Saturday, December 30, 2006

resolutions

it's that time of year again. every year we make them, and every year, they get forgotten by about the end of february. i'm not someone who generally makes new year's resolutions, for the simple fact that i never, ever follow through on them. & then i feel guilty, so it's much easier to just avoid the issue altogether & not make any. plus, my past resolutions usually had something to do with weight loss & exercise, and i just can't be bothered with that kind of thing any more - i like eating chocolate, so sue me!
this past year i've felt very lost - mentally, emotionally, creatively. i don't know quite how to explain it, and often can't even put my finger on it, but something's not quite right. looking back over the past few years, a lot has happened - i finished university, moved to a foreign country, broke up a serious relationship, found another (& better!) partner, moved house lots of times, changed jobs even more times, lost my lovely dad to lung cancer, was finally diagnosed with aspergers syndrome, trained for/started/& am now in the process of shutting down my own small business... yikes. that's a lot of life changes to fit into the past six years, so maybe it's normal to feel a bit lost; maybe it's just everything catching up with me. whatever the reason for it, it hasn't been fun - i'm feeling drained of all emotional energy & completely mentally lethargic. i'm fed up with this feeling & want things to change.
i think what i need to do to fight this feeling is restart my creativity. i used to do a lot of artistic things - write, play music, draw, paint, & generally make interesting stuff - now, not so much. i'm still creative in the knitting & spinning sense, but a lot of my artistic energy seems to have disappeared. one idea that i'm toying with is something i heard about via crazy aunt purl called project 365, where you commit to taking one photograph every day for a year. it sounds fairly simple but i think the results could be really interesting - finding one picture that will sum up each day, and using the whole project as a record of that year. it would make me look at my surroundings a lot differently, and compel me to start finding inspiring & beautiful things in my everyday life.
it sounds like an good challenge, and one that might help me rediscover my creativity - not just through the photography, but i'd also need a journal of some kind to keep track of what the pictures are & why i took them, so it would start me writing something again as well.
so, pass me a camera & that chocolate over there... this sounds like a resolution i could get behind!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

small celebrations

my lovely little kitten made it through surgery just fine - everything looks ok & she should heal well. it's still a bit sad to see her little shaved belly but at least it's done & everything will be fine.
as any true knitter would, i celebrated this news by casting on for a new project - the beautiful endpaper mitts by the incredibly talented eunny jang (i'm so jealous of her knitting & designing skills, i can't even tell you - if you've never read her blog, you should, & prepare to be amazed).


endpaper mitts

i'm using rowanspun 4 ply in two colours which i thought were gorgeous ("jade" & the unfortunately named "sludge") but which, it seems, may be slightly too similar in shade to truly bring out the pattern - it's looking very muted so far & the diamond-shaped colourwork is only barely visible. this may be a good thing in the end as this is my first attempt at colourwork, so any (inevitable) mistakes won't be as glaringly obvious as they would have been if the colours had more contrast! it's been a great knit so far, and the pattern is really easy to follow, even if you've never done stranded colourwork before. & i was even able to keep on knitting it after i'd had a couple of glasses of wine, so it should get me through the next few days nicely.
happy christmas, & happy knitting (or however you choose to celebrate your holidays!).

Thursday, December 21, 2006

'tis the season...

... to be broke & stressed, apparently.
it was confirmed today that my wee cat, who has been not very well for the past couple of weeks, has stones in her bladder. she needs surgery sooner rather than later, so she's booked in first thing tomorrow morning for an operation which is fairly serious for a small animal, and which will cost somewhere in the region of £200-300. to add to that, the resident sock appreciator had already planned to spend tomorrow night with family (& complicated family circumstances mean that it's not something she can postpone or cancel) so i'll be left on my own to take the cat to the vet (sans car, so that's always fun), worry all day about how she's doing, & then cope with a restless dog, an unsettled cat (the ill cat's littermate, who always gets upset when he's without her) and a doped-up sick kitty with a bald belly full of stitches. oh, and i just got a cold.
here is what i will not be doing to help me cope with the next couple of days:
1. watching terrible movies while knitting until my hands cramp as an attempt to distract myself from cat-related worries
2. consuming my own body weight in chocolate, ice cream, & wine
3. convincing myself that said chocolate, ice cream, & wine is in fact an extremely healthy meal, but should perhaps be balanced out with the occasional plate of nachos (after all, salsa is a vegetable)
4. reading mystery novels when i can't get to sleep, & then finding myself completely incapable of sleep because a) i'm alone in the house & b) i'm convinced that the slight creak of the heaters cooling down is in fact a murderous sociopath hiding under my floorboards, and the dog snoring in the next room is actually the aforementioned sociopath warming up his chainsaw
5. trying to figure out if i have to sell my sock yarn stash to fund the rather expensive cat operation
should be a fun few days, eh?
& yes, i know that it could be worse, and that other people have more serious worries, and she's "just a cat". but she's just a cat who let me cuddle her during my (many & repeated) bouts of crying-for-no-reason in the year (or two, or three) after my dad died, & she didn't even mind when her fur got a bit damp. & she's just a cat whose ridiculous habit of falling asleep on her face causes her to produce the loudest snores i've ever heard from something so small, & never fails to make me smile. & she's just a cat who loves me so much that her absolute favourite place in the entire world is my lap. & so she will never be "just a cat" to me. (she's the one on the right)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

it's beginning to look a lot...

