Thursday, 29 June 2006

AOL in Absent On Leave. We're off to Cornwall for a week with MIL & FIL to visit SIL & her family. I'm taking my knitting and crochet, so we'll see how much gets done. See you soon!

Thursday, 22 June 2006

Mail from a dragon

I got a lovely little parcel in the post today from Dragon Yarns - but no stash enhancement this time. The service was extremely quick, and the items were well packaged.

First of all I bought this card, which I think is just lovely, and will do perfectly for any knitter's birthday.

Next up, a shadecard for Artesano Alpaca.

The colours are gorgeous and the yarn
is beautifully soft, but I think I'm going off it. Y'see every time I stroke the yarn on the shadecard, I'm left with fluffy fibres all over my fingers. I really didn't expect it to shed that much.

Do you think the knitted up yarn would stop doing that after a couple of washes?

Finally the real reason for my order - a shadecard of the Dale Svale yarn.

This DK yarn really appeals to me purely because of it's composition - 50% cotton, 40% viscose, 10% silk - the perfect combination for my sensitive skin.

The actual yarn on the shadecard is not what I was expecting, but I do like it. The range of colours is impressive, and so is the price - £2.45 per 50g ball.

This may be on my birthday wishlist - unless I get too tempted before then of course..

Wednesday, 21 June 2006

Thirty Things

In celebration of Kerrie's 30th birthday and her generous HipKnits competition, here are my 30 things about me (I don't know if I'm too late, but never mind!):
  1. I fell headfirst into an empty bath when I was a baby and split my lip open, then a couple of years later my face was bitten by a family dog.

  2. I can't hold anything non-edible in my teeth for more than a few seconds without gagging, which I think is to do with a traumatic event in a previous life.

  3. For my first term of being a student I ate only chocolate cake and vitamin tablets.

  4. I was "encouraged" to join in and climb up open stairs to the top of the Beam Engine display on a school trip to Blists Hill in Shropshire - and have been terrified by vertigo ever since.

  5. I adore food and used to joke that I should marry a chef - and quite by accident ended up doing just that.

  6. A junior school headteacher once announced to the rest of my class that my handwriting was "first class rubbish" - which not surprisingly led to me having low self-confidence.

  7. My favourite fragrances are pale in colour - vanilla, lemon, white musk; I also love the smell of freshly-mown grass, tomato plants, motorbikes and leather.

  8. I knew the name I wanted for my daughter many years before I became a mum - but I have no idea where I got the name from.

  9. I love Abba songs but they all remind me of my parents' divorce.

  10. I am allergic to nickel, so I had to have a platinum wedding ring - ahh, shame...!

  11. I never did the long cross-country runs at secondary school; they were scheduled every summer term but each year I was convalescing at home after surgery to have my ingrowing big toe nail removed.

  12. I love to be tucked up cosy in bed at night and listen to the sound of rain falling on the roof.

  13. I share my birthday with Princess Anne.

  14. I talk to my house - usually when I go out and come back in, or if DH is away for a night. It's usually just in my head, as I'm looking around the place, but sometimes verbally, quietly, if I'm the last one out. Y'know just stuff like "Be safe, take care of us" etc. Well people talk to their cars, so why not my house?

  15. I could never have married anyone who didn't get along well with my brother.

  16. I said I'd never have a Xmas baby as their birthday gets "swallowed up" by Xmas - then my first daughter was born in mid December.

  17. I used to hate the colour pink - now half of my clothing is various shades of pink.

  18. I own only one pair of shoes, but numberous boots and mules; I have wide feet and find it incredibly hard to find comfortable non-granny shoes.

  19. Bright red lipstick looks positively scary on me.

  20. My first and best ever job was as a computer wargames programmer - but I've never been into playing computer games myself.

  21. I was the princess in our primary school play of "George and the Dragon" and remember it to this day.

  22. I have a bridge over six front upper teeth as two of my second teeth that were supposed to be there were completely missing.

  23. I have big hair and so was known as Crystal Tipps at school.

  24. I detest being outside in windy rainy weather. An umbrella is useless, the wind swirls my hair round into my face so I can't see a thing, than a couple of days later I get a cold. Yeuch!

  25. I have bitten my nails ever since my parents split up when I was 10 years old. It never helped the situation but I still can't stop!

  26. I can't get into bed without checking for spiders and wasps in there first. I don't check under the bed (too much yarn there!) but I have to lift up the duvet and pillows.

  27. I couldn't be bothered to cook when I lived by myself so I would just empty a tin each of baked beans, sweetcorn, and tuna into a pan and warm it through; that would be 2 days meals. Now I love everything in the TV chef's cookbooks!

