Friday, 27 February 2009

Gone Fishin'

...Or more precisely, gone dyein'!
So long as everything goes to plan, Sunday will involve the visitation of Nadine and a little dyeing extravaganza(with a Millie's cookie or two thrown in for good measure!). Blogging seems unlikely, neither does blogging tomorrow so you'll have to make do with this hastily cobbled together number.

Actually, I have a fair amount to blog about (if not pictures)!

On Monday, a week after the assessor came round to measure up for the new radiators (we're getting central heating, yaaay!) and told me it'd be 4-10 weeks and I'd definitely get two weeks advance notification; a fitter from Iguana phoned and asked if they could come on Wednesday!
I was shocked to say the least, basically a day's notice to unpack and shift 2 heavy wardrobes, a bookcase,allalong one wall which involved shoving a pile of stuff in the loft then general clearing in both the front room and kitchen. I managed to negotiate it to Monday but it kind of shot my intention to have a laid-back week all to hell.

Tuesday evening, I forgoed the evening knitting group to shift wardrobes (followed by a little drinkie) and also make a major purchase...a new wheel! Well, the pace seems so hot around here, it seemed like the only decent thing to do, that and the fact that to try one out involved a 3+ hour, 3 change train journey costing £70 return :(

With the fluctuations in the pound against the dollar, I was also a little concerned that by the time I came to save up enough to buy it, the cost would have risen so I bit the bullet and pushed the button. Damn you internet ordering sites! It'll come direct from America (as they have none in stock here) and will take 4-6 weeks so watch his space....

Wednesday was a little less frantic, visiting a mate and a much-needed massage in the afternoon. I had planned to do belly dancing in the evening but as the veggies that I chopped for the soup I was making didn't cook 'till roughly half an hour before I was due to leave, I was quite glad when Nadine arrived home late and cried off. Pete had had to work late that day so I also needed to fit in an evening dog walk at some point too.

Thursday, luckily was my big bro's birthday and both he and my hub. took the day off so we went into Liverpool and stuffed ourselves at the Buffet star then waddled back to the car. I even resisted the lure of quality Abakhan yarn!!!

Today has been extremely busy with part two of the master plan into action. Hub took today off too to help me and he has been a trooper (with guidance!). At least now it's minor jobs left to do, the room where the boiler is to be housed is suitably cleared and the upstairs radiator sites emptied.We did break off at lunch for a long leisurely bagel and cake at Brigittes so the day wasn't all about stressing and organising.

Tomorrow will be guild and we are striking out for independence again by bringing our spinning wheels (it's inkle looming) feels very rebellious! Hub is being a diamond and driving me there and back so I can chill out and knit on the drive so any non-dyeing time on sunday will be tidying up the last little jobs (and a bit on Saturday evening too, I guess).

Haven't a clue when they'll turn up so I guess it'll be another early rising to sort the dogs or else another plan...still a couple of days to think about it though.

Oh, and Sock Madness sign-ups start this weekend! March the 1st (US time?), 'till the 7th or until they get enough competitors (200?). The silliness really begins from the 19th...the day before Skip North! Ah well, good job round 1 generally takes a while....

Back soon(ish) hopefully after the chaos has passed......

Sunday, 22 February 2009

An Update (and a few pic's too)...

Though limited, at least I have a few photos to show you this week...

I've ben getting back into spinning since I decided to stop beating myself about the head trying to spin a sweatersworth. Instead, I've been choosing some pretty fibres, the top one from January's Fiber Swap over on Ravelry. It's a mixture of fine fibres and Merino nepps and should be interesting either as an edging to a garment or in its own right. Time will tell.

The Middle skein is the last batt from Woolydoodles's swap last year. Now all 4 are spun, I'm ready to knit them maybe into socks. Just in time for Sock Madness!

The bottom skein is the latest yumminess from the Yarn Yard's Fibre club. It's the softest Merino and nylon combo I've ever felt and i simply spun this skein just as it wished to produce a lovely squishy, slightly thick and thin yarn. I do have another plait to spin somewhat more civilized but this will be a warm 'n' cosy neckwarmer ASAP.

But that's not all....

My February Fiber Swap parcel arrived on Thursday, all the way from Australia! when it arrived, the contents looked like this but when I delved further...

...A plait of hand-dyed Polwarth and Mulberry Silk yumminess, 5 batts of superfine Merino hand dyed and still with plenty of texture and some cute heart-shaped choccies!