...like i won't finish my one & only piece of christmas knitting! luckily the recipient is understanding of the knitting process, & won't be bemused by a half-finished piece of knitted thing (likely still on the needles) turning up in their christmas parcel. even though i've spent the afternoon watching this...


...& plan to spend the rest of the week in similarly brainless pursuits while knitting furiously, it will still never be done in time. luckily my video collection is sizeable enough to provide a lot of knitting accompaniment (& it's all as embarrassing as the above offering, in case you were wondering). a sneaky preview of the lone christmas knitted thing:


(the fuzziness of the shot wasn't deliberate, but will help with the disguise attempt).
the halls have been decked, and i even got an early present:




last year when we put out the christmas decorations, the relatively new rescue pup got a bit over-enthusiastic in his investigations of all the exciting new things, and shredded my christmas stocking that i had had since childhood (needless to say, i was NOT happy about it). this year, the resident sock appreciator found someone to make me a new one... and this one even has my name on it! (you'll note that it's hanging on the wall, just in case the pup decides to try a repeat performance of last year's antics).
i managed to score some more lucia sock yarn from the posh yarn sale, as an extra gift for the RSA - it's winter, after all, and many more cosy socks will be needed!

and we got this great card from my aunt, found in the collection of unused vintage cards & stationery that my granny had collected over the years - we're still trying to figure out if she sent it to us in the knowledge of the humour we would find in it, or if she just thought it was nice!


hope it's gay... hee hee. (yes, my sense of humour isn't particularly developed).
it's getting christmassy over here... and the RSA is so happy...
(seriously, click on the link - you won't regret it. i'm so lucky that i have someone who loves me enough to let me publicly humiliate them like this...)
happy christmas holidays everyone!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

life is hard; let's go shopping!

this week seems to be a buildup of small annoyances; the kind of things that if they happened one at a time wouldn't be a problem, but when they all happen at once, it's just exhausting. it's been a week of sleep deprivation, sick cats, bad dogs, buses that don't go where they say they do, late trains, rushing about, and rain, rain, rain. the hat kits are off to market again this weekend, along with some new things:


knitting needle bracelets, hopefully to catch the crafty people looking for last-minute xmas gifts for their crafty friends. the hat kits didn't sell at all at the last market so i'm not too hopeful about sales, but i'm still trying to remain vaguely optimistic!
one positive note yesterday was that i was able to pick up some money from a sale of my handspun at K1 Yarns; naturally, i spent it almost immediately. i mean really, could you have resisted this bag, especially if you were in need of cheering up?

it's by red or dead, and is enormous (i'm one of those people who likes to carry waaaay too much stuff with me, so i like a big bag). it's made of a thick, padded cotton jersey material, and is printed with... knitting needles & balls of yarn, with the tangled & trailing yarn ends spelling out "red or dead". seriously - what more could you want?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

elfine... fini!



pattern: elfine socks; free pattern from here
yarn: mama e's sock yarn in colourway "chocolate"
needles: crystal palace bamboo dpns, 2.25mm
modifications: the first & most obvious one is that i used dpns instead of the magic loop technique in which the pattern is written. also, i used a different wrap & turn method for the short row heels, as i found the one in the pattern slightly messy (although, as i previously mentioned, i may have been doing it wrong!). & i used a sewn bind off to finish, as i find that makes a stretchier bound off edge.
they've gone off to lanns this morning in the post so hopefully she'll get them soon - & hopefully she likes them, & they fit... knitting for someone else is so stressful!
also, the new winter knitty is up... i definitely see a pair of these in my future. i love love love this designer's sock patterns - i already have one pair of pomatomi & had been pondering a second pair since they were so satisfying to knit, but i might have to make a pair from her new design first....
as soon as i decide which skein i can bear to use up from my now-vast collection of sock yarn, that is.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

so very tired.


it's been a difficult day. this morning, after several appointments with doctors & specialists & many months of waiting for referrals, i had what may be the first of a series (depending on what today's test shows) of EEGs in an attempt to see what's been going on in my brain. although it was the opinion of the consultant neurologist that the "absences" were more than likely stress-related rather than epileptic, tests are nevertheless being done, which will either show nothing & confirm his opinion, or show nothing & require more tests & more waiting (i'm not quite sure how it will go).
the initial EEG is fairly brief, but involves the use of some techniques which seem to be more or less designed to bring on an "episode" - understandably, since if they could actually catch you in the act (so to speak) then the result would be fairly clear-cut. & it was pretty horrible - not invasive or painful, but lots of strobe lights (not ideal for an autistic person with an aversion to bright lights!) & deep breathing (essentially, self-induced hyperventilation - not ideal for an asthmatic!) which made me feel fairly peculiar.
what with all of that plus a 45 minute bus ride each way, the result is complete & utter exhaustion...
... i'm not even sure i have the energy to knit.

