Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Home...but exhausted!

We are back from Wonderwool!

You know, 48 hours on (just as a stand helper) and I am still exhausted - in fact, I have spent the last two days at work wandering around work emulating a zombie!

My hat is firmly off to all those small businesses who do shows like this on a regular basis - good grief - you do this AND raise fibre animals, shear or clip them, create roving, spin, dye yarn, felt, knit and make spinning wheels?!

Okay, I will share my experience of Wonderwool, disclose what constitutes a Mid Wales gourmet mouthful (just for you Toni) and reveal the contents of these bags, as and when I can over the next few days!

However, please note that my deeply, very lovely Fella is still here and, as we live so far apart, I plan to enjoy every minute that I can with him until he gets back on a plane to Vancouver at the end of next weekend.

So please bear with me. I took lots of photos and will share as much as I can, when I can!

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Not at Home to Visitors!

If things are a bit quiet on my blog for the next two weeks, it is because the Fella landed on Saturday for a business trip. Hurray!

Mind you, it's not all slushy, romantic stuff here in London because next weekend we are headed to Wonderwool Wales and Mid Wales Mouthful...

...the primary excuse is that I plan to help out my mother, Artisan Yarns, on her stall. (In truth, I hope to bury myself quietly in a mountain of yarn, taking timeouts only to sample the finest foods that Mid Wales has on offer!)

We plan to return from Wales with a quantity of good photos and stories for your virtual delectation and delight! Oh yes...

Friday, 18 April 2008

Nice Things for Others 2: Beads & Seven Dials, Covent Garden

There is a certain knitter who lives somewhere on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Last summer, this knitter created some lovely looking, lace handspun in a sunflowery colourway. Really, it is absolutely gorgeous - go see.

Now this year - between socks, bunnies, snowdrifts and the arrival of Spring - I have spotted snippets of blog evidence that this yarn has fought its way to the top of her stash and announced that it wants to become her entry for this year's State Fair shawl.

As it turns out, this handspun just as assertive as I perceive its maker to be. Right now, they are working out the details of the shawl design between them. To me, this makes really interesting reading as it is looking to be a very honest discussion between both parties about aspirations, ideas about the design and what will show the yarn off to its best advantage - from what I have seen so far, neither knitter or yarn are prepared to settle for what doesn't feel right. Well, after all, we are talking State Fair here - it's got to be right. Right?

For one, I will be really interested to see what final design they will come up with between them...

...partly because I nipped out from the office recently to pick up some beads for them from the Seven Dials, Covent Garden area of London. Y'know - just to see if that will help by adding a new element to the sunflower shawl design debate.

Here are some snaps that I took this week when I went for a lunchtime stroll around Seven Dials*. This is just as context for the package that making its way across the Atlantic, so that KnitterBunny can get a feel about my part of the world and where her beads were sourced.

I have also included some photo of beads in this set. Just so you can see the selection I picked out and trialled to assist with long distance, decision making. Plus rule out any beads that would not work with a crochet hook. It was a fun thing to do and I hope that my package turns out to be useful!


* Currently this slideshow only contains pictures of two of the three bead shops that are a stone's throw from my office. Half of the pictures that I took on my walk seem to have vanished from my camera - I will correct that next week but I wanted to post this now, because I know that the arrival of the package is imminent!

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Nice Things for Others 1: Egypt & the British Museum

When I was in Vancouver in February, the fella and I managed to catch up with Rabbitch for a coffee. Now along for the ride was a certain daughter - who just happens to be one very bright, switched on individual. She was also terribly patient with us incredibly boring adults.

As this specific daughter had just studied Egyptian Mummies at school, I promised that I would pop into the British Museum (it's not far from my office) and take some photos of their exhibits for her.

Being so disorganised, this did not happen until Easter when Fella and Son were over. After a further mix-up at ORK HQ, I have just heard that a little package has arrived in Vancouver and is on its way via local post to its final destination.

So to cut a long story short - to go with that package, and for anyone else who is curious about the British Museum, please click here for a slideshow of some of its Egyptian exhibits*.

