Thursday, November 24, 2016

Introducing Finbar

Not long after I left Waters*&)>s we realised that me working from home meant we would be able to fit a dog into our lives again.

I did a bit of research and had a look around and found a lovely litter of puppies in South Yorkshire and we went and had a look and chose this little guy -                                                                                    

Sorry if the pic is a bit blurry. He didn't stay still for long when we was that size - he's about 4 weeks old here (the day we first met him when he was still with his mum).  

Eventually he was old enough to leave his mum and come home with us and that's when the fun started.   

Isn't he lovely. He looks like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. Do not be fooled!  This dog is a complete nightmare.  He eats EVERYTHING.  Even now when he's 18 months old and pretty much fully grown, he still eats things like you would not believe. He eats socks, tissues, paper, shoes, books, records, absolutely anything plastic - plant pots, watering can, bucket, hairbrushes, pens.  He is a one dog wrecking crew.  He's chewed the corners of the kitchen cabinets and all the knobs on the dresser.  The dado rails have even sneaky toothmarks.  He loves to eat wool - I've lost several balls and cones - some from a box that had just been delivered and has still mostly sealed up.  And he's a digger. The lawn is a series of holes or varying depths - I swear you can see Australia though his favourite one.

He's a regular Houdini too. We had to have new fences built in the garden to stop him escaping into the neighbours gardens. He just loves to be on the other side of any fence, hedge or gate he comes across. He once managed to get into the Wolverhampton Wanderers training ground and then couldn't work out how to get back. I had to get one of the groundsmen to let him out through the gate.

We just could not have found a dog that is more completely different to Bubba. Finbar has separation anxiety and used to cry like a baby if you left him.  He's better at this now but it took a long time.  I can't leave him in the van while I drop off a parcel or he howls.  This is a slight improvement - he used to howl whenever I put him in the van - to go for a walk even.  We tried using a crate when we first had him but he howled and howled until we let him out.   We had to give up on that idea.

The Evilpixie taught him to splash in muddy puddles so now he is permanently wet and muddy.

Of course we love him to bits - he's a lovely dog and he loves to give hugs.  When he was a little pup his favourite thing was to sit on your head. He's a bit big for that now but he'll still try if you're not paying attention.  Also as a retriever he's a bit of a fail - he doesn't like swimming (paddling is OK) and he doesn't fetch things no matter how much we try and teach him.

I think I thought he'd be much the same as Bubba - very chilled and laid back,  and instead we have this whirlwind of utter naughtiness. He really keeps us on our toes. We are so very glad we got him.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Long Time No See!

Well, when I posted last (over 3 years ago!) I really did not plan on stopping posting. Somehow life and work and all of that just got in the way and all sorts of stuff went on in my life that I really didn't want to have to think about enough to write it down.

Today, for the first time in very long time I thought about this little blog and how much I had enjoyed doing it. So here I am.  Forgive me for abandoning you.

My life has changed so much in the last 3 years so I'll do a little catch up - we did move house eventually, to Wolverhampton as I thought we would. I love our new house. It's a beautiful Edwardian semi-detached with lots of lovely period features and lots of space.  I have a craft room - I'll do a post but I'll need to tidy it up a bit first.

We have a new puppy. The lovely (but very naughty) Finbar came into our lives last year  He's a lovely dog and not at all like Bubba, our previous goldie.  More on him to follow.
I no longer work for Waterstones. I'm not going to go into what happened and why I left but I am really glad that I did.  After I left there I set up WV Books and Vintage and now I sell books, records and collectables on eBay.  It's a lot of hard work but it's great fun and I love doing it. You'll probably hear quite a lot about what I'm doing and what I've found.

Somewhere around the time I left Waterstones I realised that I had lost my love of books. Scary, huh?  It has taken me over a year to re-discover that love but this week I actually think I have found my way back. I am reading different things now.  I am no longer a great lover of gritty crime novels. I've been reading a lot of fantasy and science fiction, and quite a lot of historical crime - I still like the mystery, I just can't cope with the endless violence any more.  I'm looking forward to writing about books and about reading, and even this week I have contemplated writing again. It feels good.

I am still knitting, still spinning and weaving. I have a new loom which I will share with you when I get a moment.

Let me just say that I am glad to be back. I can't say that I will post every day, probably not even every week but I will dip in and out as time and the need to say something allow.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

52 Books: #8 - Island of Bones

Island of Bones by Imogen Robertson

This is the third in the series about Harriet Westerman and Gabriel Crowther, set in the 18th Century.  Harriet is a women of independent means and independent spirit. She is beginning to make a name for herself as an investigator of sorts. Gabriel is a pathologist at a time when pathology was in its infancy. The pairing make for an interesting and intelligent read.

Harriet is recently widowed (in the previous book, which I haven't read) and she is seeking distraction from her grief.  When she is invited to travel to Cumbria to the former family home of Gabriel to investigate a mysterious body, she leaps at the chance.  Gabriel is less keen to rediscover his family history which is a grim one.

I really liked this, thought it was clever and atmospheric, with interesting characters. I'd read the first in the series which is called Anatomy of Murder and liked it. I do have the second one somewhere but half of my books are in boxes so I'm just reading what comes to hand.

Anyway I enjoyed this and will certainly read the others.

Spinning stuff - finally

I know I said there would be spinning stuff a couple of weeks ago. I can't believe you all fell for that old chestnut.  You should know me by now - it always takes far longer for me to get around to writing a post than it should.

But today I do actually have some photos of spinning to show you.

Way back last year sometime the lovely people at Storey Publishing sent me a digital proof of a new spinning book called Spinners Book of Yarn Designs. I loved the book and I even blogged about how good I thought it was.  I even went and bought my own copy when it was published.  And I thought it would be a good idea to try some of the techniques in the book, to try and expand my skills a bit.

