Friday, 26 February 2010

The end result

So you know all that knitting that I had to get through- well I can now update you on some of it.
Those afghan squares? Well I got all the bits made up and then washed and blocked my squares out to the right size. Only they aren't the right size. After taking out all the blocking pins and measuring them again they are now half an inch too small. So I have to them again.
The socks that I planned to start? Didn't even manage to get them cast on yet. Won't be entering those for the Ravelympics then.

The good news however is that I did manage to get three baby items finished off which were very well received last Sunday at the baby shower.
The first thing I made was some little baby bootees. The pattern is Baby Slippers by Zoƫ Mellor from her book 'Adorable Knits for Tots'. I love this pattern- it's my go to for emergency baby gifts. So far I have made 3 pairs, each of them from a different yarn and in different combinations. It's so easy to adapt the pattern to fit each individual gift giving occasion. Plus you can easily do a bootee in an evening so its only a couple of days work to get it done.

For this pair I rummaged out some cotton from my stash- it's a 4-ply by Patons I think. I like it because it has a shiny thread running through it which is a bit different. The dark orange is the remains of some Rowan Cotton Glace that I used for my Sourcery afghan square. I ordered the buttons specially from e-bay (search for 'Waddles the duck').

I also made a Totoro baby bonnet from Debbie Bliss Cashmerino. I made the smallest size and it took less than half a ball of yarn making an excellent gift in all sorts of ways. The fact that it is super cute probably wins over everything though.

My final knit was a little hooded kaftan made from Debbie Bliss Eco baby. More on this in another post as I made a couple of alterations to the pattern that I thought people might be interested in.
All modelling by Olas the bear- didn't have a handy baby to dress up in my newly finished knits.

Both of the last two projects I entered for the Winter Ravelympics (instead of my socks) in the Junior event so I'm sporting the following with pride :D

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Knitting diversions

As ever, I have a huge pile of knitting to get through. Most of this heap is of my own creation. I have been in a frenzy over the last couple of months and have started way more projects than I can possibly deal with at any one time. As always happens at this point external factors start kicking in that throw any kind of scheduling that I might have had overboard.
Right now, as of 9am today I have to have figure out how to fit this lot into the next two weeks:

x2 afghan squares to be sent off at the beginning of next week along with notebook entries for both pieces (that are to be compelled along with other peoples into a proper book for the recipient). Afghan squares should be fairly easy you say- they take no time to knit you say, but these squares are the equivalent of my Pratghan squares as they are for a member of the same group. This means that I am procrastinating in the extreme.

x1 pair of socks. Easy enough except that they are to be my entry for the Winter Ravelympics. Problem is that they start in 2 days and I still have socks on the needles that I want to use....
plus the socks that I want to make are for my husband which means that they have to be huge to fit on his big bearish feet.

Baby things! Whatever I want or need to make but my deadline is for a week this coming Sunday as I have been invited to a baby shower! First time I have ever been to one and I'm really super excited about going but now it means that I have to find baby gifts. So my thoughts, of course, turn immediately to knitting tiny cute things for babies and I'd like to give at least one knitted gift- I'm just not sure how its all going to fit in. At the very least I am going to have to make a Totoro baby hat though. They are the perfect people to make it for and I can't miss the opportunity. Now all I need to do is dam my enthusiasm about starting other big project pieces such as baby blankets and the like.

So they are all my immediate problems to deal with. I'm going to be knitting full time in the evenings to get all this done on time. What I haven't touched on is how much other stuff is just sat there waiting for me to finish it off. I'm sure I can't be the only person who gets themselves into this kind of WIP pickle! To add just a little extra spice to the whole situation I have an enormous amount of things to do at work so I'm putting in extra time there and then there is Valentines day to contend with- not that we are doing anything special but I will need to devote some time and attention to the husband which is time therefore taken away from knitting. If I was to actually work out the math of the situation I'm sure I could come up with some kind of count down timer on this so that I could watch it all drain away before my eyes.
Urgh, what a horrible thought.

Monday, 1 February 2010

R.I.P. Videosyncratic

You shall be sorely missed ~sniff~

For those of you that don't have the pleasure of being personally acquainted with the store Videosyncratic then let me bring a little enlightenment to your life. Videosyncratic was quite possibly the coolest independent video/DVD hire shop I have ever come across. Not only did they have an awesome selection of movies but the store was just fun to be in. How could you not love a store that has a shelf of Burt Reynolds movies? And another just for movies with impressive mustaches. It also had a fantastic selection of world cinema, manga and series box sets. Their prices were more than fair and they pretty much whipped Blockbuster in every way that counts.
Only problem was that DVDs are now so cheap through places such as Tesco's and Amazon that people just don't need to hire them anymore. When you can buy the movie for the same price that you can rent it then I'm sure you can work out what choice most people were making. Throw in on top of that extortionate rent prices and a population that halves outside of term time because you're in Oxford then its a real tribute to how hard the owners worked in order to make that business.

