Friday, March 31, 2006

In-yer-face daffodils

See, finally the sun came out! This is my first outside-drying load of washing of the year:

So fab. Usually I come charging home from several days away, wash mountains of clothing (because of wearing 8 layers at work cos it's cold), hang it around the flat to dry, frantically iron it to finish off the drying, shove it back into overnight bag and off I go to work for a few days again.

But the sun dries it in about 2 hours (at the moment). Isn't that fab?!

I think podcasts are to blame for my new enthusiasm for ironing. I never used to iron anything, but now I do a big mountain every Sunday (partly to get it dry for work), but partly because there's loads of knitting podcasts to catch up with!

I've just signed up for the One Skein Secret Pal Exchange. I thought it would be interesting to give this one a try! I like the idea of having to write about the skein I'm sending to my SP - will make for some interesting skein shopping I think.

I'm off on holiday for a few days, so don't expect any blog updates for about a week! I've sorted out what knitting to pack: Noro socks, Maya bag and Tubey to get started and which books to take: "The Carlyles at home" and "Pillars of the earth". Now I really should get round to finding some clothes and my toothbrush. Priorities you see.

I'm not sure when I'll be updating again as next week will be weird. Sunday would have been my Dad's 59th birthday, Wednesday is Mum's 60th birthday and Thursday is the first anniversary of Dad's death. We're going to be away for most of that time anyway, but after that I'm going to stay with a friend in London.

I'll be holidaying near to here and here, so hopefully some yarn might find it's way home with me too...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

My SP...

Ooooooooooh my SP is called Katarina! How cool is that?! It's nearly the same as my name (my first name that is, not my middle one!).

Anyway she's stuck at home with a horrible cold so here's loads of *get better soon* thoughts...

Lots of fluffy knitting but I'm going GRRRRRRR

Ooooooh I'm in SUCH a GRRRRRRRRR mood. An interesting combination of coming off anti-depressants and being on the blob. You know when you're in one of those moods where you just have to be totally irrational and you can't concentrate on one thing for more than 10 minutes at a time? Yep? That's the one.

I didn't think me + car was a good thing today (and Monkey is still charging an extortionate number of bananas for chauffering duties) so am doing some work at home - have got a sort of conferencey thing to organise (which is scaring me silly cos it's getting more complicated by the minute, we now have two alternative tours for the morning and one group has an hour to stand around doing nothing in before their tour starts. I think I may have found a way to plug that gap (teach them to knit?) but am waiting for someone to get back to me... Wish I could teach them to knit, it would be much more interesting than some of the options I've come up with, but as it's a librarian thing knitting is not really on the agenda.)

As I can't concentrate on that for more than 10 mins at a time... I'm also putting together an article I was meant to write a while ago for an academic journal(oops). Hmm, wonder how much of that will have to be rewritten?!

Did anyone watch the "it's not easy being green" programme last night? I was hoping it might be slightly more practical from my point of view. But I can't see myself farming a 3 acre plot and killing my own pigs anytime ever. But an entertaining programme nevertheless, and it did look fun to spend a summer having mud and water fights. Have just finished reading "A good life", which I had from the library. Think I preferred it to the "Good Shopping Guide", as there was a lot more background as well as suggestions of better brands/products to buy. I liked having the information that wasn't necessarily about buying more stuff, but more about rethinking how I do things. Bit like the ideas on the Generous website.

Not all is doom and gloom and avoiding buying things however (oops)!
I got this in the post along with some stuff to put in my SP's parcel:

Well, I was already paying for the postage at Curious Yarns, so it would have been silly not to get something else too, wouldn't it?! This is their Sock Yarn, in the Gothic colourway. Hazel gave me a skein of their two-skein sock yarn for Christmas, which I loved knitting with and it washed really well. My parcel has only just arrived (it got a bit delayed), then I went on their website this morning to find a whole new load of sock yarn colours and some funky critters to knit. Grrrr, am now drooling over the new colours...

This is progress on my Maya bag. Well, it's not mine, it's for my SIL's birthday, but I'm becoming very tempted to make one for me too. Only I must not buy any more yarn! It's a fun knit, the Maya feels lovely, although I find 8mm needles hard work as they feel enormous.