The perfect antidote to a busy week, I sat right down and spun in any time I had free.
By Saturday, I had these...
The top 2 skeins are actually spun the weekend before from my own hand-dyeing but below is the pretty plait, fractal spun. I got 400m out of that 2ply yarn so I'm hoping again it's not too fine for socks. I'd love to use one of my handspun yarns in the comp. Below it is the Merino batts, as you can see, it has made a lumpy, textured yarn but it still has a soft handle. It's much more colourful in reality but still mean 'n' moody.
Knitting has sort of taken a back seat this week, I have done more but as I'm a wee bit whacked right now and photographing more would require trips upstairs to spread them out on the bed you'll need to wait for another day! Still, I can show you this....

I'm stuck mid-clue 3 of the Mystic Star shawl. The numbers don't add up and in the short periods of time I have to look at it, I can never work out quite what's wrong. I'm hoping this week'll be less complicated so I can take a day out to sort things like this out. Well, you never know!
Monday gone, I was waiting in for the engineer to measure up for radiators in the afternoon then on Tuesday I was at both knitting groups and Wednesday I went for a much-needed massage but then had to hop in the car and wait for an hour outside the RSPCA for madam's pills. Thursday I was at group again but luckily the shop was quiet and I spent a pleasant couple of hours spinning. Feeling rash, I walked to my friends and back again later on Friday so it's been good that the weekend's been quiet to try and recuperate. At least most of the swaps are done, the remaining one for mid-march and I can concentrate on completing a few UFO's before the Madness begins. Who knows, there may be a shawl nearing it's completing by this time next week.
Speaking of which (sock Madness), it appears that the start date, 19th March is the day before Skip North so there is the potential for me to be knitting socks whilst I am away. Worse case scenario, the first round is generally slower so I should stick around for a little longer than that (at least 'till the speedy gonzalazes of this world take over!). I may have a wee peruse of the 4ply stash today...a little winding here, a little balling there; I certainly found it came in handy last time!
And finally, instead of the usual doggy photo, I thought I'd show you something different (though you may need to click on the photo to see)....
Meet Purdey, my bro's cat creating maximum havoc by making herself comfy on our recently laid coats. Quite why she's taken to sticking her tongue out, nobody's quite sure...

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Somewhat Sleep Deprived...

And with no pic's to show you right now but if I don't do a quick blog now, who knows when I'll find the time 'cos the pace doesn't seem to show any signs of slowing up yet!

I still haven't found time to organise more woodwork painting yet as we were trying to improve access into the back rooms. The Warm front advisor was arriving on Wednesday at some point so it was up early to get the dogs around the park only to wait 'till 11am before he turned up...
If I'd have got up at my usual time, don'tcha just bet he would have arrived early? Anyway, I didn't know how much he needed to explore/measure so better safe than sorry (even if it was unnecessary!). I was warned it could take up to 4-6 months so I was somewhat surprised to get a phonecall on Friday from the surveyor to measure up for the radiators! So guess what's happening tomorrow? At least it's in the afternoon!

I guess it could still be a long wait for the actual engineers but one step at a time...

In the meanwhile, Nadine's deciding whether to explore Wonderwool as a source for potential new wheels (yes, I know I'm a bad influence!) so obviously I'd support her in her venture even though I hadn't planned to visit (but it'd be nice!). It's still early days and an overnight stay would definitely be on the cards so I guess that needs booking sooner rather than later.

This morning I was up even earlier to go to a trade fair! Val had wangled me a free ticket (and transport) to the NEC and I found it really interesting. I got to see a whole heap of stuff that's either new to the market or not even out there yet and some of it might even end up in the shop in the future, exciting! I did get a small selection of freebies and a free copy of the Knitter which was nice as well as some soak samples and for once I didn't spend and money (I would have if I could!)...even my lunch was organised for me so it made for a cheap if long day out. Still, by 2pm we were flagging hence returning around 5pm. I hope I can get a bit of recovery time in tomorrow to recuperate....

In crafty news, I have decided to shelve the sweater spinning project for now. I had a pleasant day spinning one of the recent Yarn Yard plaits, a divine Merino/Nylon blend that's fluffy as a cloud and a joy to spin. I may actually be tempted to knit it into a yummy neckwarmer very soon....I spun some of my own hand-dyed BFL on Saturday too and Navajo plied it in 2 seperate lots. I was aiming for 4ply with the new control card and haven't a clue how many yards yet but it sure looks pretty and I'd love it if I could squeeze a pair of socks out.

Hubby's sweater has hit another snag; it could be minor stitch adjustment or major i.e. rip the entire back back to the rib. Not like I have the energy to work out which this evening but watch this space. It's getting more likely it'll become a UFO in the near future :(

The Xmas lace shawl is getting closer to completion, lord knows how many stitches there are on the needles now as rows take a looong time but I'm only a few weeks away from the finish now. I hit a bit of a snag with the Mystic Star shawl which required a nail biting frog of a few rows to get it right...after trying to fix it for many hours of course! Still, I'm behind on the clues but have started clue 3 which has gotta be good.

