Sunday, February 26, 2006

Across the finishing line...

Phew. Made it, with about 3 hours to spare!

The sleeves of the second jumper actually went quite quickly, considering I didn't cast on the first until well into Knit Lincs yesterday and I cast off the second by the end of Casualty last night! Thank God it was the smallest size jumper. The Psychedelic one has buttons on one shoulder, the blue one doesn't, but only because I forgot that I intended to do that!

So now it's time to say thank you to all the people who made it possible. First of all Team GB and all the other lovely knitbloggers out there who've been cheering me on!

And to my nutritionist and physio - Mum!

I always knew it would come in handy having a retired physiotherapist for a Mum!
And to Sooty and Monkey (exactly how much support did I get from Monkey? He likes appearing in photos but doesn't do a great deal else).

Sooty at least sat on my knee to encourage the knitting:

And now I need to do the washing up:

Those are all the mugs, glasses and spoons I possess! The lovely tea from my SP7 was very refreshing too! Thank you SP!

Ooh and I should also thank Green & Black's for their continuing support. Couldn't have done it without you! ;-)

So how's the experience been for me?
  • I've learnt that I can stick to one project at a time!
  • I can also knit faster than I thought, and comparing these two jumpers with the ones (Jumper #1 and Jumper #2) I sent off to Feed the Children last year my knitting skills have also improved dramatically!
  • It's been fun finding out just how much I can get done in the time available and also if I stick to one project. I'm not planning to stick to just one project in future but I will try not to have quite so many WIPs (OK. Who am I kidding?!).
  • Another bonus has been finding some new blogs to read & reading about everyone else's Olympic experiences. And hearing about them on podcasts!
  • But I've hardly watched any of the real Olympics at all. In fact only the opening ceremony. Oops.
So, next stop is - my secret project, the other Jaywalker, the rest of my Cranberry Chamonix pattern. Then it's Mother's Day in March, so I want to get a facecloth done for that.

The other ironic thing is that after spending the last 16 days hurtling around the country in my car and on the train, working all sorts of hours, I now only have 3.5 days work over the next fortnight!

Friday, February 24, 2006

I'm back!

Should probably explain. I work away from home for about half of each week and don't have internet access then. Which is why I tend to splurge on posts (and comments on other people's blogs) towards the end of the week/at weekends. And apologies if you've left me a comment and I haven't replied yet - just working my way through some invoices/boring work stuff/blog catching up...

One evening this week whilst I was down in Norfolk I went to visit my godmother's friend Doreen who lent me some knitting and rag rug books a while ago. I got to visit her stash whilst I was there and have reached the conclusion that I am a failure in terms of stash acquisition. Mine is about 1/20th the size of hers. She also has a beautiful room at the top of her house devoted to crafty things with a knitting machine set up, lots of yarn on cones and in balls around and skylights to let plenty of light in. So my yarn diet is officially over (for the time being. I finally got paid this week too!)

So, Coldspring Mill sent me an email (I'd contacted them months ago about cheap Debbie Bliss yarn but they didn't have any in then. The email was to tell me that they now do!). The cone on the right of the pic is just over 1kg of Debbie Bliss Cotton Cashmere, which only cost around £20! (RRP would have been about £80!!!!). The colour is plummier than it appears below. I do have some ideas for this, although very much in the future once some WIPs are finished.
**forgot to say. To get your paws on the yarn at Coldspring you have to ring them up or email, they don't have the yarn on the website (just lots of camping equipment!). But they are lovely and helpful over the phone and on email!!**

Then I couldn't resist a visit to Creative Crafts - where I picked up the Finishing Techniques for Hand knitters book (which I'd been wanting for a while, it has good, clear pics) and two balls of wool from Norfolk (Southdown) sheep! BAAAAAAAAAAAAA.

My attempts at getting Monkey to act as chauffeur came to nothing. He wanted too many bananas for it (he is SO greedy) so I had to do all the driving myself this week. Before I left home on Monday I got the sleeves sewn onto Psychedelic Stripes:

Just the neck to finish off on there and some buttons to sew on. Then I got the front (or back) of jumper #2 done in the evenings whilst I was at a B & B and the back (or front) done on the London train yesterday:

This is the smallest size and I'm knitting flat rather than in the round as it wasn't very comfortable on that circumference. Just two sleeves and some sewing to go then - so one sleeve tonight, one sleeve tomorrow and sewing up on Sunday? Still in with a chance of getting finished in time then?!?!

