Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Still here

I've been away a while. Unfortunately I can't appear making big statements about all the great items I have finished. I've not been busy beavering away knitting but I have been working on my Rowan Exchange gifts. I started with this:

The green kid silk haze has already become the Elbac Scarf from Knitty. It's a bit fluffier than I would have liked but hopefully blocking will help that. The brown wool cotton is in the process of becoming Spencer gloves from Rowan 38. The right glove is done. I was going great guns through the 2nd glove only to realise that I started the right glove again. :( I sat here at 1130pm Sunday frogging the glove. Just need to start again. And yes I am already 1 month late so am even more annoyed with myself.

In addition to the Rowan Exchange I offered to knit some Innocent Smoothie hats for Amelia. But with the exchange trauma this has not happened. Do not worry though, my lovely hubbie who thinks knitting is witchcraft offered to help me out. He's on his 2nd hat and has learnt to cast on, knit and purl and has suddenly realised that it's "just tying knots". Here's the proof (can you tell how proud he is?):

There are reasons why I've not managed to knit or blog recently and they are good, honest.......

1/ Holiday

At the end of June we went to Guernsey for our holiday. I had the BEST time ever and if (when) I win the lottery that's where I'll be heading. It was so friendly, laidback and the sea is never far away - perfect.
We saw the house (Hauteville House) where Victor Hugo spent much of his time in exile from France and would definitely recommend it. It's full of some many different things, bits of art, furniture he built from old cabinets etc and paintings he did. The ground floor is so dark and oppressive then finally you reach the roof/lookout and the sun just streams in. This is where Victor Hugo worked and slept and it's just the most amazing space. The lookout can just be seen at the top of the house (the back white one) in the photo.

We also spent a fantastic day on Sark, cycling, relaxing and enjoying the peace and quiet and sea air.

Yes that's me on a bike in the distance.

We stayed in St Peter Port, up above Candi Gardens ,and wandering into town and around the shops and harbours was the exact tonic we needed to the crazy life we have back home.

2/ Birthday & Red Bull Air Race
Then we had my birthday and this year I had a fantastic treat as well as lovely pressies. I was taken to the Red Bull Air Race in London. It was great day out and sun shone (even got a bit sunburnt staring up at the sky. Ok, even my chin and eyebrows were burnt but I am celtic!).

Yes the helicopter is upside down!! See.....

I want one of those.

As I said I got lovely pressies (funnily no knitting items - perhaps my lack of commitment is too obvious?); yummy night cream, tv version of Emma DVD, Adobe photoshop elements that should make this easier and money to buy my new bike (Sark really rubbed off on me). So exciting. Which brings me to...

3/ Moving

We've decided to move house. We managed to sell our house while away on holiday then have an offer accepted the next week. This will let me live much closer to work, hubbie will have ~ the same or a bit less travelling and there will be more time for knitting, reading, swimming, fun, basically just living. It'll be really sad to leave our house. It's our first real home, well the first one we owned so it really felt like ours and the first place I've felt gave me the homely feeling I haven't had since I went away to uni all those years ago. We've only been here 2 years but it feels like much longer but moving will give us so much more and we'll make that home as well. Anyway it's all chugging along (finger's crossed) and I just have to be patient.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I'm back

It's been a while I know but I haven't been idle, I promise. The Cinderella Bag for the Purlescence competition is done, photos have been taken and the pattern written up. Robynn has sent me a copy of the soon to be published pattern and it's so exciting. Knitting the wire outer bag wasn't nearly as difficult as I was expecting but I did end up with a big blood blister from trying to cut the wire with a pair of scissors, not a good idea. As I was speeding through the wire knitting hubbie decided to try and take some arty shots.
On the wire outer bag there's a mixture of sequins, beads and some gorgeous Swarovski crystals that I found in John Lewis. You can see them better here.

The trickiest part was putting it all togther; hanging inner bag in outer, feeding the wire through the top, making said wire lie straight and getting handles attached securely without spoiling the line of the bag.

But it's all done now and here's a sneak preview.

The full pattern will be available from Purlescence soon.

I also managed to finish the Sarah Dallas cabled hot water bottle for my mum. It was orginally meant to be for her birthday but I kind of failed there but I finished in time for Mother's Day. To be honest I could compile a whole post moaning about this piece of knitting but I'll just give a quick overview.

