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.


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.
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.
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 :)