Have just downloaded two new podcasts - Musings of a Peaceful Knitter and Pointy Sticks.
Maybe I'm getting a little obsessed with knitting podcasts, but now I've got itunes on my laptop I download them all over the weekend, then I have the laptop with me at work and in the B & B in the evenings and loads of knitting stuff to listen to! :-) What I like is that they're so different (so far) - not just in whether they have just talk or talk n' music but the way the presenters come across and talk about their knitting and other activities. I love hearing about the Fibre stuff on FiberCast, even though I haven't got the foggiest about spinning! Did you hear the anniversary broadcast of Knitcast, where Marie spoke to lots of other Knit Podcasters?

Also, I vaguely knew that occasionally books get retitled depending on which side of the Atlantic they're coming out. But I was highly amused to spot a book called "More Afghan squares to Knit" on the Webs website. The cover was very very familiar. Then I realised it was the same book I got out the library a few weeks ago, but called "More blankets and throws to knit" on this side of the pond! So thinking about it, we wouldn't wrap up warm in an Afghan cos we'd be wrapped up in a blanket or throw, and vice versa in the US? So what happens in Canada, Australia, Europe etc etc. If you're cold what do you wrap yourself in?!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Finding more time...

No. 1 jumper (the psychedelic stripey one) is completely knitted, but still needs sewing together and buttons attaching. No. 2 hasn't been started yet. I have come up with a cunning plan to gain more knitting time next week - having worked out that I'll be spending about 12 hours driving (isn't that dreadful, it's half a day of this week behind the wheel?!) I decided that employing a chauffeur would gain me 12 extra hours of knitting. So:

Monkey is finally earning his keep. I can see four slight problems with this:
  1. He can't see over the steering wheel.
  2. He can't reach the pedals.
  3. He can't reach the steering wheel & gear stick
  4. If we drive past a fruit shop he's liable to swerve straight off the road into it. Especially if they have bananas displayed prominently.
Maybe this isn't such a good idea after all?

Otherwise, I've been regretting the fact that the Olympics coincide with the end of the month (=frantic scramble at work). I also have no idea where I'm working in March, which is, erm, next week! The joys of self-employment - although at least I know that I have work next week, just not whether it's in Norfolk or Derbyshire (so only a slight difference there then!)

Can't decide what to do about UKHK. I usually read the messages on the website but can't see the point of clicking through them all as there are so many nasty and/or silly ones. So have gone onto Digest so can quickly whizz down 25 messages at once with only one click! I might leave altogether, but that would be a shame cos I have met some lovely people, found lots of interesting places to stash enhance and also been introduced to mountains of information about knitting. There is something weird going on with the Angel Yarns slagging off thing, I suspect. Someone sent an email complaining about them in her first post (making me wonder why she joined the list and whether she's connected to the person they sacked?). Also loads of people complained about them on the list, but as Tess said, only four (I think) people from that actually came forward with things she could follow through. Several of the names hadn't ordered from them at all and just seemed to be jumping on a bandwagon (weird or what?) So, anyway, I'm going to ignore all that and will try Angel Yarns again in the future. They've kept me waiting once for some Addis, but otherwise have been friendly and helpful.
Anyway, I'm going to keep an eye on UKHK and see how much nasty stuff there is and how much is useful/relevant/interesting/funny and then make my mind up.

Not much has been going on this weekend. I've ended up doing some work both today and on Saturday to get caught up with myself. Oh and I sorted out a load of my kitchen stuff (which has been living outside as there isn't room for it in my kitchen). I discovered an out-of-date bottle of blue food colouring (which I used when I lived in a Hall of Residence to dye my milk to stop everyone else stealing it). So have been looking at dyeing with food colouring!! Fun. Any one got any more useful links for that?

Oh and I've bought some new clothes in the Natural Collection sale! Then I can clear out my old clothes from the wardrobe and turn them into rag rug!