* * * * *

* Notes: I need to tell you that I have to be prodded with a sharp stick to make me go into the Egyptian rooms at the British Museum, as they completely and utterly freak me out. I think that it's the atmosphere and proximity to the dead.

I cannot help it, I understand that it is educational but in my view, no matter how ancient, the dead should be allowed to rest in peace, in accordance with their funeral rituals and beliefs that resulted in them being embalmed, wrapped, placed in decorated coffins (not the word, I know) and entombed. Therefore, while there are a few images of bandaged bodies in my slide show, I have tried to keep them to a minimum.

Perhaps it is just that I do not like the idea of my body being on display in a glass case a few 1000 years from now, just because someone decided to dispose of me in an interesting, 'of the period' coffin.

Mind you, I guess that is not very likely as I plan to be cremated. I appreciate that this is not carbon footprint friendly, but how else can my remains be stuffed into a series of very large firework rockets, to be blasted colourfully into the air while my friends and family celebrate with fizz and nibbles before gently brushing me off their shoulders and heading home?!

One Sock Forward, One Sock Back

I finished my socks on my way home last night - astonishing but true. It's only taken two months. I cast on for them on 18th February and yesterday was the 15th April. In the time that I have been working on these socks, Knitter Bunny has completed 8 pairs of socks (at least).

I wore my red socks triumphantly around the house (trailing the length of yarn and needle on the end of my kitchner stitched toe)...

...for about 10 minutes. Then I was obliged to take them off as they were itching and irritating my feet horribly.

I don't know - the Koigu seemed soft enough against my hands while I was knitting it. Clearly my feet are more sensitive. Who knew that I was such a delicate flower?!

So I sat on the edge of my bed. I looked at the socks that I have spent two months knitting, I looked at my pale and pasty feet and then I looked at the socks again. I found myself wondering if it is possible to get silk or cotton inners for woollen socks, so I could wear them out.

(Oh, that would be me wondering whether I can wear cotton or silk socks underneath my woollen ones, then?! Hmm, it just doesn't get that cold in London and I doubt that I'd ever get my feet into my shoes afterwards.)

So I flopped them down on the side, with a sigh of, 'Oh well, that was a complete waste of two months effort then - great.'

I went to bed. At some point, I'll dunk them in Soak and see if that solves the problem/softens the fibres up a little. Failing that, I'll frame the damned things.

Pictures once they have been soaked!

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Set Them Free - Yarn Destash!

Edited to update what yarn has gone.

Last week, I mentioned feeling cluttered by yarn purchases that I am no longer sure that I will use. Some were impulse buys and others were bought for projects that have not come to fruition. Either way, I cannot see an immediate use for the yarn and it is languishing untouched in my stash.

So yesterday, I went through my craft cupboard, my yarn basket and my three yarn drawers. Folks, I have set aside some yarn to destash. Scary - I have never done this before.

I have added these yarns to my Ravelry stash, marked them as available for Sale or Trade and indicated what I paid for them. This way, I am hoping that if someone happens to want any of it, they can contact me and let me know how much they are willing to offer. At least that is how I hope it works.

In summary, the yarns are:

· 10 balls of Rowan Ribbon Twist (black and pink) · 2 skeins of Posh Yarn, 4ply Sophia Cashmere (Terracotta)
· 2 cone wound skeins (still need to weigh these) of Hipknits Laceweight Silk (Pink) Gone!
· 14 balls of Rowan Big Wool (mauve) Gone!
· 3 skeins of Wagtail Mohair-Merino 8Ply (Medium Violet) Gone! · 3 skeins of Wagtail Pure Mohair 4Ply (Mulberry) Gone! · 2 yarn cakes (50g each, I think) of Hipknits Aran Silk (Pink, Red and Purple) Gone! · 2 skeins of Evolution Sport Weight (Figgy Pudding) Gone!
The proceeds from the Hipknits yarns will go to charity. Either to a UK charity that I support (see right), Knitters Without Borders or The House That Yarn Built. I am happy for the person who buys the yarn to choose which of these good causes gets the money.

