Monday, January 30, 2006

Whine, whinge, bitch, moan

Bugrit, grumble, bugrit.

Got the lurgy, didn't I. Not, I think from the DSM, but from Nanny Ogg, not that it matters. I take back all the actual or implied rude things I said about him, this thing makes you feel......low. Deep in a hole, bumbling black moth low, which is about as bad as it can get (guess what, folks, it's hyperbole time again). I don't feel bad enough to fester in bed, but can't settle to doing anything, so it is a little of this, a little of that, attention span of a gnat, very unsatisfying.

Alcohol might help (perks up momentarily. Before medical/media-induced guilt kicks in.)

Bugrit. (Can't you tell I am reading Terry Pratchett at the moment?)

And blogs. And I am delighted to find that there are increasing numbers of UK-based knitting blogs out there, and some of them spin, too. The writers, I mean OF COURSE.

Before succumbing to the ague, I went on a half-day beading class with a friend. H'mm. Too many beading teachers IMNSHO use the method of presenting you with a wonderful range of items they have made, you choose which one you want to do and go from there. This has obvious disadvantages if not everyone does the same thing. Fortunately, we all did on Friday, in part because I decided to hang back and see what everyone else was doing and then deciding that I might as well join in. So, I spent a pleasant afternoon, but didn't learn anything. This person didn't do hand-outs, either. But did give us some very nice sponge cake with decent icing on it.

The top bit on the photo is Friday's effort, the lower a simple spiral I just made off my own bat, both intended to hang pendants from, but now I see them I'm not so sure. Also, now I see the photo on Flickr, my zooming and cropping has made things a bit fuzzy. Or, that could be my lurgy-infested vision, I suppose. Still, general idea, eh?


I did get an email just now to say that if it runs (TBC) I will have a place on the bead crochet class I applied for. Poor tutor. I can't understand why I can make a bag with beads crocheted around it, but can't scale that down to a lovely supple tube. After many and many an attempt seule, I have found a class - will we survive it, I ask myself.

I have some ideas floating around in the sloshy soup of my mind. A skein of cashmere is asking to become a neck shawl, and in my blog-cruising I found a definitely cute new scarf, to which I will give due attribution later. I am tempted to start that as an easy and fun thing to tempt my flagging whatever, but I don't like having too many projects on the go. I always feel I should be finishing other stuff first. Still, the log cabin* knitted stage is nearly done, so....we shall see. I can feel temptation growing stronger by the minute. Perhaps I could strike some sort of deal with myself and do little new things as long as I do X rows of the crochet jacket per day.

Dear......(Terry Pratchett has a new goddess, Annoia,not sure if I have spelt that right, just say it aloud, deity of cutlery causing a drawer to jam or words to that effect and therefore not appropriate here) whoever. I am rambling, and not even with a fever for excuse. Before I go...

*Am reminded by this of the fact that I just got the new Knitting Experience, Book 111, Colour. I love it. I have liked the previous two very much and this is even better, I think. For those of us who do not consider ourselves (or are not considered) proper knitters, of course.

But I am working on that.

Disappears, snivelling and sneezing, and aren't you pleased.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

A stately gavotte

Is what the DSM and I are doing around each other. It always happens when he is home, I have to negotiate time and space , but it seems to be working rather better this time. My weakness for daytime soaps, well-tempered by always knitting or spinning whilst gawping has meant moving him upstairs, from whence he has to be shifted when I want to use the computer, or bead. Neither can he comprehend that when I am writing, I can't carry on a conversation as well, which he seemingly can do when it is something technical at work. I am of course quite well aware that it is all a question of what you are used to, but also that it is jolly useful practice for when he is retired or semi-so and here all the time. We definitely will need two computers then.

But he does have his uses. Some of the writing is on drafting methods, and I got him to do an experimental shot or two of me spinning from the fold.

spinning from the fold

spinning from the fold

This is the gorgeous Polwarth and silk I mentioned a while back. It is the proverbial dream to spin, I wish I had bought kilos of the stuff. As it is, I should have enough to do one of the little "reticule" bags, with a three-ply inner and a two-ply lacy outer. The question is going to be, to dye or not to dye. I shall look at the yarn, and probably sample, maybe even sample dye, I should have plenty of yarn.

Some of the photographs were interesting in that where the light from the flash caught the silk, it made it appear that there were considerable slubs - not that I would mind that, actually, could make for an appealing yarn. I have been aware before of strange optical effects, the most dramatic being when the DSM spindle spun some merino and tencel three-ply, and for the last little bit at the end, navajo plyed it to use it up. When knitted, the two yarns appeared completely different shades of grey because, I presume, of the way in which the light behaved. Fascinating, to those of use with weird minds.

