Thursday, March 31, 2011

Where are they now?

Knitting and Crochet Blog week - day 4.

This post is meant to be about a project you've knit and what has happened to it.....gonna tweek it a little.

I have spent the last 40 minutes trying to find a photo/date/blog entry/Ravelry link for this item and I can't find a thing. I must have never blogged etc about it. I have no photos of it and as for where it is.....folded up on the end of my bed.

My 'Cozy'.

The pattern was published in Knitty in 2004 - I think I must have made mine 2005 ish. It is knit in Jaeger Trinity in a kind of weird green. I hated knitting it. I made so many mistakes - it was my first big lace project and it took me forever to finish it. I shoved it in a drawer and left it to fester, unblocked and unloved.

I don't remember when but I got cold one day and decided to use the 'Cozy' for what it was designed for. It is stretchy and versatile and warm. The bloody thing has been in almost constant use ever since. I love it. I'd be lost without it. It is very tatty now but I still turn to it when I am chilly more than anything else I own. It gets used as a giant scarf, a blankie and a wrap. I have attempted to make its replacement but have frogged each attempt - cos I still hate knitting it (quite a boring pattern) and the attempts never quite match up to my lovely scruffy and battered existing one. It has been camping, worn to a wedding and I took it to Bath with me last month. It has been washed and washed and washed and I still love it. It is like comfort food in knitted form. In fact I'm a little cold now - better go and liberate it from the end of the bed.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tidy mind, tidy stitches.....???

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week - post 3.

I first read the title as 'tiny mind' etc.

I don't have currents photos of my stash because it would be a nightmare to get the whole of it out and takes its picture but it is kind of organised or it was.

At one time I had an up to date list of all the yarn and fibre I owned and was in use and as I used stuff or added to it, I updated the list. This wonderful organised feeling last about 6 months. The list in now buried and woefully out of date. But I like the surprise element that my stash sometimes throws at me when I am having a good deep rummage.

I have 3 hinged baskets in my sitting room. They hold a couple of old UFO's and the relevant yarn for them. The also house my needles, hooks, patterns and sundries. They also are home to some fibre, spinning wheel bits and bobs, loom stuff and spindles and they are fairly organised. I can always lay my hands on what I need with ease.

I have a box in the lounge that keeps tidy the yarn and fibre for my current projects - so I can lay my hands on the next skein without a mega stash dive. My actual projects are kept in separate project bags so kept moth proof.

Everything else....? Is in the hall cupboard in 3 large crates and assorted other storage methods. I have one crate with all my most luscious and favourite stuff in (it hardly shuts), one with lesser yarn and hand spun and one with odds, sods and left over sock yarn. All the yarn is in individual zip lock bags to keep it protected. But it is a mammoth task liberating it and with a low door frame (it houses the tank and cylinder) I am guaranteed to bang my head every time. That might explain why I am so addlepatted.

It isn't perfect. In a perfect world I'd have a yarn room (full to the brim) with special glass fronted cupboards and oodles of space .......maybe one day.

Wednesday Madhouse - Not enough

Not enough time,
Not enough wine,
Not enough of Mike's carbonara,
Not enough yarn,
Not enough socks,
Not enough books,
Not enough money,
Not enough relaxing,
Not enough playing,
Not enough music,
Not enough cheese,
Not enough colour,
Not enough sleep,
Not enough poetry,
Not enough deodorant.......phew
Not enough terriers and kitties,
Not enough space,
Not enough thinking.

Loads and loads of love though.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Skill + 1UP

Day 2 of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week.

Today it's all about new things learnt in knitting and crochet over the past year. For me the last 12 months have been about acquiring new construction techniques particularly in lace knitting. I have had a go at Orenburg lace and that style of knitting a portion of the border first, then knitting the body and side border and finishing with the top border - it also covered garter stitch lace which I hadn't done much of and lace stitches in all rows. I've had a dabble with Estonain lace (my current lace project is in that style). I also had a good go at new techniques with knitted on borders (see above) and lace scarf construction (see below).

I find a lot of my knitting pleasure comes from learning how to make new things work. I like new cast on and bind offs and different ways of making garments more than learning styles of knitting.
This year I've also learnt to cable without a cable needle and to purl using a continental method that keeps the yarn at the back - can't for the life of me remember its proper name, learnt a lovely stretching cast/bind off perfect for lace knitting and worked hard to improve my stranded knitting too.

