Sunday, October 29, 2006

Finishing things off...

I finished knitting the Beaded Star bag (from the intarsia and beading course last weekend at Yarn). Basically, you knit the squares panel with the intarsia and beading (most of which I got done at the course) and cast off. You then pick up stitches along the cast on edge and knit the stripey back of the bag. Then you knit a moss stitch strap for it. I got all that finished and blocked:

The yarn is Rowan Cotton Glace and I used a whole ball of the burgundy colour and some oddments of cream and blue. The strap used up the rest of the ball and is just the right length to hang comfortably off my shoulder. The needles were 2.75 and 3mm and the beads were Rowan ones, but I'm not sure what size.

Getting this far also reminded me that I hadn't completed the little jumper I made on the last course I did at Yarn - Finishing Techniques. I took the course at the end of June, about 4 days before moving house so never got the jumper finished. So here it is:

And it's about the right size for Monkey's friend, Lavender Bear (although the colour looks a bit horrifying next to his fur!):

And as well as finishing things off, I'm getting started on the next Christmas present. For Dylan-the-nephew-sprog who is growing VERY fast. The pattern is Devan, from Knitty and the yarn is Opal sock yarn- one ball of plain blue which I bought from Yarn, and one ball of Rodeo which I bought from Indigo Knits in Penrith whilst on holiday. I'm going to make the 1-2 year size. Dylan is only five months at the moment, but already in 9 month size clothes... He's exclusively breast-fed, so goodness knows how big he'll end up once he starts on food next month...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Have you ever...

just not been able to get into a book? I used to make myself finish anything I started, but now I've decided life's too short!
I was trying to read Michelle Lovric's "The Remedy". I'd enjoyed her "The Floating Book" and bought a copy of The Remedy when I missed a connection and ended up with an hour and a half to kill at Birmingham New Street...

I'm still not sure what it was I just couldn't get into about the book, mainly, I think, that I wasn't really bothered what happened about the characters and it never got to "unputdownable" status. So I gave up.

Next on the list is "The Conjuror's Bird"...

Oh, and I've been asked to write a book review for an academic journal. Bit scary. The book itself (a biography) doesn't look too bad, 350 pages, and looks fairly interesting. I've agreed to do it, as it's good experience (and I'll get my name in a journal, isn't that exciting?!!) but I'm not totally convinced I can write 1000 words of review...

Monday, October 23, 2006

Not very evil at all...

You Are 18% Evil

You are good. So good, that you make evil people squirm.
Just remember, you may need to turn to the dark side to get what you want!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Beaded Star

Today I went over to Yarn in Beeston to the "Beaded Star" workshop with Debbie Abrahams.
The shop was, as usual, totally fab and stuffed full of yummy yarn.

"Beaded Star" involved making a little bag, with an intarsia design on one side (the other side is striped) involving squares and with some beading too, to make a star shape on the inner square. So it was a great introduction to both intarsia and beading. I hadn't tried beading before, and had had only one slightly disastrous attempt at intarsia.

Lunch was, again, very tasty. Spinach flan with pine nuts on top, cous cous salad and tomatoes, followed by fruit kebabs.

And plenty of time to wander around the shop admiring the yarn and flipping through pattern books. I bought 4 balls of Rowan 4ply soft from the sale basket.

And there was a pear cake with toffee sauce and cream during the afternoon!

I got about halfway through the intarsia and beaded panel during the workshop, but now feel much more confident about both techniques.

And the cake was very tasty too!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Birthday in Norfolk

I ended up spending my birthday in Norfolk last week, as that was where I was working! I was rather amused by whoever left a comment on my last blog entry about there being computers and internet access in Norfolk! Yes, I know there are, but not where I was working (in the middle of nowhere, on the North Norfolk coast). I don't have internet access when I'm working onsite (most of my week), only when I work from home. I also work in the middle of the countryside when I'm onsite so there is no wi-fi for my laptop and nowhere near a library or similar with internet access. And working 8.30-6ish most days means I can't get to anywhere with access! Sometimes I strike lucky, like when I work in Derbyshire, the B & B I stay in there has wi-fi so I can get online. But most of the time I have to content myself with coming home after four or five days away for work to an exploding inbox and 157 blog updates to read!

But I like doing weeks away for work. Although it means a long drive to get there and back, I get plenty of free time in the evening to read and/or knit. When I work nearer home it's a 100 mile round trip every day, which really cuts into knitting time in the evening! And that is how I spent my birthday - no one at the site I was working at knew it was my birthday, so I could do exactly what I wanted. Which was to eat chocolate muffins, slob in front of the TV all evening and get on with the latest sock!

