Sunday, 30 December 2007

Belated Christmas Wishes (warning, this'll be a very long one!)

First off, thank you to all you wonderful people who left comments on the last post, it really cheered up DH's day (and a few days after!).

Right, I promised I'd update you all on the trials and tribulations pre this festive time so here it is. However, it comes with a warning, if you don't particularly want to read about emotional stuff and all that it entails, just skip the starred part and look at the pretty pictures cown below. There's plenty of them and lots of Christmas goodies as well as a F.O.

You have been warned...

A while back, I posted about the fact we had a mouse in the kitchen. I extolled the virtues of the JML pest shield because I believed the hype that it was protecting the house and as there seemed to be no trace of mouse poo on the worktops I went about my business secure in the knowledge that my house was protected from the critters...BIG MISTAKE!!!

Firstly, JML have been slapped on the wrist for "misleading advertising" and withdrawn the product, it's all a pack of lies! At best, it's a low grade ultrasonic deterrent that maybe covers the worktop but as recently we've even had poo back on the worktop where it's located, my guess is it's just a pretty little light right now.

I started to have my suspicions when, months later, I noticed odd traces of poo on the baking sheets thast are stored underneath the oven but then again it could just have been old stuff. I knew I'd been far more vigilant cleaning up crumbs and spills and washing up but when I got around to using the oven and found the bottom of it caked in feces my stomach just turned.

Around a week or so after that, I was woken by a noise around 3am one night. I went to the loo, went back to bed and tried to tell myself that it was just house noises, you know, creaking floorboards, rain on the roof, wind etc. etc. but when I watched a mouse climb up the curtains (cream with a streetlight just beyond so, yes, I got an in-depth look!), right to the top, scout around and then scramble down again, pausing because it could obviously hear my heart thumping so loudly, I was scared half to death. Unfortunately, the mouse that had decided to make its appearance was a somewhat heavy-footed creature and incredibly determined as, even with the bedside lights on, it continued to crawl all over the room, up the clothes rack, over hubbies coat, and to the corner where it was determined to chew a hole in a holdall.

It essentially drove us from the bedroom around 4.30am and we went downstairs to the living room where we both crammed on the sofa and tried to get some sleep, hubbie being somewhat taller and taking the lions share but hey, who's going to gripe at a time like this? Around 8am, I decided I was fed up of being squashed in a corner, retired to a single chair and pulled out the knitting (god knows which one it was!).

That day (a Saturday), we visited the bro's, both somewhat the worse for wear and tried to work out what to do next. The bedroom was obvoiusly out of bounds until we could be sure it was mouse-free and I certainly didn't fancy sharing the sofa again. Anyway, that became a moot point when I returned home and saw one scuttle across the lounge!

By this point, I was so strung out and clearing the corners of the bedroom didn't exactly help; around midnight we gave up trying, (the little mouse with clogs on was obvioulsy still in evidence!) and threw ourselves on the mercy of the in-laws, a mere ten minute drive away (and luckily still with a king-size bed in hubbie's old room). The poor poochies had to fend for themselves that night though we made sure to get up early so they weren't left for too long. We were somewhat more relaxed after a break away from the scene though still needing to sort the situation out and pronto.

We found some sticky cardboard boxes (they were too clever for snap traps) from a local hardware shop then swung by B+Q where we met 3 other women (total strangers) all debating the best way of despatching the little critters from their homes. It somehow felt good to know there were others in the same situation, that it wasn't something wrong with us, that we were somehow dirty or substandard, it was just sheer dumb luck. If they want to get into your home, they will, period.

Anyhoo, after careful deliberation, we went with the electric trap that zaps 'em, an ultrasonic deterrent (no, we weren't put off, the description and limitations were far more believable) and more sticky traps. The ultrasonic went in the bedroom, a plug directly opposite the bed, the zap trap in an alcove where the sonics wouldn't reach, the sticky in another corner and as hub heard one in the computer room, another sticky in there. In the space of a couple of hours, we caught one in the computer room and I heard numerous cries of distress from the bedroom (oh yeah, it crashed and banged in the daytime too-sonic thingie was obviously doing its trick!) so by the time it came to bed, things were somewhat quieter so we risked sleeping- with the lights on.