I want to carry on working on perfecting my lace knitting techniques and maybe try a few new sock construction ideas over the next 12 months. I'm pretty sure I'll find other things to get distracted by as well - that's the great thing about knitting there is always something new to find.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Tale of two yarns

It's Knitting and Crochet blog week - huzzah!

Todays post should be about a yarn you lurve and a yarn you abhor.

My most favourite yarn in the world ever - has to come from  sock yarn as I knit more socks than anything else and it is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock. I just adore it. I would like a massive pile of the stuff (more massive than I have) and I would like to wallow around nekkid in it. It makes great socks which wash well and are hard wearing and it has lovely stitch definition and it never makes my hands sore (some sock yarns do as they feel coarse until they are washed). They have the most amazing range of colours and I covet every skein that has ever been produced.

I haven't got a specific brand of yarn I dislike - I have types of yarn I dislike for example - yarn barf which is bobbly with bits on or fluffy or like ribbon. The main reason behind my dislike of yarn barf yarn is  two fold.  Firstly they are normally fookin pants to knit with - not easy to handle or splitty -  stuff like that and secondly 99.9% of them, in my experience, squeak as you knit them. The kind of squeak that sets your teeth on edge and makes you shudder (similar effect to drinking cheap whiskey). It's like knitting with a mutant demented mouse that has been through a barf dispenser. Yuck.

P.S - Also most stuff knitted with yarn barf comes out looking pants cos the patterns written for this type of yarn (again IMHO) are total shit.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Last nights Border to Kitty conversation.

 "I am looking regal and inscrutable - why are you not bowing before me feline minion?"
 "Cat you are starting to behave like a human - sitting there - you bore me!"
"I shall look away and lick my nose. You are beneath my notice and besides my nose tastes good...nom...nom....nom."
" Ha! Amateur.This is how you do inscrutable."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesday Madhhouse - Getting caught.

This title has fried my noodle. I never got caught. Not smoking in the school grounds, not making out with a boyfriend, I never did shoplifting or any kind of stealing, I never smashed windows, did graffiti - in fact I can't think of anything where I got caught.
I thought through ways of twisting it - like getting caught in a long term (life term) relationship at 15 or catching a crafting bug or some other obsession but I truly cannot get inspired.

So, for the first time, I am bugging out of this weeks topic. Next weeks looks more inspiring.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Labour of love in green

Blocking merrily away on the dinning room table. This has been a stop and start project but last week I decided it had to end! The last 10 days or so I have spent as much time as possible working on this to get the 2nd half of it done. It isn't that it isn't a great pattern - it is. The construction is interesting and the charts are easy but not simple - it has enough in it that you have to stay on the takes a long time and my attention wanders.

I am very happy with it now it's done - the ends need sewing in when it's blocked and dry. It is for me and I look forward to wearing it.
Tech bits of pattern/yarn etc can be found on Ravelry.

Books 14, 15 and 16.

The Dreamers Cat - Stephen Leather

This was the first book I read on my Kindle. It was a recommendation by my sister-in-law.

Not the worlds longest read or the hardest but definitely an intriguing one. It had a good paced plot, with lots of interesting changes of scenario but all the while keeping the main plot carrying forward. The main human character didn't have that much depth but his cat certainly did. I like Sci-fi but am not normally a fan of thrillers, the mix of genres in this story works really well and it added another dimension to the plot line.

I did work out the end before I reached it - that is the main reason I tend not to read thrillers I have an uncanny ability to suss them out really early into a book! I have another of this authors books downloaded ready to read - I hope it lives up to this one.

American Gods - Neil Gaiman.

I can never choose between this one and 'Neverwhere' . I love them both.

Revisiting this book was wonderful. I love Gaiman's tone and pace. His use of language and the overall weirdness of his story telling and Shadow is probably my favourite main character (though my real Gaiman favourites of all time are Vandemar and Croup).

One of the delights of this story is the uncovering of the old gods and the telling of what they are now and how they have merged into our society to survive - it is all very clever stuff.

I don't want to give too much away - for anyone who hasn't tried Neil Gaiman's books -  'American Gods'  is a good place to start.

Immortal  - Lauren Burd.

More vampires this week. What can I say about this Twilight/Vampire Diary hybrid?

Well I was taught that if you can't say anything nice - then say nothing.


Friday, March 18, 2011

The Avenue

Who has not seen their lover
Walking at ease,
Walking like any other
A pavement under trees,
Not singular,apart,
But footed, featured, dressed,
Approaching like the rest
In the same dapple of the summer caught;
Who has not suddenly thought
With swift surprise:
There walks in cool disguise,
There comes, my heart.

