Saturday, March 31, 2007

Virgin Books?

I read this week that Richard Branson might be interested in the Borders chain. At first I thought that sounded OK. But then I remembered how he's just shafted all those NTL/Telwest cable customers by refusing to stump up for Sky One. Welcome to Virgin Books - but we don't sell books from Insertasmallpublisherhere as they don't offer enough discount. Hmmm.

I was delighted (not to say gobsmacked) to see that my little tirade about the state of bookselling was mentioned in The Guardian this morning. They quoted a passage in the Bloggy section of the Review. Welcome to anyone who's stopped by for a look!

Of course all the things I moaned about in my bookselling post are also very bad news for writers. If AnyHighStreetBookstore is only going to stock the top fifty bestselling authors, where does that leave everyone else?

I have been reading this week. I just finished The Lords of the North by Bernard Cornwell. Now I like Bernard. He's probably never going to win the Nobel Prize for Literature but he can write a cracking plot. This is the third in the series about Viking / Saxon Britain and Alfred the Great. However I had it in my head that this was the final part of a trilogy and was expecting it to wrap up rather neatly at the end. Suddenly, however, I realised that I was only twenty pages from finishing the book, and there was still lots of plot developing, so there was no way this could be the final one. Duh! So, Bernard, if you should happen to be reading this, could you hurry up and write the fourth one, as I want to know what happens next.

I started Priest by Ken Bruen, but couldn't get into it, so I stuck it to one side in favour of Lee Child's The Hard Way. I've not read a Jack Reacher book for a while and it doesn't appear that he's changed much in the several books that have elapsed since then.

I have been frantically spinning and knitting a scarf for my MIL's birthday. This is some of the roving I bought earlier in the week. I spun the plain cream shetland with some pink shetland and it looks just like Raspberry Ripple ice cream. Photos to follow when I've finished.

I've finished the Knit Cafe Hoody but have still to put the zip in.

Today is the end of the first Project Spectrum section. So farewell to Grey, Blue and White and a big hello to Yellow, Pink and Green. I'm hoping to be a bit more successful with these projects than I was with the previous colours. I have some great pink and yellow sock wool somewhere that I've been dying to knit with. If I could just remember where I put it....

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Day Out in the Sunshine

Today, after three days, stuck inside doing the part-time retail job, I have been let out for a day.

First we went to Leek in Staffordshire where we scoured the charity shops and I found this -

Then we went here and I bought all manner of lovely goodies.

There was fibre like this -

That's not all for me - some of it is to make a birthday present for my MIL.

And I got my own birthday present a little bit early - Ashford Hand Carders -

And they had lots and lots of wonderful books ( could have spent an absolute fortune there!) but I was quite restrained and I just got two -

That's the Ashford Book of Carding (so I can learn how to use my new carders properly) and the Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook (which I had wanted for ages but had never actually seen a copy of).

And then we carried on to Ashbourne in Derbyshire (only another 12 miles or so) a it was such a lovely sunny spring day. The Staffordshire Moorlands were beautiful and we saw lots of sheep with tiny lambs.

So we had a mooch round Ashbourne which was is a really nice town with proper little shops (bakeries and ironmongers and toyshops and all manner of things), the like of which you hardly see anymore. We stopped in a fantastic little grocers shop which smelt like a grocers shop should, of ham and coffee and cheese. We bought coffee beans and handmade Yorkshire Crisps (they taste great but you probably shouldn't eat too many of them), and free range eggs from a farm just up the road. It was just my kind of town. And then I found these in a charity shop there -

Rowan Magazine #4, a Noro pattern book and a Jaeger pattern book.

So we're home now and I am looking forward to reading my books and spinning the lovely fibre and doing a little knitting - not necessarily in that order.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mansfield Park on ITV

I finally got caught up with some TV I'd recorded over the weekend including ITV's new adaptation of Mansfield Park. This is part of their Jane Austen season with 4 two-hour adaptations of the novels with Northanger Abbey, Persuasion and Emma still to come.

I have to say that I was very disappointed in Mansfield Park. I thought Billie Piper (good actress though she is turning out to be), was far too feisty to be Fanny Price. Fanny should be extremely shy and reticent, almost insipid. Ms Piper was raucous and self-confident (not to mention far too striking) and showed none of the self-doubt and insecurity that should lie at the heart of Fanny Price. Aunt Norris, who is fairly central to the books, seemed to have no role in the TV drama and I rather wonder why they bothered with her. Really, two hours was not sufficient to do justice to the story, and contraints of time and, I imagine, budget, meant that there was no visit to Portsmouth and virtually no mention of Fanny's family, barring the sailor brother.