And I couldn't resist starting the Smith socks from Noro Knits. These are really quick and are loads of fun to knit so one is already finished! I made the leg about 10 cm shorter than the pattern as they seemed to be very long indeed. They're lovely and snuggly and warm (just the thing for Spring then!)
So far I've used over half a ball of DB cashmerino aran in shade 007, a rust/orange/red (not very James Bond like) and a ball of Noro Silk Garden in colourway 84.

And yes, that is Cranberry still blocking in the background. She is actually blocked and just haven't got round to doing anything else to her yet. This is the difference with blocking in the conservatory on the pseudo-sofa. When I used to block things on a sheet on the living room floor I was in a hurry to get them finished so I could get to the other side of the room. Now the sense of urgency has gone.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Cranberry gets blocked

But first. How about some pics from last week (the ones Blogger wouldn't let me post before). This is from one of my lunchtime walks, through the garden,

I found a lake on the other side...

and there was a sheep!

With several sheepy friends. And I got to see a lamb being born, before remembering that I really should get back to work...

During the crazy week of finishing off the Jaywalkers in the middle of Tuesday night, I also finished (most of) the knitting of Cranberry. And here she is blocking in the conservatory:

Have no idea when she'll be finished off as I'm away with work most of this week and then on holiday. And by then it'll probably be too warm to wear her! But this is British weather we're talking about, so maybe it won't...

Of course I haven't stopped there. Despite still having two WIPs OTN I've started the Maya bag (very yummy) and also the Smith socks in DB Cashmerino Aran and Noro Silk Garden from the Noro Knits book which I bought at Yarn last week.

On Friday night I went over to Debbie's to watch Pride and Prejudice, the first time we'd seen it. It wasn't on a par with the droolsome 5+hours of the BBC-Colin-Firth version but still enjoyable. I don't think it was long enough to do the characters or the plot justice (in fact, was the plot actually that obvious if you'd only seen the film?). Some parts just weren't realistic - such as Lady Catherine coming to see Lizzy late at night. And it lacked Colin Firth.
I'm still drooling over the meal Debbie cooked - spinach and ricotto lasagne (yum) followed by chocolate torte (YUM)!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Jaywalkers finished!

Finished my Jaywalkers!

It turned into a bit of an emergency. There I was in my B & B room on Tuesday evening, realising that my third pair of woolly socks were waiting to be darned at home. And work was SO SO SO SO cold last week (about 3 degrees celsius, and I sit still most of the time!) that woolly socks were a necessity. So I set to and got the Jaywalkers finished to wear on Wednesday! The flowery background to them is the B & B's duvet cover!
I do like this pattern and the yarn is lovely to wear, although they have come out ever-so-slightly baggy. Most people seem to have had trouble getting them big enough, but I think my tincy wincey ickle tiny narrow feet are at the other extreme from the majority of the population! (and if I walk into one more shoe shop to hear "but people's feet are getting wider these days" when I ask about AAA fittings I will stick my pointy needles in someone. Exactly how am I meant to make my feet wider now?!)

There were meant to be more pics in this post, but Blogger is playing up.

I've also been to Yarn. What a shop. I omitted to take any photos cos I was busy hyperventilating at finally setting foot in a proper yarn shop! It was beautiful. Big windows making it light and airy (so you could actually see what colour the yarn was!). Lots of beautifully arranged yarn with clear price labelling - Rowan, Noro, Debbie Bliss, Louisa Harding, Opal, Gedifra, FFF and some others that I didn't identify, plus some hand-dyed/hand-spun one-offs. The two ladies running it were friendly, offered me a cup of tea, provided a chair for me whilst browsing patterns and invited me to come and sit with their knitting group which was taking place at the time. Unfortunately I'd finished the Jaywalkers the night before and had no other knitting with me...
And yes I did make some purchases... Am also going to plan a Knit Lincs trip over there I think.

Finally, some useful links:
This one is all about designing socks from scratch using your own measurements:

and Elann has some of the Regia Cotton Surf on sale, which I used for my Broadripple socks. I've been really impressed with the feel and wear of this yarn.