Frances Cornford (1886 - 1960)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wednesday Madhouse - Crafts

I grew up in a house full of crafts. My Mum sewed, knit, crocheted, made my ballet costumes and clothes, did macrame, made candles, baked, did embroidery and was always making crafty things for fund raisers and school fetes. She collected 'Golden Hands' and 'Craft' and turned her hand to most things in there at one time or another. I know this is where my love of crafts comes from and my older Sister and I were encouraged to try stuff out and learn new skills. Despite this, it was my Sister who taught me knit, not my Mum. One birthday K bought me a knitting pattern (dolls clothes) and needles - she got me a tape measure and made a felt case for it and made me a sewing needle case with needles and a thimble in and some little scissors but the best part of her gift is she took me to a yarn shop in town (Castle Square, Brighton) and bought me yarn - in skeins (which I'd never seen before) - to make the pattern for my doll. I still have the pattern. We came home and together we wound up the wool.

I did knit as a child, K showed me the basics, I used to make shapes up, guessing how to increase and decrease. My Barbie had a lovely selection of garters stitch halter tops (child of the 70's) in a bright lilac colour, but I didn't love knitting for a long time. Even as a young adult I prefer to sew or do needlepoint or crochet. I became a sporadic knitter.

After J was born I discovered patchwork - spent 3 years going to classes - loved it. Went to shows made numerous quilts, cushions, spent almost every free indoor minute working on it. But, isn't there always a but? Too much of a good thing, studying with the OU and preferring machine piecing (at that time) meant I started to fall out of love with patchwork and quilting. Around this time I rediscovered knitting  - we were going on a canal holiday and I wanted to take something portable with me for the evenings to keep my hands and mind occupied. There was a trend for big yarn and big needles (one of my previous issues with knitting was everything, other than baby stuff, took too long) I bought some supplies and pattern and had a 'eureka' knitting moment on the Kennet Avon canal. T'was a rediscovered skill that became a passion. At first I had to badger my Mum quite a bit as I was very rusty with my skills, but then I discovered Knitty and other online resources and off I went.....quite funny really as now Mum picks my brains.

I still do other crafts - including patchwork when the mood takes me. And I am still surrounded by crafts as Mum makes cards and M has his pottery and drawing. At the moment J shows no interest in any craft, perhaps it may skip a generation or it may just be taking its time and sneaking up on him.

I don't know how people live without making stuff and crafting, it has always been such a part of who I am, I'd be lost without it.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Well really

I've been a little remiss with my blogging - just books and madhouse really. It's not that I can't be asked, it's just although I am busy it is all stuff that is mundane and really not worth blogging about. Boring stuff like dental visits, vet visits, shopping, chores and so and so forth. I've been catching up on stuff that got overlooked or forgotten and other bits like clearing out drawers and cupboards which creates a mountain of recycling which seems to take forever to sort through. See really riveting.

I have been knitting and spinning and sewing but it is all stuff in progress - so no pictures or details really. One shawl got 80% of it's body knit in a week as I was determined to move it along but since that burst I've not had the time (due to so many bloomin appointments) to carry on with my massive push on it. I lost my sock mojo for a while (might have re found it now), the gnome gloves still need finishing.....I got distracted.

To make it worse I've put my neck out and am on pain killers which make me sleepy. I think I'll have to go back to the quack as it isn't getting better and I'm having problems sleeping too as I can't get comfortable.

I think I will, try, this week to waste less time faffing about (getting distracted) by all the pretty/blogs/knitting/FB/BTW and get some stuff moved along.

As I've nothing to show you here is a picture of a disgruntled Bo-bo - her expression very much mirrors my own right now.
"Who do you think you are a looking at Matey?"

Friday, March 11, 2011

52 Books - 12 and 13

Doing these two together because they are by the same author are 1 and 2 in the series and that's the way (uhuh-uhuh - I like it) I read them.

Vampire Diaries - The Awakening/The Struggle - L.J. Smith

I have, since my teens, loved vampires from my first ever reading of Bram Stoker aged about 13 which led me to read Anne Rice and so on.

