Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Two sticks or one?

I rediscovered my love of sewing lots of tiny stitches last night. I was putting together my black cat toy from the craftyalien pattern, when I started getting a bit carried away. He's supposed to be modelled on Fenway, our resident Lord of Darkness, so I stitched him a little red ribbon collar (Fenway had a red collar for all of three minutes on Sunday before he lost it in a hedge somewhere). Seeing as how I had gotten all my sewing stuff out I then proceeded to make a needle roll for keeping all my chunky wool needles in. This involved lots more tiny stitches and I spent a happy half hour humming to myself whilst wielding a very thin and very sharp sewing needle. I used to do all my sewing by hand even on big projects such as skirts. This came from a combination of not being very good at using sewing machines and/or not having one to hand that I could use. My recent yarn addiction eclipsed all this and I hadn't picked up a needle to do anything more taxing than sew on a button in about two years so I got to experience that little moment of bliss one gets when you (re)discover something that you really enjoy doing. It was deeply satisfying and whilst I was moved to the point where I renounced two sticks for one I will probably be picking up the odd small project here and there that involves some sewing.What I do have to attempt to do is to stay away from quilting. This craft always makes me drool- you get to use the nicest fabrics and have an excuse to have lots of them. Fat quarters are one of the greatest inventions known to mankind! I keep telling myself that I can add that in as a new interest when we get a bigger house and so far I manged to obsess over knitting so much that it's not been a problem. I don't know how much longer its going to stay that way though...

Monday, 29 September 2008

I have blog jealousy

Have just been having a little scoot around on the internet on my lunch break and am now feeling 'yaerm'. I'm coining this phrase to describe how you feel when you find something really cool that makes you go 'yay!' but at the very same time it makes you feel 'erm' because its so much better than you feel you could do/have done. I feel exactly this way when I look at other peoples crafty blogs. There is some really cool stuff being done out there by some exceptionally skilled people that leaves my stuff in the dust and they have cool and interesting blogs to go alongside them. I added another to my list of things to read- I came across a lady who seems to do lots of crafty swaps which is something that appeals to me though the idea of having a deadline is and always will be, the thing that puts me off doing things like that.
Having said this I am part of the travelling scarf group on Ravelry and I'm really looking forward to the start of my first scarf. I think we are supposed to have it in the post in a couple of weeks so its time to give serious thought to what it is I am going to make. There's 12 of us in the group and each person adds a 4" segment in a two week period which means that its going to take about 6 months for it to get back to me. Roughly in time for the hot weather to be kicking in thus making the scarf a bit redundant really. Its meant to be for your SO- I wonder how many people will end up keeping it for themselves? Anyway, I have been feeling more inspired towards my craft recently so I hope to be matching all these people who are doing exciting things. Hopefully this will rub off in my blog as well so keep your fingers crossed for some exciting stuff appearing here soon!

Friday, 26 September 2008

I am a cleaning machine

Why is it that it never rains but it pours? I have so much cleaning to do- and I've already done a ton this week.
I got into a bit of a paddy Tuesday as we had a guest staying over Wednesday night. Now I'm one of those people who has to have a clean house ready for a guest- with clean towels and a freshly made bed. I learnt this from my mother who would have just died if she thought anyone didn't think she kept her house immaculate. I try not to be too obsessive about the whole process and have learnt over the years that I can live with the dirt a bit. I still like to keep the house tidy and in a reasonable state though having a husband and two cats tends to undo any of my good deeds before they notice that it had been done in the first place. I don't particularly enjoy cleaning which is the main thing that slows me down but I do enjoy having a good turf out every now and again and getting things arranged and away. I haven't really been able to do this in the house that I am in because we are invariably decorating something or other so stuff gets shifted around, covered in dust and has work tools stacked on it.
Anyway, I was stressed out by a whole bunch of other horrible things earlier in the week (like fillings and that three yearly health thing that girls have to have) and by Tuesday morning I was feeling miserable and crap about EVERYTHING- and my jaw hurt from where the injection had gone in so instead of wallowing in gloom and worrying about things I decided to be pro-active and get things sorted. I took the day off work as holiday, went home and cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. I spent 8 hours in all going through every room in the house doing all those jobs that had somehow been overlooked, forgotten about or just put on hold until we had time to do them. I scrubbed, polished, bleached, dusted and vacuumed from top to bottom until everything was shiny. The house looked wonderful at the end. I sorted my work space, shredded a ton of paper, sorted through all my little keepsakes and knitting bits and purged. It's kinda a nasty word but the process is so cathartic. At the end of the day I was knackered and just curled up on the sofa with Fenway and snoozed my way through Startrek, sure in the knowledge of a job well done.
I think that my recent efforts, or maybe lack of efforts, had been noticed though. After my Hercules impression was concluded the husband decided this weekend would be a good time to have carpets fitted. Which means much of my good work will be undone as we have to shift large quantities of furniture around and fill the house with new carpet fluff. More vacuuming will need to be done both before and after which may well be the death of my Dyson. And to cap all this off I some extra cleaning to do in a flat for one of our visiting researchers. We had to find her a place for a couple of weeks on short notice and whilst the flat isn't tooooooo bad it does need a dust and clean linen. Whilst I'm there I may as well break out the rubber gloves and have a quick wipe round the surfaces so before you know it I'm back up to my ears in cleaning!