Let me know in a comment if you are interested in any of this yarn, otherwise message me on Ravelry! You can find the statistics, description of each yarn in my Ravelry Stash.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Opps - time for me to mind my Ps and Qs?!

Yesterday, my mother added me as a friend on Ravelry....

...followed by...

[GULP] ...um, hello mum!

Okay everyone - please make my mother welcome here and on Ravelry and um, please, if I am misbehaving ever...for goodness sake...

...do not draw it to the attention of Hereford's very own yarnartisanne.

Now, just to round off this post. Here is the transcript of a sneaky text that I sent to the Fella yesterday afternoon, during a 3.5 technical and vampire (i.e life force sucking) meeting:

"B - Have you ever been stuck in a hot, close meeting room for over 3hrs with 20 attendees, desperate to break wind to the point where bowels bubble audibly and you sit, buttocks clenched, for fear of an unfortunate escape of noxious gases that would have the impact of a Jurassic Fart? Pity me x"

The Jurassic Fart of which I spoke? For your delectation and delight:

Luckily, when Fella woke up, read this and spoke to me (knowing the reference), he chuckled (importantly) and said, 'You do make me laugh, honey.' (Phew.)

Opps, welcome to my blog, mum :-)

* * *

Notes: just in case - Ps and Qs

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Easy to see how you might get sucked in

Really, this is a final Scrabble post for Robynn and Granny Purple but it does give a little sockage too. See left for proof!

The Scrabble dictionary is not given to lengthy definitions. However, the word 'jol' is described as a party or to have a good time. This is not to be confused with a similiar word, 'joll' which means to knock - so Robynn, your memories of its usage are spot on!

GP, we limited references to the Scrabble dictionary over Easter. However, some words it permits did cause us to raise our eyebrows. Now, we think that three separate English dictionaries should be sourced and used. Each dictionary should be an editon printed within 2-4 years (either way) of each player's year of birth. We thought that we should draw lots to see which dictionary each player receives as a reference / handicap (depending on your view of whether or not the English language has expanded over the past 50 years).

At that point, I have to tell you that Fella and I looked at each other, decided that our desire to beat Son had gone too far and that we were taking-the-game-far-too-seriously*!

Well, at least as seriously as I am taking this bloomin' sock. Far - t-o-o - seriously! Good grief, will it never end?!

I think that I may have, at last, reached the toes decrease point.

The good news for me (I think) is that the heel seems to fit. Mind you, I thought that when I tried the 1st sock on and I only discovered that it didn't work once I'd finished the entire sock.

No, not ripping back. Isn't the whole point of a first pair of socks that they do not, or should not fit?! I am just feeling very grateful that the gauge gremlin has chosen to pass over this project.

Oh. That just means that it will strike on another project when there is more invested in its outcome...?

* * * * *

*Serious Scrabble: it turns out that taking a game too seriously is a relative thing. After Easter, my colleagues were asking me how my Easter Scrabble tournament had gone when suddenly, one of them produced a folded list of words from his wallet. He dangled it from his hand. It was a list of unusual two and three letter words possible in Scrabble. It seems that he gives himself lists of words to commit to memory during his commutes to work?

Now that is dedication. A clear example of someone taking a board game very seriously - if not far too seriously? Oddly, my opinion of this colleague suddenly changed. I now find that I have a new respect for him that did not exist before. However, y
ou would be fairly safe to bet your very own backside that I'm far too chicken to challenge him to a game of Scrabble. He would mince my paltry wordage to pulp!

Other Words: ruga - wrinkle, fold or crease; zo - bovine, a yak and common cattle cross; qi - chi

Sunday, 6 April 2008

International Scrabbling and a Quick Revisit by Winter

Last night, between bowls of pasta and apple crumble (not a sophisticated menu), I looked over at my two dinner guests and persuaded them that there was only one thing that could possibly salvage our carb and alcohol stupified brains -Super Scrabble!

My dinner guests were my Italian Host Sister (IHS), who is staying with me while she job hunts, and one of my younger brothers.

