Sunday, February 12, 2012

Treading water

I've reached a hiatus in knitting the Essential Cardigan. When I bought the yarn (from the Yarn Gathering in Coventry, since closed down after all the, ahem, problems of Knit Camp) there was one ball less than I needed in stock, and the owner convinced me that a ball of grey would work as a contrast. Now that I've knitted the fronts, back and collar I don't want a contrast colour in it, I want it to be all red. Of course, it then proved nearly impossible to find more balls of Grignasco Merino Gold DK, but I've eventually tracked some down in Wisconsin (!!) and arranged a yarn swop with a kind woman on Ravelry who wanted some sock yarn and British things. Thank God for Ravelry. So, progress has stopped on the cardigan for the time being, whilst I wait for a yarn parcel to arrive from the US. We'll ignore the niceties of dye lots...

So I've been treading water, getting on with some bits and bobs of other projects to fill the time. I did the 12th square of my blanket KAL, which is as big as I was planning to go. Now all I need to do is crochet all the squares together.

And I started some socks as I had a trip to Cambridge one afternoon for a masterclass at the University Library and wanted something to knit on the train. I was amused to spot this sign at King's Cross on the way:

These are Broadripple socks, from Knitty, a pattern I've made before, way back in 2005. The yarn is Opal Cotton sock, which Zeah gave me a while ago. I really like the cotton sock yarns - I like the muted colours and they wear really well. The 2005 Broadripple socks still look almost as good as when they were first finished, and they have been worn regularly ever since.

With the arrival of the snow last week we went and stocked up on bird food. We also bought a ground feeding tray and some mealworms as we have a robin who visits the garden regularly and we thought he'd like them. The mealworms look totally disgusting (I refused to touch them, so the OH had to do it!) but they seem to be doing the trick, as, a week later, we now have two robins, male and female blackbirds and more blue tits!

Look, aren't they gross?! I can just about handle cooking bacon these days (although a whole roast chicken was nearly my undoing) but I draw the line at mealworms.

And in other exciting news, Nicsknots, whose blog I linked to a couple of weeks ago has a new website - it's here, for groovy knitting bags and knitting needle rolls and cards.

That's all for now. I have a busy couple of weeks coming up so I'm not sure how much time I'll get to blog for the rest of February.

There seem to have been a few problems with the comment function on the blog, so I've adjusted the settings. Hopefully it now works...

Monday, February 06, 2012

Garden at the beginning of February 2012

Or what a difference a day makes.
It's still too dark when I get home from work to take photos outside, so this is the garden on Saturday 4th Feb, in the morning:

 And on Sunday morning! It seems a bit bizarre after the mild weather we've been having. I thought maybe we wouldn't get any snow this year after the last two!

January gardening (and, yes, there was gardening, as the weather was so mild!) was marked by things appearing 6-8 weeks too early. This is the camellia, which normally flowers in March, plus loads more buds, which have probably had it now in the snow.

One of the primroses I grew from seed.

Crocuses  beginning to emerge.

And I love the shape of the leaves on this hebe.

With impeccable timing the OH and I had taken a couple of days off work this week to celebrate the anniversary of our first date (!!), which meant we've avoided the need to travel around in the snow.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Kreativ Blogger

And I got another award! This one is the Kreativ Blogger award. I was awarded it by Victoria, who I "met" when we were both planning our weddings at the same time, and I've been reading her blog ever since. Thank you!