Thursday, 25 September 2008


I finished my first proper pair of Spirogyras this morning. I had been having trouble with the thumb for some reason and had to unpick and re-knit 3 times which was incredibly frustrating. I am really pleased with the finished result however. The mirror imaged gloves are very pleasing to look at when worn together and I do love the freckling effect that the variegated yarn makes. I picked out a grey/white variegated mercerised cotton yarn to make the gloves from to match the Calorimetry that I have already completed. Mmmm, fluff and grey.
I have now completed one friends worth of presents for this coming Christmas. I just have two things left to do including a rather large pair of socks for my dad.

In other knitting news I purchased some of craftyaliens amigurumi patterns today for making kittens, beavers, squirrels and foxes. The kitten comes with a set of four different patterns in one file- they are all colour variations on the basic which is why. The other three also come as a set in one file. The fox is ever so pretty so I expect to be making this one first even though the whole reason that I was shopping on that site was that I wanted the kitten pattern so I could make one for our now ex next door neighbour. The second lot was a complete accident. I just happened to be browsing by and couldn't resist. They have other sets that are almost as equally cute. I suggest y'all go and have a look ;)

Monday, 22 September 2008

Quick note

Eeek! I have to go and have a filling done in about 20 mins. I've been trying hard not to think about it all day but its getting to crunch time now. I just hope that I got all the sesame seeds out from between my teeth (note to self: do not eat a sesame bar before dentist visit- no matter how much you try and suck it rather than chew).

Thursday, 18 September 2008

A few changes

Hopefully y'all will have noticed that I've made a few changes to the old blog-aroo. I have to admit that it feels a bit like I am selling out but this is all in preparation for going all out on-line and into the public domain. I've very slowly been creeping my way out from behind the balustrade in this respect but I need to start getting a bit more serious seeing as how the best friend and I are seriously considering getting ourselves an Etsy shop. So I've added in a search engine and some ads onto my site- these generate me a few dollars if you use them so please feel free to click away as much as physically possible. All these dollars go to buying yarn and crafting supplies which in turn will end up on our Etsy shop. The money we make from our Etsy shop, if such a thing should ever happen will probably just go to funding things like courses and the purchase of spinning wheels. We don't have any great plans for getting rich. We just wanted to try and fund our yarn addictions and hopefully pass on some of the lovingly crafted stuff that we make. I think that that is one of the biggest appeals for me. It's nice to know that the things I make are going to people that appreciate them and can see the amount of time and love that I have poured into them. Unfortunately there is a limit to the number of people like that that I know and they are now all getting to overload point on hand knitted items. I think that this is a common problem among crafters from what I've read.
Anyway, so the adbar is up and the search engine on. Like I say, if you could bring yourself to click on them I'd be mighty appreciative :)

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Bunny hat

Bunny hat
Originally uploaded by tekgirl
You can't see just how cute this little guy is- he has a bob tail and everything. I got lots of nice comments from the ladies at my knitting group yesterday which gave me a warm fuzzy feeling inside.

Innocent Smoothie hats

Forgot that I had pictures of my hats to add!

