Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Spinning Around

An unexpected email from a family friend about spinning reminded me that I've not been writing about spinning much recently. This is not because I've not been spinning, rather that I've been so bad at posting that I keep forgetting what I've been up to.

So, I have been busy spinning. I made this necklace which I'm rather enamoured with....

Apologies for the picture quality. Here's the necklace in close-up...

I have to admit to pinching the idea from the latest issue of Spin Off which showed a bracelet of similar technique but with beads strung from it. It's made by wrapping a loose singles of merino (in this case my own hand-dyed), around a core of crochet cotton. The trick is to untwist the crochet cotton clockwise on a spindle while simultaneously twisting the singles over the cotton on your wheel in a counterclockwise direction. Basically you need three hands! Actually once I got the hang of it, it wasn't as complicated as I expected.

Here's some of the spun yarn from the merino/tencel mix that I bought from Wingham on my last foray...

I was worried that the colours would merge into one hideous browny/orange sludge colour when I spun this, but it seems to be ok. Some of the colours have softened and there is a slight sludginess, but mostly it is fine. I just don't know what I'm going to knit with it. There's about 200g.

Finally, my latest task, still on the bobbin, is some hand-dyed merino in lovely blues and greens...

This looks as though I have woefully underspun it, now that I look at it in the photo. Hopefully it's not as bad as it looks. Again I have no idea what to do with this.

Bubba had his stitches out yesterday and all is well so far. The heat I was feeling in his leg at the weekend seems to have gone now and he is using his leg more - in fact he seems to think that he's completely cured now and is demanding long walks and sulking when he doesn't get them. Back to the Other Vet in a few weeks for more x-rays to check that the bone is healing properly and then it's progressively longer and more demanding walks to build up the muscle in the leg again.

It's my day off today so I'm planning to knit on the Icarus shawl (almost finished the easy part) as everyone is out but me (and Bubba). Bliss.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Look What I've Got.....

Yes, I've got myself a loom. It's a Dryad Four Shaft table loom with an 18" bed. It does want a little TLC but as it cost me absolutely nothing that's OK. It just needs a couple of new springs on the bottom of the first shaft, and a few new heddles as it has some made from string which I shall replace with Texsolve ones. Other than that it just needed a little clean. I am chuffed to bits. I'm not sure when I'll have the time to get it warped up and get weaving on it. I really should finish the piece that is currently languishing on my borrowed loom before I start anything new, right? Besides, now that I have my own loom I need to return the borrowed one to my spinning/weaving circle.

Bubba seems to be progressing well, although he will persist in trying to stand on his bad leg to lift the good leg when he's out for a wee. Stupid dog. We've been taking him on left-handed (or should that be left-legged) walks to try and stop him doing this but he still tries. Today he fell over in the attempt. The leg is a little warm today, much warmer than the good leg. We are hoping this is not a bad sign. Back to the (local) vet anyway on Tuesday to have his stitches removed, so they will have a good look at him then.

We are suffering today from a dose of English Bank Holiday weather - very wet and windy. Tomorrow promises more of the same, though I'm working so it doesn't really matter much to me. A good day then to settle on the sofa and read and knit, and that's precisely what I'm intending for the rest of the day.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Monday Books Update

So, what have been reading since the last book update?

I finished Flesh House by Stuart MacBride. This was excellent, if a tad on the gruesome side. A full review will follow on Eurocrime as soon as I get the time to write it, but in the meantime I can only recommend this to anyone who likes their crime on the darkly humourous side. It's very bleak but also very funny which is a neat trick if you can pull it off and MacBride can do that. And it's set in Aberdeen - always a good thing. The more books set in the North East of Scotland the better as far as I'm concerned. This book is dedicated to the Aberdeen Tourist Board with promises that he'll set the next one in summer. As far as I recall the summers are still wet and gray, just a little bit less cold, then you get that wonderful thick sea haar (that's mist to you southerners). Very atmospheric but possibly not what the tourist board had in mind.

As an antidote to all that gruesome fleshy stuff I then read the next book in C J Sansom's Matthew Shardlake series, Sovereign. I had really enjoyed Dark Fire and I thought this one was just as good. My knowledge of English history, as you are all aware, is a little bit sketchy to say the least, but having read Philippa Gregory's The Boleyn Inheritance I had met some of the characters who surround Old Henry before and was a little less mystified than I might have been. That's not to say that the book wouldn't work on its own, without a little understanding of who the people were, but it enhanced it for me. In this volume Shardlake is again out of his beloved London and away up North in York where the King is on tour. There are some great north/south divide jokes in here, as well as a deftly handled and complex plot, where Shardlake's appointed task turns out to more complicated than he thought, causing him to do a bit of soul-searching and putting him in danger. I shall try not to read the fourth in this series for a while, though it's tempting to rush off and get a copy and get right up to date.

Moving on then to what I'm reading now - Blood Brother by J A Kerley. This is a proof as its not due to be published till July in the UK, and it doesn't seem to have a date for the US. I've read all his previous books, starting with The Hundredth Man, and I've enjoyed all of them. This is the fourth in the series which is set mainly in Alabama, a part of the world that should probably feature in more fiction. They're all about Detective Carson Ryder who specialises in crimes involving psychopaths and sociopaths - they must have a lot in Alabama as they have a special unit to deal with them. I've just started this and its going well, drawing on a whole heap of back story though so it probably helps if you've read the other books. I'm fairly certain it will work as a book in its own right, but if you know that back story then I think you'll get more out of it. My only problem with this so far is that for some reason the marketing bods have decided that he should henceforth (at least in the UK) be known as J A Kerley, when all his previous books have been published as Jack Kerley. What's that all about? If anyone from HarperCollins marketing department is reading this would they like to explain it to me? I know they do all kinds of market research for these things but are they seriously saying that more people will buy a book
by J.A. as opposed to Jack? Is it something to do with Jack being a man's name and therefore women might not buy the book, or is it just jumping on the bandwagon of P J Tracy et al? Would you hesitate over a book obviously written by a man in favour of one written by an ambiguous entity? Personally I don't give two hoots what the name of the author is, (so long as it's not Simon Brett, but that's another story). It's the content that gets me, and maybe sometimes there's something about the cover that I like, but what the sex of the author way.