Firstly either I'm completely stupid (confused?) or the pattern is wrong. I'm willing to accept either as true but something just was not right when I came to the decreases. To do knit decreases on the first row you had to start on the wrong side (even though the way it was written led me to believe it should be the right side. See I told you I was confused) but after a few rows of decreases this led to unseemly ridges in the fabric. In the end I ripped all I done and kept with the pattern while doing the decreases. Also if I followed the pattern (starting decreases on wrong side) the stockinette stitch top came out as reverse. Another lot of ripping and making it up as I went along sorted this out. Then the fun of making up started. I stitched the front and back together, stitched the flap into place and found the cover to be too big for my hot water bottle (NB if a pattern doesn't have sizes and only states "fits average hot wtaer bottle"-BEWARE). AARRRGGGGHHHHH, after all that ripping. Well I reckoned if I undid the bottom flap seams I could pull that bit up and all would be well. After a scene reminescent of a action movie where the hero decides which wire to cut I was convinced I had the stitch up thread. You can guess the rest. As I unpicked the "seam" a huge hole started appearing. HELP!! Considering this happened late Tuesday night and the cover had to be posted on Thursday morning to make it home in time I'm amazed I managed to retain my composure. I tied up all the lose ends, re-examined the photo in the book to discover that the seam had been sewn to take in much more of the cover. Thankfully this allowed me to incorporate the big hole I'd managed to cut in the stupid thing and all was well. And to top it all I couldn't even phone my mum for some sympathy as it was all a secret. Here's a photo of the offending article to prove I really did manage it. (Sorry, that wasn't the quick overview I had intended)

And if anyone can tell me where I went wrong, please do. There are other things I'd like to make in this book but this experience has put me off a bit and I don't want to waste time or money. So any words of wisdom will be gratefully received.

I've also been up to another couple of things that have kept me busy. The spare room is now painted. The horrible orange fake beech furniture we had clashed so badly that we had to paint it too. The cupboard makeover paint we used was so fumey we could only do so much at a time and it needs so long between coats that it feels like we've been doing it forever (perhaps it has been forever). Anyway it's done now and I've just hung the curtains.

Finally it was our 3rd wedding anniversary at the beginning of the month and I made hubbie a photobook with all our memories from our wedding day until now. It took forever but brought back so many memories. Here's one of the funniest to cheer your day. I call it "Bear in Tree"!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Distraction from my lack of knitting

Very little knitting has taken place recently. Between the cold and work I'm so tired every time I sit down I tend to fall asleep. Not conducive to knitting. I managed to get to Hobby craft to get a few more bits for my Cinderella Bag but as that took up most of Saturday there wasn't time for much else. The inside bit of the bag is almost done but as it's just garter stitch there's not much to talk about there. I promised the pattern by the end of the month so I'm going to have to get a move on, especially as this weekend I'll be painting the ceiling and getting the first coat on the walls of the spare room then on Sunday we're off to Cirque Du Soleil. We saw La Nouba on our honeymoon and enjoyed it so much. Hopefully this one will be as good.

In order to pretend to myself that I am in fact updating the blog properly I decided to complete this fun little meme.

A- Available or single? Married.
B- Best Friend? Don't have one as such but a few good friends that I can always rely on.
C- Cake or Pie? Cake, not a pastry fan.
D- Drink of Choice? Depends on my mood/situation. Nice mug of tea, extravagant glass of champagne, cool beer ........
E- Essential Item? Computer, I'm addicted to email checking.
F- Favorite Color? Depends. At the moment I like turquoise/petrol blue colours.
G- Gummi Bears or Worms? Gummi Bears (bouncing here and there and everywhere!)
H- Hometown? Ooh now, difficult one. I'm originally from Dunfermline area in Fife and that still counts as home but now I can be found nearer to Cambridge.
I- Indulgence? Bollinger Champagne or lavender bath
J- January or February? Neither, I get SAD and sleep a lot.
K- Kids and names? None, perhaps in the future.
L- Life is incomplete without? Hubby and my family
M- Marriage Date? 6th March 2004
N- Number of Siblings? One little sister
O- Oranges or apples? Apples.
P- Phobias/Fears? I'm scared of a lot of things. I particularly dislike/fear heights and being trapped. I can't sit on the inside seat on a train/plane/bus.
Q- Favorite Quote? I'll have to think about that one.
R- Reason to Smile? Only 3 more hours 'til work finishes :)
S- Season? Spring
T- Tag three people! Not going to force anyone into this but if your reading feel free to do this meme and leave me a message so I can be nosey.
U- Unknown Fact About Me? As you know little about me there must be so many. Well one that keeps me pretty much anonymous is I have a doctorate in chemistry.
V- Vegetable you hate? parsnips
W- Worst habit? My worst habit? I worry about everything and always think what could go wrong. And talk too much too.
X- X-Rays you’ve had? Face (orthodontics and facial injury) and neck (whiplash).
Y- Your favorite food? I particularly enjoy a good roast or a nice warming stew (perhaps the cold weather is affecting my taste?).
Z- Zodiac? Leo

