Happy Christmas etc

Hello all. Hope you are enjoying your winter holidays. Being a Brit where we tend to only take much notice of Christmas, with perhaps a little Divali at the beginning of the month for good measure, I’ve stuck with the usual greeting – I’m too stupid to know all the others (although thanks to the Simpsons, I’m aware that Kwanza exists, but that doesn’t mean I can spell it or know what it is…).
Anyway, as is usual when I manage to get time off work, I have caught a cold, DBs cold to be exact. Christmas Eve we visited my family and had an almost relaxed get together, while DB suffered a little, and I felt a sore throat coming on. Christmas with my family is always taxing to a degree, and we all know it. My mum likes driving us back home so she can escape. Don’t get me wrong, we all love each other, but once a year where we are all in the same room, for about 6 hours is enough. But it is traditional, and we do the good old Brit thing of eating till cheese/trifle comes out of our ears, then sitting and drinking till we fall asleep in front of the tv in the overheated little living room at my gran’s house. This year we fell asleep watching the first Harry Potter film, while eating my uncle’s new discovery – vanilla ice cream accompanied by raisins soaked in a full bottle of rum overnight. It was the most alcoholic thing I’ve ever tasted, and I drink vodka. And my mum managed to drive us home after eating it.
Anyway, DB and I managed a lovely Christmas Day together, despite illness, and had a long relaxing day on the sofa, opening presents, eating till Quorn roast and parsnips came out of our ears (no dessert – we forgot to pick one out, but didn’t need it, or the multiple cheeses we had bought. We like cheese a lot by the way. A lot – it is my diet downfall. Don’t give me cake, just some wheatfree bread/biccies and a pile of Roule, Wensleydale with cranberries and some good strong cheddar), and watching the hundreds of mediocre films on telly. Oh and I listened to my two new CDs too – Interpol and Arcade Fire. Yum. Yesterday we did more of the same, and today is likely to be similar, but there is one thing that was a little different…
I had mentioned in passing to my mum that I wanted a wool winder and a swift because I’m fed up of getting a big tangled mess when I try to wind up skeins of yarn, and she remembered that she had a wool winder from when she did machine knitting. She had a rummage and found it for me, so yesterday I had a little play. I unravelled some arm warmers because they were a bit too chilly to wear and used it to wind up the yarn, and YAY! it worked 😀 So I used it to wind a hank of Colinette One Zero, and it worked for the most part, apart from the yarn filling the winder quite quickly with it being so thick. And I knit things too. No progress on Angelica because I’ve not been in the mood for garments – needing to stop to blow my nose every few stitches is too annoying, so I stuck with little things, and finished my Alterknits alpaca silk armwarmers instead, although I still need to get ribbon to lace them up with 🙂 Alpaca silk is yummy. And I have just under 2 balls of it left to make a little scarf, so last night I started a small version of the Leisel Scarf with just one strip of the lace pattern instead of two. I may be knitting something new, but I finished something first, AND I’m stash busting! Yay! And I’ve started my first pair of socks on two circs, using the basic pattern in Cat Bhordi’s book and some leftover Lorna’s Laces from the cable socks (remember me complaining about that? Well now I’m happy to be able to make some socks for myself with it ;)). Plus my delivery from the other day included a lovely fishtail lace sock pattern from Alchemy yarns. I fell in love with it and the silk blend yarn at the knitting show, but they ran out of yarn and don’t sell it on their website yet. Get Knitted have some (rather strong) varigated colours, but I want some plain to use with the stitch pattern, and I should wait until I reduce the sock yarn I already have…
Soooo, while I have a little time to myself, I decided, perhaps under the influence of too much food and wine, to catalogue my stash and print off the patterns I have stored on the laptop so that I can work on reducing how much yarn I have. I will know what I have, what I can knit with it, and put it on here so I can shame myself into not buying any more yarn at all ever. Well, for a little while. I have lots of sock patterns too 😀
Anyway, I need some brekkie, and a shower, and then I will start taking pics and listing and thinking and uploading…

Something that was a thought, but has turned into action this morning…

Yesterday I typed a post about how I was pondering a purchase of yarn… Then the webmonster ate it all up 🙁 Stupid connection. I basically was umming and ahhing about buying the yarn for a project from Rowan 38 that I’ve been loved up over for ages, and would look lovely against my black winter coat, but can’t justify buying normally. I have cash for Christmas, so thought I might be naughty seeing as I’m lacking ideas for buying anything generally and have no idea what anyone has bought me.
The upshot of all this umming and ahhing and sleeping on the idea brought me to buying this morning in a fit of pre-holiday desire. And an hour later I had an email saying the stuff had been dispatched already 😀 Tomorrow DB and I are visiting my family, so we won’t be in to see if the postie is sharpish about it, but how exciting to think that I may have something beautiful on my needles to accompany Angelica (she’s a little lonely right now, especially now I’m on the round sections and will be doing the sleeve separation in the next week sometime). Until the yarn arrives I’m keeping it a secret so I won’t know what I have until I open the parcel/finish knitting it – something DB’s mum jokes about. I think I might try and finish the flat knitting on my armwarmer today too. Did I say the hat was done? Yet again it is too dark in miserable England to take pics yet. It is a little big, but I am totally in love with the yarn and therefore the hat…
Anyway, here I am typing this up and browsing everyone’s blogs, when I should be wrapping the pressies for my family for tomorrow and sat with the fire on and knitting up lovely things.