The videosyncratic closing down sale started today. The husband and I went in to try and grab ourselves a little piece of history. For us the Cowley Road store was a big part of our early relationship. We used to have a little flat not all that far away and on the days that we were in need or just feeling a little flush with cash we would pop round to the Pink Giraffe to pick up some chinese takeaway and then trundle over to Videosyncratic to pick up a stack of DVDs. Many was the time that we snuggled on our sofa watching movies rented from that shop. All the films we watched on my hen weekend came from there. I will surely miss that store.
When I tell you it was busy in there though I want you to think of the analogy of a tin of sardines- it was packed! I don't handle crowds so well so after a little browsing the husband jumped into the long, long, long queue whilst I browsed and popped in and out of the store as I felt the need. We picked up a few films including Batman Begins- not my choice. The husband spotted whilst he was in the queue and thought it was the good one so added it to the heap. Can you imagine our surprise though when we got it home to find the following inscriptions on the inside cover:

The weird bit isn't that there are messages on the inside cover- the store actively encouraged their borrowers to leave a review of the movie (the top case is the proper one. The bottom case with the writing is the one the movies is hired out in. For speed they were just giving out both earlier). The strange bit was that of all the movies that my husband could have picked up he grabbed the one were I was the first person to have left a message. He was reading it out loud in a kinda 'look honey, people left messages' type way when I put my head over his shoulder because it was sounding familiar (the use of the name Dawsons Crack rather than Creek should have been a give away). He hadn't recognised my handwriting and so got a shock when I pointed it out to him. I think he was even with me when I wrote the original message. Hee hee. Aren't coincidences great sometimes?

They also stocked a range of graphic novels and comics. I picked up the following two- the Neil Gaiman one for me and the Old Boy one for my brother as part of his birthday present. I just wanted to show you them together for a little juxtaposition...

Friday, 29 January 2010

Pratghan revisited

I know I haven't exactly been posting much recently- and what I have posted hasn't been of a knitting nature. In an effort to get back to the point I give you two of my latest Pratghan squares. I made a concerted effort over the Christmas period to get this project back on its feet and going again- I've been suffering from an incomplete project problem over the last few months that has left me with a pile of WIPs the size of Mount Etna. This would probably account for the lack of knitting posts as I hate posting about things when I'm only halfway through. This seems like a bit of silly thing now that I come to think about it and I shall try to rectify this in future as well.
But I digress. Here are the latest efforts on my Pratghan project. As it stands I am about 5 months behind schedule and I have done a few squares out of order which annoys me immensely but at least I am back on the horse so to speak. The two that I present here are my recent favourites and are representative of 'Reaper Man' and 'Small Gods'. The Small Gods square is currently the reigning favourite and is acting as a great catalyst as far as motivating me to get others done is concerned.

Taken when the snow hit England just after Christmas. It was such fun crunching round taking pictures of things and it made a great background for knitted items. The square above did not want to behave however. It really is square I promise. I'm quite proud of how the stitched skeleton (Death) came out- not so keen on his hat though which I might take off and redo. The square blob on the hill is the New Death and in the bottom left hand corner you can see the Death of Rats. I realise that he looks quite big but you have to imagine that there is some perspective in the piece and its actually because he is a lot closer to you...
The Small Gods square shows Om standing protectively over a lettuce leaf whilst small gods swirl around in the heat haze over the desert in the background. Om is made from several pieces of free-form knitting which are then stitched into place on the final square. The lettuce leaf was a particular delight to make. It came out a little larger than hoped but I kinda like that- it will be a nice feature on the finished afghan.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010


Micro-pigs! Picture as stolen from this BBC News article (which links to the full story for anyone who wants to read it).

P.S. I wants one. Please send to the following address.......

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

And so a new year begins

A new year, a new start. At least, that's what my parents always used to say. But I have to admit that the new year is no biggy for me. As far as I am concerned the date for the new year, as laid down by countless school authorities throughout my life (and now my job) is September 1st. So I wasn't one of those people climbing clock towers or running around in fancy dress a couple of weeks ago. Instead, I was tucked up under a blanket at home doing a spot of knitting and only vaguely paying attention to all the noise coming from the television. The only thing that distinguishes it from any other night for me is the sound of bagpipes wailing and the big gun going off on Edinburgh Castle- watching the Scottish New Year celebrations has become something of a tradition in our house and that it is something that is important to me.
Or at least, something of which I am a little proud maybe.
Whilst listening to a sound akin to a cat being strangled I realised that my husband and I have now 'evolved' our own traditions for certain things- it only recently struck me because the ones at Christmas time are obvious ones, plus I had plenty of time for musing on things like this as I whiled away my two week break.
For example, we always watch the televised New Year celebrations in Scotland if we are near a TV. At Christmas, we buy one new decoration for the tree a year (tinsel not being included in that bracket as it seems to have a shelf life of about one week before it dies) and have hot mince pies and hot chocolate with marshmallows in it almost every evening (I know, piggish of us).
Which got me thinking about other little household traditions. There's not much else that we do as far as organised celebrations are concerned as neither of us hold any beliefs in that respect but there are other things that have arisen that are specific to our family. For instance, we always buy the cats Christmas and birthday treats. Now I know that that is a fairly common one and that there are plenty of other people that do it but it is something that rose independently in our house. We just decided that it was something we wanted to do because the cats are so much a part of making our house a home. We also always watch opening night of the baseball season for the Red Sox- we even go so far as to ensure we are wearing team kit, caps and red socks and we always make hot dogs during the 7th inning stretch.
And it is this that makes me happy- not the actual traditions that we follow as such but the fact that we have got a little rhythm to our year, that we have settled into our lives and our home and that these traditions have come to be. It's nice to feel that difference that comes when a house becomes a home, when you've managed to stamp your personality on it to such a degree that it almost feels as though you are wearing it.
I hope with time that more things like this spring up- and that I manage to notice that they are going on around me.
Which leads me to a question for any of you that happen to chance across this post. What little traditions have evolved in your house? and do they make you smile as much as mine do?