I'm having a few camera problems at the moment. It takes AA batteries, and the latest have run out. I'm getting fed up with using all those batteries and having to dispose of them, so have ordered a battery recharger and rechargeable batteries from Natural Collection. Which are currently stuck in the DHL depot in Lincoln waiting to be redelivered! So until they arrive photos are limited!

I am also spreading birthday celebrations out. This is a ball of Opal sock yarn from Mary Anne (thank you!!) and a new cake tin from my Mum. There is a chocolate cake inside it...
Next week (when I am working in Derbyshire!) I'm having tea with the nephew sprogs (possibly more cake then?) so it's important to keep celebrations going as long as possible!

Also, I've just found out that I'll be working down near Cambridge between December and February, which hopefully means I'll be able to meet up with some other knitters in the evening. It sounds like I'll be staying in an ex-stable block (just hope it has heating!) so probably no wi-fi there either...

Another nice surprise when I returned from Norfolk (to an exploding postbox) was the first issue of Yarn Forward - which looks like it's made a very good start. I liked the patterns and the articles, the fact that there was little advertising, and things like having different price ranges for yarn suggested. Haven't had time yet for a really thorough read but I'm looking forward to it! I also like the fact that it's quarterly, so you have time to get your head round it before the next issue comes out (and also means it works out at a very reasonable price.

Rachel from Knit Lincs has given me a copy of "Knitting for Peace", which, again, I haven't had time to more than flip through, but which has some great stories and ideas in it. I like the history of knitting recounted in it, although there is obviously a heavy US bias cos that's where it was published. And it doesn't mention charities such as Dulaan (which seems odd), or UK ones such as Feed the Children or the Knit a River thing. I don't agree with all the things that are said in the review of the book above (the link from the book's title), but I wanted to link to something thoughtful, rather than to Amazon (!). And I liked the countdown 'til the world is free of Bush counter at the bottom of her blog!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Off to Norfolk

I'm off to Norfolk for work this week so no internet access (sob, sob, sniff, gulp, sob) but before I go...

I got Mum to take a picture of Eloise, which has come out distinctly better than my attempts in front of the mirror!

Having tonsillitis again last week meant a head start on my Christmas knitting (I only got done in time last year cos I had tonsillitis most of November and all of December!).
This is Noah's jumper:

Pattern from the 1st issue of Knit Today. Smallest size (2 year old). The yarn is Lana Grossa Cool Wool Big, a DK weight pure merino yarn, which feels oh so yummy to knit with. I used 6 balls and it was on 3.75 and 4mm needles. I used an extremely stretchy cast off and bigger needles round the neck, which is why it looks like it's gaping, but small children seem to have enormous heads...

And I finished the socks that should have been my Greenbelt knitting, if I'd gone. These are DK weight on 3.25 (2 circs method) needles. The yarn is pure wool, hand spun and dyed by the Spinning Gallery in Cumbria. I bought it as a kit from the Wool Clip. I've adapted the pattern slightly so it's ribbed and the heels have a strand of Kidsilk Haze knitted with them as reinforcement (I heard someone suggest this on the Socknitters list and thought I'd give it a go).

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Claire tagged me last week to think of five things that feminism has done for me. So I'm going to have a go at answering, I'm not sure if some of these are strictly speaking "feminism" though... (oh, and to put it in context, I was born in 1979). Carrie Anne's answers to the same thing are also quite thought-provoking...

1. Financial independence. I can do what I want (within reason!) with whatever I earn, and I can own property in my own name, and retain that right even if I get married - before 1882 (the Married Women's Property Act) this wasn't allowed. Before that I'd have had to pass over control of everything I own on marriage. I would also have been under the guardianship of my father (or, in my case, my brother) until marriage, when that would have passed to my husband, which, would, of course, have had a massive impact on every decision I made.

2. Education. The fact that I would go to university was never questioned. In previous generations it would have been, half of my grandparents left school at 14 and never had the opportunity to stay on longer. At school we had the same opportunities as the boys to study the same subjects (although, amusingly, my school didn't have any woodwork/metal work type facililities, and the boys' school down the road didn't have any cookery facilities, so a certain amount of running up and down the road to use each others had to happen!). There was no expectation of anyone having to study a particular subject because of their sex. And things like sports in PE weren't limited along traditional male/female lines.

Similarly, at university, I took my first degree at a college (Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, part of London University) that was one of the first to admit women. Of the two colleges that now make up Royal Holloway, Bedford College was the first in the country to admit women to higher education in 1849, although women were not allowed to graduate from the university until 1878. By the time I got there in 1998 I could study whatever I wanted (and graduate from it!). Imagine going to university, attending all the lectures, doing the reading, but not being allowed to graduate because you're a woman...

