Sunday, October 29, 2006

One busy day and one quiet one

Yesterday was very much a knitting day. I went to the S&B at the Central Library, where Kath volunteered to teach me to spin. I'm not sure she knows what she's let herself in for. Anyway I've bought a couple of books about it from eBay so I shall read them and have a play about with my wheel before I take her up on her kind offer.

Then I went to the Knitwits meeting at Perry Common Library where we had some new faces, all very nice (but then knitters always are). So a lot of knitting was done yesterday but not a lot else.

Today has been a quieter day, sitting reading and doing laundry and other such pursuits. I am feeling virtuous and domestic as there is vegetable soup bubbling away on the stove and a chicken roasting in the oven. No knitting has been done today, but I shall probably do a few rows later if there's anything on the TV.

Bubba was attacked by another dog this morning while out for his walk. He seems to be Ok but he was very shaken. I do wish people who can't control their dogs wouldn't let them loose in public places. It's not the first time this has happened to him - but then he's not very good at standing up for himself. He's just a big wuss really.

I have finished Snow Blind by PJ Tracy. I enjoyed it very much and although I had worked out the plot well before the end, I didn't mind. I like the relationship between the detectives and I hope we see more of Sheriff Iris Rikker in subsequent books. I thought she was a great character. I liked the fact that the case threw up several moral dilemmas and that everything was not cut and dried at the end. I hate books where all the little loose ends are neatly disposed of, much preferring a few nagging doubts at the end. After all in real life how often does everything wrap up neatly.

I've just started Pegasus Descending by James Lee Burke. He's been a favourite of mine for a long time, mainly because the writing is such high quality. I'm only a few pages in but reading his books is such a pleasure, his prose needs to be savoured, slowly.

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Sockful of Firsts...

I have finished the first of the socks I started last week.

There were many firsts in the knitting of this sock. This is my first toe-up sock. This is the first sock knitted from Lucy Neatby's Cool Socks, Warm Feet book. I had to learn how to do a provisional cast-on, which was OK - I can learn new techniques. They have a Bosnian style square section in the toe - not sure about this, it doesn't seem to be the right shape for my foot. They have a Turkish heel - this is apparently a type of heel-shaping invented by the devil himself for the torment of knitters. I will never do another one - I am so set against the Turkish heel - which was a complete pig to knit, doesn't fit my foot and leaves big holes at the point where the heel section meets the ankle - that I will be trying something else for the second sock. Also this sock has no gusset shaping in the foot so it's too loose and I like my socks snug.
There are things I like about this sock though - I like the wool which is hand-dyed from Get Knitted. And I love the crenellated, picot edging to the cuff (though I should have knitted the ankle a bit longer). I just need to rectify all these other faults in the second sock, then re-knit the first one to match. I can do that, right?

Book News

I have finished The Italian Secretary by Caleb Carr. I liked it, it seemed to me to be true to the Sherlockian originals, but I'm not sure I would read another one. Of the two I had for reading group, I'd have to say I preferred the Laurie R King one which was Locked Rooms. I was surprised at this. I'd definitely read more of the Laurie King series, in fact I've already added a couple to the TBR pile. Anyway, I'm now on Snow Blind by P J Tracy. I've enjoyed the others in this series and I like the detectives, Maggozzi and Rolseth. In this one they team up with a rookie sheriff when someone starts killing cops and leaving them in snowmen. Ooooh, I like a good serial killer.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sometimes the UK is not so bad

England can be a frustrating place to live - it's too crowded, it's expensive, it's cold, I could go on (and on), but now and again you read something that reminds you that England's still better than some places.

Take Romania for example. They have a new Highway Code coming into effect soon which bans cycling in Bucharest except in cycle lanes. From December cyclists in Bucharest can only use the cycle lanes or they will be fined. Great idea, I hear you all saying - the traffic in Bucharest is terrible, much better to keep the cyclists out of the traffic. There's just one small problem - Bucharest only has one cycle lane and it's less than 1km long. I guess it's going to be very busy!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Miss Knitingale's Holiday Exchange Thingy

The lovely Ms Knitingale has organised a holiday care package exchange. I put my name down right away as I love receiving surprises in the post, but now I'm worrying that my surprise gift to my giftee won't be cool enough. Anyway here is the questionnaire from her all duly filled in with my details.

