Thursday, May 31, 2007

Holy crap...where did May go????

In the sudden realisation that this is the last day of May, and hence the final day of this section of Project Spectrum, I offer you this...

..randomly and swiftly selected pile of pink books. I apologise for the fact that there are only 7 instead of the usual 12. It seems I do not actually possess 12 pink books. The colours for the next 2 months are black, red and metallics. My problem there will be which of the many books I own with those coloured covers I get to pick.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Something I've Been Dyeing to Show You

Yesterday, while everyone was out and I had peace and quiet I had a bit of a play with the dyestuffs I bought at Wonderwool.

I also had some Koolaid which I used to make this -

That's some unspecified British Wool roving in shades of pink and red and orange and purple - much brighter in real life than it looks in the picture.

Then there's this which is more of the same roving but dyed with Procion dyes in Cerulean Blue, Royal Blue and Deep Purple. I love these colours together.

And finally there's some handspun Corriedale in much more restained colours of green and pale blue.

I think that's not too bad for a first attempt. And I managed not to cover the kitchen in dye, or spill anything. Anyone who knows me will realise that in itself is a major achievement.

I'm still knitting the Space Invader socks but I'm on the foot of the second sock now so the end is in sight. I might even finish them this afternoon, while watching the Play-Off final. Good luck to the Baggies!

I'm also still reading Dying Light by Stuart MacBride. It's proving a very enjoyable read. I shall have to look out for his new one, called Broken Skin, if I remember correctly. It's also set in Aberdeen, and I'd have to recommend it highly for an accurate portrayal of my home city, even if he does feature all the worst parts. He manages to convey a real feel of the old place.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Bubba on the Beach

How's that for a dog in his element.

We had a great day out on Wednesday, to Rhyl, which is on the coast of North Wales for those of you not in the UK. I guess in its heyday Rhyl was a thriving seaside resort, but these days it's a bit on the shabby side. The beach is lovely though - miles and miles of beautifully clean sand, and that's the reason we went there. Also it's the closest beach to where we live - just about 2 hours away on a good day. I really miss not living near the sea. If we lived closer we would definately do this more often. Bubba just loves the beach.

The Evilpixie came too - note the new pink streak in her hair!

Bubba just making sure everyone else is as wet as he is!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I Promised a Post About Books.... here it is.

I've finished reading The Intruders by Michael Marshall, which I did enjoy, though I did find it a bit on the supernatural side for my taste. I think I prefer the threats in my books to more grounded in reality, less ethereal. That said, I did enjoy the book which is very well written.

I'm now on Dying Light by Stuart McBride. I liked his previous novel in the series, Cold Granite, which has been long listed for the Theakston Crime Novel of the Year Award. They're set in Aberdeen, which is my home town, so reading one is a bit like going home, though he does tend to frequent the seamier side of town.

I found out today that my good friend Helen Oppenheim has been short-listed for the Daily Telegraph Novel in a Year Competition. I believe you had to submit the first 1000 words of a novel and a synopsis. Anyway Helen has made the top 50 from approx 2300 entries, with her novel "The Distance". Go read her extract (and the others too - there's some really great stuff there). The final 5 will be announced on the 26th May so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for Helen. I really like her writing, she deserves a top five slot (and that's not just me being biased!).

The theme for Reading Group this month is Futuristic Crime (and Helen's book, when published would fit that slot perfectly), so I have a couple of great books to read. The Mocking Program by Alan Dean Foster and Killing Time by Caleb Carr. I'm looking forward to them when I've finished the Stuart McBride.

Just a quick post today, but check back tomorrow for photos of Bubba on the beach at Rhyl!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Wonderful Time at Wonderwool

Maggi and I and Maggi's Mum had a great time at Wonderwool. There were lots of different sheep,

(this lovely one is Wensleydale)

and goats, and alpaca,

(we wanted to bring these guys home with us)

and plenty of retail opportunities.

I bought some Trekking sock wool in a great pink colourway.

This is for socks for the Evilpixie, who stunned my on Friday by saying, "These socks you knitted me are just great. Can I have some more?"

I bought myself some handpainted Slkwood yarn too -

Gotta love that combination of aqua and green and pink and purple. Not sure what I'll do with it yet.

And there were shearing displays -

The one thing I really wanted to get though, and couldn't find was some handpainted roving. Still, not to be beaten I bought some dyestuffs and some plain alpaca roving and plan to have a go myself this week.