(now that's serious.)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

so much sock yarn...

...so little time. the order from blue moon arrived this morning!!


alas, not all the yarn is for me... from left to right: "ruby" for sarah; "red rock canyon" for the resident sock appreciator, plus an extra skein of the same sent by mistake (!); two skeins of "rocktober" for india & lynette; and three for me (!) : "love in idleness", "spinel", and "puck's mischief". in my defense, two of the skeins for me were from a knitty swap, so it's not as bad as it seems. the extra skein of "red rock canyon" was sent in error, instead of a skein of "sapphire" for karen. i've let blue moon know & have heard excellent things about their customer service so hopefully it'll be resolved soon & poor karen won't be sock-yarn-less for long!
now if only i can find the willpower to hand over the other skeins at the knitting meetup this evening, and resist the temptation to steal it all & flee to mexico...

Friday, December 01, 2006

progress report

for lanns: sock number one is complete!


(don't worry - i did put it on my foot for photographic purposes, but it will be washed & blocked before i send it to you!)
the pattern is elfine from anna bell (free here) and the yarn is mama e's sock yarn in "chocolate" on 2.25mm needles. the yarn is delicious to knit with - really soft & sproingy, and a really pretty colourway, although i did find it very slightly splitty when it came to tightening up the figure eight cast on. the pattern was a surprisingly quick knit, especially for a lace sock - it's written rather than charted (& i normally prefer charts for lace work) but it was clear & very easy to follow. i did make a couple of minor alterations to the pattern: it's written for magic loop, but i used dpns, and i used a slightly different wrap-and-turn method for the short row heel as i found the one in the pattern slightly messy (although perhaps i wasn't doing it right!) & preferred the method i normally use.
it's quite a snug-fitting sock to put on so hopefully it will be ok (although i have an abnormally high instep & the sock is very comfortable once it's on so it'll probably be fine). i'm taking a break & working on some plain stockinette toe-ups for myself this weekend, & will work on the second sock next week!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

whoops

i wasn't paying attention, and i got tagged...

four jobs i have had in my life:
1. waitress
2. secretary
3. library staff
4. fruit picker/weigher on a strawberry farm

four movies i would watch over and over
1. save the last dance
2. 10 things i hate about you
3. zoolander
4. dodgeball
(as you can tell from the above, my inner child is about 11 years old.)

four places i have lived
1. here (ayrshire)
2. glasgow
3. hamilton, ontario
4. belleville, ontario

four tv shows i love to watch
1. alias
2. without a trace
3. charmed
4. one tree hill (again, this one is the fault of the inner child...)

i have been on vacation
1. paris
2. boston
3. toronto
4. london

websites visited daily
1. the knitty forums
2. bugheart
3. knitspot
4. january one

four of my favourite foods
1. lindt chocolates
2. cheesecake from mono in glasgow
3. sushi from ichiban
4. coffee from the second cup

four places i would rather be right now
1. paris
2. in a comfy chair, in a cafe that serves excellent coffee
3. in a hot bath
4. asleep

four people i’m tagging with this questionnaire
anyone who reads this, who hasn't already done it - you're IT!!

Monday, November 27, 2006

will work for yarn

being on a relatively limited budget, i'm having to become ever-inventive as to how to feed the sock yarn addiction. the answer? hook up with someone who has a big stash, and not enough time to knit it...
lanns, from the knitty board, has an excess of sock yarn, but no time to knit socks. she's sent me two skeins of gorgeous sock yarn - one to knit her a pair of socks, and one for me!!



the picture is slightly fuzzy but you can still see the beginnings of the lace pattern. it's the "elfine" socks from anna bell (a free pattern here) & the yarn is mama e's c*eye*ber fiber sock yarn in "chocolate". the yarn-for-socks swap is a great idea for someone like me - i love knitting socks; i've been meaning to try this pattern for ages; and not only do i get a skein of blue moon socks that rock in "rocktober" as "payment", but i also get to try mama e's yarn, which i've never tried before (& it's lovely!!).
other than that i've had a slow start to the week. i'm planning some more hat kits for the next craft fair, in "manly" colours - apparently some folk at the last fair were asking for hat kits in non-girly colours (so just brown & gray, then?) - but i haven't started spinning them yet. after an entire week of lethargy, maybe i need to ease back in slowly?

