Monday, November 27, 2006

Look What I Got in the Post....

... from the totally lovely Jill all the way from Canada.

There is a ball of Sisu yarn (I am so going to be making socks with that) and 2 balls of a beautiful turquoise cotton called Mandarin Petit, and a sweet little tin of maple syrup - I love maple syrup - and maple sugar and there's more.... there are chocolate covered coffee beans (has this woman met me somewhere - how does she know these are my absolute favourite), 3 of the most beautiful stitch markers and a little thing you hang on your zipper that's a tiny knitted jumper.

Are they not just the sweetest things you've ever seen!

And to cap it all there's a little gift of some treats for Bubba too from her dog Cindi (who's another big yellow dog). I'm going to put those aside for him for when he's a little less portly.

Big thank yous and a large hug to you Jill. What a wonderful package, I am quite overwhelmed and think you have done brilliantly, especially as we have never met or even corresponded. I don't even know if you have a blog. If you have, email me and let me know so I can read about you.

This is part of Ms Knitingale's Holiday Care Package swap, designed to help us knitters through the traumas of the holiday season. So another big thank you to Ms Knitingale for organising the swap.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

We have knitting

OK, so today I have managed to photograph some of the work in progress. This afternoon is sunny and bright, if a little on the chilly side, so photographs were possible. Unlike yesterday, when it was barely daylight all day.

First we have the new Opal socks in colourway 1237 (no idea what that is but I like it). These are my current carry-around project for knitting in my lunch break etc. I love the colours. I'm on the gusset decreases of the first sock.

Next we have a lovely scarf / shawl called Kevat (apparently this means Spring in Finnish). I got the pattern from Knitting Pattern Central. The yarn is Filatura di Crosa Angora in black. It's 80% Angora and 20% Lambswool so it's wonderfully soft and slightly fuzzy. This is going to make it very difficult to knit I expect. I started this yesterday at Brum S&B, where the light is quite good and I was struggling to see what I was doing. I may be totally blind by the time I'm finished this. It's quite a simple repeat but I still think it may be beyond my rather limited knitting intelligence.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


There was just one word to describe Bubba and I when we got back from our walk this morning - drookit. This is an old Scottish word meaning a tad on the damp side.

Of course being a retriever there is nothing Bubba likes better than a wet walk so he was in his element.

You will note that there are no pictures of me doing my world famous impression of a drowned rat.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Dog on a Diet

I've been working for the last 4 days so there's been no time for blogging, knitting or reading really. I have started some new socks but it is too dark now for photographs so I'll do photos in the morning.

Bubba is a dog on a diet. He is not very happy about this, but we took him to the vet for his boosters and to get his legs checked out. He had a TPLO operation on his cruciate ligament when he was 18 months old and now he has an arthritic knee. Anyway being a tad on the heavy side is not good for the knees so he has to lose some weight. This means no treats, special diet kibble, no scavenging for food when he's out walking (particular favourite of his!). All in all he thinks maybe life is not worth living at the moment. It's no use trying to explain to a hungry retriever that it's for his own good and he'll feel better once he's shed a few pounds.

I'm off tomorrow (and the next few days) so I shall get to S&B and then to the Knitwits group at Perry Common Library. A day full of knitting....bliss!

Monday, November 20, 2006

In Praise of American TV

I've just been watching "Heroes" which is a wonderful TV show from the US. It's about a group of totally unconnected people, who all start to display super-hero type abilities. Slowly the plot is connecting all these disparate people and I am loving every moment of it. I am especially fond of Hiro, who is a young Japanese guy who can bend the space / time continuum.

People always used to say that British TV was the best in the world, but I'm afraid nowadays we come a pretty poor second (or even lower) to the US. When I think of the TV series that I love best, that I look forward to the most they are all American - Deadwood (sadly discontinued), The Shield, Lost (just love the silly conspiracy theories) and of course, my all time favourite TV series ever - The West Wing.