I also used him as a totally inappropriate model for the finished energised singles scarf.

energised singles scarf

I did say that I would crop this to remove the beard, but decided not to - don't ask me why, just feeling wicked. The scarf has worked reasonably well, but I'm not over-enamoured. I think the fabric would work better as a garment, a t-shirt or something, but it is such a pain to knit if you are bothered about little corkscrews - which I found, surprisingly, that I was - that I doubt I will ever bother.

I remembered to go look at the Bloggies website finally today. The blog I had nominated was not of course selected as a finalist. I say of course because I went to have a quick squizz at those that had been, and was....not impressed, by and large. Yarn Harlot, well, ok. Fair blog, huge readership, that probably counts for quite a bit. The others had no real idea about what "craft" should be, soundbite entries, surprisingly plastic canvas orientated. I noticed in passing that dooce had been nominated (I think maybe in more than one category) again. Now, I do drop by somewhat regularly, the woman can write and take a good photograph. But I do actually think that there is a limit to the number of times I can with relish read about the outer reaches of constipation, or the developmental stages of an (albeit cute) infant.

It all fell in to place with a conversation that I had at the weekend about blogs. My interlocutor didn't know that I indulged, and was telling me that bloggers were all young. I did gently disabuse her of this notion, but it is none the less true that the greater number are, and sometimes it shows.

Or, rather, that I am not.

Nay, ageless, that is me.

Monday, January 23, 2006

A weekend spent knitting turns out to be a pleasant thing

I had wondered. I never consider myself A Knitter. Not a proper one, anyway. Proper knitters follow patterns and do complicated stitches and shapings and stuff. And knit quickly.

But it turns out that my knitting speed is average, and I know lots more than some people about some things - like different cast on and cast off methods, types of knitting needles (Addi turbos, for instance. I also know how nice it is to spin with handspun, but that is not really part of the same thing.)

I spent my weekend on a course on freeform knitting. I now know that I don't want to devote too much time doing it, which is a useful thing to have discovered. I did enjoy the "log cabin" aspect of it, and most of the time passed working on this.

log cabin knitting

Which is going to be one half of a bag. It will need a bit of blocking, but all in all is not too bad. I enjoyed using commercial yarns for a bit of pizzazz in this - liberation at last? I am now busy fighting off the urge to indulge in a sufficient quantity of something all feathery and jewelly from Colinette to make an entire garment, so far succeeding.

To keep me going, I have some new and pretty odds and ends to do more freeform or more likely, strip or log cabin bits. It is a technique that adapts quite well to the sort of garments that I like, simple blocky shapes. So I shall go stash diving, see if I can find some handspun that will go with the more exotic stuff.

I did really enjoy having a weekend away, nice to be independent for once. And not have to make my own bed, or cook my own meals. I arrived back to a DSM with a stinking cold and intent on staying home for a few days (very sensible, why inflict it on everyone at work?)

Except I can't concentrate on anything with him stamping and snorting around the place (insert vbcg sign here). Ah, well, back to reality......

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Poddling on

I'm not sure how current "poddling" is as a word these days. You know, fossicking about, doing a little of this and that, moving slowly and dare I say it probably in a rather ungainly fashion. We all do it from time to time, but some of us more than others perhaps.

Or is it a word that got itself invented by a group I may have been associated with at the time, that I have trailed after me through life to end up here confounding people? Like brems? Which come to think of it had a meaning somewhat akin to poddling with less action involved, but then we were teenage at the time. If I can dredge up a few more shards of memory, the origin was from Brems, which may or may not have been a make of jukebox. I am not kidding about this - its the sort of thing that me and my ilk used to do (and I am not actually the culprit in this one, but there could well be other instances in which I was.)

What, I am sure anyone left reading beyond this point in which select group I include myself in years to come is asking, the hell is she on about this time? I am musing (I really like musing, it is soothing) about the internet and my love affair with it.

I have been in this relationship for several years now, maybe eight which in internet terms is one heck of a long time. I have by many been deemed odd for this predilection, but have never cared (unusual). The internet has provided me unstintingly (well, once I got on to broadband, anyway) with friends, fun, information and more. I began with email lists, and can still remember those first heady days of the Spinlist, when it was all so thrilling. Until the same stuff had been around, asked and answered for the nth time, and I got just a tad jaded, although I could still see the use and the faded charm. I'm still on lists, of course. Then I discovered the heady pleasure of search engines, eventually Google, before Google was attempting to take over the world, but probably won't succeed because Microsoft and Apple are there first. Or the Yahooborg. But it is only in the nature of capitalism, and the cool thing about the internet is how it positively encourages the free and anarchic, not that I claim to be either of those things, of course.