Friday, November 24, 2006

two more steps of the twelve-step program

finally, i got to use the posh yarn gift voucher that elaine sent me (oh, about six months ago!!). i've been stalking their one-off wednesday sales every week since i got the voucher, and i finally found something to buy - sock yarn, naturally. i can't stop. seriously, it's like an addiction.
(i was going to make a joke there about each new step of the sock addict's twelve-step program requiring a new pair of socks, but i've been reliably informed that my jokes are rarely as funny as i think they are, so i'd better just move on. quickly.)
two skeins of "lucia", posh yarn's cashmere/merino blend sock yarn, in two one-off colouways - "juggle", on the left, and "deep end" on the right.


if you look at the bottom left corner of the picture you can see the reason that the yarn stash is kept in the bedroom, with the bedroom door securely locked. the yarn had literally been in the house for two minutes before being investigated. we suspect our terrier cross may also be part collie - maybe the sheepiness of the yarn calls out to his herding instinct?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

baby, it's cold outside

as a canadian, it almost pains me to say this - it makes me feel a bit of a wimp. there's no snow, or ice, or arctic temperatures... but it's cold here today. and it's not just the temperature - it's the gale-force winds & horizontal driving rain. the pup still demands his big morning walk no matter what, so both of us come back dripping & chilled. apart from that enforced exercise, the lethargy of the week continues, and there's a lot of radiator love going on in this house.


there's still knitting happening in the midst of all this napping - after all, i have a red sweater to finish. now, don't be misled by my use of the word "finished" - by that, i mean that i'm about 6 inches into the cabled band that was intended to be a horizontal cabled yoke for the sweater, and i've changed my mind about the pattern. i'm a big fan of not ripping out knitting, so i'm still using the cabled band, only now it will be a waistband for an empire-waisted sweater along the lines of this (shamelessly ripped off from the anthropologie catalogue. i can't afford their clothes, so i will make my own).


it will be red (of course) and the cabled band will go horizontally around the empire waist, with similar cabled cuffs. i think. it's still a work in progress... i'm not 100% sure how to do the sleeves - i'm not a fan of finishing (seaming, that is) hence the original plan for a yoked sweater (all in the round! no seams! genius!) but this new sweater has set-in sleeves which means seaming. and figuring out how to knit them. would raglan sleeves work with that neckline??

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

recovering

after all the excitement of last week, i'm having to rest & recharge, so i have absolutely no exciting news to report. the civil partnership went fine - very low-key & relaxed as we had wanted, followed by lots of cocktails at a very swanky bar. there are no pictures that are worth sharing - we did take a few under immense pressure from various relatives but neither of us are very photogenic, so the likelihood that a photo could be taken in which both of us look good at the same time is very low. the best picture taken was the one in which a vast amount of water fell on my head while we were posed artistically under a tree, and the camera clicked just as i looked up & said"@#%#!!!!". that one was especially flattering, but also probably the most realistic.
i'm not an especially social person, so any periods of intense social activity need to be followed by a few days of peace & quiet. this week, therefore, will involve lots of this:


i might even take a nap myself if i can manage to find a chair.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

the ace of spades

finally, the shawl is finished. i unpinned it from blocking this morning & was so impressed with it (& myself!) that i swanned about for a bit with it on over my pajamas - it's so gorgeous it even makes ratty old pjs look good.


a full-sized picture just for scale - that's a two-seater sofa it's draped over & the shawl is actually too wide to cover it. because of the laceweight cashmere, it's incredibly soft & warm yet also light & drapey - perfect.



& some detail shots - on the left, the perfect little point. i love it - i love how the spade pattern & the edging slowly diminish into one little spade & a perfectly pointed edge. and on the right, the top corner with the bird's eye edging along the top edge - excruciating, it took me hours, but look how beautiful!!
pattern: the casino shawl from knitspot (a gift from anne, who is lovely!)
yarn: 100% cashmere laceweight (camilla), in a one-off colourway from posh yarn; 148 grams & roughly 1020 yards
needles: 3.75mm circular addi bamboo
started 14th october 2006, completed 15th november 2006
this pattern was a dream to knit - very clearly written, with pattern instructions in both charted & written form. although the cast-on was a bit off-putting (305 stitches!!) and the first few rows seemed interminable, the good thing about working top-down is that the rows get shorter as you go, which makes you feel like you're really making progress & is very encouraging if you get to the stage that i did - three days to deadline & six pattern repeats to go (plus edging!). and the bird's eye edging, although slow going for me, was clearly explained & easy to knit (i could even watch tv while i did it, which made it much more pleasant!). this is the first lace shawl i've ever knit, and i'd recommend the pattern wholeheartedly (& not just because i got it for free!).