What do you think?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Update on Bubba 2

He's home!

He's not a very happy dog, but he's back home now. Today he is able to put a little weight on the leg and the wound / stitches looks clean and not at all sore. They've shaved the whole of his leg from ankle to hip though so he looks like a turkey....

The dangly thing is just a bit of tape which is slowly coming off which is fine. He's been moping around the house whimpering at anyone who will listen. Tomorrow we start the long slow process of recuperation. The advice has changed a bit in the last 5 years since the last time we did this. Then he had no walks for some weeks - this time he is to have 3-4 short 5-10 minute walks a day to keep the joint mobile and stop the muscles from wasting. He is also to have massage and physiotherapy (administered by us!) 3-4 times aday. That should be fun.

In between dog-sitting and work I managed to get to West Brom library last night where John Connolly was talking (and talking), allegedly about his new book The Reapers, though he covered a wide range of subjects from dating advice to mosquitoes. Anyway it was an interesting evening - John is always good value. Here he is in mid flow....

I promise a book update tomorrow as I've been a bit remiss on the book blogging front recently. I'm a bit behind on the reviews too. Sorry, Karen! I'll try and get them written tomorrow and email them over to you.

Many thanks for all your emails and comments wishing Bubba well. He seems (fingers crossed) to be OK and hopefully the convalescence will progress smoothly. We just need to stop him from chasing the pigeons in the garden!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Update on Bubba

Just a quick post to let you know that Bubba came though his operation OK and will be home tomorrow. As suspected he had almost completely severed his cruciate ligament so they have performed a TPLO on his left leg (to match the one he'd already had on his right).

Anyway he is awake now and probably trying to bribe the nurses to feed him!

More tomorrow, maybe even pictures!

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Trip to the Vet

A couple of weeks ago, Bubba started to limp a little on his right back leg. Mostly it was just a little stiffness when he's been lying still for a while. But last Wednesday while out for a short walk he started to limp really badly, unable to put any weight on the leg at all.

A trip to our local vet proved inconclusive, it was either a cruciate ligament injury or the onset of hip dysplasia. Both of these are ailments common to Golden Retrievers, and indeed Bubba has already had one cruciate ligament injury, to his other back leg, when he was just eighteen months old.

Today he has been to the specialists who have confirmed that he has ruptured his cruciate ligament completely. It is common for dogs with one damaged cruciate to also experience damage to the other, either because it is a genetic problem, or because they overcompensate for the weakness in the one leg by using the other leg more. However this repeat injury would normally occur fairly soon after the original injury. Bubba's rupture has happened five years after the original operation. So we're not sure what the exact cause is.

The remedy however is plain. He must have another TPLO surgery. This is a procedure which changes the angle of the tibial plateau by removing a section of bone and plating the leg back together. There's a full explanation of it here for those who like the science. It means he won't have full use of his leg for some weeks and will be on a very strict regime of very little exercise, no climbing stairs, no getting on the sofa etc. Even the step by the back door may be a problem and we may need to construct a ramp. He mustn't, to begin with, even cross the kitchen floor (which is tiled) on his own in case he slips. Then it's a long slow progress back to fitness with hydrotherapy and gently increasing walks. Last time we went through this with relatively few problems and I'm hoping it will be the same this time, but he's older now and doesn't have the same bouncebackability he did then. The operation has a 90% chance of success, meaning he should return to something like full mobility, though he will be susceptible to arthritis in later life. There is really no alternative that gives him the chance at a continued active life.

His surgery is scheduled for Friday, so keep your fingers crossed for him won't you. We know he'll be in good hands but sometimes these things are in the lap of the gods.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Friday Books Update

I haven't just been knitting and spinning and playing with fibre.

I have been reading as well. I finished Dark Fire by C J Sansom, which is a really good book. I was a little bit unsure about Matthew Shardlake when I first met him in Dissolution but I have really warmed to him in this book. Perhaps it's because he's on his home turf here. I also liked his new sidekick, Jack Barak, foisted on him by Thomas Cromwell who is not a man to argue with. I can't wait now to read the next 2 books in the series and get caught up.

Anyway after my sojourn in Tudor England I needed a fix of something more modern so I went for contemporary Glasgow and read The Twilight Time by Karen Campbell. This is her first novel, just published in hardback. I liked it, though there were times when I found the main character Anna Cameron a tad irritating. I'm hoping that the author meant me to feel this way, and if she did then that's fine and I shall certainly read more. A full review of this will wend it's way to Eurocrime when I've had time to write it.

Moving on then to a book I've been looking forward to - Flesh House by Stuart MacBride. I thought Broken Skin, the previous book in the series was the weakest so far, though still enjoyable. Hopefully this one is right back on form. I'll let you know when I get a bit further with it.

Just time for a few rows on Icarus before I head off to work. Enjoy the Bank Holiday Weekend if you're having one.