3. Life choices/family responsibility. I think I was lucky to be born when I was, as I shouldn't be criticised, when the time comes, if I choose to stay at home with my children, or if I carry on going to work. Previous generations of women had to give up work on marriage, were expected to stay at home to bring up children and be dependent on their husband. But I have the choice. I could go out to work and leave my husband at home to look after the sprogs, or it could be divided between us, or maybe I'll stay at home. Or maybe we'll both work and find a nursery...
Similarly, the spinster daughter would have been expected to stay at home and care for elderly parents. I have already done that, but it was my choice to be at home and care for my terminally ill father. It's something I'm very glad I was able to do (because I was there too as a carer with Mum, Dad was able to die at home, rather than in a nursing home), but it would have been a difficult decision to make if I'd been living in a different part of the country and employed. As it was I was already temporarily living with my parents and self-employed when my father became ill. Women today do face enormous dilemmas because of the freedom we have...

4. Timing. My generation has the gift of time. If I'd been in a Jane Austen novel I'd have been well "on the shelf" by now, fancy, unmarried at the age of 26! I suppose, related to that, is also having the ability to control when to have children (although, obviously that can't be controlled to the nth degree...). But at least it's up to me and I don't have to grab the nearest man to show an interest, out of desperation (thinking of Mr Collins in Pride & Prejudice *shudder*.)

5. Bigger influences. We had a scary history teacher at school, who used to peer over the top of her glasses at us, and say "Women died to get you the vote, girls, don't throw that away"!! Yes, we all laughed at her, but women now do have the same ability as men to take part in the political process. Since turning 18 I've voted in every local and national election (so the History teacher's saying obviously worked!). It never seems a major thing turning out to vote, one small piece of paper in a ballot box. But imagine not having that power, or living in a country where women don't have a voice like that...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Stopping pop ups

Thank you to everyone who commented and looked to see whether I'd got pop ups or not! I went on the Blogger Help Forum and got a very helpful reply (see comments from last post) from someone pointing out that some website counters come with pop up ads (usually buried away in the terms & conditions). I've deleted both webstats4u and easy-hit-counters and that seems to have done the trick - but please let me know if you still get pop ups.
There's a helpful article here about the dangers of some free hit counters, as other people might be in the same position as me. I've also checked my computer with Spybot Search & Destroy and Ad-aware, as well as doing the usual anti-virus scanning.

This has been one of those weeks. Not only all this blog stuff going on, but I had tonsillitis again (well, it's not really news now is it), problems with my radiators, water from the shower tray going through the ceiling into the light fitting below and we ran out of bananas (not a problem for me, but a certain Somebody was a little annoyed).

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Pop up ads and comments

A couple of people have warned me that they're having trouble accessing my blog, especially to leave comments. I'm not sure what's going on, but I think it may be to do with pop-up ads.
There's a link here about someone else with a similar problem. Has anyone else had problems - there are a couple of other Blogger knitting blogs I've read where I've had pop up ads appear when trying to comment, I'd assumed it was something the owner had switched on, but possibly not.

In the meantime, I think the Google toolbar and most anti-virus type software can block pop-up ads?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I have mirrors!

Last week Hire a Hubby (who actually turned out to be "Hire a Son" and "Hire Son's Friend") came round to sort out things in my house. So I now have mirrors up (and coat hooks, pictures, shelves, clear guttering, a water butt attached to the downpipe and curtain tie backs at all windows). So, finally I can show some very bad photos of Eloise. This is in on my upstairs landing, with the curtains open the light was just all wrong, at least this way you can sort of see Eloise and the camera flash hides my zits.

And the bathroom mirror (this is a recycled mirror, no less! I scavenged it when my parents were having a new bathroom put in a couple of years ago). The mirror also covers up the holes I made (see here and scroll down a bit) when I was attempting to put it up myself...

Eloise seems to have been on the go for ages. I started her on holiday back in June but then house moving, hot weather and a sprained wrist all got in the way. I also didn't have enough yarn (despite buying the no. of balls specified) but luckily Joy from Knit Lincs had some left over from her Eloise in the same colour.
Pattern: Eloise from Noro Knits
Size: XS (but it took 7.5 balls rather than the 7 balls specified in the pattern!)
Yarn: Noro Blossom. Colour no. 13. Bought at Yarn on the Knit Lincs trip back in May.
Needles: 4.5mm Surina wooden straights. The pattern states 5mm, but I needed to go down to get gauge (which perhaps explains why I needed extra yarn?).