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

at last...

it's so big i can't even fit it all in the picture.



wine... i need wine...

hat kits & handspun galore!

phew!!


all the kits & skeins have been labelled, & have been added to the other site (although blogger was giving me hassle this morning & i thought it would never work!). now i just have to drop them off in glasgow tomorrow afternoon, & sit back & let elaine do all the selling work (hee hee).
& for those who are curious what a finished hat could look like, i've started a gallery of completed hats (well, only a couple of pictures so far, but i'm hoping i'll get more from the people who've bought the kits once they're all knitted up!). one of them is mine, and the other is elaine's (you can read more about hers on her blog).
i still have the shawl edging to knit, so i'd better get on that... shawl-blocking photos soon!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

now i know why they call it a "deadline"

i've been spinning & knitting like a madwoman, all last week & this week, and i'm officially so exhausted i might die.
the shawl is nearly done; all that's left is the edging, which (if all goes according to plan) will be done tomorrow, and the shawl will be washed & blocked overnight. this will just squeak under the line of being ready in time, since i'm getting picked up on thursday afternoon (the civil partnership thing is on friday in glasgow, so we're staying in glasgow with friends on thursday night to make things easier - although noone seems to care that this seriously cuts into my shawl knitting time!) .
there is a mountain of handspun in the spare room:


again, if all goes according to plan, the skeins & kits will be labelled tomorrow & posted on the website, then taken in to glasgow for the market this weekend - again, just barely making it, as the market stuff has to get dropped off to elaine on thursday as well.
it's been a manic several days; i'm totally wiped out & yet oddly satisfied. i'm keeping my fingers crossed that i'll sell more hat kits & handspun at this market than last time - certainly the few sales from the website & the shop stocking my yarns since the first market have been encouraging, so i'm hopeful. things haven't worked out in the past for me as far as work goes, for various reasons, but i may just have found something that i love to do which will also make me a little bit of money. so despite the fact that i'm completely & utterly knackered...

...lucky me.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

not a caterpillar

i only have two feet. and yet, while doing laundry today, i was shocked to discover this:



in case it's not readily apparent from the picture, that's 12 pairs of handknit socks. twelve. i'm not sure how this happened; i knew i had a sock knitting problem, but i didn't realise it had reached such proportions. they don't even all fit on the magical sock-drying device anymore:


yes, i know it has another purpose, but to me it's all about the sock-drying. the reason they have to be dried this way can be seen if you look very carefully at the bottom of the first picture. the sock-drying device is located in the bedroom, which is the only room that does not allow entry to the small, furry, sock eating creature who practices his "innocent" look while unsuspecting stray socks disappear into his mouth.
surely i'm not the only one who has such an addiction? other sock-knitting folk must also have the problem of accumulating so many pairs of socks. someone on the knitty board confessed to having about 40 pairs... clearly, i've got some catching up to do. i am, however, about to order more sock yarn... just to get me through the winter, you know. i can stop anytime i want.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

a woman of substance

it suddenly occurred to me the other day that although i'm madly knitting away on the luscious cashmere shawl to wear to the civil partnership thing next week, i would also have to find something to wear under it (lace is, by its very nature, full of holes, so a cashmere shawl on its own would probably lead swiftly to an arrest for indecent exposure). although i've stipulated that the dress code is jeans/casual, all my shirts are pretty old & tatty, so i figured a new shirt was in order. my needs were simple - i wanted a basic black cotton or jersey shirt, preferably with longish sleeves, comfortable & casual yet flattering. pretty easy to find, you say? well.
i spent about 3 hours trawling around glasgow city centre, in the rain, becoming more & more annoyed & frustrated with the state of women's fashion. not only does it seem to be impossible to find anything "basic" (no frills, odd shapes, or mustard yellow, please!) but i was trying on the largest sizes in the shops & still finding them too small. either they were just too tight in general, or oddly shaped & badly fitted, or the body was big enough but you would have had to have arms the size of pipecleaners to get into the sleeves. eventually, i managed to find a shirt that was flattering, comfortable, and exactly the look i wanted...
... in a "specialist" shop for, shall we say, women of substance.
now, i'm not a tiny person, & i'd be the first to say it. but i'm also not enormous by any standards. my body shape tends towards the naturally curvy; the only point in my life where i was "thin" was during a period when i didn't have enough money to buy food. now, i still have no money, but luckily the resident sock appreciator earns enough that we can afford to eat, and consequently my body has returned to its natural shape. (also, i'm 30, and i'll never have the waist of a teenager again). sure, i could probably lose a little weight if i wanted to, but that would involve giving up everything that i enjoy (namely eating, and sedentary hobbies such as knitting) and would require copious amounts of exercise (which i hate). i'm fit enough to walk the dog every day for at least an hour (usually more), and i eat a relatively sensible diet, with treats as & when i want them.
generally, i'm very happy with my body - it's healthy, it (mostly) does what i want it to do, and it looks great. i'm over the body hangups i had as a teenager - until i try to go clothes shopping.
why is it that one afternoon of fluorescent-lit changing rooms can bring back all my old body image issues? why is women's fashion sized so bizarrely? how can a fairly average-sized person be unable to fit into the largest size provided by the standard high-street shop? and where, in this land of short, round scottish people, are all these tiny-waisted people with long, thin limbs??
all this from a simple expedition to find a top - don't even get me started on trying to find jeans that fit. why, oh why do the jeans manufacturers not realise that many women have hips & asses that are more marilyn than twiggy?
i'm not sure that i'm quite ready to sign up to the campaign for a pantsless society, but i'm definitely fed up with shopping for clothes. time to check out some clothing websites for women of substance - it's either that, or learn how to sew.