This does not bode well for the rest of the season. Northanger Abbey is a silly book at the best of times and the trailer makes it look like it will be a rather painful watch. Persuasion is my favourite Austen novel and I'm dreading what they will do to it. I don't suppose my trepidation will stop me from watching them though.

The BBC on the other hand is doing excellent work with the new series of Life on Mars. This series has produced some of the best lines I've ever heard in British TV drama. More stuff of the same caliber please!

The new series of Doctor Who starts next Saturday and is rumoured to be the last featuring David Tennant. I would like to put in a little word here in support of John Sim as the new Doctor. He does apparently make an appearance in the last two episodes of the series. I guess I'm asking too much for the return of Christopher Eccleston, currently appearing in Heroes. He is almost my favourite Doctor. No-one will ever replace Patrick Troughton for me though. Apparently it is possible to tell someone's age by their preferred Doctor. I couldn't possible comment (or admit to a slight hankering after William Hartnell, I'm way too young to remember HIM.)

Heroes, to my utter dismay, does not air again in the US until the end of April. I am getting withdrawal symptoms.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sundays are for Spinning

This is my second attempt at posting - when I tried to upload my last post Blogger said I had a HTML error and lost the post somehow. AAAARGH!

Anyway, to repeat what I said earlier -

Today I have been spinning.

This is the fruit flavoured coloured Corriedale I bought from Forest Fibres a couple of weeks ago. I've been working through it slowly and finally managed to get 2 bobbins full today. I've plied them together and am very pleased with the result although the pic shows a bit more of the blue than there is in real life. Some of the plying could be better too but I am improving slowly (I think).

Today is Mothering Sunday so Happy Mothers Day to all you Mums out there. The Evilpixie bought me this book which reprints the "Mother Tells You How" sections from Girl comic 1952-1960. Lots of useful info on how to make a bed, how to use old cheese etc plus some knitting patterns including a Sports Woolly and a College Scarf. Great stuff!

I got to SnB yesterday although I didn't actually knit anything when I was there. I swatched for a cardigan I'm thinking about, then decided I didn't have the right size needles with me. Then I cast on some of the turquoise handspun for a hat. But after a couple of rows it didn't feel like a hat. So on the way home on the train I frogged it and cast on for a short scarf. I'm being a bit of a butterfly knittingwise at the moment - flitting from one potential project to another unable to settle on what to do next.

Pete is much much better. he is able to walk, drive and cook now, although he still can't walk Bubba in case the naughty dog pulls on the lead on the way to the field. It will be a few more weeks before he can lift anything or bend properly, but thankfully life is slowly returning to what passes for normality round here. He's cooking me a lovely roast chicken dinner for Mother Day and the smell is wafting upstairs into the office and making me very hungry. I think I need to go and see if he needs any help with anything......

Friday, March 16, 2007

Just a quick one!

Just a quick post tonight as I'm off to Spinning Group in a minute.

Last night I went to an author event at Mere Green Library. The author was Roger Jon Ellory. I'd not read any of his books, but I have the first two, Candlemoth and Ghostheart in my TBR pile. He turned out to be a very interesting man with some intriguing ideas about writing and about life in general, so I shall move them up the pile a bit.

Tomorrow is a day off for me so I shall get to SnB in Birmingham. I think I'd better knit myself a woolly hat - looks like the weather is taking a turn for the worse at the beginning of next week.

Jill, thank you for your offer of more of that sock wool, but I've found a pattern for chequerboard socks that will use just the amount of wool I have and should avoid any pooling problems - and they look great in the photo in the book - hopefully they will knit up nicely too.

More posts over the weekend hopefully.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Pooling Socks

I have started some new socks in the absence of any other knitting inspiration. I've still not blocked the Knit Cafe hoody and I can't do any more until I have.

The reason for the delay is that I don't have anywhere to block it at the moment, so I'm going to make myself a blocking board. This might have to wait till the weekend till I can get somewhere to buy wadding and fabric. I already have a board I can use.

Anyway, yesterday (when I was feeling very tired and cranky) I started some new socks. Yes, thank you, I do know that I should have waited until I was less tired and cranky, but I needed something to knit right then, and I was bored with the dog-walking socks. I found the lovely ball of Sisu that Jill sent me in Ms Knitingale's pre-Christmas swap. I'd forgotten how wonderful the colours were. So I cast on and started to knit the Crusoe socks from Knitty. (BTW the new Knitty is out now in case you didn't know).