Irrational desire

Somebody stop me from trying to practice provisional cast on and starting the Union Market Sweater. I have a really strong desire to try it now. Must…. resist…. and stick…. to silk…. Stash… reduction… will continue… later….
To help prevent the stash reduction – can someone suggest some really lush 4 ply yarn to use for some lacey socks? I have some DB baby cash to use on a cardi which might leave something spare, but I’m not sure if it would be too splitty. The RYC cashsoft is tempting after the Harrogate show tho. I just fancy trying something that isn’t specifically sock yarn but is soft and cosy and lovely to knit with. And I want to make the socks for me, and the only sock yarn I have in the stash is variegated and doesn’t have a pattern to claim it yet. But it will. Ohhhhh it will.
In other news: mmmmmmm, roule light. Yum.

Angelica moves on

Ok, a little delayed, but here are the first pics of Angelica… I’ve taken them this evening in poor light, so forgive the glare on the silk from the flash. Also, the colours look a bit stronger than they are in daylight. The colours in the silk change according to the light 🙂 I love that! They look darker and stronger in darker light, and paler and more subtle in daylight, which might sound a bit obvious, but the silk kind of eccentuates the effect, and makes the colours play a little more. Sounds really soppy but nevermind!
Here is a pic of how far I’ve got so far – I’m into increasing for the keyhole shaping.

And here is a shot of the yarn. I love this stuff, but the hanks I got have a few natural defects that you’d get with handspun silk – no worse than in Noro yarns that you pay more per yard for! I had to wind it into a few different balls per hank because some of the fibres were either fuzzy or weren’t fully spun and broke, but again, no worse than any Noro yarn or stuff like that. I feel a little concerned about the amount of yarn I have, but I’m crap at gauging it. Anyway, here is silky yumminess. I kind of wish I’d been brave and asked for a colour of my own, but I’m a terrible impulse shopper, and the varigation is beautifully worked, and I heart blue, so this will do very nicely thank you very much 🙂

Anyway, I haven’t got very far with reading Illuminated, but I love the way Alex speaks! He’s so cool… I can see why the girls love him. 😀 I haven’t read the Corrections, or White Teeth. To be honest, Zadie Smith pisses me off when I see her being interviewed, but maybe it is the northern lass in me – either way, the way she presents herself puts me off reading it. Although I probably will read it one day (but borrow it rather than buy it – she doesn’t need my cash, and working in libraries helps a lot!). And I hadn’t heard of the Corrections till Yahaira mentioned it – I’ll see if I can get it at work… In return I’m going to recommend the Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, although you’ve probably all already read it. If not, do. It is totally fascinating – you feel like you are watching something you shouldn’t… She is fantastic at creating characters. It is a while since I’ve read it, and now I feel the need to read it again – that doesn’t happy very often with me. Brilliant stuff.
Oh, and Illanna – I hope kf&b works – I’m using it right now 😀
Weeeeee! Knitting is good.