Oh, and I'm part way to achieving a New Year's Resolution. I got the newsletter from Yarn yesterday, discovered they have a Finishing Techniques Class (with Debbie Abrahams) running and have booked onto it! But it's not until June. :-( I'm very very excited, as I seem to remember Steph (I think it was Steph) going to a similar class fairly soon after I started reading blogs and getting into knitting. I remember reading about it and feeling all inspired to find one for myself...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Breaking Olympic records on the train

The first week is nearly up. This is what I had created by the Knit Lincs meeting on Saturday afternoon:

The 22 rows of rib at the bottom of the jumper. The pattern wanted 1 x 1 ribbing which I LOATHE, so it's 2 x 2 and looking fine. Just to prove that I wasn't knitting on my sad old lonesome:

Another record-breaking Knit Lincs meeting. I think there were 14 of us, but I kind of lost count, what with people wandering around admiring patterns/books and chatting. This meeting wasn't quite as crazy as the last one, when we arrived during a music recital and just before the Community play started (loads of people wandering around in costume!).

Today was a total record-breaker:

All of that sleeve was knitted today on the train to and from London, I just have a few ends left to weave in. I have decided that Denise needles are essential Olympic equipment - it's so useful being able to use the cords as stitch holders. I left the body of the jumper at home today on its cords and just took the needle ends and another cord to do the sleeve (I didn't think there'd be enough left of the body to fill the train journey). So I think I'm on schedule, as long as this jumper gets finished over the weekend and the next one started. The next one won't be quite as psychedelic...

Today I also visited V V Rouleaux for the first time. Wow, very very yummy shop. Didn't buy anything (and was disappointed as I thought there might be buttons and beads there too). But there was SO much other stuff, I did lots of stroking, fondling and drooling. Then I trotted off to the Button Queen - also fab. Friendly staff and I did buy something but it's a secret! ;-) And then I was right by John Lewis so had to pop in - had never seen the yarn dept so crowded. The yarn ladies were rushing around refilling shelves, and as fast as they did that crowds of people were emptying them. There were almost balls of wool flying through the air!

I had also intended to visit the Cloth House and Persephone Books, but ran out of time (that's what drooling does!). Ah well there's always next week!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Cast On

OK, that Opening Ceremony went on FOREVER last night. Some bits were good (the moving people forming the image of a skier taking a jump was fab!), some bits I wandered off to make a cup of tea in... I looked out for Sweden coming in (as my SP who is spoiling me is from Sweden!) - they had such cool mittens on - the Swedish flag was on the palm, so when they waved to the crowd that was what you saw!

I've done 15 rounds so far, not nearly as much as Anne (grrrr ;-) ). But it's Knit Lincs this afternoon so maybe more will appear!

This is the "so which length Denise needle did I say I was going to use?" moment!

The cast on! I don't normally sit this close to the TV, but in the comfy armchair out of the shot. This was the only way we could fit me, the knitting and the TV into one shot!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Olympic count down

Ooooh, it's TODAY! I've been eyeing up blogs, especially all the team buttons on here, aren't they fab?! Makes me want to join lots more teams as you don't seem to actually "join" Team GB, you just put the button on your blog. But I am going to content myself with the button in Ancient Greek, which I think is cool:

Since I've learnt to knit I've always thought that a pattern looks much like a page in Ancient Greek. Both are fairly meaningless unless you know enough to transliterate/understand/translate/knit what's written there. No, I'm not a Greek expert or anything, I can do the basics cos I need it for work, but that's about it!

**update. Pixeldiva has created a Team GB blog and a Frappr map!!! **

Here's an event summary page, so you can keep on track with what's happening with everyone, without spending the whole time online instead of knitting (oops). Hmm, I may put this on my Blogrolling thingy in the hope I remember to look at it.

I think I'm ready to roll. I mean knit. Have spent some time this week getting my WIPs to a sensible state to be abandoned for 16 days (isn't it funny that normally I wouldn't think twice about abandoning a project for 16 days, but I feel I ought to "round these off" to a suitable point!). The whole knitting Olympic thing is having a worrying effect on me, I also made a stash inventory last night. Very scary. Very very scary. How did I acquire enough yarn to make at least 17 pairs of socks?! I now have yarn stored in various places:
  • DK odds and ends (to be used for the olympics)
  • Yarn bought for specific projects (to be used up before more is bought)
  • Other weight odds and ends (mostly left overs from projects). To be used for a boa or something like that. Or just generally lounge around in the stash until I think of something cool to do with them.
  • A cupboard containing yarn currently in use (ie, the other balls of yarn for Cranberry!)
  • Two boxes of sock yarn. I know from the Socknitters list that enough for 17 pairs isn't really that extreme. But this is a small flat and I intend to move out of it this year. And I HATE moving so the less I have to move the better.
  • Random yarn that I acquired at some point. In a variety of shapes, sizes, colours and quantities.