Now the main problem I have is that there is just the one 50g ball of this yarn (which is nowhere near enough to knit these socks), but I figured if I just knit the leg in the pattern I could knit the foot in some other toning (or possibly contrasting) colour. I was going to worry about that bit later.

The other problem is that I was tired and cranky (yes, I know, you already told me). So the first time I cast on I left too long a trailing bit of yarn and because this will be an issue later I'm sure, I ripped it back and started again. The next time the trailing yarn was too short. I actually got it right on the third attempt, but then I dropped a stitch on the first round and ended up with a big hole in the cast on. On the fourth attempt I actually managed to cast on correctly, and join without twisting, and actually knit about an inch and a half before I realised that the damn sock would only fit a very small child. I am not a very small child, though its possible I may have acted like one at this point.

Today, when I was not tired and cranky, I ripped it back and started again with more stitches. I love the pattern - it looks great and its easy to knit (though I am inclined to forget which row I'm on). And now........ the colours are pooling -

Which was not part of the plan.

I'm guessing that this is not the pattern for this yarn. I may go off and stamp my feet a bit.

In other news -

Today is our wedding anniversary. Pete and I have been married for fifteen years today - which is a very long time. I think he deserves a round of applause for putting up with me for all this time. And even after fifteen years it is still possible to learn new things about each other. This year I have learned that he is a better cook than me. And he has learned to avoid me when I am tired and cranky and armed with pointy sticks. I love him tons.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Normal Service Will Resume... soon as possible, honest!

Sorry for the lack of postings this week. It has been rather hectic here as I will now explain.

Pete was in hospital on Wednesday for some surgery - nothing life threatening, a fairly routine operation. But he is now rather incapacitated in that he is unable to bend or to lift anything heavier than a cup of tea. So I'm having to do a little bit of TLC and running around. He's very fed up and bored and wants to be able to do stuff. I'm just plain knackered. He can't walk the dog, or cook or do any housework or even sit in the chair at the computer for more than a few minutes at a time as it gets painful - so I'm doing rather more work than usual as well as having done 2 days in the shop. Let's hope he gets better quickly!

Hence the lack of posting - I missed reading group and writing group this week as he was just out of hospital and I couldn't leave him on his own - and then I missed spinning on Friday, just because I was too tired after work to summon the energy to go.

Yesterday I went to an auction in Oxfordshire and didn't buy anything. I guess it's just not my week!

I've done a bit of reading though. I've finished The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney. This won the Costa Book of the Year award and quite rightly too. I loved it. I am just amazed that a woman who is agoraphobic (sorry if that's spelt wrong) and who has never been to Canada could write so beautifully about the wilderness - perhaps it is because she agoraphobic etc. Anyway it was a beautiful book and I would highly recommend it.

I'm now reading Scared to Live by Stephen Booth. It's been a while since I read one of his so I'm keen to see what Fry and Cooper are up to.

Tonight on ITV we have the first part of Fallen Angel which is an adaptation of Andrew Taylor's Requiem for an Angel. Otherwise known as The Roth Trilogy. I really loved the books, and am a big fan of Andrew's in general, but this had a rather dodgy report in the Guardian this week so we shall see if it's any good or not.

There has been almost no knitting done this week - the combination of tiredness and a woolly head from sinusitus (again sorry if that's spelt wrong) is not a good mix for successful knitting.

I'm going to veg out in front of the TV and watch Crufts - did you see the Golden Retreiver Display Team on Thursday? Hilarious!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Hand-spun socks

I have an FO. I have finished some handspun socks that I started yesterday. They were incredibly quick to knit - I cast on while on the train into Birmingham to go to Stitch 'n' Bitch, and I finished them when I got home from work this afternoon. Just what I needed - Pete's new dog walking socks are taking forever - largish feet and fine sock wool are a bad combination, so a quick knit that I could finish in a weekend was called for.

I spun the yarn for these myself - they are the first things I've knitted with my handspun yarn and I just love them. They are 80% black merino and 20% white nylon which gives them a lovely charcoal grey mottled colour. Nice and thick and very warm for the toes!

You can see the colour quite well in this picture -

Now it's back to the slog of the Knit Cafe Hoody - I'm halfway up the sleeves - doing them both together to avoid second sleeve syndrome. (Hope you are impressed that I am planning ahead to dodge this!).

I still have to block Pete's cardigan and put the zip in but I'm waiting for some slightly better (ie less damp) weather to do this otherwise it will take forever to dry. It needs washing before wearing as the wool still has some oil in it from the factory, so I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone and wash and block it at the same time. This may or may not been a great idea as it's a huge beast of a thing and will weigh about 10 tons when wet. I think I'll have to wash it in the bath!