Monday, February 26, 2007

Harry Potter

You scored as Sirius Black. You are the most loyal friend anyone could ask for because you'd go to any length to ensure their safety and happiness. You're free-spirited and very difficult to confine to a caged life. You love being in the company of those you love and love to show them how much they mean to you. You loathe those who only live for self-gain and show disloyalty. You're a great person but sometimes its needed of you to think more rationally than being quick to jump into things.

Sirius Black


Percy Weasley


Remus Lupin


Albus Dumbledore


Bellatrix Lestrange


Ron Weasley


Neville Longbottom


Luna Lovegood


Hermione Granger


Harry Potter


Lord Voldemort


Severus Snape


Oliver Wood


Draco Malfoy


Harry Potter Character Combatibility Test
created with

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Fair trade, and a knitting update ( finally!)

I think Susan left a comment last time after I'd mentioned PG Tips (as they have free monkeys with boxes of tea at the moment, and yes, I did weaken and get one. So Monkey now has two baby monkeys to cope with.) Something to do with switching to the new blogger, but at the moment I'm not getting any email addresses through with comments (which is what used to happen) so haven't replied to most of them!

Anyway, I thought I'd explain (or try to) what Fair Trade is. Fair Trade means making sure that the producers of goods (tea, coffee, sugar, chocolate, cotton etc etc), often in developing countries, get a fair price paid. A lot of these producers fall victim to low prices and unfair competition (often caused by subsidies in rich countries, like American cotton). You can read more about fair trade here. I think that fair trade is quite "big" in the UK, we have about 2000 certified fair trade goods available here, and it's becoming much easier to get the products at local shops/supermarkets. I suspect the certification process isn't as advanced in other countries. Fairtrade Fortnight starts tomorrow, so it seemed opportune to blog about it! The stuff I buy that's fairly traded tends to be - bananas, sugar, tea, coffee, chocolate, breakfast cereal, jam/marmalade, rice and wine (I'm lucky, as my local shop is a Co-op, which is a strong supporter of Fair Trade as it fits in well with the Co-op's other ethical standpoints.). I'm trying to buy more fairly traded cotton, and I'm attempting to switch to only clothes that are organic cotton (because cotton uses a scary amount of pesticide in production, which is bad news both for cotton producers and the planet). But these are more expensive and, until recently, not available very widely (there are some links to some in my sidebar, under "Ethical Shopping"). It's quite hard to apply this to craft stuff. You can get Fairly Traded yarn, such as the recycled sari silk, or from companies such as Artesano and I would love to be able to switch to organic cotton, but haven't found much available (and much of it is from overseas, which means shipping, which has an environmental impact). I think it's also important to support local, British, producers, and am trying to concentrate more on locally produced yarns, when I do buy yarn (still on a diet!).

Incidentally, did anyone hear the World at One on either Thursday or Friday last week? There was a rather scarey interview with an American woman who'd wanted to recycle her Christmas cards, couldn't find anywhere in the US to do it, and ended up sending them to the Isle of Wight! Surely there must be somewhere in the US that recycles paper and card?!

And onto what I've been up to in the last few weeks...

I bought some fabric remnants from a shop called "Textures" in Penrith last year, and finally got round to making them into covers for the seat pads of my dining room chairs:

Hmm, colours don't come out well at this time of year!

My February skein from the Fyberspates sock club arrived:

and it's a gorgeous mixture of 90% merino and 10% nylon, hand-dyed in Wales (see, local production!)

And I had a bit of a sock disaster with the sideways sock pattern my godmother brought back from Harrogate for me. I did get gauge, and was making the adult size 5-6, but they've come out really tight across the heel and leg and at least an inch too long! They're not really wearable so I had to frog...

and found the Bakerloo pattern on Magknits, which you actually make to fit your foot measurements! = a much happier foot and sock! The yarn is the Austermann step with aloe vera in it.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Monkey makes a come back

Anyone who's been watching the TV over here might have noticed that Monkey has made a return! For anyone not from the UK who probably won't know this, Monkey was originally used to advertise a TV service called ITVDigital - except the Monkeys proved to be much more popular than the TV thing so the company went bust. Indeed, Monkey developed a bit of a cult following, and we had 4 of them around at the place I was working in 2001/2 and they were going for a fortune on Ebay! I got a knitting kit from Mavis Crafts, and got my great-aunts to knit my Monkey (I couldn't knit then!).

Anyway, Monkey has made a reappearance on TV, advertising PGTips (not sure what I think about this, as I only drink fair trade tea!). You can see the (extended) advert with Monkey in here and buy monkeys here... Be warned. The advert does feature Monkey in the washing machine which some viewers may find upsetting.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

BL petition

The govt. wants to cut the British Library's budget, which will mean cuts to the times the reading rooms are open (not long enough at the moment, in my opinion, let alone after a budget cut!) and also the introduction of a fee to use the reading rooms, which are currently free. So PLEASE sign the petition to try and persuade them not to do it!
(Brits only, I'm afraid!)

You can read more about it here.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Not Buying It...

I've been reading "Not Buying It" over the last couple of weeks, which has really made me stop and think about what I buy (and don't buy) and why. I think, I have to agree with one of the Amazon reviews, (third one down, Mrs Katharine Kirby), that there's a lot that's interesting in the book, but it's very US-centred. So if anyone knows of anything similar but from a UK or European point of view please let me know! (oh, and I got it from the library, rather than buying it...)

A bit like joining "Knit From Your Stash" really, I was beginning to feel awkward about my stash and the amount I was spending on yarn. Some of it is stuff I bought when I first started knitting and it was relatively hard to get hold of decent yarn, particularly sock yarn. Some I thought of as a bargain as it was in a sale (but will I ever use it?!). So far, Knit From Your Stash is going well (one month in, eight to go!). I have bought yarn, some for a knitting request I received, some to finish a present off, and some to do the heels for a pair of socks, but otherwise have managed not to buy any more.

Anyway, go and read "Not Buying It". Last week someone posted on the MoneySavingExpert forum wanting ideas for things to do at the weekend that didn't cost much as her partner had just been made redundant. Having totted up what I spent last weekend on my "social" life, it came to:
£3.25 for a pot of tea and a chocolate brownie at Knit Lincs
£5 in church collection
petrol to get to Knit Lincs

Possibly I'm not your average consumer?!

Also read in the last fortnight:
Providential Accidents - the autobiography of Geza Vermes. Very interesting and provided a lot I didn't know about wartime Hungary, immediate post-war France, as well as Catholicism around the time of the Second World War and Judaism in general (Vermes was born Jewish, converted to Christianity, became a Catholic priest, then returned to Judaism whilst in this country). I found the account of the early investigations into the Dead Sea Scrolls particularly interesting.
Confessions of a Bad Mother - a very funny account of the woman who muddles her way through bringing up her children. From my point of view (as in, yet to sprog) it was very reassuring...