What is your favorite color? Has to be bluey green – the colour of the Gulf of Mexico on a good day!
Is there a color you dislike? I’m not a great fan of pastel colours – I like bright, vivid colours.
Do you have any pets? What kind? I have a Golden Retriever called Bubba
Is there any knitting-related item you’re longing to have? I’d love some more stitch markers, I love sparkly beaded things, or unusual sock patterns (I'm conscious of the fact that this will have to be posted to England so I'm trying to think of light things that don't cost much to post)
Are you a sock knitter? Oh, yes, I’m a definitely a sock knitter, love knitting socks
Do you have any online wish lists? No, that would be just too time consuming – and they would be very, very long!!
Do you collect anything that isn’t terribly expensive? Not really, I’m not a very collecting sort of person, the only thing I collect is crime fiction (and as anyone in my family will tell you I have way too much already)
What would make you smile or giggle with delight to find it in your gift box? Anything knitting or spinning related, or connected with Golden Retrievers.
Is there anything that would make you cringe if you found it in your gift box? American chocolate – sorry, I love chocolate but it has to be good old Cadburys for me!
Do you have a favorite edible treat? I love all sorts of sweet things (except American chocolate – see above)
Do you drink coffee, tea, cocoa, or….? I love coffee, love fresh coffee beans, don’t drink tea or cocoa.
Are there any dietary restrictions your pal should know about? No, nothing I can’t or won’t eat at least once.
Do you celebrate a winter holiday of any kind and, if so, would you like to receive anything holiday themed? We celebrate Christmas but in a very unreligious and heathen way, as a time to spend a few days together and relax. I’m not averse to Christmassy things but am not a religious person at all.

So there you are, I hope that helps!!

Now I've been really bad at answering comments and some are way overdue so in reply to Maxine, no it's not a purse or a sporran (but did you know that I am Scottish) - it's yet another pair of socks (yes, I know, I'm a sad, sad individual).

Also you do seem to be harbouring the delusion that I am some kind of super knitter when in reality I'm not at all. I've only been knitting again for six months after not knitting for about 15 years. I make loads of mistakes and am forever cursing and swearing and ripping things back. Trust me, you would not want me to knit you a jumper.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Look What I Got........

You remember a couple of weeks ago I bought a fleece at a car boot sale and I said I wanted to try my hand at spinning sometime.

Well, yesterday I was at an auction and they had this

I couldn't NOT bid for it, could I? It was very naughty to buy it really as we're not exactly rich this month, but it will be my Christmas present, and it was an absolute bargain. It's an Ashford wheel from Kitcraft in New Zealand, in beautiful condition (though it squeaks a little) and it has the lazy kate with it as well.

I am chuffed to bits - but now I really do need to learn how to spin, don't I?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Don't you just hate it when....

you work out who the killer / psychopath is half way through the book.

I was very disappointed in Thorn by Vena Cork. I don't think I was even halfway through and I began to think "No, surely not, she can't mean it to be him, that's way too obvious". So I read a bit further and the feeling grew and in the end I just lost interest and did something I hardly ever do - I skipped to the end just to check that I was right (and I was!).

Now I've been reading crime fiction for a long time, so I can forgive an author for not being able to fool me all the time, and I don't mind that as long as the plot is interesting and the characters intriguing, but this was just too easy. I though perhaps there was going to be a huge twist at the end and it was maybe going to be someone else - but no. The author had telegraphed exactly who the nutter was from less than half-way through, leaving nothing to surprise me at the end. A major disappointment.

So, now I'm on The Italian Secretary by Caleb Carr. This is for Reading Group (theme - Sherlock Holmes) and I'm enjoying it so far, but I'm not very far in yet so we shall see how it pans out.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

New knitting

I've finished the dog-walking socks.

And I've cast on this -

Can you tell what it is yet?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

History Matters

Today the History Matters website are asking people to take part in the Biggest Blog in History.

They want everyone to blog on their site about their day so that they have a snapshot of our lives on this one day that they can use for research in the future. They are accepting entries up to the end of the month so why not get over there and leave some knitting blogs for posterity!