And there are so many more. Now of course I'm not saying that all American TV is wonderful, I've seen some shocking examples. But apart from the odd historical drama and the BBC's wonderful wildlife series (like Life on Earth), we seem to have lost the ability here to make quality TV. So much of the schedule is filled with inane celebrity vehicles where you vote people off each week. I'd be very surprised if a series like Heroes could ever be made in this country where almost all drama series are a vehicle for a former soap-star.

Even in the genre of Cop Shows we are being out done. America gets The Shield, Thief, Cold Case, Without a Trace etc and we have Blue Murder and endless series of Frost or Midsomer Murders.

Recently we've had Vincent with the wonderful Ray Winstone, and last year there was Life on Mars (original but flawed) and I am hard pressed to think of anything else outstanding.

The over-reliance of the networks on series made by the production companies formed by former soap-stars, and on writers who had a hit series many years ago and have done nothing since, is killing British drama television. The networks need to take more chances with unknown writers, unknown actors and please, oh please can we have some original ideas - the thought of yet another prime time TV detective series just makes me want to bang my head against a wall (and I'm a fan of detective fiction).

I just have one more thing to say. Bones the TV series (absolutely dreadful), is based (very loosely indeed) on the books by Kathy Reichs. Now you can buy a spin-off novel of the series, by Max Allan Collins. So, this is a book based on a TV series based on a book! What is that all about?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

We have progress!!

I've been practising my spinning over the last few days, since the Spinning Wheel Maintenance Kit from Twist Fibre Craft Studio arrived in the post. So I got the spare con-rod strap I needed to fix the wheel. And I've been trying in the odd spare moment over the last few days and today I have finally made some progress. Today for the first time I managed to keep the wheel spinning and feed the fibre through at the same time, for more than a couple seconds at a time.

Now I'm not saying that the resulting yarn is pretty or even or anything you might want to knit with. But it does bear a passing resemblance to yarn so I am pretty pleased. While it is by no means perfect it is getting better and I am finding it easier all the time to get my hands and feet to do what they are supposed to do.

I got to the S&B meeting in Birmingham on Saturday, which I expected to be the last time before Christmas, but I find I'm off next Saturday too so I shall try and go then as well. I had a lovely morning in Birmingham, with a trip to market to buy fish for dinner, then over to the Pallasades where there is a new bookshop which sells what looks like publishers / distributors returns. Anyway they had some good stuff at reasonable prices so I bought one or two. All in all what with the knitting and the books and the fish pie for dinner it was a pretty good day.

And today I realised that I'm not actually working on Monday as I thought. I don't start work again until Tuesday. An extra day off that I wasn't expecting - how good is that!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Some WIP and some other stuff

I've got a day off!!!! WoooHooooo. Actually I have 3 days off in a row and am not not in work again until Monday. So I may actually have time to read, knit, do the washing, iron some clothes and all that other stuff that needs doing. And I shall get to the Birmingham S&B tomorrow too.

I have some work in progress though.

The green stuff on the DPN's is another pair of Fetching from Knitty. These are for me.

The other stuff is the front (again) of the wrapover cardigan, (no pattern, flying my the seat of my pants), which has been on the needles for way too long, but is suddenly needed urgently as the weather has taken a cold turn here. I'm still not sure it's right, so it may yet be frogged again for another attempt. The yarn is something completely unidentified, frogged from a jumper bought at a car boot sale (that's a flea market, if you're in the States). I don't know what it is but I love it - it's got streaks of purple and brown and cream and every so often it has a little bit of turquoise as well, and it's very soft and has slubby bits in it too. I just wish I could get the front to look how I want it. Anyway here's a close-up so you can see the pretty colours...

I am reading Sharpe's Fury by Bernard Cornwell. I'm reading it very slowly as I only seem to be able to manage about two and a half pages before I fall asleep (usually with the book still in my hand). I have only been reading it in bed, not on the bus or at work, so that's not as bad as it may have sounded. I should point out that this is not a reflection on the quality of Bernard Cornwell's plotting which is as usual admirable.