I'm rambling again.

Self-evidently there came blogging, which satisfies on so many different levels.

But now, I have discovered podcasts. (There - a point at last.) And specifically, fibre arts podcasts. I have only found a tiny handful so far, which is probably just as well, as time in the day has this strange habit of being predetermined with lots of it spoken for by boring things that can't be done near the computer and I can't download podcasts to my ipod because I have an audiobook on it and if I do I will LOSE MY PLACE (my ability with technology is considerably circumscribed.)

Knitcast, Fibercast and Cast-On are the fibre ones I have found so far, and the cast is I think my favourite. Difficult to tell. Knitcast is maybe the most informative but the woman who does Cast-On has a great voice, and it is extremely pleasant to work away at whatever whilst she talks.

And I have been doing things whilst listening - a simple spiral rope to hold a pendant that I bought recently (and I do know that it is not on the list, but I am allowed to be spontaneous sometimes) and getting back to the crochet jacket at least a little. Plus spinning the polwarth and silk which is quite yummy, and if I have said that before, well, it is so there.

I'm away from tomorrow until Sunday on a knitting course. Freeform. I've never done any sort of knitting course before and do hope that I don't reduce the tutor to tears. I can be - klutzy. Don't like that word, I need to go invent another.

Monday, January 16, 2006

A quick FO

I finished it this lunchtime.

Blue silk ruffle scarf

I was totally unconvinced that this ruffle scarf would work as well as the first. The silk was not as fine, even in appearance was coarser, and needed to be crocheted with quite a fine hook to look anything like. All the while I was doing it, I was not at all sure....

But, on it looks pretty good and eyecatching. The colours are more subtle than I had seen them whilst working on it, too.

And it is an FO.

Please note. There is not one exclamation mark in this entire post. I have declared a moratorium. Or a purge, or something. I was using far too many of them.

However, that does not mean that there will be nothing denoting dramatic emphasis in this blog. This is, after all


Sunday, January 15, 2006

Little by little

No, of course not Eric!

My progress. Yes, there is some. First, I have finished the alpaca and silk yarn!

alpaca/silk yarn

This is destined for the Landscape shawl, which really appeals to me. But not yet. I have other things that I want to do first, like finishing the crochet jacket, which may be a long time a'comin'. But at least this yarn is done, and is even washed. I also did a whole bunch of other yarn that I have been slowly working on over the last few months, mainly merino and tencel collected from various sources, which may or may not become socks. I can feel that it is very likely that I shall jump on to the Jaywalker bandwagon, the pattern looks so cool. We shall see - watch, as they say, this space.

Then, I also finished this:

green beads & fishes

Done for a friend, so I won't give too many details now - I don't think she reads my blog, actually, and this may smoke her out if so! Sara, you might recognise the three little fishies - they are going to a good home. I just wanted something very simple to convey a message or two, which I hope this does. I also learnt something from it - don't do peyote stitch in the round for amulet bags. For why? Because you end up with a cobbled bottom! Next time, I shall do as the book says and stitch it flat and zip up the side. Duh! Fortunately, the edging covered the crime quite nicely.

I had hoped to have the first reconstructed item from the deconstructed silk done, but not quite. The quality of the spinning was positively shameful. I don't know when I did it - ages ago. But dearie me, how bad can you get? Not entirely my fault with a lot of it, bad dye jobs abounded, with either the dye left in to mat the silk, or the temperature of the dyebath taken too high, to damage the lustre and make it difficult to draft. The better the silk, the better my spinning, but I do accept that I have problems with it. I always seem to do best with Royale Hare I still have a little in my stash, but otherwise must wait until next autumn for more.......

With a stack of ironing (wash my mouth out with soap) to do, not to mention some spinning
I wanted to do, we put the goggle box on and in the spirit of finishing things did watch the last two episodes of Lost. Series 1, we are way behind the rest of the world, although we are promised the second series very soon. This may be because the audience is waning a bit - we do need some answers, and I don't think we are going to get them any time soon. I still like it, but too many seriesssss and even I may fade. But we also watched the first episode of a new Beeb childrens serial, from a Terry Pratchett novel "Johnny and the Bomb". The Beeb have always done this sort of thing well, and this is fun - the "star" is a dead ringer for a younger Rupert Grint, both in appearance and talent.

OK, that'll do for now.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Had to think how to spell that for a moment. Not a word in my regular lexicon.