Not like I got much sleep that night, I was listening for every noise, stressed to the eyeballs but it was a start and over the following nights, we gradually worked with less and less light until we were properly sleeping with the light off though I still got extremely twitchy when it got dark (as it does early here, 3-4pm). Things began to get more stable though in a house which is crammed to the gunnells with fiberly stuff, I had to fall on the generosity of many and stored boxes of yarn with the in-laws, my parents had generously driven over and filled their small car with smelly fleeces to store in their garage and we obvoiusly spent time clearing and tidying where and when we could.

All went positively until Tuesday came along, we'd put a sticky trap on the kitchen worktop where evidence was most active the evening before and hub was to check it before he went to work in case it had worked. Well, he did, nothing, I did at breakfast, still nothing, at lunch when I came in with my pie from the bakery it was fine but when I went to wash my plate I was greeted with a squeaking shrieking creature that I plain and simply could not go past. Problem.

Particularly as it was hubbie's Christmas meal at lunchtime and I had no idea of when he would return...and half the kitchen was out of bounds.....

There was NO WAY I was dealing with it, I tried but it honestly turned my blood cold, in my childhood we were close to a water treatment plant and river and rats plagued my formative years until I was around 6 or 7 and a council man got to the bottom of the situation so it's essentially left me with a bit of a phobia, behind bars, no problem, but wild, urgh! So, once again, I had to fall on the generosity of the parents-in-law and the FIL turned up an hour later complete with bashing stick, poor guy! He did a good job though and by 2pm I had regained control of the kitchen and spent a somewhat stressful evening waiting for hubbie to return. So the score was sticky traps 2, everything else zero but we were 2 down which had to be good but this was leading towards Christmas and I had neither time nor energy to decorate the house so it was only the Sunday before when the tree finally got put up, that's about as far as it went.

It wouldn't have been so bad if we hadn't had a succession of bad Christmasses which I'd mentioned previously, the first of which involved one grandmother in hospital with a crumbled spine. She died in the new year, a good age but the thing that tipped me over the edge was the fact that she'd had and been treated for cancer and hadn't told a soul. Coming on top of leaving my job due to ill health that no one could find a reason for and having my benefit snatched from me by a cow of a doctor (with no recourse to appeal simply because hubbie works), it was the straw that broke me, literally.

That was the start of my continuing battle with anxiety depression, I felt guilt and anger that I never had a chance to help or support my grandmother tied in with the emotional distress of being forced to make a job for myself at a time when I knew in my heart I did not have the strength to do a half reasonable job and just before that Christmas due to the incompetence of benefits staff, my time-limited benefit expired and was not transferred so I was expected to run a business on £15 a fortnight!

So 2002 is pretty much deleted from my memory and when in the Christmas of that year my other grandmother was at home with oxygen and died around easter... of cancer, that time wasn't excatly sterling either. The next year eactly on hubbie's birthday, my dad decided to step in a pothole taking the dog for a protracted walk, broke his ankle, got up and stood on it (v. bad) and shattered both his ankle and lower leg. Also being in the middle of nowhere when it happened, he was lucky that a couple also out walking helped him to limp home. So that was another Christmas spent at the hospital, it took ten days before the swelling went down enough for them to operate and months of metalwork both internal and external. I had the advantage? of breaking my arm back in 2002 which meant I got extra support from people who didn't see I needed it mentally but the lessons I learned in recovery I was able to pass on to my dad and he like myself is pretty much back to normal as far as level of movement is concerned.

I've had a lot of time, a lot of therapy and two years of less-stress Christmasses before this one and in a lot of ways I've recovered though it's become clear over the last few months that the long term stress my body was put under has actually caused one hell of a lot of damage. No, not cancer, not the thing I worried about; Hashimoto's Thyroiditis just like my ma (heading in the right direction so far), acid reflux so bad it caused the lump in my throat and now it looks like hypertension could be on the cards. At least I have sucessfully been treated for the Arthritis which never comes up on a test but plagued my life for so long even though I get stern warnings from my doc every time it comes to medication reviews (us asthmatics aren't allowed to have Arthritis, aparrently, or at least shouldn't get treatment for it).