Monday, November 06, 2006

sneak peek


some of the upcoming hat kits, in various stages of completion - some are simply waiting for charms & labels to be added, some are bobbins of singles waiting to be plied, and some are just-dyed roving. there's merino, blue-faced leicester, angora blends, silk, shetland, and alpaca; there are nearly-solid colours, space-dyed variegated colours, and natural fleece. hopefully, something for everyone...
some of the the new kits should be added to the handspun site by the end of the week, the rest by the middle of next week, and all will be at the miso funky market on 18th november. just in time for an early christmas present for the knitter in your life (or for yourself?)...
or, if you want a chance to win your choice of hat kit, go to wendy knits & enter her prize drawing by making a donation to heifer international - a good cause with lots of prizes including one of the old maiden aunt hat kits!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

seriously...


did you really think i wasn't going to spin it?
fibre: 50% brown cashmere, 50% white silk from scottish fibres; 44g/86 yards
weight: approximately sport weight, at 12wpi
i feel very slightly miffed as the fibre was meant to be sold in 50g bundles, but according to my scales the finished skein only weighs 44 g. since i'm not entirely sure that my scales are 100% accurate, however, i'm trying not to be annoyed about it (especially since in other fibre bundles i've ordered from scottish fibres, i've often received up to 15g more than i paid for!).
as i suspected, i'm not completely satisfied with the finished product. i had been trying for a finer spin, something approaching laceweight, and didn't quite make it. not at all the fault of the fibre, mind you - just a spinner who needs more experience! overall, the yarn is lovely - extremely soft & shimmery. i have no idea what to do with it, though...
and in other news, i finally managed to make a start on my red sweater for the red sweater knitalong. i had initially planned a simple crossover-style raglan cardigan; since i'm an extremely fickle knitter, however, i've scrapped that idea & have started a sweater with a horizontal cabled yoke.


since i'm using 4-ply yarn on 2.75mm needles, i'm only about 4 inches into the cable panel for the yoke, so not a lot of progress has been made so far (despite the abundance of coffee). also, i'm not entirely sure how the construction of a yoked sweater works, but i'm sure i'll figure it out as i go - i mean, it's only knitting, how hard can it be??

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

lady luck

i was foiled in my attempts to make my "lucky tuesday" post on time for once by my computer. occasionally it decides that it has had enough; yesterday it was convinced that it could not connect to the internet no matter what, but after a good night's sleep it seems to have changed its mind. machines... sigh. they just don't like me.
despite the computer glitch, however, it was still a very good day. for once, i had a burst of energy, and by noon i had not only walked the dog , been to the library to pick up the next installment of "harry potter" on audiobook (essential for lace knitting - i'm now on book 3!) & done 3 loads of laundry, but i'd also dyed 3 batches of roving & plied 2 bobbins of spun singles for more hat kits. that left the rest of the afternoon for this:


it's the "casino shawl" from anne at knitspot, in the (on sale!) laceweight pure cashmere from posh yarn. i've been knitting it furiously for a little while, and it's finally to the stage where it can be photographed, although i've still got about 2 feet left to knit! i don't normally like knitting to a deadline - i did xmas knitting for people last year, and found it so horrendous that i've vowed never to give knitted xmas gifts again, unless the recipient is happy to get them in february. however, myself & the resident sock appreciator are finally getting around to registering for a civil partnership on 17th november, & although neither of us wants to make a big deal about it (the required dress code for the event is... jeans) i did want to have something nice & a bit special for it (the resident sock appreciator will no doubt get a new pair of socks).
i saw this finished shawl on anne's website, and loved it immediately... but days went by, and she hadn't published the pattern for sale yet... and i began to get impatient, so i emailed her. i was polite in my inquiries ("hey you, knitter that i've never spoken to before!! when can i get my hands on that pattern? what do you mean you have a full-time job? write it up now, i need to knit it!!") and anne, being a kind & lovely person, sent me an advance copy of the pattern for free. aren't knitters great??
& since i managed to get so much done in the morning, i got to spend the afternoon with a free pattern, half-price cashmere, and a big mug of hot chocolate, not to mention stephen fry reading books to me...