I don't so much mean the ongoing state of winteritis - I hesitate to glorify it with a label such as SAD, I think that is over-stating the case - but the o-my-god-it-isn't-light-yet feeling I am prone to at any time of the day at the present moment, especially when uncaffeinated - and just how much longer can I keep this sentence going without crashing to a full stop before I start feeling as if I am in a silly programme on Radio 4?

See? No coffee.

What I am really talking about is the strange state that I found myself in in my own living room recently. I had a couple of new spinners visiting, not for an actual class (for various reasons which I won't go into) but just for a bit of a spin and a chat and I would chime in with advice, assistance, whatever, as appropriate.

All was going very nicely, they seemed happy, not too arduous for me. They would be going soon, I thought somewhat uncharitably, then I could get on with my own stuff. But seemingly, they were having such a pleasant time, that they were happy to linger, spin a bit more, chat.....

I had, I confess, rather drifted off in my corner, now that I wasn't performing, so to speak. Then, I was tuning back in and really wishing that I wasn't. One of them was going on at great length about how she lived with this elderly chap, and loathed the situation, but wasn't going to leave because she had more or less bullied him in to making his will leaving her a sizeable legacy and she was going to hang around until he popped his clogs. Which was likely to be fairly soon as his health wasn't all that good and it couldn't be soon enough for her. Plus a lot more poison as to how their lives together worked and how she treated him and so on.

OK, so I am naive. But I do know that of course this sort of thing happens all the time. This is my point - it was my home, my time, I hated what I was hearing and just didn't know how to stop it. Well, I did eventually by deflecting the conversation back to spinning. But it certainly left a nasty taste, both because I felt wussy because I had not spoken up, and because of the nature of the thing.

Ah, well. I spent what remained of the day crocheting and beading a little (not together, unfortunately, haven't mastered that yet.) Onward and upward.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Our postman only rings once

And when he does, I usually lean out of the bathroom window and shock him half to death. No, never fear, I am always decent. I just am nearly always upstairs at that time of the morning, and it is quicker to lean out and yell than to gallop downstairs at great risk to life and limb as it always means hurdling over several cats. Only two, of course, but they always seem like hundreds when they are swarming down the stairs just where your feet want to go. Especially as we have no staircarpet because previous generations of felines took out one stepsworth of carpet, then the next, then the next and so on.

Where was I? Ah, yes, postman. Such a nice man. He brought me several goodies this morning. Two dichroic pendants I risked buying from ebay, which turn out to be very nice. Oh dear.

Then, a boxful of Bosworth midi spindles, beauties, gorgeous woods all glowing and warm on an exceedingly grey, wet and unpleasant day. We had completely sold out at Christmas, a nice surprise, so it was good to get this lot so quickly.

Oh, but best of all was the last box. Sara's decluttering has lighted up my morning with a vengeance! A boxful of glittery goodness, all sorts of seed beads, delicas, few other bits and bobs. I am going to have a really good time with these and I am more than grateful.

I went to lunch in Leeds yesterday with most of the Coven to say farewell to the Antipodean member, who is back off home on Thursday. She did say she wouldn't be that sorry, as we stood on the miserable grey street, strewn with litter, under a miserable grey sky. Well, I can understand that. I think even I could put up with 40C if I got to see the sun a bit - for a while anyway! We also went to Yum Yum Beads, which I had heard about but never visited and probably won't again unless I am literally passing right by the door when any bead shop is worth checking out! When I say that I bought only one item over what I had gone in there to look for...well, I need say no more, eh?

Other than that - I am plying. Well, spinning for plying, which is what we are going to be doing at AH on Friday. That should be good, nice and basic, but a lot to cover, just what I like. I need to find out if the residential is going to happen - I am in two minds about it. I would love the experience, and let us be honest, the money wouldn't come amiss, but if it is only a small group of six, it is going to be a killer - so intensive. But we shall see.

And other other than that, I am still persevering with the new mouse that the DSM brought in from work for me to try when the previous one got very, very very sick and I nearly threw it through the monitor. It is one of those with a ball that the thumb turns and a dial in the middle for scrolling. It is quite nice, I think, but is taking a bit of getting used to, especially highlighting for selecting. I'll keep at it a while longer - it is ok for pc stuff, but writing, Word stuff might be a different matter.

I'm going to let myself go gloat over beads......

Thursday, January 05, 2006

One of those

I think I beat it down. I think I have survived. The first sip of coffee passed my lips at 12.30 when I got back from shopping in town (aaarrrgh!!!) and I think all shall be well.

I am well aware that this sounds madder than usual. I don't care.

