the weather. The clouds have been really low and the light is coming in at the right angle to be glare so you have to walk around with a squint to be able to see anything. I then discovered my favourite charity shop had shut (I got a lovely green cashmere French connection cardigan from there last time. It's styled in a kind of french 1920s way with buttons on the collar rather than down the middle- and it only cost £3!), along with the wool shop. We found a nice sweet shop that sold handmade tablet and sweets from jars. The atmosphere was somewhat spoiled when the lady behind the till told us that she kept misplacing her macaroon cutting knife because she hid it in case some undesirable teenager tried to steal it. It really didn't get any better after that as we made a quick run to Prestwick so I could see the wool shop there only to find that that had shut as well!!!
So now I shall knit and try and re-establish the happy bubble. We are going to Glasgow tomorrow to see a friend and if I have my way about it, a wool shop as well. Maybe third time lucky?

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Part one down

and only three to go! I have managed to cast off the back panel for my jumper which I am very happy about. The finished piece is much nicer than I had thought it was going to be when I was looking at it whilst it was still on the needles. It is also much more lightweight than it looks which is good considering it was knitted up with a chunky yarn. Unfortunately I have been a bit over enthusiastic with my knitting over the past week so my arm is starting to hurt again. This may put the mockers on my getting my jumper done in time for the end of the Olympics- but that's negative thinking so we shall put it to one side and get on with things in the meantime. I'm off to Scotland tomorrow evening for a couple of days so I'm hoping that the time can be spent wisely doing some more knitting- it's not like I have anything else to do whilst I'm sat in the car after all. It's kind of enforced knitting time. I'm going to have to be a bit careful however as my needles are quite long and the husband will be most annoyed if I keep poking him all the time. Maybe I should change onto a circular then I won't have that problem but I really like my needles that I am using at the mo. They are a lovely pair of wood ones that I picked up from a charity shop for 10p on my last trip to Scotland and there's something that's just not quite the same when I use circulars. Just a different feel I think.
Ah, the choices we all have to make in life hey?

Monday, 11 August 2008

Olympic knit

To herald my return to full time knitting I have come up with a plan. Before explaining the plan however can I first just gloat about how wonderful it is to be able to get back to knitting again. I was forced to pick up needles in order to get my swatches for my knitting course done and since then have not looked back. It's as though the flood gates have opened- all I want to do is knit knit knit. All I think about is knitting and patterns and patterns and knitting. I feel so invigorated and enthusiastic that I'm just itching to get home so that I can pick up my needles again. Yay! I'm so happy!
Ahem, so on to the plan. One of my friends asked me on Friday if I was doing an Olympic jumper. This is a concept that I have vaguely heard about but hadn't really given much thought to. The idea stuck in my brain, however I didn't think that I was going to bother. I mean, the Olympics had started and I hadn't even got a pattern let alone sorted out yarn or needles. So I just kinda forgot about it until the next day when I got home after my course. I had decided to go home and work through a pattern, subbing the yarn needed for one I had in my stash so that I could practice the math and get it stuck firmly in my brain. I had a rummage and came up with some chunky wool and a simple slash neck sweater pattern that I thought would do for starters. I had great fun practicing my new found skills and although I had only intended to go as far as knitting the swatch so I could use the tension in my calculations I got a bit carried away in my enthusiasm after my recent return to knitting.
I am now knitting an Olympic sweater after getting half way through the back panel piece already. The idea is to have completed a sweater within the time period of the Olympic games- so 17 days. We are now into the third day and I am feeling wildly optimistic about getting mine done. I'm too late to join in any of the Ravelry groups on this but I will keep you updated on progress and have even gone so far as to add an progress bar in on the left so keep you eye on it!

Fenway is a murderous skank

Fenway ate a bird on Friday- the husband told me about it when I phoned to check in at lunchtime. It wasn't until I got home that I found the egg under the outside table that was leaking blood. Horrible animal had cleared out the entire nest. It's no wonder that he doesn't want to eat his cat food. I am now extremely grateful for the fact that the cats no longer rely on the litter tray.

The worst part of this however is that we forgot to clean the egg away- we had friends round on Friday so we just hid it out of the way in the garden before they noticed and then forgot about it. Fenway didn't forget about it though oh no! I found the murderous little skank eating the chick out of the egg yesterday afternoon. Eugh!!!!!! I had to quickly bundle it up in a plastic bag and launch it into the big wheelie bin out front. Poor little thing was almost ready to hatch as well. I have since decided that I am going to get an enormous bell to go round the cats neck. In fact I want one so big that he has to drag it behind him in the dirt.

I LOVE Ravelry

I just found the best group ever on Ravelry. It's for all Red Sox fans who are also passionate about their knitting so it'll be great to meet a few people who love to mix the two things as well. The group page has loads of great features such as links to Sox patterns, game threads that you can comment on whilst watching, trade watching etc but by far and away the best thing is the thread for Butt Watch 2008. Which, you've guessed it, basically involves lots of posts about watching Red Sox players butts. Mmmmmmm.
Someone pass me a towel, I appear to have drooled on myself.
I haven't stopped giggling since I came across it this morning and it really has just cheered me up no end. After failing to find a Ravelry group for entomologists I was a bit down on the whole group thing but this has just picked me up no end!