The Freedom Cardi has increased some, pic's to follow and Nadine's socks have been started so there's a few plates I'm spinning right now; on top of organising and posting fibre swaps to Australia and organising spinning swaps in this country!

So yeah, the pace of life's still a wee bit extreme for my liking but it's good too...
More next time and photos too (if my fuddled brain can cope!)

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Has it really been nearly a month?

Okay, so it looks like I’ve missed my blogiversary again (what is it about this time of year that sucks all free time like a big black hole?) and not managed to blog for a while but at least I’m here now and I can try to do a bit of a catch-up.

So, what have I got to blog about?

Well, as the last proper blog post was 4th Jan (has it really been that long?), I guess this post will be a long one.

First(ish) was the wet patch by the kitchen door. Well, it was the cold of just-past-xmas and Biscuit’s 13 ½ now and has been known to have the odd accident so I wasn’t too concerned at first. I used spill magic to sop up the wet and put paper down then when it got wet again, added extra papers etc. I should have twigged when the spill magic crystals swelled to a jelly but then I had a wad of papers and removed them to find an even bigger wet patch underneath (and dry paper on top) then I started having kittens. You see, it was a few feet from the stop cock tap inside and the outside one was pretty much in a direct line-of-sight to the wet spot (underneath the floorboards) so you can imagine what mental images were running through my head...spraying water and a lake under the house just about covers it!

The reality was somewhat less dramatic despite when I cleared the corner under the stairs to allow our friendly neighbourhood plumber access and saw how far the wet and mould had travelled I totally freaked! What he identified (very quickly) was that the seals holding the stop cock tap in place had broken and it was causing a tiny drip that over the course of time the carpet and underlay had wicked to spread over a large area. The patch by the door was obviously ultimate saturation but on lifting the carpet, the floorboards were wet but not damagingly so; a few hours with a fan heater dealt with that.

So, the tap was replaced, the floorboards relatively dry but the carpet was ruined. Hub was onto the insurance people on Monday and whilst they wouldn’t pay for the repair, they would agree to replacing the carpet providing we went with their approved dealer (Allied Carpets) and sent an assessor round to see whether the carpet could be saved. That was about a week all in with me worrying this time that they’d only stump up half the cost etc. etc. as there was no way we’d logically have paid for new-for-old cover, had we?

When the carpet man arrived (the appropriately named Tony Topping!), he said he had been given authorisation to replace the carpet (minus a £50 excess they’d previously mentioned) and surprise, surprise, we DID have new-for-old cover! The slight downer was that the samples he gave me to choose from were basically various shades of beige...from cream to darker oatmeal. I ended up with the darkest one available which will still be paler than what’s currently there but it will lighten up the hall. Thing is, the hall really needs re-decorating, at least the skirting boards and woodwork overpainted from the somewhat exuberant gold spray paint that I thought was creative some years ago (don’t ask!). Plus the paper really needs replacing below the dado rail where Floppy’s “ helped” to remove it...and painted a more neutral colour too (deep pinky red rag rolled?).

Hence we've tried, in bitesize chunks to wash down the paintwork and key the surface ready for the first coat. Pete's done most of the downstairs skirting board but there’s loads to go. I’m still waiting to hear when the carpet fitters will arrive so at the moment, we have this look downstairs....
(actually, they arrived Friday with only a couple of days notice but now it looks more like this)...

We've put oddments down to catch any trodden-in muck as it's quite a bit paler than before and there's still plenty more to do (including touching up the satin gloss paint that got damaged during fitting) but hey, it's a start! Despite not being able to help an awful lot, I've been shuffling around like a little old lady for the little I did do so I need a bit of downtime before I do any more. This could take some time....

Oh yeah, Biscuit "helped"...

No? Maybe this one?

Yeah, 'cos cuddling up to wet skirting board is the best place to be! When we got back from the supermarket, this was what greeted us and there was a reasonable circular spot coated in black hairs sticking straight out, quite funny really!

Oh yeah and I mustn’t forget my fiber swap parcel, a mix of yummy fibres and merino nepps that I spun up into this...

These yummy soft batts were what arrived through the post a couple of weeks ago, courtesy of Ghostknitter. Unfortunately, in the hecticness of the last month, I've forgotten exactly what fibres were included but I can remember corriedale and merino nepps, the inspiration being spring.

Thank you so much, I'm only sorry it's taken me so long to find camera and alternative lead (as original one went walkabout!)
Then there was the Monday after that (about 3 weeks ago?) when I had to have a really yucky medical. It actually worked out very well but that didn’t stop me stressing about it either before, during or for a week afterwards waiting for the fateful brown envelope. Still, I can put all that behind me now and look to positive things...