Welands Smithy

Went to Welands Smithy at the weekend when the best friend was in town. It's just near the Uffington White Horse and boy did we get a good day for it. We had a bit of a lazy morning on Saturday and then gently clambered out of the pyjamas and in to real clothes. We pottered down to Abingdon where we went crazy in Masons and bought much, much wool. And then we pottered further and went to see the white horse, the iron age castle and this, Welands Smithy. We had been meaning to go for ages and ages and after a long wait ended up the perfect day. We had hot soup for lunch followed by a stroll along a country lane in beaming sunshine. The path winds between grain fields and its lovely and quiet. There where blackberries lining the path, millions of pretty coloured snails everywhere and twitty birds a bob-bob-bobbing. Welands Smithy itself was nice and cool as it has these beautiful big trees surrounding it. We got the place to ourselves for most of the time. The atmosphere is a bit meditative. It's quiet, cool and enclosed- really all it need was a little babbling brook or well spring and it would have been idyllic. Instead I found the biggest snail I had ever seen in my life. It was truly massive and looked to have been years old. I was so impressed that I had to carry it round for a bit and looking at it every now and again to reassure myself that it was real. The best friend took good pictures including the one above and this one which is of my
favourite rock from the place. What you can't see in the picture are the little snails hiding out in the holes or the woodlouse who has left his bum poking out (heads in the dark so therefore it's safe!). I tried counting them all but I kept getting lost- the rock is full of little pit holes. I think it must have been lying on the ground for a bit and been dripped on at some point. Much of the Smithy has been reconstructed so it's quite possible. The one bad thing about the place was that there was nothing to explain it's name. I only know because we had looked it up via references in books by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. For those of you who want to know more then you can get a bit of info from here (though the name is spelt differently it is the same place) and here. The charm of the place is that there is an old 'myth' associated with it that a Nordic god going by the name of Wayland (also spelt Weland) once worked a smithy there and if you left a bit of money (a groat I believe it was supposed to be) and your horse there overnight then upon your return in the morning you would find your money gone and your horse re-shod. We had no groat or horse with which to test this hypothesis but someone had left 20p in a hole and I moved a snail so you never know- there may well be a snail clanging its way around the place now.
On the way back we picked a big handful of Sloes for gin purposes and then visited the horse and the fort. I think the horse is definitely one of those things best admired from a distance- it just looks like wobbly lines up close. After all this excitement we made our way back home, stopping only momentarily to chase some partridges down the road with the car. Somewhere there is amusing footage of this incidence. We eventually crawled back into house once it was dark and then curled up on the sofas and purred when the husband bought us hot chocolate. I think it fair to say that a good time was had by all.

So I abandoned the hats and ran

It was my final night of bobble hat making last night. I know that the deadline for FOs isn't for another two weeks but I've had enough. I think my final count was something like 42 which sounds impressive until you know about the lady who did over 200 hats. Crazy lady that she is.
The finished hat box did look very impressive last night though :)
I was meant to be staying late to finish off hats and spend time nattering but I got called away by the husband to do some driving. Ordinarily this wouldn't have been enough to pull me away but I ended up sat in a funny place in the room after people rearranged chairs around me as they arrived. The final result was that I had my back to a whole bunch of people including the wonderful guitar players who came along to entertain us. I'd been feeling a bit low as it was as there had been an alarm going off near to our house all night both Sunday and Monday which lead to disturbed sleep so finding myself awkwardly placed and also having had an argument with the husband about whether or not I had agreed to do the driving lead to me just needing to curl up and go hide in a hole. It's terrible really that such things should stress me out so much but I just didn't feel comfortable or relaxed last night. I sat in my chair getting bored to death making bobbles for two hours before finally cracking. On the plus side though I did make my husband happy which is something he has not been for the last week or two- I think he is feeling the pressure at work. I also got the chance to go to bed early and blessedly there was no alarm going off last night.
So Tuesday was a day of positives and negatives. Oh, and to explain the title- I had three bobble-less hats last night that I had to abandon. I did try and ask if anyone would do the bobbles for me but oddly enough they just weren't interested. Strange..., anyway, so I resorted to leaving them on a table and legging it. A bit childish I realise but I just couldn't face taking them home.

One final note: the hat count was standing at about 470 when I left last night. That means we raised over £250!