This is my Very Boring Furry Scarf knit. Mum gave me it as a kit for Christmas so I thought I'd better make it. I save it for those "can't get to sleep" moments. I do like the colours though and it will be lovely and soft once it's done. It uses Paton's Whisper, which is much much softer than the Funky Fur stuff. (One of my very first knit projects last year was a Paton's Whisper scarf, combined with one strand of DK cotton, a bit like the Coney Island Fireworks Scarf in Stitch n' Bitch)

This is no. 2 Jaywalker. No. 1 has been frogged as I'd made the heel too deep and the fit was a little strange. This was only emphasised when I finished no. 2 and compared them, so no. 1 has to be done again. I don't mind though, cos it's lovely lovely yarn and I like the pattern! Note careful arrangement of bottom of jeans so you don't see my hairy gorilla legs.

And Cranberry. Who has also had a little frogging as the cables started to develop a mind of their own and do all sorts of interesting things. I tinked back about 12 rows and order has been restored:


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Olympic preparations

aren't really happening yet. I want to re-write parts of the pattern so I can do it on circulars (thank God for Denise needles, which *just* go down small enough!), thus saving some time and avoiding sewing up. I could just do it in my head as I knit, but I'd rather have it written down as I'll have more idea what I'm doing.

Have you seen the number of participants?! There are actually more people in the Knitting Olympics than there are in the sporty-version!

Here's a useful list of sensible things to do to ensure your hands don't fall off with so much knitting.

Am beginning to think I'm stark raving bonkers (yes, those that know me would probably agree with that). How am I possibly meant to knit TWO baby jumpers in 16 days with everything else I'm meant to do at the same time?!?! The only reason I got all that Christmas knitting done was having tonsillitis for the WHOLE of December. And I really wouldn't recommend that as a strategy...

Anyway, I'm not swatching, can't see the point as it's all DK yarn (and using 4mm needles) and going for charity, so they'll hand the jumpers over to whoever is the right size for them. Below is my pile of DK:

Now, the original idea in this pic was to group it all into similar colours, cos I love the way Mary Anne has her yarn arranged. Hmm. Mine isn't quite as neat. But you get the general idea. Please note that I'm NOT aiming to use all this yarn, only a fraction of it. The jumpers are meant to be bright and cheerful so there is plenty of potential for colourful stripes. Hmm. Just how psychedelic should these jumpers be? This yarn is from a variety of places: inherited, given by friends, found in charity shops, bought in sales. But I cannot remember acquiring the bright scary fluorescent pink and orange to the bottom right!

Have checked the schedules - the opening ceremony is being broadcast on BBC2 from 6pm (GMT) on Friday. Only problem is that Mum has friends over for the weekend so I may have to find a corner next door to watch TV in. At least I can knit at the same time as making polite conversation (sometimes being a woman has its advantages. Remind me I said that next time I'm on the blob.).

And talking about TVs. TV Licensing. What is going on?!?! Leave me alone. I don't have a TV THEREFORE I don't have a licence. So please stop accusing me of having a TV! I don't see why I should let my flat be searched by the Enforcement Officers for an illicit TV cos I ain't got one! According to Radio 4 this is a big problem as 90% of people who claim not to have a TV are lying. WELL I DON'T LIKE BEING ACCUSED OF LYING. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

But some of the excuses for having a TV but not a license are quite funny.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Secret Pal parcel, more storage space and lots of knitters!

This was waiting for me when I got in from London on Thursday:

A parcel from my SP (from Sweden!) I LUUUUURRRRRVVVVEEEE getting parcels, especially when they have things like this inside:

Some organic chocolate, strawberry/raspberry tea (called "Chihuahua Dreams"!) and two balls of Norwegian sock yarn! The yarn colour hasn't come out very well in the pic above, but it's a lovely mixture of red and pink and white. THANK YOU SECRET PAL!! :-) This is ace. I'm going to try the tea in a bit and some of the choc has already vanished...