Apologies for the lack of book posts recently. I will post about books later in the week I promise. Tomorrow however we are off to Rhyl for a day out by the seaside. Bubba just loves the beach.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Just a Little Update

I'd like to wow you all with descriptions of the great knitting I've been doing this week, plus tell you all how busy I've been - way too busy to blog. But truth is, neither of those things are true. So here's the not very exciting update on my week.

I have been carrying on with the space invader socks. I still love them. But I had a little trouble with the heel. It's the first time I've done a short row heel and I made a bit of an arse of it. Hopefully the other one will be better. I'm nearly finished the first sock -

Not a very good picture, sorry.

What else have I been doing.

A bit of spinning -

This is some superwash merino that I started to spin at the Derby open day last week. I love the way the colours have blended. I can't decide if I'll make a 2ply or if I should Navaho ply it. Might do a little test plying and see what looks best. I've got about 200g of this so I might manage to knit something other than yet another pair of socks. Not that there's anything wrong with socks. You can never have too many pairs of handspun, handknitted socks, right?

I got the new Summer issue of Interweave Knits in the post this morning, which was a bit of a surprise, as it's only a couple of weeks since I got the last one. There are some lovely patterns in this issue. Including several that I might actually be tempted to knit, instead of just drooling over them, working out how much the yarn would cost, and deciding that maybe I can live without it. But there's a pattern by Norah Gaughan, whose designs I love, called Origami - and I think I might have to knit it. It's just my kind of thing -

See. Lovely. I like to fool myself that when I'm wearing this cardi (though not in that colour), I will look as great as this model. Delusion is a wonderful place.

Anyway I don't care because on Sunday I am going to Wonderwool. Hope you're all jealous! I promise to buy lots of wool take lots of pictures. Mmmmmmmm. Fiiiiiibre.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Plethora of Spinners

I'm not sure what the collective noun for a group of spinners would be but yesterday there was definitely a lot of us!

It was the annual open day held by the Derbyshire Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Guild, and what a lovely bunch of people they turned out to be. As a newish spinner this was my first event like this and I wasn't sure quite what to expect.

Well, I had a great time. They had laid on a fantastic event in a lovely hall. There were stall selling fibre, and dyes, and books, and beautiful hand-turned spindles and other woodwork. There were beautiful examples of handspun, handknitted and woven garments and wallhangings and bags and all manner of things.

I guess in total there must have been about 50-60 spinners in the hall, from all over the midlands. And they were all so friendly, and they didn't mind a bit if you just had to have a feel of their jumper and ask them how it was made.

Here are Mona, Catherine and Jan from my local spinners group (Walsall Handspinners) -

And here is the Scottish Fibres stall where there were all manner of lovely goodies for sale -

I took this photo while everyone was eating lunch (otherwise you wouldn't have seen the stuff for the spinners). Oh, yes, the Guild had laid on a fantastic spread for lunch and then even more for tea in the afternoon. We were so well looked after.

And here's Maggie, discovering just how addictive spinning can be once you find a wheel that suits you - Check the look of total concentration on her face. I wish I had got a photo of the excitement on her face later when she had in her hand her very first small plied hank of handspun. All her own work. And thanks to the lady, who's name I missed, who loaned Maggie her new Kromski wheel to try, and who really ought to be on commission as I gather everyone who tries it wants one.

I was very restrained with the shopping. But I did buy a few bits (well, it would have been rude not to, wouldn't it). So I did buy a bag of shetland fleece, and a nice pile of back issues of US knittings mags, and a back issue of Spin-Off. I totally resisted the piles of multicoloured merino, and all the many different rare breeds, and the silk and camel and yak and alpaca and angora. All of which I petted and put back. I resisted the rosewood and ebony circular and sock needles too, although that was hard as they were very nice. It was the books that really got me (that will not a surprise to anyone who's ever met me, or who's been reading the blog regularly), there were so many books that I wanted, on lace knitting, and dyeing and spinning and sock knitting. I could have spent an absolute fortune. Anyway I just noted a few titles for my wishlist ready for my next birthday or christmas or whatever.

So anyway a good time was had by us all. It was great to see what everyone else was spinning and be able to ask them questions. And there were so many beautiful wheels of many different makes, some old, some new. And a great variety of spinners too spinning all different things in different ways. I got some great ideas for things I'd like to try. A really inspirational day.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I Sooooooo Love These Socks.......

