Monday, August 27, 2007

What a Great Weekend!!

It's been a lovely weekend here for once. The weather has been much improved, and as it was the Bank Holiday Weekend it meant that even though I was working on Saturday, I still got 2 days off - Sunday and Monday.

And what lovely days they were too. Those of you know know me in real life probably know that I'm a great fan of car boot sales (that's flea markets for those of you across the pond). August Bank Holiday weekend is traditionally (at least by us) spent at a succession of car boot sales acrosss the Midlands where much fun is usually had, some money spent and a few bargains procured. This weekend has been exceptional.

Yesterday -

I got a whole host of vintage knitting patterns, a Vogue Knitting magazine from 1956 and a lovely little booklet called Lace-Making with Crochet Hook and Knitting Needles. It's undated but probably late 1940s. I also got Knitting in Vogue Books 1 & 2 and a great crochet book - New Directions in Crochet by Anne Rabun Ough. It's crammed with crochet stitches and designs.

My favourite books from Sunday however were Mary Thomas's Knitting Book (from 1938) , Mary Thomas's Book of Knitting Patterns (from 1945) and The Knitter's Craft (from 1951). This latter has great endpapers with a picture of Wensleydale Knitters from 1814..

And as if Sunday wasn't good enough, today at a local car boot that I nearly didn't go to because it isn't usually much good for the sort of stuff that I like to buy - I got this -

It's not very easy to see in the pictures but there's a whole pile of little sample bags and some larger amounts of fibres from Wingham and Texere. There's camel and soya bean and mohair and cashmere and various sparkly trilobal nylons and other synthetic stuff in bright colours. There's Shetland and Jacob and lots of little samples of lots of different types of silk in lots of different colours and then there was this -

A whole pile of silk hankies - there's actually about 340g of them in a whole variety of colours. How cool is that? I'm not going to tell you how little I paid for them as you might cry.

It turns out that the girl who was selling them all had just finished a course in machine embroidery and she was selling off all her excess bits and pieces. I was chuffed to bits. So now I have lots and lots of stuff to play with and to experiment with and to blend with the kilo of Merino I just ordered from Fibrecrafts.

I bought the merino so I would have enough fibre to play with work with now that I have a new book -

which I ordered last week and which arrived on Tuesday. It's a totally wonderful book, and I can't wait to get dying and blending and experimenting with all the colours and all my new fibres.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Ridiculous Decision

I'm on my soapbox this morning!

In my previous existence as a secondhand bookseller I attended a lot of auctions. One of these, and by far my favourite auction is J S Auctions near Banbury. They've been fighting a long battle against the local council who feel that an out of town site is not the right place for an auction house to operate. This week they have lost their appeal, meaning that they have to close down their business, putting people out of work and affecting the livelihood of many more. The decision by the council is absolutely absurd and shows a complete lack of understanding of the business. JS Auctions is currently based on a farm where they hold the actual auctions in 2 large sheds, with a huge carpark adjacent. This means you can park right outside the auction and you can drive right up to the sheds to collect heavy or bulky items like furniture or books. They have worked hard over the years to improve the facilities at the site with better parking, new office accomodation etc. It's a lovely set-up and one which they could be proud of. They can easily accomodate the 300 or more people who attend their auctions every other Saturday, with no disruption to locals. It's a great, friendly auction house, run by people who care, and who've worked really hard to build their business. It's one of the best run auction houses I've ever attended and trust me I've been to quite a few!

Cherwell District Council think this kind of huge operation would be much better if it were in the town centre. Now, you're probably not familiar with Banbury, but it's a small market town, with limited parking at the best of times. On a Saturday it is really busy and virtually impossible to find parking. This is not the kind of place where you want to add to the traffic by trying to hold an auction (where the attendees often have large vans to park, and need access to the doors of the auction room to collect things). As an example, there is already an auction house in the centre of Banbury, which holds auctions on a Tuesday. I try and avoid this auction house because you have to park miles away and there is nowhere to stop to collect any heavy purchases. The last time I bought anything there I nearly got a parking ticket when I stopped briefly to load the car with the several boxes of books I had bought. I had no choice. I couldn't carry the boxes to the car so I had to stop temporarily on a double yellow line (that means No Parking, for those of you not from the UK). There was a prowling traffic warden hanging around waiting for just that situation. And that's on a Tuesday! On a Saturday with extra shoppers and extra people you can imagine the chaos another several hundred cars and vans would cause.