Meanwhile, exciting things are afoot in my flat. I have finally got the decoration in the conservatory finished (we had someone come to plaster the walls, then my godmother painted it, then I sealed the floor, which took ages cos it needed about five coats and DAYS to dry between each coat). But now it's done and I've moved my old bed in there:

This is now my spare bed, although I'm not going to make anyone sleep in the conservatory, I'm going to drag the mattress into the living room should anyone stay over. But in the conservatory I'm going to use it as a pseudo-sofa with a throw over it and lots of cushions. Which is where the Debbie Abrahams' More Blankets and Throws to Knit will come in useful. The pseudo-sofa also has another bonus:

Two drawers in its base. Hmm. Wonder what I should store in there? Any ideas?!?! ;-)

And today was Knit Lincs in Sleaford and another record breaking meeting! We've never had as many as 7 at Sleaford before. It was fun, four new people and lots of knitting (and other) chat.

In the foreground on the table are my Curious Yarns Jaywalkers. I finished the second one this afternoon, but have decided to re-do half of the first one to make it fit better (I made the heel too big, but the second sock fits perfectly so I'm going to reknit the heel onwards of the first one).

I'm also thinking of swatching for Tubey and a Secret Project but the Olympics start very soon so I could well end up with four projects on the backburner whilst I knit baby jumpers in a frenzy. But there's nothing wrong with four projects on the backburner is there?!

Ooooh and the new Magknits is up. And even more lovely lovely patterns. I love Odessa (hmm, I also have some of that yarn in my stash), and the swirly skirt Silk Garden Swirl. Yum. I was also amused by the pattern called "Cool Blue" in March's Simply Knitting and "Lizzi" in Rowan No. 39. Yes, it's the same pattern, yet it never even caught my eye in the Rowan mag, but when I saw it in Simply Knitting I really liked it!

Oh, and I also picked up a copy of "Sandra" magazine in Sheringham (is this place the centre of the knitting universe or what?!). Never come across Sandra before, but it was sensibly priced and had some nice patterns in (even if some of the translation was clunky). Couldn't seem to find any gauge info in it though? Are you supposed to work it out for yourself or just hope for the best?!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Librarian quiz

Hmm. Well in my defence the quiz does have a very American bias and I'm a UK librarian! ;-)

Aspiring Librarian
You scored 58% on knowledge of librarianship.

You're getting there - you know more than most people about libraries.
Maybe you're starting Library School and getting yourself ready to take
over the profession. Or maybe you already work in a library but just
don't know some of the history and details. But, you're more of an
aspiring librarian than a full-fledged librarian.

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 86% on knowledge
Link: The Are You a Librarian Test written by attention on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

I also suspect that signing up for the Stashalong may be a good idea!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Oooooh look what I found!

I can't believe I didn't spot it last week - there's a wool shop (Creative Crafts) in Sheringham! I found it last night after going for a wander after tea and spent ages peering through the window drooling at the yarn. Then I did a little detour there on my way into work this morning! What a lovely shop - a really nice range of yarn well displayed - there were the novelty things (including some I hadn't seen before from Gedifra) and the more "woolly" yarn like Jaeger and Rowan. And Sirdar and St Ives sock yarn. Plus some local yarn from Norfolk sheep and some without ball bands that was lovely and soft and variegated (it's slightly to the left of centre in the pic below). Can't remember the name but I'm going back next week for another look/stroke/drool.

OK, I admit, I also broke my yarn diet (again), but it was only two balls, and they were in the sale, AND they're for my Secret Pal, so not for me at all.

I wish all yarn shops could be like this. The lady behind the counter was friendly and helpful (and even checked the dyelots for me without being asked to!). They also had plenty of other craft stuff and I loved the way their fabric was displayed. Oh and a shelf of knitting books - probably the best range I've seen anywhere.

So yes, if anyone wants a good holiday destination - Sheringham is the place to go! I must write about knitter-friendly B & Bs sometime, although I'm still trying to decide on what criteria are essential...