Sunday, 29 November 2009

Or not

I didn't spend the day in bed yesterday.

Being so fine, the shawl dried very quickly, so by lunchtime I was able to unpin it. So this is it - about 1 km of yarn and nearly 1500 beads that can't actually be seen. I wore this to church this morning - it shows up well over dark clothes. I just don't dare do too much while wearing it- it's so delicate, and being single ply yarn, I suspect if it catches on anything that will be it done for.

It's pretty chilly here today and the sky is a distinctly ominous colour. I don't want to put the fire on yet, as it's only lunchtime, so I have bundled up in my Spiraluscious Mitts,
the matching cowl (which still needs blocking and photographing but keeps me warm in the meantime) and my Shawl that Jazz. I also have a blanket (not knitted) wrapped around my legs and knees. It's raining outside but I can snuggle inside which is lovely. I probably ought to warm myself up doing some of the jobs that are taunting me around the house, but it's much nicer to sit and knit, watch old Inspector Morse and Poirot (I love ITV3) and play with Mildred. Ah yes, Mildred. I wanted to name my laptop (sad, I know) and despite my efforts to find a sleek, elegant name for her, she wants to be Mildred!
I'm loving the fact that I can use her all around the house, and that she links to the Internet effortlessly. I did have to re-install the mouse yesterday (I don't know why) but apart from that it's been great. I also discovered a built in SD Card Reader. This is slightly irritating in that I had recently bought a new external card reader, the old one having died, but it means it is just soooo easy to get photos from Camera to Computer. Hmm perhaps I should name the Camera 'George'. Not a programme I have ever seen, but I do know that George and Mildred go together!
Right - time for a cuppa and Ulmus.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

A day in bed?

I awoke very early this morning (at least it was early for me on a Saturday). Once I'd realised that I wasn't going to go back to sleep, I got up, made a cuppa, and put Samhain to soak. That's right - I finished the knitting and darned in the ends yesterday evening. I let it soak for an hour or so, and then got to work - with the result that the living-room currently looks like this:

(also, my knees hurt). This, I think is the largest area of clear floor space in the house, and so I got to work - but even so, part of the knitting is under the sofa.

I think this was one of my longer blocking efforts - it took me about an hour of pulling; stretching; pinning and repeating. I find that it is really helpful to have guidelines to block to. I don't have 'proper' blocking mats that have a grid marked on them. Instead, I use these foam playmats that I got from Amazon for a fraction of the price. As guides, I use strips of black ribbon that I can pin where I need them for each project.

The ribbon comes from my favourite lingerie shop, Pudding - where they tie it around the boxes that they put your purchases in. The ribbon is assorted lengths and thicknesses, and over the last few years I've built up quite a collection.

I think the designer intended this shawl to be blocked as a half-hexagon. However, mine really didn't want to - so I let it do what it wanted. Instead, I have a square with a quarter cut away. I think this will really show off the lace well, and will also mean that the shawl stays on too. I blocked pretty hard to get this; I think it's just under 5' square. I was trying to strike a balance between pulling too hard and breaking something, and getting it really well blocked. The advantage of the latter is that the couple of slightly dodgy bits now don't show!

Anyway, the result of all this is that the living-room is fairly unusable at the moment. I need to wait for the shawl to dry, and given that towards the end I was spraying to re-dampen (old cleaning spray bottle filled with the water/ euclan that I had originally used for soaking the shawl pre-blocking) it's going to take a while. And so for now, I'm going to go and find a cup of coffee and then spend the morning in bed with the new knitting .....

(A gratuitous unblocked picture of the shawl, modelled by Hermione.)

Thursday, 26 November 2009


My excitement has been realised. After a couple of minor glitches with the delivery, I collected the laptop this evening. I can't believe how easy it is to use. I have installed the bluetooth Skype (I haven't spoken to anyone yet as none of my contacts is online); and I have installed MS Office. I have been online and set all my favourites - and it just whizzes to websites. Now, I really ought to do some tidying up as I seem to have left quite a lot of packaging lying around the living-room floor. But I can sit on the sofa and blog while watching the television (or listening to the radio) - so far so good.... it's doing exactly what I wanted.
Tomorrow - back to regular programming (knitting progress or the lack thereof) - which reminds me, there's handknits soaking in the sink. Better go and do something about that!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009


Yesterday, I did something very exciting - I ordered myself a laptop. This may not sound terribly exciting to many, but I have never done such a thing before. This purchase has been brewing for a while for a few reasons.

The desk-top we have at home is elderly (9+ yrs) and temperamental. Particularly, it periodically refuses to talk to the outside world for no obvious reason. It doesn't have in-built Wireless so operates on a dongle which is hard to access if something goes wrong. In addition, when hubby is in the country, he has first use on the PC (after all, he bought it, he maintains it, and he knows better than I do what to do for it when it's poorly). So, for some time I have been thinking about getting a little laptop.