They are the totally wonderful BPM from I knew as soon as I saw them that I wanted to knit them, and when I was rummaging in my stash yesterday I found 2 balls of black sock yarn so that was that. This is the first time I've knitted with different colours since I started knitting again, though I used to do quite a bit - I distinctly remember a couple of really hideous 1980s picture sweaters. So far it's going Ok, though I have got in a bit of a mess with the two balls getting tangled a few times. Ok, it was more than a few, but I don't think I swore. Well, not much anyway.

It was going to be an experiment in knitting socks on 2 circulars as well, but I found I didn't have any in the size I needed, so they will be done as usual on DPNs. They are really great fun to knit - and they have the added advantage that the 2 socks are different so there should be no problems with the dreaded second sock syndrome.

Gotta go - aliens to zap knit

Monday, May 07, 2007

Yellow Books

The next installment of my Project Spectrum series is books with yellow covers -

These are pretty much a giveaway about where my main interests in life lie.

Next books. Hmmmmm. Could be tricky.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Ware! Knitting Content!

Just in case you were starting to wonder, I have been knitting (and spinning too).

And I have photos to prove it!

Firstly here is my first attempt at Navaho Plying. It's a little overspun in places, but not bad for a first attempt.

Then I have some Merino/Nylon mix that is destined for socks in a lovely colourway that I am calling Pippin. This is also Navaho Plied - once I got started I just couldn't stop. I shall cast about on the net and in my various sock books for a suitable pattern for this later today. Nothing too complicated, I want the yarn to be the main feature, not the pattern, but something with cables maybe.

There is also this which is the last of the Shetland from Joyce's Raspberry Ripple Scarf project. This is destined to be part of a present too, but I can't reveal what it will be yet.

As well as all that spinning, which was done yesterday, while everyone was out and I had the house to myself for a change, I have done a little actual knitting. There's this -

Destined to be felted, and also a present, so more on that later, once it's been in the washer and is complete.

I'm still knitting the pink socks for the Evil Pixie, but they are just dull old plain socks, so I shan't photograph them until they're finished.

And I got this in the post on Friday -

Spring issue of Interweave Knits, the first of my subscription. It's the first one I've managed to get my hands on and I'm really impressed, so much better than what is available in the UK. There's a fantastic Top-down Cable Raglan Pullover in there that just has my name all over it. I do love top-down jumpers - no sewing up to be done!

Irritatingly, I'm still waiting for my first issue of Spin Off which seems to have got lost in transit. I've reported it as missing so hopefully the replacement will arrive soon.

I've been suffering really badly with hay fever this week. Whenever I go outside my eyes feel all puffy and itchy and I feel like I have a head full of cotton wool. There is nothing for it. I shall just have to stay inside and knit. Curses.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Books to Keep Quiet About

There's been a bit of a discussion in the blogosphere this week about whether or not you admit to all the books you read. Do you keep it quiet that you have a secret addiction to Jean Plaidy or Dan Brown or the plethora of misery memoirs, and only list the books that you think you should read?

I have to say that I have been completely honest about all the books I've read since starting this blog. Actually there aren't any on the list that I would be ashamed of reading, but I've read some bizarre things over the years. I've read the Da Vinci Code, mainly because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. And I think it's only fair to try to read different stuff - how else would you discover that it's not to your taste. I might not like Sophie Kinsella's books, for example, but there are many who do, who eagerly await the next one. I haven't actually read any of the Shopaholic books, but I might, and if / when I do I shall tell you about it.

I am of the opinion that you learn a lot about writing from reading good books, but you can also learn a lot from reading the odd bad book, or from reading books that are outside your preferred genre. Most of what I read is crime fiction, but I also like historical fiction, classics, the odd bit of literary fiction, some fantasy and a bit of SF. Generally I don't like to read romantic fiction, chick lit, misery, horror or sport/celebrity biographies. That said, I come across books in all of these genres (except possibly celebrity bios) that appeal to me occasionally, and I try not to let pink covers get in the way.

It was one of my resolutions this year to read more varied books (or at any rate a lesser proportion of crime novels) , and I'm not sure that so far I'm really succeeding in that - so many books, so little time. Must try harder.

Anyway you can rest assured that I'll let you know what I'm reading, even especially if it's something I wouldn't normally read, and I'll let you all know what I think of it too!