Monday, 15 September 2008

Aladdins cave

You know those kinds of shops that are so full of stuff that you almost can't walk down the aisles and so you have to try and make yourself as small as possible so as not to touch anything in case you get buried in an avalanche? The kind of shop that is so jumbled and disorganised that it seems impossible to find anything that you went in there for but nevertheless you still walk out with a black sacks worth of goods? That type of shop where you can unearth long forgotten and buried treasures if you scrabble around in bins and gloomy looking corners? Have you got that mental image in your mind? Good. Now populate a store like that with all the yarn that you can think of. Everything from fuzzy novelty yarn to piles of 4 ply for socks, baby wool, alpaca skeins, cheap brightly coloured acrylic to soft merino goodness. Add in needles, a super selection of buttons and some nice fabrics to boot, along with the expected old lady quota. Lower the ceiling by about a foot, make the shelving go to the top of the walls and squeeze extra baskets and boxes wherever you can. If you can picture all that then you probably have a good representation of Masons knitting and sewing shop in Abingdon.
The ladies from my knitting group had been raving about this store and despite the fact that it is only about 15 minutes away I hadn't manged to grace the doors of said establishment until last Saturday. Up until the point where I walked through the front door I was utterly convinced that Oxfordshire did not contain a single good yarn store. Oh how wrong I was- but you have no idea how relieved I am to be wrong. It's such a comfort to know that there is a good yarn store within easy driving distance. I managed to find the final ball of wool that I needed to finish off my tank top and the sock wool selection- well that had me in raptures alone. Between the best friend and I we managed to fill a shopping basket with yarn. I think the total came to something like 17 balls and we could have managed so much more. It was only through sheer will power that we managed to restrain ourselves anymore than that. I stocked up on all the yarn that I needed to make christmas presents whilst having a good session of retail therapy. So it's completely justified as well.
Hmmmm, just thinking about it still makes me want to curl up in a corner with all my yarn and chuckle quietly to myself.

Friday, 12 September 2008

The knitting progresses

So many hats.... I seem to have momentarily lost count of the number of bobble hats that I have made. I do know however that about half of the hats that I have made are still lacking bobbles. The significant other has been working hard on his school work all week so has been excused for a bit so I am going to have to try and tackle this problem myself this weekend me thinks. On the plus side my best friend is visiting and can probably be bribed with chocolate to lend a bobble-hand.
The deadline for hat completion has been set by my knitting group. I think the return date according to Innocent Smoothies goes into October but I am sticking to the groups imposed deadline of next Tuesday (the 16th) so that I can include mine in their postage bundle but also so that I can finally get on with doing something else with my time. I have so many projects on needles at the moment it is just not funny- and many of them are things that I've really been enjoying making but just haven't found the time to complete. I have just reached the heel on my cashmere socks which I'm really looking forward to doing and my Olympics jumper could really do with being finished off. I only have the sleeves to go and after tidying my jumpers yesterday I have reaffirmed my belief that I could really do with a new jumper or two for the winter . It has just started getting cold in the mornings now and an extra layer would be very much appreciated. There's also the new issue of Knitty to take into consideration. It only came out yesterday and I have bookmarked about 5 projects onto my Ravelry list already. There are a couple of projects where I think I will be able to sub in some of my really posh yarn from Shilsadair into the pattern which makes me want to sit and go 'squee!'. It's definitely time to get a move on with a few things. I need to get Christmas sorted out, have a good rummage in my stash and tidy things up a bit. There's stuff in there that I should have a go at using and probably some stuff that I have forgotten about by now. My mum bought me a whole load of lovely wool for my birthday, none of which has been ear-marked for projects yet. I can have a ton of fun just working out what I'm going to do with it let alone actually using said yarns. Ooh, am so glad I have a knitting buddy coming to stay for the weekend. It will be double the fun with two of us!! :p

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

No sugar for me

Argh! Went to the dentists yesterday to have my gnashers checked out and it turns out that I need a filling. Am very upset. I had managed to make it all the way to 27 years of age before needing my first filling- that's not bad really I guess but I was hoping to go for a bit longer. No surprises though that it turned up on one of my molars. I have had weird plastic coatings put on those teeth to help prevent this as all my teeth have lots of ridges and cracks running through them- I obviously didn't take in enough calcium when I was little despite drinking gallons of milk. Maybe a fluoride deficiency then. Well, a deficiency somewhere at any rate and it has led to me having teeth that are prone to cavities and decay. Knowing this then maybe I really haven't done too badly. The last time I went to see a dentist was in my first year of university which is about 7 years ago now.
So anyway, a filling I must now have. Well, shouldn't be too bad- it's only a small hole and it won't take too long to fill in. After that I have an appointment (and a posh private one at that) to see the hygienist who will polish and buff my teeth until they are sparkly white and go ting when I smile. At least that had better be what happens otherwise it will not justify the amount of cash that will be sucked out of my bank account to get all this work done. Looks like I will be making more xmas presents this year than I had first anticipated!