...lucky me!!

Friday, October 27, 2006

my precioussss...

since i've mainly been buying fibre to dye, spin, & sell, i haven't had much of a chance to amass a fibre stash. i've mainly been placing small orders, dyeing them & spinning them up straight away, and packaging them into hat kits or skeins, then ordering more fibre when i've run out of what i've got.
this may all be about to change.
remember my ravings about the black shetland? despite my professions of undying love, i'm a spinner who practices some serious non-monogamy. i loved the black shetland, the silk, and the blue-faced leicester. i loved the merino silk, and even the plain old merino. but today, i found myself the victim of some sheer fibre-y lust which left all my previous loves in the dust.


this is the brown cashmere & silk blend from scottish fibres, which arrived as part of my order this morning. it may look unassuming in its shy brown & white, but the softness of this fibre is unbelievable & indescribable. it's softer than a pile of kittens. it's so soft that i'm scared to touch it in case the tiny bit of dry skin on my hands snags it. & it's so soft that i don't even want to spin it - i just want to hide it away somewhere & take it out & pet it every once in a while, possibly while whispering softly to it (my precioussss...).
i'm actually a little scared to spin it - the yarn that i imagine creating when i look at this fibre will never, i'm sure, be matched by the yarn that i actually spin. i'm imagining a fine, fine 2-ply laceweight; the silk will make it faintly shimmery & the cashmere will give it a soft halo, perfectly suited to a small lace shawl or a scarf. this yarn will most definitely not be for sale - it's mine.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

sock carnage

(the faint-hearted knitter should not read this post - come back tomorrow when i post about happy things.)

despite my extreme luck on tuesday in getting the yarn shop in glasgow to stock my hat kits (and they're even up on her website now, on the front page!!) it nearly wasn't a good day at all.
the first inkling that this might be a Bad Day was when i started getting ready to go out, to get the train into glasgow & the bus to the yarn shop in the west end before going back into the city centre for my SnB meetup.
"i know what will cheer me up on this gray, gloomy, permanently-about-to-rain day", i thought. "my brand-new, just-finished, only-worn-once Socks that Rock 'ruby slippers' socks!".


as i pulled them on i marvelled once again at the soft, squishy yarn in the perfect colours to brighten a dreary day. i loved knitting with this yarn - it's the first time i've tried socks that rock yarn, and it is everything you want a sock yarn to be, both in the knitting & in the wearing.

but wait... what's this???


(insert much cursing & swearing here)
a HOLE. in my brand-new, just-finished, only-worn-once rockin' socks. i don't remember doing it, but i must have snagged them on something when i wore them the very first time.
and then, on the way to the yarn shop, i got off the bus too early, tried to take a shortcut, and ended up wandering about some completely insane maze of back streets clutching a bag of yarn... and then, it finally started to rain. and then my umbrella broke...

and now, this morning, after some fortifying coffee...


good thing i like knitting socks - although i don't normally have to knit the same pair twice. le sigh...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

lucky tuesday

my lucky tuesday can be summed up in one sentence...

katharine at k1yarns in glasgow is going to stock my handspun hat kits!!!

that's just crazy.

i'll post again when i've calmed down a little...

Monday, October 23, 2006

buy my wares...

the market was a success! i sold two hat kits & a skein of handspun, and made a grand total of enough to cover the materials cost for all the hat kits i've made thus far. wheee!! elaine took some pics of the stall which i'll post as soon as she sends them to me. there were a lot of favourable comments from people at the market, so i'll definitely be doing the next one as well, and hopefully will sell even more as it gets closer to xmas & people start to think about gifts for the knitter in their life.
in the meantime i've set up another blog with the kits & yarn i've still got for sale; please go over & have a look! if you're interested in buying a hat but find the pics on the blog too small to know for sure, let me know and i can email you a bigger & better picture to help you make up your mind. you can find a link to the new site in the sidebar, or click here!

p.s. elaine said that the person who bought the two hat kits is a reader of my blog; so, hi! how are you? & thanks for buying stuff!! :) if you can leave me a comment so i know who you are that would be great - and i'd love it if you could send me a picture of the finished hats...
& thanks to dancingnic for buying the skein of "bluebird" handspun, and leaving me such a nice comment as well as posting about it on her blog! again, i'd love to see what you make out of it...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

phew.

the yarn is spun, the pattern is written & tested, and the hat kits are ready to go.