Cherwell Council should hang their heads in shame over this decision. They have potentially ruined a great business, cost some lovely people their jobs, deprived hundreds of people of the pleasure of a well-run auction in a great location, and threatened the livelihoods of many dealers.

JS Auctions are hoping to find alternative accomodation to enable them to continue with the business that is their livelihood. I really hope they succeed. The auction world would be a poorer place without them.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I am Rubbish.... all this rushing around being organised stuff.

I don't seem to have had any time at all for the last week. I did manage to get to Stitch 'n' Bitch on Saturday, which was the first time in ages and for once I had taken some mindless knitting instead of starting some thing new and complex that I was going to screw up because I was talking and not paying attention. (See, I can learn new things.)

What I took to SnB was this -

Trust me, this is the Hot Lava Cardigan. It looks like a couple of sleeves with a gaping maw in the middle. When this is finished I will either totally love it...or it will be the most unflattering jumper ever knitted in the history of knitkind. I rather suspect that the sleeves are going to reach to my knees and I am somewhat worried about ever washing it as I think that may only encourage the sleeves to reach for the ground even more. I shall persevere for the moment.

Also I have been knitting the Log Cabin throw -

This is more pleasing to the eye and has the added advantage that it cannot possibly be too long in any dimension. Currently however it could only be thrown over a postage stamp. You will note that nothing more complicated than garter stitch or stocking stitch has been attempted this week. (Wow, two things learned in one week - excuse me while I go and lie down for a bit.)

Very little reading has been done this week. I finished Letters from a Lost Generation (it did indeed make me cry) and started The Moon Tunnel by Jim Kelly. I am liking The Moon Tunnel greatly. Philip Dryden and his taxi-driving sidekick are wonderful. I have totally failed to read the books I am supposed to be reading for Book Group this month but, hey, I've still got a week.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

How Did I Used to Do It??????

I was a full-time working mother from when the Evilpixie was just three months old until about six months after we moved to the Midlands. For some of that time I worked a rotating 24 hours shift pattern. My question did I do it???????

I've been working almost full-time hours for only the last two weeks and I am exhausted. So, how did I manage when I had a baby / young child to look after too? Tuesday night when I got home I was so tired that I couldn't even summon the energy to knit (bad, huh?). I was so tired that I almost fell asleep during CSI Miami. (Yes, I know, it's a load of tosh, but you gotta love Horatio and the Sunglasses of Righteousness).

Today, although tired, I am not working. In fact I am off now until Sunday so you can expect regular service to be resumed at least for the time being. I'm not promising that I'll have anything terribly interesting to blog about but at least there should be a post or two. I have even found the time to install our new printer which has been waiting two weeks to be connected after the previous one died horribly mid-document. Of course installing the new printer was not as simple as it should have been. It was only when I unpacked it all that I realised that I didn't have the right kind of USB cable (now who would assume that one would come with the printer - I checked that it had the ink cartridges. How was I suppoed to know I'd need another cable.) Of course this is a very cheap and cheerful printer. The USB cable I had to rush out and buy cost half as much again as the whole printer. AAAAgh. Then on the way home from the computer shop there was a nasty accident at the junction near our house (about half a mile away) which meant a 5 mile detour and an extra HOUR on the journey (I kid you not).

Nevermind, we got home eventually.

There is some knitting news. I have cast on the Hot Lava Cardigan, though I have changed the cuff as I didn't like the double moss stitch cuff on the pattern. I am knitting plain stocking stitch with a slight flare at the cuff - quite my favourite style of sleeve. I just love the way the sleeve rolls back on itself.

I have also cast on for a log cabin blanket / throw. This is to be decorative and go across the back of my sofa where it can be pulled round my shoulders if it gets chilly. Pictures of these and possibly other stuff tomorrow, honest!