I still get stressed, unreasonably so I guess, and very emotional over trivial things but the mouse situation's shaken us out of our complacent lifestyles and examine quite why the place gets in such a mess. On Boxing day we did a grand clear out of the back room upstairs, the grand dumping ground for boxes and associated christmas stuff, filled the recycling bin, the half-full non-recycling bin, took a car load of stuff to the charity shop and another car load ready to go to the tip tomorrow. We went to B+Q and got 2 metal shelving units and some plastic boxes so now my upstairs yarn has a home and he's currently assembling the second one right now for his assorted junk, a small step but in the right direction and in a few days we've made a huge difference in that room.

And so far, there's been no more evidence of our little friends though I'm not relaxing yet. Once things are clearer and I can be sure, then I'll be happier but for now I'm just glad they're keeping hidden.

I see a definite New Years resolution starting!
Now to Knitterly news which, in my typical stressed fashion, I've put the pics in the wrong order, d'oh! Ah well, here we go.

Here's Mystic Waters finally finished and blocking. It was so big, there was no way it was going on the blocking board so it couldn't be wetted as it was pinned to the bed!

I just couldn't get it all in the frame!

I never managed to get that pesky final border straight but it did have pride of place at the Christmas dining table. It was lovely to wear if impractical though I guessI'm going to have to get used to it, there's four so far this year, two starting in just a couple of days.

After much frustration and major repeated frogging, I completed the back and am around the armhole stage on the front.

It's difficult to get the colours right but you get the picture. It's moving slowly, even slower wht with the Christmas and tidying and so on but I hope to still have it finished before the winter turns to spring.

Here's where we jump around a bit 'cos the pics are in the wrong place. I picked up this nifty bag as a sort of gift to me just before Christmas.

It's got places for needles, a circular concertina holder thingie and loads of pockets for lord knows what stuff. I plan to fill it sometime soon.

In total disorder here's my first knitted swatch for Secret of the stole 2. I knitted the first part with 3mm needles then switched to 2.75mm when I thought it might be a wee bit loose which is why the edges are uneven. I'm undecided which needle to use but the yarn is truly gorgeous.

Here is my choice of yarns for the next 3 knitalongs, the dark blue in the background for Dem Fischer sin Fru, a choice between the dusky pink at the back or the green in the middle for the Spring surprise, variegated laceweight that I decided against and cones of cashmere silk that were a bit on the fine side. I'm accruing a good lace stash! Oh yeah, and at the front another "me" prezzie from Posh Yarns before Christmas, just not enough yardage.

Christmas prezzies (should have been at the beginning!). Being a forward-thinking kind of girl, I order them in advance then they're ready to pass around when relatives ask me what I want!

The bottom one is a special book that hubbie ordered with our holiday photos in it, what a great idea and a lovely surprise!

And an even lovelier surprise, a special pre-christmas gift from Lyndsey!

It's 5 skeins of wonderful Colinette Parisienne that the lucky lady found in the SALES section! There's around £40 of yarn there for a fiver! I did try to tempt her with the pattern book to make something for herself even though I seriously coveted it! I did knit a pair of socks for her recently which she loved (we did a bit of a bargain!) but it was still a lovely present.

And here's the Posh yarns laceweight that hubbie gave me (well, I DID pick it up in advance!).

There wasn't really enough for two of the knitalongs this time but the third HAD to be knitted with the cobweb cashmere/silk she'd called Chocolate! the rest will just stay in reserve until something else beautiful comes along. It was a nightmare to wind though!

We even did a bit of post-Christmas Shopping yesterday, I got these from John Lewis...

...all half price!

And this cache from Abakhan, for just over £15!

I got plenty of pennies stashed away ready for Skip North next year and picked up a few goodies along the way too. Plus there's Posh yarns sale later on this evening...get ready for the scramble!

...actually, I just lost everything, bugger!

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

21 today! (Again!)