In recent months I have read all the of the Twilight Saga (J calls them Twishite) and all of the current Sookie Stackhouse books and I know they are not erudite or profound by I loved them. And even though I'm not really into cinema or TV that much I have watched Trublood and seen the Twilight films - I have also watched Vampire Diaries (season 1 & as much of season 2 as they've shown so far) and I have loved all of these also. When ITV2 announced another Vampire Diary TV break I decided to give the books a ago, with some trepidation, as I had read review that they were very much more aimed at a teen audience than others but they were quite cheap on my Kindle so I downloaded 1 and 2 as I  thought 2 books would give me a good  taste.

I will not be downloading the rest. Sorry but me no likee. The book characters are not much like the TV ones and they didn't draw me in at.....not even Damon. I decided book Elena was stupid and couldn't engage with her personality and book Stefan needs a kick up the arse. They weren't scary, thrilling or even that romantic. In fact one word sums it up and that word is 'pants'.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Wednesday Madhouse - Teachers.

Interesting subject from my perspective because I am not only the parent but am also the teacher. Not a teacher who works a class full of kidlets but a parent who chooses to educate otherwise or home educate her child.

This duel role can make for some challenging issues at times but it is also one of the most rewarding things I have ever undertaken. It is also one of the scariest too - especially now as we start to approach the age of exams and thinking about the future. There is no-one to shoulder this for us - we have to step up to the mark and make choices.

The positives of home educating and the dual role of parent and teacher are the same as all parents experience before their children enter the education system - it just lasts longer in a home ed situation. I see first hand everyday J's triumphs and his disasters - in fact these are both shared. If he fails, then it means I fail too etc. Over the years we have shared some amazing things amongst these are the most brilliant moments of all, the moments of distraction when a question or a comment sends us off on a tangent and we can be distracted by something  new that neither of us knew about before.

I have learnt so much. I have learnt new ways of doing and learning, I have learnt to be more accepting, patient and open minded, I have learnt to say "Damn it, it's not working, lets do something different." And most importantly, for me, I have been there seeing J learn.

He isn't a genius, he's an average teen boy. But he has an enquiring mind and has learnt at his speed using things that interest him - we have both learnt together.

The pros of my dual role definitely outweigh the cons.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

52 Books - 9, 10 and 11

Book 9 - King Arthur - Dragons Child by M K Hume.

I came across this book after reading Wibbo's review of it for her 52 books in 2010 (Wibbo's book blog here). It sounded like my sort of read so right at the beginning of the year I ventured into Brighton city centre and managed to find a copy in Waterstones. I am so glad I did. I read it in 2 days and I loved every page.

It is the legend of the Arthur but with a twist - Arthur is raised by a Roman family - this gives the book a whole different feel from the more traditionally told versions, but the difference really works, it actually makes it feel more real.

This is quite a dark and violent book in places and there some disturbing areas, however, it is part of the story and doesn't seem gratuitous. I like a book and that can shock within a good story without detracting from the tale and this book definitely does that.

I have the second book downloaded onto to my Kindle - but am saving it for when I need a really good, absorbing read and I also have time to loose myself for a  couple of days.

Book 10 - The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet.

Loved the TV series decided to read the book or should that be tome. It is a long book and not good for travelling, hence it took me a little longer to wade through. I did enjoy it though. There are subtle differences from the TV version but it was close enough. The details are there and didn't detract from the story telling - the feel of characters worked well, though, I did picture the actors as I read which I didn't like so much but can live with....who wouldn't mind picturing Rufus Sewell?

Not sure I'd bother with the follow up though. I liked book because of the series but am not so sure that Mr Follets style of writing is one I'd be too eager to revisit - that is just a personal thing though.

Book 11 - Sign of the Four - Arthur Conan Doyle.

This was another Holmes book that got missed from 2010's marathon. I downloaded this as a free audio book from LibriVox for knitting time. I loved it. It has to be one of the most intriguing and exciting Holmes stories I've read - I got an awful lot of knitting done as I was engrossed in the story. It seemed the word pictures of London and the River Thames were more vivid than in other longer Sherlock Holmes stories - perhaps Conan Doyle needed to pad out his word count - but for whatever reason it worked for me.

That's me all caught up with my books. I am happy that at week 9 - I have managed to post about 11 books and still have 4 in hand.

I am reading 3 books and listening to 1 at the moment. It's all looking OK to make 52 in a year so far.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Wednesday Madhouse - 2 for the price of 1.

I missed last week so I am attempting to play catch up this week.

23rd February - Insomnia.