Have you been watching the new BBC series of Robin Hood. It's quite enjoyable in a Saturday tea-time, light and fluffy sort of way. Good clean escapism where no-one ever gets killed. However I got a bit distracted on Saturday by Marion. She was wearing what looked to me like a machine knitted sweater. I will have to admit to having completely lost track of the (somewhat flimsy) plot, while I tried to get a better look at what she was wearing. Now, I'm not a history expert, in fact almost all of the English history I know comes courtesy of the afore-mentioned Mr Cornwell, but I'm fairly sure they didn't wear machine knitted garments in the Middle Ages, did they?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

I have been relaxing today after the first week in my new job. No knitting has been done today though as I have been finishing Pegasus Descending by the wonderful James Lee Burke. I just love the way he writes, the way he really gets you inside the skin of Dave Robicheaux, which is not always a pleasant place to be, but is never, ever dull. Complex characters, complicated plotting and wonderful writing - if there was ever a crime writer I would like to be able to emulate, I think it would be James Lee Burke. Well, it's something to aspire to anyway.

So, now I have a dilemma. Pete picked me up a couple of books in a charity shop yesterday, both of which I want to read right away. I have a choice of Echo Park by Michael Connelly or Sharpe's Fury by Bernard Cornwell. I could also read any one of the many books in my TBR pile, but I love Harry Bosch, and I haven't read a Sharpe in quite a while so I'm torn. I think maybe I'll read the Sharpe first as the style is so different from JLB, and I try not to read similar types of books one after the other if I can help it. While Connelly and JLB are very different writers they do both feature American detectives, both Vietnam vets, both a bit maverick. Richard Sharpe is of course none of these things, so I guess I'll start with him.

Of course because I very rarely read only one book at a time I am also reading Triggerfish Twist by Tim Dorsey. This is a blackly comic crime novel set in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, bit like a Gulf Coast Carl Hiassen. Very funny, ironic and twisted. Also its a paperback and therefore suitable for carrying around in my bag for a spare ten minutes reading at lunchtime.

I am currently between knitting projects, which always makes me a bit twitchy. I could re-knit the first crenellated toe-up sock, or re-start the front of the crossover cardigan I started way back in about May (I've knitted the front of this about 4 times already and can't seem to get it right - maybe I should use a pattern instead of just busking it). However none of these is grabbing my attention at the moment. Some time this week I'm going to have to delve into the stash and find something I want to knit. My next day off isn't until Friday though so I may have cracked by then....

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I'm sorry, but I'm back and I have FOs

Apologies for the lack of blog for the last few days. I started a new job on Monday. I won't tell you much about it but it's with a well-known high street store. Anyway this is my first day off so this is the first time I've had either the time or energy to blog.

So, in order to placate the Gods of Blogdom I have lots of FOs to show you.

Firstly the Toe-Up Crenelated Sock

The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted that there is only one sock in this picture. This is because this FO is a slight cheat. There are indeed two socks but they do not match, one is longer and wider than the other and the cuff is shorter. They are not quite a pair. The other sock, which is condemned to the workbox downstairs as punishment, needs to be frogged and re knitted from about an inch after its highly illogical Bosnian Toe Square - those Balkans sure know how to have fun.

Nextly there is a pair of fingerless gloves in luminous colours - these are for me, but are destined to be felted before wearing as they are a tad on the baggy side.
I am pretending that I meant to knit them that way. Anyone who knows me better might suspect that this is due to my complete inability to knit swatches before starting. I have only one thing to say to them - it's a pair of gloves - a swatch would be bigger and take longer - it's not like they even have fingers! Anyone who remarks that only an idiot would knit two gloves which are both too big will be sent to their room with no dinner.