I decided

Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer. I bought it when it first came out in paper back feeling really excited about reading it, and then it went on the shelf while I finished what I was reading. Then it waited while I read something a friend had lent me. And so on, and so on. Now has to be the time, because otherwise it will look like I’m just reading it because of the film (but at least I don’t have the film cover copy :D). Although it probably looks like that is the reason anyway…
Anyway, today I have tons of things to do, but I am hoping to take pics of the cabled socks, and also a progress shot of Angelica so that people can see how the silk looks knitted up and that kind of thing. I weighed the Lorna’s Laces yesterday, and feel a little miffed – why is it that every sock pattern I use tells me to use almost double the amount of yarn that I actually need? Ok, so I have smallish feet (as does my giftee), but they aren’t so small that they warrant a full 400m of sock yarn. If I’d have knitted a repeat or so less on the leg of them, I would have got away with one hank, and the legs on these are loooong – mid calf length. Oh well – I have enough of the yarn left to play with knitting a sock on two circs, and I won’t mind so much if I mess up that way! I just have to buy some extra needles first. Maybe I’ll ask DB for some for Christmas (or maybe I’ll wait so that I don’t start knitting something else!).
Also, just as I meander along with my early morning, pre-breakfast brain, I upset myself last weekend and forgot to tell you about it. I frogged Clapotis 🙁 I had to because, after a break on it while I knitted gift socks, I went back, and didn’t check the pattern for where to place the twisted stitches. I did a full 12 rows with them in the wrong place on the straight section, and realised my mistake when I got to the rows where you place markers. Because of the dropped stitches, I didn’t really know how I could safely frog just my bad rows, so I ended up going back to the beginning and getting rid of 3 repeats of the straight section. This baby will not be ready for this winter now I think… Luckily the yarn is very forgiving of frogging. I heart SWT Karaoke. It is lovely lovely lovely – like Noro Kureyon but with less colour changes and the softness already there waiting for you to enjoy it while you knit. And the soy silk makes it much smoother on the needles. I can this yarn ending up in some Fuzzy Feet, but only in many moons’ time when I can actually afford it.
I’ve also been playing around with a couple of other things. I want to clear up what I’m knitting and start afresh (although Angelica is probably part of the start afresh things!) with my stash, make some practical garments and a few little things. I’m working on my second Alpaca Silk armwarmer (from the Alterknits Manos pattern), and have realised I’ll have at least a ball and a half if not more to make a little scarf at the end. I am also in love with Alpaca Silk. Damn you Debbie Bliss… I have finally submitted to the need to rip back the bolero (I can use the cotton to make some Picovoli, seeing as they are pretty practical and suitable for all needs), and the grey cashmerino aran ribby cardi, as the yarn will do for many many other garments nicer than that thing. I may make Tubey from the latest knitty as it is yum, but the grey may be too light to make it wearable, so I might just make a basic v-neck jumper or a cardigan (I have the buttons for it anyway) in a more flattering form than the evil ribby. Also, I got some more of the Landscapes stuff I made my scarf in, so I’m using my first Ann Budd handy pattern and making a hat. The one I made in Sue’s Colinette is superwarm, but a couple of people at work have commented on its’ teacosy resemblance, so I’m hoping the Landscapes one will be a little more bobblehat than teacosy. I’ll still wear the Colinette one, but perhaps not in front of people at work… 😉 And I must finish the sleeve on Blackberry so that I can try it on and assess…
Finally, I was having another go at spinning the other day when I had an hour free and didn’t feel up to knitting (I was feeling poorly, and standing up helped, but that is a whole other story you really don’t want to hear about). I spun a little of the merino that I bought from that trip to Texere a few months ago, and was interested to feel the difference in the fibre compared to the stuff that came in the kit. I have no idea what kind the kit had in it, but it was much easier to shred up into pieces I could draft. The merino is somehow firmer – it feels only slightly softer as a fibre than the kit stuff, but is harder to tear off the hank, yet easier to separate and draft. Does that sound silly, or is that common/normal in spinning? Anyway, I tried to make a finer yarn than the huge chunky monstrosity that was my first attempt (it was a good attempt at spinning, but bad for using to do anything – my scarf was like cardboard at one end! :D), and managed something a little more like aran towards chunky, so not nearly as thick. I have made a few mistakes with the fibre getting a bit caught in the spinning when it shouldn’t do, or for some reason the drop spindle reversing direction – not sure how that happened, but so far I feel ok about it. The fibre is plentiful and cheap enough for me to practice a little with it for a few times and scrap it if I’m not happy.
Oh, and has anyone else had the problem of reading blogs that suddenly seem to have gone back a few posts and lost the last one that you read, or last few? Could it be their blog server is going giddy, or is it just my puter being really really poor? Either way it is a little surreal… Particularly when you are reading after a drink or two, or at this time in the morning. On this note I better go hide.

Bawling my eyes out

My nose is bunged up, and my eyes are sore, and I may start weeping again at any moment. Why am I so upset? I just finished reading the Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, and I am utterly moved by it. I don’t think I’ve ever read such a beautifully written love story – this will definitely become a classic. If you haven’t read it, do. I won’t give the plot out – it is really hard to make it sound plausible, but Niffenegger manages to so. Enjoy, and if you don’t bawl your eyes out during the last 50 – 75 pages I’ll be surprised.
But what do I read now? I hate this part between novels. What do you read to follow up something that totally stuns you? I think something completely different (although I feel drawn towards Murakami right now, and when he writes without surrealism, he isn’t too far from TTW). Arrrggghhghh! A room full of books, with no heating so therefore not much time to browse before I freeze my arse off…

Another finito!