I am a sporadic insomniac. Most of the time I sleep quite well, but when something is bothering me than it can, and often does, effect my sleep pattern. I find I have the personality type that has a night time brain; by this I mean that once awake, say for a bathroom trip, then if I am worried about something, my brain will suddenly ping into awake mode right in the middle of the night, quite often with no warning. I am a born worrier but during the day I can bury things or distract myself  but at night even the smallest worry becomes magnified and sleep becomes a distant friend. M is good, he always tells me to wake him - but it's like waking an Oak tree in the dead of winter, he does try, but sleeping is his natural state!

I have strategies for these periods when I become sleepless. Sometimes I let my brain do its thang and wear itself out, but this can take hours. Sometimes I use meditation techniques and try and rebuild in the finest detail a favourite beach in Cyprus and sometimes I just wipe it out by building mental castles in the sky. These work about 60/40. On the the nights they don't I toss and turn, complain and give up and read a book knowing that tomorrow will see me wrecked and bad tempered (shhhh everyone who said "normal then ?").

I don't know how proper insomniacs manage - a couple of nights with bad sleep ruins about 10 days for me. I hope that I never get beyond the sporadic attacks that I get now.

2nd March - Fire

M is an amateur pyromaniac (something he had in common with my Dad), a love of burning stuff - bonfires, chiminea fire, bbq's - you name it and M loves it. If he had his way we'd have bonfires every night. I think then, it is a very good thing that he discovered Raku.

Raku is an ancient Japanese way of decorating biscuit fired pottery it involves (my technical knowledge is a little sketchy - I am not a potter) glazing the pot, heating it with a gas burner fired into a Raku kiln, lifting it out, glowing hot, very carefully with big, big tongs and then stuffing it into a reduction chamber - filled with all manner of combustible material - and shutting it in there to see what effects you get. If this works then this should link you to one of my favourite pieces of M's Raku - I love the rainbow flashes within the copper matt wash. If not this link goes to his blog and there are Raku, Naku and smoked fired pieces scattered about in there - all of the above use fire.

I've not tried Raku, me and pottery don't get on, but if you ever get the chance to see Raku taking place - grab it. The glowing hot fired pottery and then the burst of flame as it enters the reduction chamber is enough to stir the amateur pyromaniac in us all.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Last bit of Bathy time fun.

 We went to the Jane Austin Centre linky here on Tuesday. I was really looking forward to this, as on every previous visit I'd wanted to go but had J with me and it's not his thing (understandably). I was, I'm sad to say, disappointed. It cost £15, with a £1 guide pamphlet, you were left in a little room to await a talk, which was no more than about 15 minutes, it was informative but done in a flat tone with an odd sing song note. I didn't learn anything new really. The downstairs exhibits were OK but rather small and we really needed to all start going "Bahhhhh" as it felt more like sheep herding than a museum visit. Shop was OK, gave the tearoom a miss though - felt like I'd given them enough ££ by then.
 We wandered up the hill and found The Circus (above and previous photo). It made up for the Jane Austen 'underwhelming' Centre.
 We then continued exploring and finally stumbled upon Royal Crescent - fan-bloomin-tastic. Really just blows you away. I also had a good mooch about some of lovely little shops all around this area - found some lovely earrings - a pair for Mum (little thank you for dog and brat sitting) and a pair of me. Had a minor heart attack at the price of a weeny little bag with Scotties on.......£165.00....the mini change style purse was £45 (both with a 10% discount).
 Took a lovely stroll around Victoria Park and found the monument - the daylight was really getting grey so we couldn't get a clearer shot - this is best of the bunch.
This little street here is where I found the earrings and the bag (which I didn't buy). You see the yellow building? That is where we had lunch and it was totally fab! Here's a a link to their FB page. M had the scallops on kaffa (sp?) lime leaves - which he reckoned was the best scallop dish he'd ever tasted, with a side of bread and olives, I had a fresh tomato and basil sauce over pasta with a fruity glass of Merlot followed by a fresh, strong and piping hot black coffee. It truly was a delicious lunch  and very good value too. The place is small with an intimate feel and the service is very good. When we go back (and we will) we will be going there for lunch and or dinner as their menu just calls for more sampling. It made a great day together even better. I had a nose at what the guy next to us ordered including his polenta cake pudding and it looked awesome.

We headed back to the hotel, after a visit to the Hawkins Bazaar shop to find a gift a for J, and rested our aching feet in the bar.

As a side note, I need to say that the Travelodge (Waterside) at Bath is brill. More hotel than most Travelodge with a lovely lounge area bar and waterside restaurant. The room was spotless, the staff were very helpful and friendly and the buffet brekkie was a winner with us both.