Hmm, an Italian not operating in her first language and, I had forgotten that, my brother happens to be dyslexic - it could have been a dreadful mistake. However, it was not at all.

There were some excellent, if not compelling, debates over viable words and their imaginative spelling. Both my IHS and my brother were convinced, mainly by their highly competitive natures, of being correct. I did my best to mediate by waving the Scrabble dictionary over their heads!

My IHS kept writing down words that she did not know. We did congratulate her on such a good idea but when I peeped over her shoulder, I am just not sure how useful she will find 'qi', 'zo', 'jol' and 'ruga' in everyday life?!

I can picture it now, "Hello, I would love to work for your company. As you can tell, my English is excellent. Yes, I would love a cup of tea. No sugar, thank you - just a little zo milk, please."

Now those were just the players present in person. To add to the international flavour of our game, I eyed up the 4th empty letter holder and actually, I really missed the Fella.

So um...I cheekily video skyped him and got him to join our game over the internet. That almost flattened my brother who couldn't get over the fact that someone living 8 hours behind us, where it was still daylight, was playing Scrabble with us. Not to mention the hilarity generated by my dangling my laptop over the game, so he could see the word layout on the board.

So really, it was just your average Saturday night in at a house in the London suburbs - 3 people and a laptop huddled around a game of Super Scrabble?

The photos show the snowy scenes that greeted us when we ventured out this morning. However snow in London tends to be a fragile thing and by the time that we got back from a restorative pub lunch, it had all gone. I am just hoping that the snow did not damage my wood peony flower buds!

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Luscious Pinkness - Garden in April

There is just something about pink. I find it very uplifting for some reason! So, as the weather is very grey and rainy here today, I thought that I would share these, just in case things are gloomy in your part of the world too...

...I hope that they brighten your mood in the same way that they have brightened mine. I can see these from my kitchen window. I love-love-love my camillia - it's colour, its neat cupped structure and its glossy green leaves.

Oh and speaking of things that are uplifting, do you think that this might be a sign that my tree peony might flower for the first time ever this year?

I really hope so! I have had this plant for around 6 years, possibly more? It was a gift from my mother. Every year it has grown in size and got more leafy but it has never flowered. This is the first year that it has budded. 6 years is a long time, in a small garden, to wait to see how a plant will flower, so I very much hope that it will flower this year. I will feel so disappointed if these buds turn out to be blind.

Any suggestions on what I might do to encourage it to flower healthily? Ignore it or give it a feed of something specific?

Okay enough - back to the drudgery of the work document that I am trying to complete this weekend.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

When Five Become Four...

One of my Brittany 2.5mm needles has snapped.

Over the course of the past week it has become progressively more bendy . Then at I Knit on Wednesday night, I bought those little rubber needle end thingies, to stop the second sock from escaping before I have properly finished stabbing it to death.

On the train on the way home, I was extracting the needles from the rubber needle thingie and the bendy one snapped. It's not fatal yet as I have been working this sock over 3 needles rather than 4.

However, my question is, does this snappage enable me to join the ranks of real sock knitters?! Or does it not count because I was not actually knitting at the time of breakage?

Or does this simply demonstrate my deep ignorance of sock knitting tools and in fact, count against me in my quest to become a fully qualified sock knitter? (Just because any sock knitter, worth their salt, would know that you simply don't use those rubber needle end thingies with wooden sock dpns?!)

So, out of curiousity, what is the usual life expectancy of a wooden dpn - is it more than a single pair of socks? Should I be getting twitchy that another needle could snap at any moment?!

I didn't like working with the bamboo dpns very much, the Brittanys are much nicer to work with but if I decide to invest in another set of sock dpns, which ones should I go for (not keen on metal, too slippery and I have seen many metal dpns fall out of sock WIPs much to horror of the knitter in question).

So, Lantern Moon Ebonys? Or something else?

It’s a Funny Old Life

This week, I realised that my blog anniversary had wheedled its way into the life event area of my brain. I keep thinking about the past knit year, what I am working on now and what I would like to do next. It is not earth shattering stuff but I need to get it out of my brain (sorry):

What have I done since I started this blog?