Like holidays, totally out of the blue we had a little windfall post Christmas so I’ve been able to pay off the first bit of the Ireland holiday. It’s nice that I don’t have to worry about scraping pennies together for it and at a particularly tough time for many I’m very grateful.

Still, it’s been a total swings and roundabouts ride. Hubby bought a stereo system thingummy for the kitchen but was very unhappy with its performance when we received it. On talking with customer services, they decided it was probably faulty so arranged for a (very convoluted) pick-up which involved more stress and phonecalls to actually get a date. Even then, I waited in all day for a courier who must have knocked on the door with a sponge as I sure as hell didn’t hear him. It was only when I went to bring in the bin and saw the yellow card that I phoned them up and gave them a rollicking. He arrived back half-an-hour later somewhat sheepish and I thought that was the matter ended but by Monday the company had gone bankrupt so bye-bye stereo money! It’s not nice but I feel it could have been worse...losing over £100 is a lot of money but it was from Xmas money so we weren’t left out of pocket as such. Getting a £100 gas bill and a £200 credit card bill did though!

It’s been a right bizarre month!

In other crafty news, I’ve been knitting for my Swap Partner. Rosemary’s now received her parcel so I can safely blog about it. In a bizarre twist of fate, we knew each other from a yahoo group and she clocked my identity early on so it’s actually been really good. We e-mailled each other regularly and I feel she’s more of a proper friend than if we’d been “secret” pals so it’s all good.

(sorry for nicking your photo, in typical fashion, I forgot to take one myself before I packed them away!).
This is what I’d knitted, a leaf lace scarf in 70% Angora yarn sent to me in a recent yarn swap. It’s lovely and squishy and I thought it’d be cosy around her neck. Then there was the handwarmers that were in her favourites list, trimmed with an oddment of the Angora for them to match. As her ravatar is currently a bunny, I thought it appropriate. Then there’s a pair of 12mm Knitpicks needle tips (as she’s collecting), cute mug and some goodies. She seemed to like it all anyway!

In the meanwhile, I’d put aside the ambitious Christmas shawl in order to finish Rosemary’s swap parcel and also the Hug coat that languished for some time for want of an appropriate collar. Not any more though!

I ditched the original stocking stitch design for a more intricate one with a little short-row shaping (so it’d lie flatter) and I’m pleased with the final effect. It’s currently on show at the shop hence the pic.
I was up-to-date with the shawl by Wednesday...and indeed cracking on with other projects like Peter’s new sweater (grr!),

the new new shop project (yum)
And the neverending spinning saga.
Actually, I haven’t been terribly lucky with spinning either, here are my attempts so far...

My first skein (left) was really twisty but under advisement, I put it through the wheel again and plied it a little more so it’s less crazy and the second 3-ply yarn I have stuck to my trusty Joy wheel throughout and it’s not bad (if I do say so myself!). So far, I reckon I’ve spun around 400g of my 1600g target so it’s not looking good for finishing on time. Plus what I have spun so far is closer to sockweight despite being 3-plied so I’m going to need a very fine cabled pattern...unless I ditch what I’ve spun so far and retrain myself to spin fatter. The yardage isn’t brilliant either L Nor is the feel, definitely overspun in areas.

So, I’m torn between calling a halt right now, carrying on regardless or starting from scratch again.
Decisions, decisions....

I could just pick some lovely dyed roving and have a play instead....
Oh, and Sunday mornings have transposed to Nadine’s and lunch and gamey/crafty pursuits so finding a slot (and energy) to blog in is getting harder...but I’m not complaining!

After years of winding hanks from my knees and a three-hour stint with a mate ballwinding a particularly awkward Tencel laceweight yarn, I was left with a deep desire to buy a skeinwinder of some variety. You know the kind of thing, some are like the ribs of an umbrella without the fabric (unsurprisingly called an umbrella swift), others take different forms. Well, I was mulling over the cost when it occurred to me that I already have one! Two to be precise! To explain, a few years back, I picked up these wooden ballwinder kit thingummies, the must have come from the fifties at the latest. There’s a cute little wooden post attached with a rubber band to a winder-upper handle and four arms with pegs at the end and a block of wood that they all slide into...a swift! That entailed turning the house upside down looking for the box it was all in and remembering that I’d bought another which I could lay my hands on easily but unfortunately was incomplete. Anyway, after tracking down the second set and setting it all up, I’m hooked! To wind a skein of sock yarn in ten minutes and the selfsame tencel that caused me all the troubles in half an hour is addictive, as is watching it whirring round in circles as I wind.
Hence I have multiple balls of wound yarn cluttering up the living room table as whenever I get the urge, one more skein gets unearthed and wound...I figure it’ll pay off in the long run...

See you all next week...Maybe!