Finally, we have something that I am really chuffed with. So chuffed in fact that even though these were knitted for the Evilpixie I want them. As there is a snowball in hell's chance of the Evilpixie letting me keep these I am going to have to knit myself a pair.
These are the totally wonderful Fetching from the summer issue of Knitty. They were knitted in some Rowan Designer from the stash and the good news is that I have more of it and I have it in blue and green too so I can have three pairs if I want. And do you have any idea how hard it is to take a photo of your left hand wearing a glovey thing with just your right hand while trying to not stand in the way of the last few rays of light coming in the window?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

First attempt at spinning

Well, I had my first attempt at spinning this afternoon. I was hoping everyone would be out - Pete was at the Villa game, but the Evilpixie was lurking about as teenagers do and was under the impression that watching her mother's first attempts at spinning was in some way helpful. Trust me it wasn't.

Let's just say that I haven't quite got the hang of it yet. I could do the foot pedalling bit - I'd been practising that bit all week, but I had a bit of trouble with the drafting - couldn't get the hands to move right and was having a few technical issues with the wheel. Just when I thought I was beginning to get the hang of the drafting (though i was still having problems getting hands and feet to move independently), the leather con-rod joint thingy broke. So that put paid to any further attempts today. I can get a replacement thingy from Twist Fibre Craft Studio, though. They are in Newburgh in Fife and sell all sorts of lovely fibre as well as wheels and stuff.

I find the fact that they are in Newburgh an amazing coincidence as I used to live there, although it was many years ago - I don't think they were there when I lived there (I'm not going to tell you how many years ago that was - I was still at school), or possibly even the last time I was there which would be nearly five years ago. My father lived in Newburgh, he was the village pharmacist until he retired, but he died five years ago this Christmas. Of course I wasn't even a knitter then so the shop may have been in existence and I wouldn't have been the slightest bit interested - now you'd have trouble getting me out at closing time!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

We have photos

So, finally Blogger has relented and here are the photos I promised you yesterday.

First the Juno cardigan with its buttons.

And a close up of the Celtic brooch.

And finally the spinning books I've been reading.

There are no books for reading group this month because next months meeting is the Christmas Party / Quiz. So once I'm finished the James Lee Burke I'm hoping to make some headway with the TBR pile. Can't quite decide what to read first...Mark Billingham, Laura Lippman, Jeffrey Deaver..... so many books, so little time!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Not a Lot of Knitting Going On

There hasn't been a lot of knitting going on for the last few days, so if it's knitting news you're looking for, then you'd best move along. Nothing to see here.

The Juno cardigan finally has its buttons, though. I really wanted some kind of celtic buttons but I couldn't find what I wanted on the web and it has suddenly got cold here so I bought some plain brass buttons from a little wool shop in Cheltenham when I was there on Monday and they will do just fine. I've had a little difficulty getting the collar to sit right. For some reason the pattern / design calls for it to stick out 2 inches past the edge of the button band. If I'd thought about this properly when I was knitting it I'd have knitted it shorter so it was flush with the button band so it would be less flappy. Anyway the buttonhole on the collar didn't seem to be in the right place when I tried to place the button, but the problem has been solved with the addition of a celtic brooch in the middle which complements it nicely.

I got the books on spinning which I bought from eBay and have been reading them. The first one to arrive was The Craft of Hand Spinning by Eileen Chadwick. This seems to be a good basic guide, not too complicated. Next in the post was Hand Woolcombing and Spinning by Peter Teal. I'm glad the other one came first. This one is very in-depth and complicated and involves much maths, formulae, calculations etc. I shall be going off after this post to have a play with my wheel in an attempt to work out the wheel to bobbin ration and the twist per inch. (If that's wrong and I have offended spinners everywhere I'm sorry - I'm new at all this). Wish me luck!

My other excuse for not knitting much is that I have been entirely seduced by the new James Lee Burke - Pegasus Descending. It is so beautifully written, I just want to keep reading it forever.

Apologies for the lack of pictures today - I took photos of the cardigan and the spinning books, honest, but Blogger just won't play. I'll post them as soon as Blogger gets over its hissy fit.