Monday, March 20, 2006

My porridge

is all over the microwave. Why does this only happen on mornings when I need to get somewhere?

In fact, why am I blogging when I'm supposed to be washing up the microwave and then going somewhere?!


Friday, March 17, 2006

More knitting

A very dull week this week, although with the occasional bit of excitement. I started work on Tuesday in a new location - *only* 60 miles from home this time! And I get to drive right past Yarn on the way. Hmm. Will have to stop off there sometime when I'm not attempting to get to work on time. It looks like I'll still be away for half of each week as I've refused to do 4 hours driving on particularly Evil roads everyday so they're going to put me up in a B & B for a couple of nights every week to cut down on the driving! Hooray that also = more knitting time!

Below is my side of the garden, with snowdrops and crocuses appearing (although they got buried under more snow at the beginning of the week!). They show where the trees used to be as they were originally around each tree. The line of trees to the right of the shed (all cooking apples) are about half the number there used to be there...

I also had two days in London this week, instead of just one. One day was perhaps the most boring meeting ever, at the British Library. Everybody else on the committee is fairly high-powered, senior management, into-strategy/policy types. I'm the Minutes & Newsletter Secretary. And half the time I had no idea what they were going on about, I just wrote it down. Part of the problem was the meeting was scheduled for noon to allow everyone to get there (people had come from all over the country) so by the time it got to 1.30pm my stomach was joining in the strategy discussion very loudly... Didn't get out until 2.30. Grrrrrrrrrr

Then on to the dentist. Because of the dentist shortage in Lincolnshire I still have to travel to London for appointments (and God forbid I ever need emergency treatment!). Only the tube cocked up so I was late for the check-up so wasn't allowed in! I only got to see the hygienist. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Have had to rebook the check-up, but have now got to wait until May as they're very busy at the moment. Good thing it's only a check-up and I'm not waiting for a filling...

However, knitting is happening! :-)
Below is Cranberry, with only 2/3rds of a sleeve to go! And all the cables are the right way. I think.

I also finished off Mum's washcloth (how impressive is that? It's not Mother's Day for over a week!) and the Jaywalkers are coming along nicely. I can almost begin to envisage the end of the current WIPs...

Monday, March 13, 2006

Washing socks

At the weekend I washed my socks and gloves.

Before everyone keels over in horror at the smell, this is something that happens most weekends as I wear them for work in the week! (and also why no one at Knit Lincs ever gets to see them as they're usually hanging on a radiator on Saturday afternoons!).
For some reason I took a pic of them drying on the radiator so I thought I'd talk about how well they're wearing after some wearing and washing.
So, from left -to-right we have:
  • Fingerless gloves from Southern Cross knitting pattern using leftover Opal handpainted 4ply sock yarn. These get a heck of a bashing at work each week cos it's dirty and there's a lot of carrying, lifting, turning pages, faffing around with ancient bindings that disintegrate all over you etc. So they get washed a lot. And they're wearing well, quite fluffy now but still warm and comfy with no holes or pilling. And they go in the washing machine.
  • More fingerless gloves using Fyberspates DK and a Fyberspates pattern. This is the first time I've washed them and they've come out fine. A small amount of fluffing but no pilling in sight. These are handwash only so I tend not to wear them as much for work. Only last week was SO SO SO cold I had to.
  • Toe up socks from Lucy Neatby's Cool socks, warm feet using Artyarns Supermerino. I use these as bedsocks cos they're very soft and not long enough to stay up in my boots. They're lovely and soft but pill like mad. I've machine washed them once but now handwash them after dyeing all my underwear purple in the machine with them...
  • My first pair of socks! The Opal basic pattern in Magic purple colourway. These are totally fab - just chuck in the machine and they get softer and softer. And are lovely and toasty warm to wear.
  • Finally my Broadripple socks using Regia cotton surf. These also wash really well in the machine and come up with amazing softness and stitch definition. They actually improve with washing! Also wearing well, although not as warm as the Opal.
Those are all the socks I now possess. I have made another five pairs:
Maybe I should find out how those are all wearing?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Big rant