For some time, I have been afflicted with unpleasant dreams not long before I wake in the mornings, which mean that I wake up weighed down by a sense of impending doom, anxiety, whatever, that can be very hard to break through. I used to think that this was My Fault (well, isn't everything?). Then I read somewhere reasonably authoritative that cortisol (?) levels can be very high in the early morning, and that some people report dreams as I have experienced. This helped a lot, I can now regard this as a physical thing akin, say, to stiffness, that I can deal with by taking the appropriate action. But it gets tiring though...

This morning, I had, as they say, a doozy. Several sections to it, each with its own different anxieties that finally all linked together. And touching me somewhere - well, very deep. I can still feel it - but it is going.

In fact, the last few hours have been chock full of minor irritations. Last thing last night, I realised that the front of the crochet jacket that I had started yesterday and had been motoring on with was all wrong. Because I hadn't written down that I had started with more stitches than the pattern said for the back and needed to for the fronts as well.


All my own fault, which only makes it worse. Rrriipp.

Then, just before settling down, I remembered something that I should have done days ago, and hadn' up, the wrong magazine arriving in the post, needing to be dealt with, and my order of delicas for a project arriving and the blues not being quite distinct enough for my purpose. All very small things, but you know what they say about camels and straws.....I could hear the bones creaking.

We won't even talk about the trip in to town. Our local council has lost its collective - well, what passes for a mind. They have removed lots of parking spaces, taken to charging exorbitant rates for them, more places are to go, and I suspect that the end result is going to be a large, inconveniently placed multi=story in what is little more than a mill village. Much as I agree with supporting local shops, this is getting harder and harder....

I am going to stop whingeing now. Hopefully, I have got it off my chest, and I have the Coven to look forward to tonight. Not to mention restarting the jacket front and maybe doing some beading! (See, the coffee is working!!) Before I stop, though.....

I haven't paid much attention before, but it is coming up to Bloggie voting time. And this year, there is a Craft section. No, of course I don;t mean mine, get real! Whingeing doesn't count. But I can think of one or two that could really be contenders. So, I'm off to vote.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

What ho!

So, here we are, 3 January already. And as I haven't so far got around to it, I will spare myself and anyone listening any homily, words of wisdom, whatever. This time.

No resolutions - kind of - this year, either. Can't be a.....bothered. That isn't quite true, the "O" word has figured large in my thinking of late. This is never a good sign, it generally means that my grip on reality, sanity and life the universe and everything is more tenuous than usual, certainly than I would like it to be. And this word is? Organised. Those who know me very well know that if I start bleating on about how I must get organised, the most sensible thing for them to do is to run for cover very, very fast.

So far, I have it sort of under control (I can see a whole lot of mixed metaphor upcoming here if I am not careful) in that I can see the need and do a very little about it without being sucked into any downward spiral. This could very well be a first. I am not being entirely facetious here, it is a pattern that I have observed over many years that if I do start getting overly concerned about the "O" word, it really is not a good sign, and panic is imminent with all that is then subsequent to it. What I am doing this time is making lists, in a book. All the organisation is in a book, I can take little steps, little actions and make Big Ticks when something is started, completed or satisfactorily on-going. We Shall See.

It is quite amusing reading other blogs about NYRs. Or not. Several bloggers are quite adamant that they think them stupid, are not going to do them...and then promptly write that of course, they are going to do this-and-that and such-and-such. Um - excuse me? However, I am full of admiration for Sara's 50/7 plan to get rid of fifty items every day for a week (this isn't a blog thing, I should say). This is truly impressive and a thing of which I believe myself incapable, although I am going to attempt a less stringent version very soon now, as it sounds so very sensible.

I suppose in a way, I am looking at two journals, the blog, which has worked incredibly well for keeping me better focussed on fibre and bead stuff. And now the actual, physical, sitting-on-the-kitchen-table book for attempting to keep the day to day stuff on a more balanced footing. We shall see.

Not too much fibre stuff to report again, though. I have finished the back of the crochet jacket and done a bit more of the energised singles scarf. Much of my creative juice has been directed towards a small beading project (no more details than that as it is intended as a present for a friend) I tried square stitch, which I didn't like the look of for this particular thing, so reverted to peyote, and I do have this problem starting peyote - I know quite well how to do it, but something always goes awry. I'm off and running now though.

I did get the new year off to a good start by going to the Tuesday morning book group. We all loathed the book (Widow for One Year, John Irving - if anyone liked it, please do tell me why?) but we spent a very pleasant two hours drinking excellent coffee and just chatting after dealing with that.

Good stuff.