Sorry for the dealy in posting, I will tell you the whole story in the fullness of time but for now I need your good wishes for a totally different reason.

Having a Birthday so close to Christmas is never going to be an easy thing, too many times of combined presents and the day being consumed in the feverish racing about picking up last-minute items plus the memory of three horrendous Christmasses one after another has left our dear hubbie with a deep mistrust of all things Birthday-related!

For me it means extra-special effort to try and counterract the negativity, early presents, birthday wrapping paper and heaps of prezzies on the day. There have been times when I have let things slip in the past but I think the nail on the coffin was a few years back when my dad fell down a pothole on the exact day and ended up in metal and wires around his foot and leg for months. It's been two, maybe three years now since anything major happened around Christmas but it still has that slight air of " what can go wrong this time?" Well, we kind of have repeat scenario this year but at least no-one is hurt, in hospital or at death's door!

So anyway, I'm asking anyone out there who's still reading my blog at this stressful time of year to take a second and wish my lovely Pete a happy Birthday in the comments section; hell anything to make his day a little bit different, what d'you think?

Thank you in advance for anyone that is still out there!

Thursday, 6 December 2007

It's Magic! (or how not to knit a sock!)

Firstly, apologies for the somewhat lacklustre post last time. I've been suffering a bit with the old health this week (mostly self-inflicted..note to self, do NOT carry a 6kg wheel in a bag over your shoulder all the way through Liverpool-20 mins. and expect to get away with it!). I have been told by the other half in his somewhat undiplomatic way that I was "a right old grouch" on Monday so I was obviously not on top form.

Anyway, Would you like to see a bit of magic?

Here we have a nearly completed pair of socks...
I wave my magic wand (just use your imagination!)...
Now you see them...

...Now you don't!

Sorry, was that too fast for you?

Okay, let's do it one more time, just a little slower...




(Nearly) gone!

To fill in the gaps, these were destined to become a pair of Jaywalkers for the aforementioned other half. Despite the fact that I have already knitted this pattern three times before for different sized feet, I mucked it up right royally!

Before starting the heel on the second sock, I got hubby to try the first one on, unfortunately it was tight getting over the heel area so I thought..okay, I fix the second heel, finish the second sock then rip the first back to the heel and fix it...Well, that was the plan.

I got hubbie to try the second half-finished sock on to check the heel modifications in case it needed further tinkering...he couldn't even get it on his foot, the leg was too tight!

So, adios amigos, they'll just have to wait 'till after Christmas. Still, look on the bright side, that's one UFO out of the pile! Actually, I've made good use of my lack of activity outside to complete 2 more long-standing UFO's, pic's to follow. I've actually sewed in 2, yes, TWO zips in cardi's this week, I'm dead proud!

Monday, 3 December 2007

A whole week goes by and all I can show you is.....

Knitting, knitting and more knitting!

in Mystic waters news, here's the latest installment...

...Yeah, it's getting a bit big to appreciate all in one shot (and fit on one 80cm circular!), so here's a close-up...

As I actually managed to take these photos on one of those rare patches of sunlight, they might apppear a bit bleached but I think it still shows how much I'm loving this whole thing. I completed clue 6 in one day (albeit a long one!). Only 2 more weeks to go!

And in between all the lacy happenings, I managed to complete the cardigan i've been blogging about over the past few weeks..

....Here it is actually being worn...

..And I rather like it! I 'm happy with the fit after the alterations I'd made and the buttons...well, after buying about ten "possibles", I found the perfect specimens in my button box, from a previous forage!

There is sock news but i'll leave it to next time, suffice to say there's a bit of frogging to be done before they're done, but at least I'm working on the heel on the second sock right now.

The completion of Secret of the Stole cleared time for me to start this knit which I've been dying to start for months!

It's Twilley's freedom spirit and an interesting pattern where the front becomes gthe back and vice versa hence stripes of stocking and reverse stocking stitch. Adding increases into that makes it a bit like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time but thankfully, at this time, I'm past that point. Not without a reasonable degree of frogging, however, the worst when an entire days worth of knitting went west. Ah well, these things are sent to try us!