Friday, 5 September 2008

Bobble madness

Okay, so this is going to be my third hat update post in a row but then its pretty much all I have been doing with my free time over the last day or so. My hat count is now up to 10 though the bobble count is much lower than this- the husband is supposed to be doing the bobbles for me but he got in a huff after the second one last night so I'm not sure how many more I'll get out of him. Which means that I'll have to make the blasted bobbles which is something I loathe. It will slow me down significantly as well. I can now knit a hat a lot faster than I can make a bobble for it. Maybe I'll just to have to bribe some people with cake or something to make bobbles for me but then the options for people to bribe are pretty low. I think what I'll have to do it make all the little hats that I want to and save all the bobbles until the end. Then I can go on a bobble making mission extraordinaire. It will be painful and it may well break me but it's the only way that I can bring myself to do it. I think strength can be found by rewarding myself with ice-cream when it's all over.
One really fun thing about doing the hats though is getting to use up a bunch of my stashed scrap yarn. When I first started knitting I used to avidly collect all the yarn I could find from charity shops and e-bay. Partly so that I could have a play around with just creating stuff and partly so that I could try out different yarns; colours, weights, textures, that kind of thing so I could get a better idea of what I liked and how it affected things like tension and finished textile. They are also quite useful for toy making I've found as at the very least it means that you have something to stuff the toy with. But I digress. So not only is a good way to get to test run all this stuff it's also great for getting rid of all that yarn that I've decided I hate. I have a number of mini balls of yarn that are things I've decided that I will just never use for one reason or another. In a lot of cases it's just the colour that I object to but there's also some variegated yarn in there that creeps me out and some strange braided stuff that splits as soon as I look at it. It does mean that I find many of my hats really ugly and I'm slightly ashamed to admit that they are mine in public (which is why I'm unlikely to ever get round to posting pictures of them) but I figure that someone might like them. I can't do them all to my taste as these are being bought by members of the general public and there's no knowing what they might go for. I have to remind myself of this when I see other people FO's. Maybe it's not something that I like all that much but they obviously do if they have gone to all the effort of creating it. Besides I'd hate it if everyone liked the same stuff as each other- it would be so completely boring. Okay, maybe there would be less conflict but also less creativity I think and that could never be a good thing. I mean, if people weren't driven to create patterns for knitting skulls then where would we be?

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Hat update

Forgot to take the digital camera with me last night which was a bit silly. What I did remember to make and take with me was a flip chart with numbers so that we could keep a running total of hats as we made them. That at least made me feel a bit clever and it was good to see that we had made over 75 hats by the time I left last night.
The group was super busy last night what with extra people turning up to make bobble hats which was a bit overwhelming but good fun. Lots of nattering and the exciting news that one of our group members is going to cost putting together a trip to the Shetland Isles for us. I think there will be a mini bus of about 12 spaces which is amazing- it's probably the only time I will ever get to go as I'm one of those people that thinks that if I'm going to save for a trip it might as well be something truly exotic. Which is all well and good but I do tend to over look the fun stuff that is closer to home. Our trip to Skye at Easter was great fun and I found those parts of Scotland just as beautiful and enchanting as jungles of South America. It's just a different kind of beauty and a different kind of feeling that you get- but equally as powerful either way.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Bobble hat time

It's that time of year again folks- yes, time to knit tiny bobble hats! I'm trying to be enthusiastic about as I hope you can tell. It IS a great return on the effort. For every hat we make 50p gets donated to Help the Aged so it definitely well worth doing.
It's just that it really doesn't feel like a year ago that we sat down to make bobble hats. I got a bit sick of it in the end. By about the 12th one I was ready to throw my needles in the air and run like hell. This time however I have a plan- I'm not going to make bobbles. That bit seems to take as long as knitting the actual hat and I think is the bit that I got sick of. The actual knitting part is fine so therefore it must be the bobbles. Hence bobble-avoidance tactic has come into play.

For all of y'all that don't know what I'm talking about then you really need to visit the Innocent Smoothie website and check out the section on the Big Knit 2008. I have added a hatometer to the side of my blog so that you can all keep up with the progress but more because it amused me than anything else.
It's also worth checking out their flickr page as well which has pictures of all the tiny hats that people are making.