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Resolution Update

Just a very quick post. Unfortunately not much knitting has taken place. I have the cold and my hands are so sore so I can only knit for a short while. The only knitting has been my "Cinderella's Bag" for Purlescence. I need to get the bag completed and the pattern written up by the end of the month as they will be publishing the winning and runner-up entries and I said I could be finished by then. Bit stressed as mostly I've just slept when out of work this week and I need to get to Hobby Craft from some more wire bits, so a bit of a trek in store this weekend.

On a much more positive note I am making some progress on my resolutions.
  • The sleep thing is happening (mostly because of the cold) and therefore I've managed to get my train instead of driving.
  • I've bought the paint for the spare room (Dulux Provencal Pink) and this weekend all the cracks will be filled in preparation.
  • I purchased a small shaker rail in a gorgeous powder blue for the kitchen and it complements the yellow walls perfectly. If only I could afford to buy more from this shop but small things I love in my house make such a difference so I will continue with this.
  • I found a link to the perfect book for me using my sewing machine more - Bend the Rules Sewing. It sounds perfect and looks interesting even though it has stuff for beginners. Pity I have to wait until the summer for it. At least that will give me some time to knit!

Now if only I could find time to knit and do some exercise I'd be well on my way.

Friday, January 05, 2007

New Year Resolutions

I've been thinking recently about what I want to do with this year. Last year just vanished and I achieved virtually nothing, well not quite but it feels like I lost a lot of time. I've decided that I want to spend more time on the things I want to do, appreciate the good bits of my life more and focus on them and perhaps look after myself a bit, especially after all that's happened in the last few years ( look at one of those life events/stress tests and I covered most of them in the last few years).
  1. In October 2005 we moved into our new house. Until now we've lived in rented places with magnolia walls and cream carpets. Being a new build house of course our new place has magnolia walls and cream carpets - AAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!! So resolution #1 is that 2007 will be the "Year of Colour". I chose the colour for the spare room at the end of the year so that will be the first job. And I've already got tester pots for our room and have narrowed it down to a few choices of blue (why are the colours in the paint brochures nothing like real life?).
  2. I have still never completed anything more than a bag for myself although I have one cardigan underway (Pampas) and another waiting in the wings (Kim Hargreaves kit). So this year I will complete 2 items for myself.
  3. Socks - I am always so impressed with pictures of handknitted socks and would love to be able to produced something so amazing myself. I bought 2 Opel sock kits last year. These will be completed this year. And if successful a book purchase may follow.
  4. My brave purchase last year was my sewing machine and this year it will be used for more than taking up one pair of jeans. I have been wondering about this book for a while now as I think it could provide a few interesting projects for me to attempt. This may be an early treat this year.
  5. Another house one - as we were students for so long (7yrs for me) we still have that mentality and often buy things because "they'll do". This year I want to buy things that I love and that make my house more homely even if this means waiting longer. To start this off the hunt is on for a kitchen table (most are too large).
  6. Creating a proper craft room/study. We have a small 3rd bedroom and at the moment this very much a dumping ground, so much so I often shut the door and pretend it doesn't exist. This year I want to buy a large work table so I have somewhere to produce cards again, sew and block knitting and hubbie can use it for his painting too.
  7. Sleep - having moved so far away from work I have a long commute which results in being home late so I'm tired and everything takes longer to do so I'm late to bed and so the vicious cycle continues. If I sort this one out, including getting the train instead of driving some of the worst roads ever (including A14), there will be more energy and time to allow me to complete all my other resolutions. Perhaps this should have been #1.
  8. And no resolution list would be complete w/o this one - exercise and eating well. Of course I want to lose weight but mostly I'd like to get fit enough so I could cycle the 4 miles to our local town and not have to queue for parking and fit everyone else that wants to drive everywhere.

Now I've written them down I have to keep them. I may have a resolution audit in the summer just to make sure I'm making progress.