How to design your own knits part 2

Saturday was spent at Get Knitted near Bristol doing Part 2 of the "Design your own knits" course run by Debbie Abrahams.
I don't know if you guys will remember me posting about part 1 of the course as it was a couple of months ago now but to re-cap quickly I came away from it feeling not disappointed, but as though we had only really covered stuff I already knew. What I hoped was that part 2 would pull it all together and make it worth something and it totally did. Part 2 was awesome. It involved spending the day chewing the ends off of our pencils as we worked our way through the maths but by the end of the day it had sunk in and its surprising just how easy it is. Debbie was wonderful and explained it all really clearly. She had loads of patience and went over and through things as many times as we needed and tried her best to answer all of the difficult questions that we threw her way. She was also really encouraging about our own projects that we where working on as part of this course and a good teacher. I could go on a bit more about this but I think you guys will get the point without me enthusing any more.
My new skill set now includes being able to draw a specification diagram for items, knowing what body measurements to take, how to convert an existing pattern into different sizes and sub in different yarns, how to build my own pattern, fit sleeve heads, draw necklines and extol the virtues of tension swatches. I really feel confident in myself about being able to get things to fit now which was something I really struggled with in the past. I had lots of great ideas but didn't know how to execute them. I've now made the first steps along this path- there are still gaps in my knowledge sure enough but this was a great start and good basis to build on.
Debbie has written a book that goes with all of this which is going for a bargain price on Amazon at the mo so I suggest that you all rush out and get yourselves a copy if this is what you want to do with your time.
Get Knitted in a wonderful venue for this course- well, any course really as the shop is a knitters heaven. I bought myself some fantastic sock wool in acidic yellows and greens that I will try to remember to post a picture of when I get the chance. I also got myself a mention on my friends blog for coming up with a brilliant justification for buying more wool. Remember people, it's all about the justification!

Friday, 8 August 2008

The hole tooth

Progress report- my tooth is feeling much better thank you very much. It still hurts a bit as the antibiotics haven't had a chance to kill off all of the germs yet but the inflammation seems to have gone down a lot. I no longer speak with a lisp! I think this is mostly due to the dentist chopping away some of the gun around the tooth with a water jet. It's one of those new fangled gadgets that have made their way into surgeries around the country- I think dentists are just massive geeks really. In the bad old days they'd just get on and do whatever the hell they wanted without a thought for things like pain relief. The new wave dentist however has some much electronic equipment and gadgetry at their disposal that you can't move for a blip or a hum but it has made a huge huge difference to the quality of care people receive. I remember my mum having some awful experiences with fillings and drills hitting nerves in her teeth but she told me the other day that she now no longer has any of the old metal kind and that the process of replacing them had almost been a pleasant experience as it was just that quick and easy for the dentist to do. Apparently a filling that would have taken 20 minutes just to drill out 15 years ago can now be drilled out and replaced in 10. This makes me feel a little more comfortable. I feel much more at home with geeks and it appears that dentists are just one big brotherhood of geeks- how's that for a slogan? "Dentistry- the kingdom of the geek"

I can knit again

Have been unable to knit for the last month or so because of a bad arm (my RSI was giving me gip). I think I had gotten to the point where I was scared of starting again in case it made my arm hurt once more- sometimes these kind of thoughts just get lodged in one's brain no matter how irrational they are. Well, I'm doing part 2 of my knitting course tomorrow (can you believe that I nearly forgot all about it?) and have been forced to get back onto the old needles and do my homework. I was supposed to have spent the intervening months between part 1 and part 2 of the course doing lots of swatches and figuring out important things for my pattern, but as with all homework, it doesn't matter how interested you are in it, you always leave it until the last minute. So I have been swatching like crazy for the last three days in an attempt to make it look like I didn't just forget all about it. Of course, the more I swatch the more I realise that I really, really, should have thought about this before as more ideas keep pouring into my head as I am forced to think through the mechanics. Luckily I hit upon something good with my first swatch so I don't feel everything is a disaster. I should have finished enough stuff by tomorrow for all to be okay and although I will have changed some of my original design I think that it will only benefit from this. In fact, it's going to look pimp.
My lift to Bristol arrives at 8 tomorrow morning which is a trifle early for a Saturday but by the time I have settled into the car I won't care. I'm already getting excited about visiting the shop. The course is being held at Get Knitted in Bristol which is just an amazing shop- all stores should be like this one is. It's just beautiful. I've only got a small budget so I can't go mad in store (as much as I might be tempted to) but it's just so nice being able to spend time there and feel the potential that the place holds. I have a mini list of products I want to buy- some sock needles and a particular ball of wool that I need to finish a project but I've also allowed a treat for myself. It's not allowed to cost any more than £10 which means that I will have to think very carefully about what I want. But then that's half the fun isn't it? I can spend hours browsing around trying to find just the right thing. Sock wool is probably going to make it pretty high on the list of desires I imagine as it always does, but it is the kind of store that you can find unusual things in so I'm not going to make my mind up just yet. Ooh, the more I think of it the more excited I am getting!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Ow, my tooth

So much to report! After having been away for fun packed week of kitchen fitting I should have many stories to regal you with but all I can think about at the moment is my sore tooth. One of my wisdom teeth is making an effort to break through the gum (which is painful in itself) but this one has gone and gotten itself an infection. Ow, ow, ow! I had to have an emergency appointment at the dentists yesterday to get it looked at. The really bad news (at least for me) is that I might have to have it pulled out as it is coming through all wonky. Argh! The idea of having a tooth pulled out gives me the complete heebeejeebies. So for now I'm just keeping all fingers and toes crossed that it will sort itself out and I will be saved that horror.