This has come to a head following the work secondment I recently undertook. Being on secondment meant I had to take my work laptop to and from the office every day (when working at base we are encouraged to leave our laptops locked up at work unless we have a client meeting or whatever) and having the laptop at home meant I could use it in the evenings. I discovered that it was entirely happy to connect to the wireless at home, and it didn't keep falling over. I could also sit in the living room to use it rather than being relegated to the top corner of the house.

And so the deed is done. At some time in the next couple of weeks a shiny new red laptop/notebook (not sure what 12" qualifies as!) should be coming to live with me. Then I will have all the fun (?) of getting it set up. As I said - excitement!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Blowing a gale?

.... Well, it isn't yet, but the forecast is terrible. At the moment it's a bit wet and the trees are moving a little but the sky is less grey than it was. Even so it strikes me as a good day for hibernating. Hubby has gone into London shopping and so I could spend all day in my dressing gown knitting and reading. Unfortunately, I do need to pop into town later so it isn't to be.

Progress this week on the knitting front has been slow. However, last night some work was done and piccies were taken of Samhain. In order to take the piccies, I first put in a new lifeline that was long enough (but more on that later). I then attached all my spare knit picks cables to the one I was using, and then pinned out the centre section on my blocking mats. Because it was dark anyway, I acutally turned the lights off and then took the pictures using the 'Night Portrait' setting on my point and press camera - with some rather surprising results:

Hubby caught me doing this, and while I was standing on a stool in the dark taking photos, he decided to make his own addition to the composition. I saw this as the flash was going off but by then I'd committed to the picture! It is only a toy lizard, not a real one ....

I did also manage to get some proper pictures, and this whole 'lights off' thing worked pretty well as the colours aren't bad - in some lights the yarn really does look this purple. I was also pleased that it is just about possible to see the beads in some of the picutres. Given that the work was nowhere near as stretched as it will be when it is blocked, I am hopefully that in the end the

beads will show up. It would be a shame if they don't since they are adding considerable to the time taken in the knitting. The section I'm on at present has relatively few beads per row, and I managed two rows in 45 minutes last night.

The problem with this (and the second Scadenza sock is that they require constant reliance on the pattern and are quite slow going - I have nothing really quick and easy otn at the present. This is leading to the onset of a case of startitis - we'll see how well I can resist!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

A slow (knitting) week

This week has been slow for knitting. This is at least partly because my 'main' project at the moment is Samhain and it now takes about an hour to do two rows. I have also been out every evening this week, and when I do get home it's all a bit late.

Monday, I had music practice at church. I did manage to get home and cook beforehand but didn't get back till well after 9 and then didn't knit but spent some time chilling with DH instead.

Tuesday, I did go to knit night, and managed 4 rows of Samhain, which means I am now over 40% of the way through!

Last night I met up with a couple of former clients and a former colleague. We went out for drinks (we were all very abstemious only drinking soft drinks) and I got home at gone 9 again - at which point I had to set to and make dinner. We didn't eat till nearly 10 o'clock. I did then do a couple of rows on my Ulmus, but not much progress.

Tonight I have another work do, which means hubby is feeding himself again. Still, I made a big pot of soup on Sunday and he's been working his way through that for his lunches. He even commented that it was nice, which is high praise indeed. Tonight he gets left over chilli from last night, but it's one of his favourites and he chose that rather than cook anything himself.

Tomorrow, I should actually be home for the evening - hurray! Don't know how much knitting I'll manage but it will be good to spend some time at home, given that hubby is off overseas again on Monday....

Sunday, 8 November 2009

November in Norfolk

The last week has been busy but relaxing in a mad kind of way.

Last weekend my sister, BIL and nephew were in the UK for a few days, so I went to Mum and Dad's to see them. It was lovely to spend some time with them (don't know when it will happen again) and I also took all their birthday and Christmas presents. M loved his 'Take Along Thomas' toys - and there are more in the parcel for his Christmas present. M actually calls me 'Auntie Fred' and was more than happy to spend time with me. I did quite a lot of potty trips - the only accident was my fault!

Then on Tuesday, Dad took me to Peterborough where I caught a train to King's Lynn where MIL and FIL collected me. They were house / dog-sitting in Brancaster and we went to join them. Hubby's sister and her family were all staying nearby. We went for lots of walks on the beach with dogs and children and I did quite a lot of work on Samhain. This picture is from last Tuesday:

I think at this point, I was at the beginning of chart 2 (of five). I have now started chart 4, but this still only makes me 37% of the way through (I just made a spread sheet....).
I'm slightly disappointed that the beads aren't showing - I chose some that tone so well that they can't actually be seen. They may pop a bit when the shawl is blocked - we'll see.
I managed to pack the wrong crochet hook to go away - and there was no way that a 2mm hook was going to go through 8/0 beads. To start with I managed with a needle threader although it was very slow, but then I got into Wellingborough and bought another 0.6mm hook which is far preferable.
While we were away, we went to a 'Rare Breeds' farm. I'm not sure how 'rare' Alpaca are (perhaps just in the UK), but they were very cute. There were just the two of them in an enclosure with some sheep, but I'm afraid the sheep got no attention whatsoever!