Did anyone else watch the new BBC version of Robin Hood last night? I thought it was quite good, although Robin Hood appeared to be aged 10 (see, I really am turning into an old fart) and I had no idea that mascara and lipstick were so big in twelfth century England...
What was even more bizarre were the constant references to where I live. The series was actually shot in Hungary, but of course Robin Hood was in Sherwood Forest. Where I live. (well OK, the district of Newark and Sherwood, but it's the same thing).

Yesterday I found a lake only 10 minutes walk from my house. I'm not really totally unobservant as it is tucked away behind a housing estate. I'd ordered an Ordnance Survey map centred on my postcode (Newark is annoying on the edge of 4 map sheets) and had it framed. It got hung on my wall during the Hire a Hubby spree last week and close inspection revealed a very large puddle not far away. So I went off on a little explore yesterday, and found this:

Isn't it fab? And I could have lived here for years and never found it! It seems to be owned by the Parish Council and is for everyone to use. There were lots of dog walkers out and about, but I'm pleased to say that most seemed to be very well-behaved as I only sighted one pile of dog poo on my walk. I get SOOOOOO annoyed with people who don't clear up after their dogs. Grrrrr. Anyway, the lake is beautiful, and bounded on one side by one of the national cycle routes. I shall be visiting here again, hopefully often!

Latest book review: Imperium by Robert Harris follows the early years of Cicero's political career in Rome. The Guardian digest of it is quite harsh (although it still made me reserve it at the library!) and I did find the book a little ponderous to start with. It didn't help that I didn't expect the library to get it for me quite so fast and with somebody else wanting it after me I had a deadline to meet reading it! I thought Harris made a good job of getting across the intrigues and politics of Ancient Rome, the personalities involved and the life and death nature of what was going on. It was certainly an improvement on reading Cicero himself in Latin, and made me wish the novel had been around when I was doing A Level Latin... That probably makes it sound a little studious, but it isn't as Harris manages to get across what is a lot of detail in an entertaining way.

Friday, October 06, 2006

One Skein SP!

Months ago I signed up for the One Skein Secret Pal exchange. I spoiled Louise, whose blog you can read here and I received a skein from my spoiler back in May, but then she vanished. BUT the organisers of the exchange provided me with a wonderful angel instead. Maylin, who lives in France and whose blog is here.

And this week I got a parcel! First of all there were all these goodies:

That's notelets (with authors on), chocolate (there was more, but I, er, ate it!), a cool card and a little notebook with sheep on.
And some yarn!
The sock yarn is 100g of Opal Seide (silk) 4ply which came in the little bag on the right. I've been meaning to try knitting with silk sock yarn for a while! And on the left is 190g of sari silk in a gorgeous mixture of jewel colours (much brighter than in my pic!).
Anyway, thank you Maylin, you're a total star! I love all of it!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Newark Area Open Studios

At all the weekends at the moment there's something called "Newark Area Open Studios 2006" on. I had some free time this weekend (where do the weekends go normally? I'm sure once I've got the house sorted I'll actually have time to do something at weekends again) so went along to one of the exhibitors. The idea is that various artists/crafters/designers all open their studios/homes up on four consecutive weekends, and people go round and look at the ones that interest them. There were three knitting people listed in the leaflet but I only had time to get to one, so I chose Kate Koppana, whose house isn't far from mine and who was described as a "knitter, spinner, dyer and weaver".

Kate seemed quite pleased to see me as no one else had visited that day, and only a few yesterday! I think last weekend she'd had a few more visitors. She showed me some beautiful work she'd done on mittens and legwarmers (above) when she lived in Helsinki and some of her antique equipment. The big thing in the foreground is an antique swift/skein winder. It can be collapsed right down and miraculously still has all its pieces!

Kate also had some beautiful hand-dyed and hand-spun skeins. I bought a couple but I think they're going to be a present so I won't display them here! ;-) She does natural dyeing using woad and other things grown on her allotment. Obviously a very talented lady as she has also written several books of poetry! I hope she gets more visitors next time she's open!

Also this week I got my fleece delivered from Woodlands Farm, along with my veg box. It smells very sheepy and has fantastic dreadlocks (it's Lincoln Longwool). Now all I have to do is learn what to do with it...

And I've got a letter from the hospital saying that my tonsillectomy is scheduled for 14th November. Annoyingly though this isn't an "official" notification. I wrote to the consultant last week to point out that it's very difficult to schedule work in when I don't know when I'm going to need 2 weeks off, so he wrote back and gave me this provisional date. Which will probably change. Unfortunately it also means I'm going to have to miss the Knitting and Stitching Show at Harrogate, which is about 10 days after. If I do have my tonsils out on 14th, then I won't be able to go into a crowded area like Harrogate that soon because of the risk of infection... GRRRRR. Of course, that means I'll have more money to spend on Skip North early next year though!