  28. I got my DH into drinking Jack Daniels and coke - now he drinks it far more often than I do.

  29. I smoked on and off for many years, but I now haven't had a cigarette since 31st January 2006.

  30. I will be 40 this year and don't know whether to love it or loathe it! Does life really start at 40?

Sunday, 18 June 2006

Happy Father's Day!

DH has had a good Father's Day I think. The girls woke him up this morning with a homemade card each and presented him with a bottle of Jack Daniels. We've been to his parents' place in the Clee Hills near Ludlow for a lovely lunch, and the girls have had great fun climbing trees there.

They have a fabulous garden, and I was entranced by this fabulous waterlily on their pond.

While we were there I worked on my youngest DD's second version of the crocheted Rainbow Poncho, to replace the one that was stolen (mutter.. mutter..). I think I may need to wear my sunglasses to work on it soon..

Finally on Friday I took a deep breath and started on the edging to Fortune - moss stitch over 5 stitches worked on from the stitches on a holder after the initial hem.

It's supposed to be sewn on afterwards, but that sounds positively torturous to me. Instead I'm knitting it on as I go, and it's looking fine.

I was pleasantly surprised as I managed to get the one half done in about 3 hours! Nearly there... so nearly there...

Thursday, 15 June 2006

Colours everywhere

First of all many thanks to those of you who've left comments about my dyeing adventure. They are much appreciated!

I wanted to show you how the Skylime skein is knitting up.

I decided to go for an old classic pattern, and knit a Feather and Fan scarf with a garter stitch edging to show off those gorgeous colours. I think it's turning out just as I'd hoped.

I had great fun explaining it all to the ladies at the knitting session at La Tienda this morning! I took my yarn along and they all found it amazing as most of them don't have access to the Internet, and had not heard of Kool-Aid or ever tried dyeing their own yarn.

I've been focusing on the colours around me as I'd like to do more dyeing. Mother Nature seems to do a grand job of matching them together, especially at this time of year. These pics are from my garden this afternoon:

My wonderful thriving purple sage bush. I love those smoky purples and grey-greens together. The smell and taste are pretty cool too!

The lovely aliums with their rich yellow blooms amongst the contrasting green foliage.

I love this picture - not many colours, but yet so many different shades and shapes together. Can you tell I love the crammed-in overgrown cottage garden look?!

My peony - it always surprises me when it flowers as I never remember what it looks like. Just lovely. :-)

Tuesday, 13 June 2006

Clowning about with colour

Warning - this post is heavy on the photos! I have shrunk them down though so click on any one to see the full size version.

You see last Thursday I finally got around to dyeing my wool with the Kool-Aid I've had stashed away for several months. Y'know what? It was easy peasy and great fun! I've got more Kool-Aid on order already.. ;-)

Here's what happened:

Berry Shake
It was fun to see what colours resulted from the "magic" powders as it wasn't obvious. I had my
Kool-Aid chart on hand to help with the initial selections though.

Pink Grapefruit
I did all the dyeing in my microwave, as you can probably tell from the copious amount of clingfilm used! Very quick and easy.

The pipettes in the pictures were only really used for stirring the Kool-Aid. I poured it over the skeins after that.

A final shot of my 3 lovely skeins together:

My favourite has to be Skylime - the turquoise and lime green. It's gorgeous, and of course I've start to knit it up already.

Patterns to go

Blatant advertising follows:

I've started to sell my own patterns on ebay! I just have the one crochet bag pattern up at the moment, but I'll be adding more soon. Please - take a look!

Wednesday, 7 June 2006

Apothecary Blues

Why is it that..

  • you go into a shop and there's nobody waiting to pay, but once you've chosen your items there's a queue six deep and only one assistant at the tills..

  • while you wait (im)patiently a call goes out for more staff on the tills - and the extra staff appear just as you get to the front of the queue anyway..

  • you pay, only to find that the fabulous special offer on your favourite brand that enticed you to stock up doesn't apply to the particular item you chose..
Thank goodness that doesn't happen in my LYS!

Monday, 5 June 2006

Round and round..

Spent a lovely lazy day in the sunshine with my girls today. They had an extra day off school and I'd booked it as leave from work - bliss!

I managed to get a little knitting done in the garden on Fortune's sleeve and I did intend to seam the right shoulder tonight but it just kinda didn't happen. Oh well. There's always tomorrow.

I did get to have a play with the niddy noddies on loan from my friend Fiona tonight.
I've never used a niddy noddy before, and had a 500g skein of what I'm guessing to be sock-weight wool to divide up into smaller skeins - with a view to dyeing them of course.