So I sat down one afternoon and spun a lovely fat singles yarn from some unidentified fibre that was probably merino. I had carded this fibre a while back and I never remember to label anything. Anyway I was pretty happy with the resulting yarn which holds together and is balanced and is a pretty cool colour too.
And, no, since you ask I have no idea what I'm going to use it for.
At the same time, I took the chance to free up all my bobbins of odds and sods that were cluttering up my spinning basket.
So there's some bright red and pink merino bought from the Threshing Barn and spun into a lovely loose, sqwooshy 2-ply yarn that will make a beautiful hat. Of course it's too warm now to wear a hat but there's always next winter.
And then there is the last few yards of a merino/silk blend which looks like one of those Ashford blends but I can't think where it came from.  There was about half a bobbin left unplied so I Navaho plied it just to free up the bobbin and it's come up very nice.  I had more of this but it wasn't so nice as a 2ply. That'll teach me to sample, won't it.  Actually it probably won't. I hate sampling.
Finally there is a full bobbin of loveliness -

That's a laceweight alpaca spun with some beautiful alpaca fibre that I bought from Fleecewitch at Alpaca Futurity 2013 at the NEC.  Alpaca Futurity was a blast. We (that's the Walsall Handspinners) met lots of spinners and potential spinners. We made a few new spinners. We made new friends. AND - we made a blanket from handspun alpaca fibre which we then knitted and crocheted into squares and sewed together.  The lovely alpaca people auctioned it at their dinner and raised £1050 for Birmingham Children's Hospital.  How brilliant is that!

Back soon(ish) with a mega book update, because I'm still trying to do that 52 books thing.


Monday, April 08, 2013

Pastures New

I know I promised the next post would be about spinning but life has been a bit hectic and I have news.

Meet my lovely new friend. He's so new he doesn't have a name yet. He's an alpaca and he was bought for me by my wonderful friends and colleagues at Waterstones Walsall as a leaving gift.

I've got a new job at Waterstones Stratford-upon-Avon. I've just finished my first week and I'm loving the job, though I'm having to travel quite a lot to get there which is curtailing my knitting/spinning/weaving time rather.  It was a big wrench to leave Walsall where I've been for six years and I miss my fantastic team there, but the time was right for me to move on.

This is not the only move I'll be making this year as we've come to the conclusion that we have finally filled Austin Towers to bursting point so we will be moving to a larger house, most likely in Wolverhampton.  We still have some packing up of books, comics, wool, craft equipment etc to do before we can put our house on the market but we've made a start.  We just have so much stuff!

Back soon with that spinning post.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

52 Books: #7 - All My Friends are Superheroes

All My Friends are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman

This is a slim volume, more a novella than a full blown book.  This means it is a really quick read, something that I shall try more of as I try and fit 52 books into this year of reading.

Anyway, the plot is that Tom is married to The Perfectionist who is a superhero. Her power is to make everything perfect. Tom is normal. On their wedding day The Perfectionist is hypnotised by another superhero so that she can no longer see Tom.  After a few months of waiting for him (when he's already there, she just can't see him) she decides to move away and start a new life. Tom has until the end of their flight to make her see him.

I liked this book. I really did. The concept was interesting and well handled. I thought the book was also the right length for the story (Life of Pi could have learned something here, IMHO).  Interspersed with the ongoing plot are little vignettes about superheroes, some of whose powers were pretty ordinary. I liked that it suggested that we are all superheroes inside if we can just recognise that.  You could read this just as an entertaining story with intriguing characters (which is pretty much what I did as I was having a busy, complicated week) or you could delve into the hidden metaphors of the book and explore it more deeply. Having read it on a superficial level I will definitely go back to it at some later point and read it again.

This is definitely one I would recommend.

Next post will be about spinning. It's my day off tomorrow and I have no car so I have no excuse not to spin the samples I've been thinking about for ages.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

52 Books: #6 - The Life of Pi

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

People have been telling me that I should read this for a long time.  Pete loved this book when he read it.  I resisted because it did win the Booker Prize and you know how much I hate Booker books - they're always such a disappointment. 

Anyway this was 20p for the kindle so I bought it and started to read. Boy was it tedious.  I just wanted it to cut to the chase and for something to actually happen.  I realise this is probably literary heresy - but I really had to make myself finish this. It just seemed to drag on forever and it was a struggle to make myself pick it up and read it.  Once he gets on the boat with the tiger it gets a little better - at least things are happening, well some of the time anyway.  So I'm afraid this has just confirmed all my prejudices against books that win literary prizes. (And it's done nothing to persuade me to try Wolf Hall again.) 

There is nothing on earth that could persuade me to watch the film of this.

P.S. - I did like the tiger.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

So I promised you knitwear...

..and here it is.   This is the Sweet Scarborough pattern from Drops. It's a free pattern and I adjusted it a little bit. It's supposed to have orange and mustard in the Fair Isle section but I did it just in the red and white. I knitted it in the suggested yarn which is Drops Karisma. It was a lovely yarn to work with.  The only thing about this project was that the first time I knitted it I thought it might be a little big but I wasn't that bothered as I'd probably wear it over another sweater anyway, but when I soaked it ready for blocking it grew and grew until it was so huge it reached my knees.  I had to rip it all out and re-knit the whole thing. This time I knitted it on a smaller needle (I swear I had gauge the first time, really.) and I knitted it a size smaller around the yolk, though I kept the original size round the bottom as I'm wider there. 

I love this now that it's finished and wear it a lot, one day soon I might actually sew on the buttons.

I see from the website that there's a pattern for matching socks. I might have to knit those.