In knitting news - I am almost finished the dog-walking socks for Pete. Just the toe shaping to do which I will finish during CSI Miami tonight. You know I didn't particularly like this series until recently, much preferring the original Las Vegas one, but David Caruso is beginning to grow on me as Horatio Caine in this series. I always liked him in NYPD Blue but thought him a bit stiff in the early series of CSI. Now, if only the plots were a little more believable!

Writing news - yes, finally, there is writing news. Last night I finished the first, very rough, draft of a short story which will be my entry for my local writing group's annual competition. This is for a 1500 word story on the subject of "Taking a Chance." I've spent ages mulling over this and trying to come up with an original story and finally think I may have cracked it. Can't discuss too much yet but I'll let you know how it's going.

Sorry there are no photos today - Blogger says "NO!"

Monday, October 16, 2006

Perry Common Library Knitting Group

I went to a lovely new knitting group on Saturday afternoon. It's going to meet every 2nd and 4th Saturday in Perry Common Library. That's in Kingstanding, North Birmingham. Next meeting will be on 28th October and it's from 2pm to 3.30pm.

They have a lovely community room there with great comfortable chairs for knitting in, and the staff were really nice and friendly and even provided coffee and biscuits.

It was a small start as there were only 4 of us, plus the lovely Eileen who works there, but hopefully it will grow. Of course I forgot to take my camera to record the meeting for the blog. Duh! I promise I will take it next time and hopefully we'll have more knitters too.

On the book front I'm stil reading Thorn by Vena Cork which is intriguing but not moving very quickly at the moment.

Friday, October 13, 2006

A Hound on a Downer

Bubba is a miserable dog today. And he was miserable yesterday too. This is because Pete had to go out early on Thursday so I took Bubba for his morning walk. Now I don't see what the difference is - it's the same field, just about an hour later than normal. But Bubba is not a dog that likes his routine to be disturbed in any way, so he has been moping around the house for the past two days like he was being beaten with big sticks!

Here he is looking about as hang-dog as he can muster. You will note that my rule of no dogs on the new leather sofas is being blissfully ignored as it has been since the second first day we had them.

On the knitting front I have started Pete's dog walking socks - plain ribby socks in Rowanspun DK in navy though it looks black on my monitor. This is from the stash I scored back at the beginning of September - they had it on sale because it was being discontinued so I bought lots of different colours in both DK and 4ply for Christmas knitting.


I have finished Locked Rooms by Laurie R King....and I loved it. I'd been resisting this series because I thought "she's a Californian, how can she write about Sherlock Holmes, this will be dreadful". OK, I admit, I was wrong. I really liked this, I liked the characters, I liked the plot, I liked that they met Dashiell Hammett (my hero since I was about 18). I even liked the thing that I thought I was most going to hate - Sherlock Holmes in San Francisco. I shall now have to go back and start at the beginning of the series and work my way through them all - curses, don't you just hate when that happens :)

But anyway not before I've had a fix of something modern, so I've started Thorn by Vena Cork.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Goodies from the Weekend.

As I said before I am a second-hand book dealer by day, so I spend a lot of the weekend at car boot sales (that's fleamarkets for those of you across the pond) buying stock. This also gives me the opportunity of sometimes adding to my stash with the odd bit of wool.

This is Sunday's haul - that's 1300g of lovely grey/greeen tweedy pure wool that's just crying out to be socks, and some Twilleys Karisma which is a loopy sort of yarn 70% wool and 30% acrylic - not sure what to do with it yet. There are thirteen balls of the creamy colour and three of the purpley one.

Plus - I'm not sure quite what possessed me but they also had a whole fleece - she said it was Jacobs - and it was only £2, so I bought that too - I've already packaged it up and stored it away (to keep dog hairs off it) so I can't show you.

Now I can't spin, and I don't have time for yet another hobby, but I couldn't resist it. So now, added to the stash I have this fleece. I guess at some point in the future I will have a go at spinning - but don't hold your breath!!

In other news - I've finished the Opal socks (my first completed pair for Socktoberfest).
I've also finished the soul-draining red garter stitch scarf for the Evilpixie, apart from adding the fringe.

Next project is a pair of socks for Pete as he has been sadly neglected on the knitting front so far.