So, the first step is to thank the person who gave you the award. See above!
Second, I have to tell you 10 things that you may not know about me.
  1. I didn't know I liked gardening until the last few years. This was a bit of a surprise. It's amazing how few plants I've killed so far.
  2. I really hate bread and butter pudding. My work canteen produces an horrific creation called chocolate bread and butter pudding, which I think is a waste of good chocolate.
  3. I had my tonsils out when I was 27. Which is the only time I've been in hospital.
  4. I've never broken a bone.
  5. I used to be horse-obsessed, until my mid-teens. But I've ridden at some point in almost every place I've lived since then, including in Hyde Park in London and in Windsor Park.
  6. I've lived at sixteen addresses, for time periods ranging from 1 week to 18 years (and, yes, that doesn't count going on holidays, my shortest time in lodgings was a week!).
  7. I've been a Christian about as long as I've been vegetarian.
  8. I think the smell of bacon cooking is one of the most disgusting things on the planet.
  9. I used to be a cross stitcher, until I got the knitting bug 7 years ago! I still have some cross stitch I never got finished then.
  10. I've started three knitting groups...
Finally, I’m supposed to bestow this award on 6 other bloggers. I think I'd include the ones that I nominated for the Liebster blog award a couple of weeks ago.

So, that was five, so I'd add ShinyNewThing to my list of favourite bloggers. She blogs about all of her crafty pursuits (she is evidently much better at time management than me, and/or a much quicker crafter because she gets a LOT more done than me!). Plus she does crafts that I don't, and I like reading about them.

If any of those people want to do the Kreativ Blogger (don't feel like you have to - it's entirely optional, but it's a fun way of finding new blogs) just follow the instructions above!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Books read in January 2012

Needles and pearls by Gil NcNeil
Yes, another trashy knitting novel. Perfect reading for the commute in other words. This is the sequel to Divas don't knit, which I apparently read back in 2008. Is has all the essential ingredients, woman having a crisis of some description (although this one isn't at least the stereotypical young singleton), plus lots of nice yarn descriptions. It's fun to read, and worth looking out for if you want a relaxing and definitely not taxing read.

The incredible journey: Christmas from Genesis to Jesus by Steve Brady
I liked the format of going right to Epiphany instead of stopping at Christmas Day itself, and that each day's Bible reading is printed in full as well as the commentary (means you only have to take one book with you if you go away overnight!). But this one didn't engage me as much as some Advent books have done in the past. I'm not really sure why though!

Gilgamesh by Joan London
Having read The good parents last year I was looking forward to this, and although I did enjoy it, it didn't draw me in as much as her other book. The novel follows Edith and her son as they make a trip from Australia to Armenia to find her son's father. Again, I loved the descriptions of the countries they travelled through, but I did get frustrated with the way time jumped around, sometimes fast, sometimes slow, and a lot of the characters didn't seem particularly, erm, nuanced?

Sister by Rosamund Lupton
A quick pick from the display next to the issuing computer at the library, so I didn't know anything about it or the author. It's a thriller, but a very female one, without the guns, car chases etc. It is totally compelling, with a real twist at the end which I didn't see coming. I didn't have trouble following the plot (which does interesting things with time) but some reviewers seem to have struggled with that. I also liked the way the characters developed and really came to life - at first it seems so simple, a woman's sister has disappeared and she goes to try and find her, but it rapidly becomes much more complicated, making her question what she knew about her whole family as well as herself.

Office 2007 for dummies by Wallace Wang
As I'm now expected to use Outlook at a much higher level than I was before I thought now would be a good time to check I am using it to its full capabilities. This is a fairly basic book, covering the essential functions of Word, Excel, Access, Powerpoint and Outlook, and most of it I could already do perfectly happily, but it did give me some useful tips to use in Outlook, so was worth dipping into.I now have a beautifully colour-coordinated task list with things to tick off and my life all organised. Possibly. I think if you wanted anything more detailed about the individual programs it would be worth getting the individual for dummies books for each program.

Attracting birds to your garden by Stephen Moss and David Cottridge
I thought I might get some good ideas from this book, but it was a bit disappointing. It's written at quite a basic level, and most of the information you could get quite easily online from somewhere like the RSPB. It's also got some quite bizarre editing - many of the pages use "layering", where you have an intro short paragraph, then a more indepth one, then a lot more detail further on. When I'm writing text using layering I put something to grab your attention in the first paragraph, then add more detail, then put a whole lot more. But this book just repeats the same thing - so you end up with the same information repeated three times on the same page!