I'm really really annoyed with a local LYS. Two weeks ago one of the other Knit Lincs ladies came in to report that she'd been there to get sock yarn - but they don't have any sock patterns or needles in a suitable size for sock knitting. They also weren't particularly helpful. To me this seems illogical - what is the point of stocking sock yarn without patterns or needles?!?!?! Does this seem barmy to anyone else? So I emailed the owner with some suggested sock knitting books (with plenty of patterns and instructions inside) and sent her some links to sock knitting kits, like the ones on Angel Yarns. Loads of the group at Knit Lincs want to knit socks so I'm sure they'd be popular.
But. No reply to my email. Then at today's meeting several of the others said they'd been in in search of sock knitting stuff and other things. And hadn't found them very helpful either.
So what to do? This is SO frustrating as I would love to support a local shop, but they don't seem to respond to customer suggestions (the LYS in Sleaford was much more helpful, explaining that they didn't have room to stock sock yarn but could order some Sirdar T & C specially for me, although I'd have to buy the whole pack!). The Lincoln shop is stuffed full of novelty yarn, and is also a Rowan stockist. The last time I was in the owner said she no longer stocked Patons Diploma Gold as it was too expensive (which I thought was weird as Patons is one of the cheaper brands, and if that's too expensive how on earth does she sell any Rowan?!?!)

Just to prove that I don't have anything against novelty yarns:

This is Mum modelling one of the first scarves I made last year. It used two balls of Patons Whisper and one ball of DK cotton (all, incidentally, from that same LYS!) and was based on the Coney Island Fireworks Scarf in Stitch n' Bitch.

This week I'd been aiming to get to the Lent meditation on Thursday lunchtime at St Mary-le-Bow. But I missed that due to my ****** train being late. However, I did get to see their Stations of the Cross, fifteen paintings by Jim Latter. This one was my favourite, it's "Mary":

Also this week my new desklamp arrived. From the sale at Natural Collection. It clips onto the bookshelf on my desk, but then it occurred to me that I could also clip it onto something above my knitting, making knitting in dark colours and sewing up much easier in the evenings as it is "natural daylight".

Also this week I set up my ironing board to iron the fabric I bought last week at the Cloth House. The fabric then spent the rest of the week sitting on the ironing board in the middle of the living room before I did any ironing.

And I have done some knitting. This is the beginning of a washcloth for my Mum for Mother's day, using Anchor Magicline cotton. This has been discontinued so I've ordered some more at reduced price from here!

Also, a copy of Debbie Bliss' Home book came in at the library. I've been admiring the jelly bean cushions based on a pattern in this book on Yarnstorm's blog. I'm thinking something like this, but using the gorgeous soft cuddly alpaca yarn from my SP. I also liked the Cable & Moss stitch bag and have two skeins of Maya in colourway 15 from the Getknitted sale to make it as a present for my SIL!

Finally, another yarn review website. With a bit of a heavy US bias at the moment, but I'm sure we can soon rectify that! ;-)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Freezing cold

And off to yet another place of work this week. In fact, this morning, as I climbed into the car, I found myself thinking "only 50 miles to drive to work today"!. Good grief, what is happening to me - I'm turning into a car driver. I used to only have a 20 minute WALK to work, now I'm rejoicing at only having to drive 50 miles. Well, OK it was a nice change from the 120 odd miles down to Norfolk. (but think how much knitting time all this driving is wasting.)

Today I have been glared at all day by Queen Elizabeth I, whose portrait hangs opposite my current desk. This pic was painted in the 1590s (towards the end of her life) and my camera hasn't quite captured her glare, but the room was dark so the best I could do.

Maybe she disapproved of all my clothing (certainly not as decorative as hers) - but it was FREEZING! I was sat at my desk wearing 5 jumpers, woolly hat, fingerless gloves, 2 pairs woolly socks and still had to go for a cup of tea every 90 or so minutes when I could no longer feel my fingers or toes. Ouch.