Reading has been going slowly, mostly due to the fact that I fall asleep as soon as I sit down with a book. Or I go to bed intending to read for a little bit and manage about a line and a half before the book hits the floor. However I have finished the Andrea Camilleri and did quite enjoy it, once I got used to the very odd Inspector Montalbano. I'm not sure I would rush to read another one but it was interesting. I'm still ploughing through Letters from a Lost Generation, which, as I suspected, has made me cry. I'm thinking I need something light and funny after this to cheer me up. Or possibly the new Val McDermid which so far I have resisted though it is calling my name every day in the shop.........

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Weekend of Wool and other Stuff

I had the weekend off and so I've been catching up with all the stuff that needed doing - like sleeping, and knitting, and reading.

Oh and I've been surfing the net too and I bought this -

Isn't it gorgeous. 5 skeins of Manos del Uruguay wool in colourway 6460 (oranges and browns and pinks and greens and reds). Won on eBay on Friday evening and delivered on Saturday, which was pretty impressive. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it when I bought it, but it was a real bargain and I couldn't resist it. Then I looked on Ravelry (sorry, if you're still waiting for your invite!) and found the ideal pattern - it will be a Hot Lava Cardigan. I'll probably do a version with just one button, but we'll see. Not sure if I have the right size of DPNs to do the cuffs and sleeves with which might be a problem. Large sized DPNs are not easy to find round here. I don't think I have the right size in circulars either come to think of it. I could probably buy them online .... but I want them NOW!

I have finished sewing the Ribwarmer -

I love this too and think I might knit another one. It was great to knit. EZ is a genius.

I went to a car boot sale today and bought a box of wool. I'm not sure exactly what it is, except that it is wool and it comes in several lovely shades of blue and green and beige. This was ludicrously cheap. I think I might do a log cabin throw with it, like the ones in Mason-Dixon Knitting.

Also I have been knitting the rainbow hand-spun socks -

Sock One - not sure if maybe it isn't a little on the wide side. I shall have to see what I think after I've turned the heel. I'm knitting them toe-up which I don't really like but it's the only way to be sure to get the colours right and use up all the wool.

On Friday at my spinning group we had a little party (with cake!) to say farewell to Catherine who is going home to New Zealand after a couple of years over here. I only got to know her towards the end of her stay in England, but she's lovely and we're all going to miss her. Sadly, I'm an idiot and have no photos of this event to show you. Have a safe trip home, Catherine!

I finished Cut Her Dead by Iain McDowall and thought it was excellent. A well constructed plot and an unusual crime. I shall read more of this series. Otherwise I'm still reading the Vera Brittain which is fascinating but will shortly get very sad. I rather expect tissues may be required to finish this book.

Monday, August 06, 2007

A Quick Preview

Just for a change, as I am working extra days in the shop this month (and am already all flustered and behind with everything at home), I give you a swift preview of what I WILL be working on this week -

There's the EZ Ribwarmer, now knitted (finally got into Brum for the last ball of yarn) and awaiting sewing up....

It looks as though the stripes don't match in the photo but they do in real life - I spent a lot of time making them match!

Also there are the Shock Wave socks.

I had started these in the Trekking XXL for the Evilpixie, but the pattern I was using wasn't right for the yarn. The Shock Wave pattern is just right.

I am reading Cut Her Dead by Iain McDowall. I've had his first book on my TBR pile for long time, but I got hold of a proof of this one and it's really good so far. It's not out in PB until December though. I am also reading Letters from a Lost Generation by Vera Brittain which is a fascinating book, but I have the hardback edition which is way too heavy to lug around for portable reading (hence the McDowall). This is research for a writing project I will tell you more about once I'm up to speed with the research and happy that I know what I'm talking about. (Funny, that doesn't usually bother me, does it?)

In spinning, I have started the rainbow roving I dyed last week and it is spinning beautifully. I have almost finished the first half (just the violet bit to go) then I will spin the matching 2nd half and Navaho ply them so that I keep the colour changes. They will be toe-up rainbow socks. Pictures of all that on Thursday which will be my next day off.

Got to go and make some dinner now and think about all the things I need to do this evening before I can sit down with a book and a glass of wine......