I have finished The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly. I really liked it, despite it's not being the kind of thing I normally like. It's a fantasy tale about a little boys journey towards adulthood and also towards acceptance of his mother's death. It certainly keeps you reading right to the conclusion, and I found it unexpectedly moving at the end. It is also very funny in places - John Connolly can really do funny - who knew? I particularly liked his take on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Anyway I am now reading Locked Rooms by Laurie R King. So far it is really good, now that I'm coming to terms with Sherlock Holmes in San Francisco. This is for reading group this month so I'm glad I'm enjoying it as I sometimes find myself struggling with the selected books (like last month's Peter Tremayne). Anyway it's going well so far - more on this later no doubt as I get to the meat of the plot.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

New books to read.

The books for this month's reading group (subject - Sherlock Holmes) are Locked Rooms by Laurie R King and The Italian Secretary by Caleb Carr. (links to Waterstones website for easiness, but you should support your local bookstore if you can)

I've not read any Caleb Carr, though I did once try The Alienist, but got distracted and didn't get far with it. I've read some Laurie R King and like her Kate Martinelli series, but I've not read any of the Holmes & Mary Russell series before. They should both be interesting.

The sock knitting has been on hiatus for the last couple of days as the Evilpixie wanted a long red scarf. Just a plain garter stitch scarf with a fringe on the ends. Not very interesting to knit, no interesting design features - just miles and miles of garter stitch. I used some Jaeger red wool that I bought on a car boot sale a few weeks ago. I'm nearly finished but it's so dull that there probably won't be photos!

I finally managed to get to the Birmingham Stitch 'n' Bitch meeting today for the first time. Lovely knitters, nice people, great knitting. I shall definitely try and make it again when work / time allows. There's going to be a new meeting at Perry Common Library next week on Saturday afternoon which is a more convenient time for me, and not so far to go (also avoids having to go into the centre of Birmingham which is always hell on a Saturday).

Sorry there are no interesting photos today so here's a gratuitous pic of Bubba doing what he does best.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Juno is finished!

Well almost. It dosn't have any buttons yet but the stitching up is complete. I just can't decide which buttons I want. I think maybe something subtly Celtic to go with the cabling on the coller. I just can't visualise them yet. So it will have to sit for a while till I think about it. I guess I'll know the right ones when I see them - suggestions welcome!

I hate stitching things up. Maybe that's why I like socks. Once they're finished, they're pretty much ready to wear. I finished sock #1 of the Opal Elemente pair and have started sock #2.

I'm determined to not start anything else until these socks are done, despite the Evilpixie requesting new legwarmers which I have some lovely bright red Jaeger wool just sitting in the stash that will be great for them.

Reading group is tomorrow and I will have to confess my failure with the Peter Tremayne book. I'm getting on much better with the new John Connolly. More about that once I've read a bit more.

I managed to pick up the new James Lee Burke in a charity shop at the weekend - Pesasus Descending. I'm a big fan of Dave Robicheaux so I think this might be the next one on the list, unless there is something very tempting in the selection at reading group this month.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Socktoberfest 2006

Socktoberfest 2006 kicks off today so I'm going to try and finish the socks I've been working on for ages first before I move on to something more interesting.

They are the standard sock pattern that came with the Opal sock yarn kit with a few minor alterations - shorter in the leg and with a heel stitch to tighten them up a bit as I have a narrow heel. They are Opal Elemente in colourway 1077.

I didn't think I was going to like this colour - I bought it from eBay a while ago and it wasn't quite the colour I was expecting, but as it knits up it's growing on me.

This is only the first sock so there's a way to go yet.

In other news, I have abandoned the Peter Tremayne (sorry, it was inevitable really) and done as I suggested I might and moved onto the new John Connolly which is called The Book of Lost Things. I'm really enjoying this so far. It's not a crime novel, more a weird fantasy but I've always like John's books, most of which are mysteries. His detective Charlie 'Bird' Parker is a great character (he's not in this book but I gather he will return in the next one).

I did a review of See Delphi and Die by Lindsay Davis for Karen who runs the wonderful Eurocrime website and the review is now up on the site if you would like to read it. The Falco series is a great favourite of mine and highly recommended. It's a fantastic website with lots of reviews and book news.