This was the progress when I was forced to take a break for a couple of reasons. Firstly my arms were getting very tired; if there's much of this to do in the future then DH can have a go at the magical contraption he's been planning in his head for me.

Secondly I found that after winding my second skein directly from the large skein on my swift I erm.. well.. I couldn't get it off the niddy noddy. It was too tight and I hadn't discovered that the one side was dipped lower to get the yarn off. Doh!

DH sorted it out for me of course. Don't worry Fiona, the niddy noddy is still intact.

Although the equipment is beautifully made, I'm finding the winding process a bit weird. It's not at all intuitive yet which way to move my arms to get the direction right, and I have to watch the whole thing. I'm hoping that will improve with practise!

Anyway since this learning experience, I've wound the remainder of the wool into centre-pull balls and I'll wind them onto the niddy noddy from there tomorrow night.

I really want to get dyeing now!

Saturday, 3 June 2006

Must. Keep. Going.

Here it is - the right front of Fortune, recovering from a good pressing on my lovely lilac flowered ironing board.

The second sleeve is just under half done, and I've reached THAT point. You know the one. The one which keeps prodding you on the shoulder and whispering in your ear that you've had enough of this project now and it really wouldn't matter if you went onto something else.

QUIET! I will finish this project soon. I have to admit that I have dabbled with a couple of other projects in the meantime, but you'll have to wait to hear about those.

Did you notice that I've changed the font of my posts slightly as from the last one? Is it any easier on the eyes? I hope so - I've had enough of the small stuff for a while.

More goodies
When writing about our day out at the park in my last post, I omitted to tell you of my other lovely surprise. It arrived as I was piling the girls and all our required bits and pieces in the car before setting off, and I was amazed. It was a package that I'd ordered from
Amazon on Wednesday and it arrived a mere 2 days later even though it was the free postage which is supposed to take longer - fab!

Wrapped in that cardboard envelope were these two lovelies:
My first ever Gordon Ramsey cookbook.

Although we do sit down together as a family to eat almost every day of the week, I was inspired to buy this from his articles in
The Times Online which I read & drool over often (usually whilst at work!).

I find myself trying out his recipes as they seem "do-able". Do you know what I mean? I can't get to grips with recipes that use ingredients that I've never heard of let alone don't know where to buy, and he doesn't generally do this. I don't think so anyway.
I seem to be getting more and more into cooking - is this a sign of getting older?

Anyway the other book in my rapidly-delivered parcel was probably of more interest to you all:
Yes, a yarn dyeing book!

I've only had chance to have a quick glance through this, but it looks very interesting.

The girls go back to school next week, so hopefully I'll get chance to try out some of the techniques shown in here. Maybe I'll even show you the results.

Must go - I have another
knitting podcast waiting for me.

Friday, 2 June 2006

Blink of an eye

What happened? It's been a whole week since I last posted and I don't know where it's gone. The girls have been on their half-term holiday from school so no knitting morning for me yesterday, but we had a lovely time together in the park today with friends and a picnic. With sunshine no less! Finally - I was beginning to feel very depressed with all the grey skies, rain, and cold temperatures.

On the way to the picnic we called in to a local charity shop to drop off many bags being cleared from our bedroom, and spotted some yarn:

I did leave some at the shop, honest!

I brought this lot home though; there are 4 balls of mercerised red cotton, 4 balls of red sock-weight yarn which is 60% wool and 4 balls of the same yarn in a dark blue.

That little lot only set me back £2.50 so how could I resist?

I don't have any pics of the Fortune cardigan, but the right front is finished and I'm on the second sleeve. Nearly finished!

I've been zooming along with the knitting whilst listening to my newly-discovered
Cast-On podcasts (thanks for the link Fiona!). I'm working my way through them from the beginning, with me newly-acquired "bug" earphones jammed in my ears to connect me up to DH's mp3 player for the knitting chat. Just in time to save me from the World Cup.

Just one more thing - this evening my youngest DD was playing in the garden whilst eldest DD went to karate with DH.
I went into the kitchen to wash up, and DD zoomed in to me and played inside. I asked her if she'd finished playing with her "colossal palace" (her words!) which we had constructed from various garden chairs and blankets on the grass. She answered very matter-of-factly that no, she hadn't finished and was going to play with it again when I went back in the garden with her as she was frightened when I wasn't there with her.

She has a very vivid imagination currently, so that wasn't anything to worry about, but I just thought how amazing it is to be seen by my kids as such a reassuring figure. I worry about stuff all the time, so it's actually really great to know that I must be doing the right things to make my kids feel ok.