On a quick knitting note a bit of exciting news. Purlescence are running a Story Tellers design competition and I was a runner-up in the "What would Cinderella Knit?" competition. This is very exciting as I've been knitting less than 2 years but also very scary as I know have to knit up the item and write a pattern. Have a look at the winning entries, their amazing. I can't believe how much effort people have made and what beautiful entries were submitted. You can definitely tell I'm an unartistic scientist.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Combat with the hosts of hell

AKA Hogmanay

As we are about to sit down to out New Year's dinner (yes at this time and not in the afternoon) I was investigating about why we (the Scots) first foot but no one else seems to. Last night at midnight DH went outside, bottle, chocolate (Shortbread alternative) and coal in hand and rang the bell. Being tall, dark-haired and bringing all the necessary gifts he is the perfect first foot. At home dad was always sent out to do the deed. Also whenever we go to visit anyone on the first few days of the New Year we MUST take "something" (usually shortbread) with us. It's bad enough me being a redhead female but if I was to turn up empty handed who knows what disaster would befall the household.
This article in the Telegraph describes our way of doing it well. Many a year, when living in Scotland, we would still be up at 5am in our next door neighbours house playing Triv and drinking a nice, warm whisky. Of course this was just to keep the devil at bay.
And this is why I have tomorrow off work, no self-respecting Scot would chose to work on the 2nd (some have to, I know) and am only about to have dinner at dinner time!!

Christmas Knitting

Happy New Year

No new knitting to report, hoping to get started on my Kim Hargreaves kit asap. But in the meantime some photos of the Christmas knitting I managed to complete. I finished the gloves and hat for my roommate in enough time but was in such a rush to get them sent to her I forgot about taking photos until they were all wrapped up and addressed. Thankfully I received this photo of the hat in its new home.

Finishing the Rooster scarf for my sister was another matter altogether. The knitting bit was fine but then came the crocheting. It actually turned out much easier than I thought it would and the scarf itself was finished without pain. Oh, but I forgot about the flowers. And not one or two, no ten. Ten whole flowers to crochet for a complete beginner, not a fast job and a bit fiddly with having to work so many stitches into the round. It took longer than I thought but I was taking the scarf home to my sister so there was plenty of time - right? Yes for crocheting but what about the packing, card writing, present wrapping-forgot that part. A mad couple of evenings crocheting, alongside all the other Christmas chores, and I was left with this, two nights before we due to drive home.

That left one evening to sew all the ends in and attached the flowers. Why did I have all that panic? I even had time to model the scarf before it was wrapped up.

So all's well that ends well. I didn't manage to do any more on mum's hot water bottle cover but compared to leaving her birthday present from all of us under my tree when I went back to Scotland and having to track a new one down there and arrange a refund for the forgotten one that's nothing! At least she'll have a surprise another time.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Merry Christmas. Hope you all had a great one.
We're just back from home (Scotland) and I'm catching up. Finished the scarf for my sister in time, photos to follow. The hat and gloves for my old roommate went a bit missing in the post (major panic) but turned up after a week so all's well. I didn't get my mum's hot water bottle cover done but that can be a Mother's Day pressie instead so no need to worry.
During my "catching up" I came across this meme and thought I would complete it too:

4 jobs I have had
Customer Assistant, Boots the Chemist
Research Assistant, University of St Andrews
Junior Demonstrator, University of Oxford
Process Chemist (current job)

4 films I could watch over and over
Roman Holiday
The Goonies
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (with Johnny Depp)
The Lady Vanishes (the old version)
And so many more, they change from year to year.

4 places I have lived (apart from where I live now)
Canterbury, England
Fife, Scotland
Oxford, England
North Hertfordshire (Baldock and Royston)

4 TV shows I love
CSI (original version)
Everyone Loves Raymond
Green Wing
(do I have to stop at 4 - Father Ted, Blackadder, CSI Miami, Law & Order Criminal Minds, Sex & the City etc, etc...)

4 places I have been on holiday

4 websites I visit daily
my bank's website
Rowan forum

4 favourite foods
crisps (M&S Beef and Onion-yum!)
raspberries and blueberries
steak pie - especially the puff pastry
cheese (5 counties, edam, brie, good vintage cheddar, oh and there must be wine)

4 places I would rather be
By the sea
Culzean country park

4 people I am tagging
Don't know anyone well enough but please do it yourselves and leave me a comment so I can read yours.