  1. Primarily? I have bought more knitting books, yarn and notions than I have used! I seem to have yarn, parts of projects and pattern books in almost every room while my coffee table has started to groan under the weight of recent book acquisitions. My stash and notions have burst out of my textiles cupboard, the overflow log basket is well...overflowing...and the remainder of my yarn has taken up residence in three drawers in my bedroom. I have been reassured that this is not a stash problem. (Phew!)

  2. I have developed a project list that, at my current speed of knitting, will take over 5 years of daily work commutes to finish. I am not worried about this. In fact, I very much hope that my 'to do knit list' will telescope reassuringly onwards to entertain and occupy me for the rest of my life. I have an odd image of me protesting to my employer that I cannot possibly retire yet because I haven't finished a sleeve or something silly. (What?!)

  3. Despite knitting through each work commute and at various knit nights, I have only completed 6 scarves, 5 hats, 2 gaiters, 1 baby ballerina wrap, 1 lace shaped tee, 1 sock and endless swatches for various projects. It is not an impressive list but then, I have never hidden the fact that I am a slow knitter. Luckily Knitter Bunny reassured me recently, knitting is not just about quantity of work produced, it is about individual enjoyment too. (So there.)

  4. In the past year, I started or worked on but have not yet finished:
    o Own Pattern Hat Test (99% done)
    o Debbie Bliss Blue cotton baby jumper (95% done, needs sewing up)
    o Own Pattern Sister's Birthday Scarf (95% done)
    o Erika Knight Ribbed Shrug (done, but needs ripping back to 80%)
    o Norah Gaughan Phyllo Yoked Pullover (75% done)
    o Second sock (60% done)
    o Storm Water Scarf (40% done)
    o Own Pattern Wrap (0% done, just swatched to date)

    Oh. Perhaps this helps to explain the reason that my completed list is a bit on the thin side? (Opps.)

  5. Last but not least, I have met some brilliant people through knit nights, knitting events, Ravelry and my blog. Without reservation, I can say that you have all enhanced my life and knitting in one way or another. Even that novice knitter with her penchant for bobbles. (Aww.)

Am I on track?

Last year, I set myself some informal objectives to learn more techniques and complete a garment for myself. I have a long way to go before I will feel that I am a confident knitter but in the past year I have tackled a variety of things e.g. lace, beading (mainly in swatches that I have not shown on my blog, interestingly) and completed my shaped lace tee. So, in general, I think that I am on the right learning track, even though my rate of progress is slower than I would like.

Is there anything that I need to sort out?

Put bluntly, the number of incomplete projects on my list. Some are stalled by waned enthusiasm, some by a struggle with a specific technique and others by my perception that I need to prioritise different projects before I allow myself to pick them up again.

Also, I am aware that I have yarn in my stash, where 'the moment has passed'. So while I appear to have more than enough yarn in stock, I have reached the point where I doubt that I will use some of it. It's a bit like having a wardrobe full of clothes yet not being able to find anything to wear. I get tricked into big yarn at almost every John Lewis sale but I cannot find a pattern for it that wouldn't magic me into a yarn armoured blimp. I love the idea of 'knit-o-matic' style working up a fast something or other but...what is the point if it won't suit me?

So, what's next?

I will continue to set myself projects that contain a learning challenge e.g. the Chrissy-On-The-Go socks that I am making now. If nothing else, you can cackle at my ineptitude. I will also nibble away at the things on my incomplete project list, to keep WIPs at a manageable level. I do not want to drown mentally.

In terms of the yarn-without-a-cause, I plan to reorganise my yarn stash, take a hard look at what I have and then offer what I do not need for destash sale on Ravelry, just to see if anyone would like it. Actually, a subset of this yarn needs a burst of positive karma to speed it effectively on its way. So if someone decides that they would like it, I will donate the proceeds from the yarn to a charity that I support.

But hey, who knows what the year will bring? Like I said, it's a funny old life - it could decide to do anything and I reserve the right to knit anything I like, whenever I like.

Like, right now, I am torn between an anatomically correct doll or a toilet roll cover.