I liked the idea of photographic tours on Anne's blog (originally from this blog)- so here is mine:

This is the patio with my flat on the left, taken on the boundary in the middle of our plots (we have a double plot of land, my flat is on one bit and Mum's house is on the other). All the garden furniture is stacked on the patio for winter, the pile of crates (very untidy!) we use for collecting up the apples in the autumn each year and have just been emptied. The lumps of tree are from the work we've had done on the garden - that used to be a Victoria Plum tree but we're waiting for a friend to come and collect the wood. The pergola has a grape vine on it, I've never understood why as we're too far north here for the grapes to ripen so they just turn into a squishy mess on the patio underneath.

This is down the garden from the patio. It never used to be this tidy and my half (on the left) used to be orchard. The trees in the middle of the lawn are apple trees so we still have some fruit left, but it was far too much for me and Mum to deal with so we've had a lot of the trees taken up and more turf put down.

Below is the bottom corner (to the left of the photo above). This is the old vegetable patch, half of which has now been turfed over. There used to be a greenhouse next to the compost bin too, but it had to be taken down as the glass was broken. We also used to have raspberries and strawberries down here, and there is some bare earth left so we can have a little bit of soft fruit and veg again. The snow by the fence hasn't melted yet as it's in the shade!

And finally, the view from the bottom of the garden up towards Mum's house and my flat:

The tree on the left in the foreground is my pear tree - it was planted when I was born so is a bit of a stunted specimen for 26 years!
The garden does look a bit barren at the moment, but it should look really good soon once the chopped down things have started to grow again. Maybe I should take more pics in a few months' time?

And now, back to the knitting!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

More SP goodies!

This weather is mad. Yesterday was lovely and sunny (if rather cold) and I admired the hordes of snowdrops emerging on the lawn and thought I'd take a photo of them this weekend. Then I went next door to eat my tea, and by the time I came back out again:

Hmm. Don't think we'll be seeing snow drop pics for a while then. Although it has nearly all melted.

And this came in the post:

From my SP in Sweden! Sooty decided he was going to help me open it, after he saw the pussy cat card inside. The cat is a siamese. Which do you think is more handsome? (and see what I mean about the sunshine?!)

Inside were two beautifully wrapped parcels...

One of which contained lots of yummy chocolate and sweets. According to my SP this is the type of candy all Swedes had when they were little. It looks yum. I think there are some chocolates like rolos in there, and pastilles (fruit?) but I'm going to have fun trying all of these (yes, OK, I have already started!)

And, finally, the bit you've all (but evidently not Sooty) been waiting for: YARN!

6 balls of 100% Alpaca in some gorgeous colours. It's SO soft and strokeable. I can't decide what to make - there are some lovely patterns on here but I quite fancy a very soft, cuddly and warm hot water bottle cover or maybe a nice squishy cushion cover or alpaca bedsocks. Oooh, anyway I think I might just sit and stroke it whilst I have a think... Maybe that's why Sooty's ignoring the yarn, he's jealous that he's not being stroked too?!


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Snow again!

After watching/listening to the news several times this week, featuring loads of reports about the snow in Lincolnshire (what snow in Lincolnshire? Where? Nic didn't have any either. Where is it?!) I zipped off on the train to London today. London was noticeably warmer than Lincoln (it usually is), but then I was sat having a cup of tea and a muffin (it is Lent after all) at the Cafe in the Park in Russell Square and it started snowing! I briefly considered dashing over to the Royal Exchange (near where I used to work) to re-enact the final scene from Bridget Jones' Diary. But I'd have missed my train. And I didn't want to run round London in my underwear (London wasn't THAT much warmer than Lincoln). And there was no guarantee that Colin Firth/Mark Darcy would appear. So I went to Persephone Books instead.

Fab fab fab fab shop. Have sorted out several friend's birthday presents and added myself to the mailing list. The books are beautifully produced, will try and remember to take a piccy of one for a future post. Very very tasty indeed.

Talking of tasty places, immediately before the tea and muffin I'd ventured to Berwick St to find the Cloth House. What a fab street. LOADS of yummy fabric shops and a market to wander around!

And I ended the day in the British Library Bookshop. Oh dear. My wallet. Oops.

Oh crikey, then I got home and found an email from Denise about this place. Which has a yarn sale on. GULP. And I've got to drive through the village where it is four times next week...