I finished the cable socks 😀 Literally just now 😀 I’m reasonably pleased with them overall, but the pattern… Not so much. I won’t post pics in case my friend takes a sneaky peek, but the way you pick up stitches for the heel and the way you decrease for the toe just aren’t as nice as the first pattern I used… I was knitting to gauge, but the heel flap is 30 rows with the 1st stitch slipped, so you just pick up each one for the gusset. This method seemed to stretch the slipped stitches quite a bit 🙁 I used Grumperina’s method for picking up stitches, so they were pretty tidy – just odd looking 🙁 The toes are just decreased until you have 6 stitches left, which I don’t like as much as grafting them. The decreases were done as purls on knits, so you have this pattern down the toe, which I suppose is supposed to be pretty, but I’m not fond of it. Anyway, know I now the pattern, I might just take the good bits and transpose them to a better toe and heel fit.
Finishing this means I can start Angelica now… Yay!


It is coming up to 8 am. I feel a tad rough. Last night, a few of us went out to celebrate a birthday, which then became two birthdays, and a few more people. Naturally this meant celebrating until the early hours. It is the first time I’ve been out later than midnight in a while, so apparently I do still have a little energy left in me 🙂 But while I coped with the drinks pretty well, this morning I’m a bit headachy. Only a bit though. Still doing well. Just a shame that the alarm set for getting up for work went off as DB forgot to turn it off. And once that happens, I can’t go back to sleep – I managed twenty minutes. Hence the title of today’s post. I’m a little headachy, and a lot tired. And I stink of ciggies from my friends. The last is the worst bit, but I was too tired to shower when I got in.
Anyway, I’m awake, have a glass of water, and a parcel to collect from town. I know exactly what it is. It is in connection with this:

Can’t decide whether to nip into town and collect it or leave it to Monday. I’d like to start winding the hanks into balls at least, but I might end up tempted to start work on it too… But if I do that, the parcel might not be ready, and I might not have time to get the lounge clean and ready for the tree before my brother and mum come over for his birthday (yes – another birthday to celebrate, on top of all the other festivities. My weight loss attempts may well be doomed until next month unless the thai restaurant has something very very low fat in their early bird menu, and the next week has something equally low fat for the next 4 meals I’m supposed to attend…).
Oooo – I’ve also signed up for secret pal 7, which is cool. The matches won’t be mailed until next month, so I have some time to get my money back on track after holiday purchasing (I still have loads of stuff to get for people, but at least the meal is sorted. Ish) and my brain prepared for some lovely gift selecting 🙂
Anyway, I think it is time I put the heating on – my fingers are starting to get cold typing. And I could do with huddling up on the couch till I wake up properly. Sooooo sleeeeeeeepy. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Some silly things

The Onion always makes me giggle, if not laugh out loud. It was pretty cool to see paper copies when we visited the US. This is the kind of thing I like to read in it.
A cool article that was missing for the first day of posting this
I’m also stealing something from the great Ben (Sylvar – a library guy in Florida). If you read this, if your eyes are passing over this right now, (even if we don’t speak often) please post a comment with a COMPLETELY MADE UP AND FICTIONAL memory of you and me.
It can be anything you want – good or bad – BUT IT HAS TO BE FAKE.
When you’re finished, post this little paragraph on your blog and be surprised…
Some of the responses Ben got were pretty cool 😀

As requested…

The laptop has cooled down now 🙂 Actually, I’m not sure if it was the heat from the laptop, or something I ate, or both, but last night I had horrendous stomach ache by the time I’d finished typing, hence the rushed attitude at the end!
Anyway, Jax asked for a close up of some of the detail. It is a bit too dark to take any shots right now, but I did do one yesterday which I hadn’t put up because it demonstrates how crap my weaving in can be (although I’m pretty sure it is easier when you have lighter weight yarns)

As you can see this is the collar detail 🙂 For those who don’t know the pattern, this lace is repeated the other way up at the opposite corner of the front, as well as on the right sleeve cuff. The lace is really simple, but so effective in the way it is used, and the with chunky yarn it just seems to make it all the more interesting to look at.
In other news, I’ve got five inches into the second sock… I have to say, I’m not all that fond of this yarn. It isn’t giving anything away to say I’m using Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock in Cool, and the colour pools so that you get a spiral of bright blue with a dark blue green edging to it running the length of the sock until you get to the sole, where it suddenly sits in slightly more subtle (and to me, more likable) strips of colour. It would be much nicer in a plainer pattern, but I just don’t like that effect really – doesn’t look great on calves like mine, although it might be better on someone slimmer! Not that fond of the heel either – the pattern doesn’t do much in the way of shaping compared to my first sock pattern. We’ll see how it fits the recepient anyway. I’ll keep pics for when they have been received and post accordingly… 🙂 Either way, apparently the second sock seems to go much quicker for me in my limited experience, which is nice – apparently I have first sock syndrome rather than second sock syndrome… And Sue, if you are reading – I plan on writing you a pattern for some chunky socks and making you a kit ;D You have to learn to make these things! Great for busting those extra balls of stash that you might have lying around 😉