top, l to r: the test hat, knitted in merino/silk blend (embellished with beads because i hadn't received the charms yet!); "viva las vegas"; "strawberry beret"; "carmen miranda"; "see you in september"; and "lucky you, lucky me".
bottom, l to r: "let it snow" (my personal favourite - 100% blue-faced leicester & 100% silk for the contrast colour - so soft!!); "california dreaming"; "see you in september"; "strawberry beret"; and three skeins of merino/silk hand-dyed that i'm hoping to sell as single skeins.
now that all the kits are packaged up, i'm taking the day off from spinning, and will be doing terribly exciting things like watching bad films, knitting, and hennaing my hair (i gave myself a trim over the weekend which cut out most of the colour from my previous henna job, and i was alarmed to see about 50 new gray hairs since the last time i did my hair about 2 months ago!).
i'm meeting elaine tomorrow to drop them off, as she's letting me use a corner of her table for my yarn. & the market is on saturday, so fingers crossed - it would be very exciting to sell some kits! everyone who's near glasgow should go buy things please...
& if the kits don't all sell out (which would be fantastic, but perhaps a bit optimistic!) i'm hoping to start selling them on the web, so let me know if you're interested...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

the good...

remember this? well, it was worth it... i won!


nothing like some sock yarn & chocolate to make up for the embarrassment of outing myself as a former corey feldman fan. the sock yarn is opal hundertwasser in "silver spiral", a limited edition sock yarn inspired by Friedensreich Hundertwasser, a famous Austrian artist. thank you crafty fox!!
then the resident sock appreciator arrived home from work with a present for me - i was a bit sad yesterday so the RSA decided something was needed to cheer me up, and spotted this in a shop in town....


not only is it super cute, it's full of candy - who wouldn't be cheered up by that?
and last but definitely not least, my needles from celtic swan forge arrived today. although molly at celtic swan makes beautiful dpns for sock knitting, she can't knit socks, so she had put out a call to sock knitters for a barter - a pair of knitted socks for a set of hand-forged bronze dpns. how could i resist that? i sent off my socks & received these today.


they look absolutely gorgeous - i'll be casting on a new pair of socks with them later so i'll let you know how they knit.

and the bad...

the first thing i saw when i opened my mail yesterday?


oh, darn.
the rumours of my death, alas, are not exaggerated. i'm out of sock wars, thanks to laurie from oregon. funnily enough, the socks of doom arrived by courier delivery about an hour after i got the unfinished socks from my target - i managed to knit a grand total of two rows on my next target's socks before getting killed! it wasn't a bad way to die though - not only did she make me a beautifully squishy pair of socks of doom (interlacements toasty toes yarn, which is every bit as gorgeous as i'd heard) she also included a felted sock bag of doom, and some eerily delicious creepy hallowe'en candy (which i opened before i even took the picture - to console myself, of course!).

i'm off to eat chocolate & mope...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

hey, daddy-o

another lucky tuesday post - but i have to admit, i don't feel so lucky today.
today would have been my dad's 65th birthday. he died five years ago in march, roughly nine months after being diagnosed with lung cancer. since he was in canada & i was over here, i only saw him twice during that period; once just after he received the news that his cancer was terminal, and then for the few days that he was dying in hospital. i actually wasn't even supposed to be there the second time; i'd seen a last minute cheap flight deal & had booked a week's holiday without telling anyone, and just showed up on my parents' doorstep one day with my bags. two days after i arrived my dad went into hospital with pneumonia, and a few days later he died.
even five years later, "event" days like today are still really hard. although i didn't see my dad very much after i moved away from home, i would still always talk to him on the phone - he wasn't a great phone conversationalist (like a lot of guys, i suspect!) but on any big day (my birthday, christmas, his birthday) we would always have a chat. it's still weird not to talk to him when those days roll around, even after five years.
this picture was taken during my trip over to canada when he found out his cancer was terminal. he was already pretty sick, and couldn't walk very far (the cancer had spread to his spine, & he was in pain a lot of the time). most of my family were there that week, and we took a trip out to a local park where we used to go when we were kids - it had a huge hill in the middle of it, & we used to climb the hill & fly kites from the top. by that point my dad was too weak to make it up the hill, but he was still determined to have a good time, so he & i "flew" a kite in the parking lot (if you look closely, i'm pretty sure he's saying "wheee!").



my dad had a great singing voice & played guitar & autoharp. he loved telling stories & singing songs, the sillier the better. he adored bad puns & terrible jokes, and laughed a lot, even when he was in the hospital. & he was a big fan of action fims, especially arnold schwarzenegger (if he had stuck around long enough to see arnie become governor of california, he would have laughed for about six months). he listened to a lot of music from the 50s & 60s, and when we were joking around, he'd get called "daddy-o". we definitely had our disagreements, - because of his upbringing & his religious beliefs, he had a really hard time when i got my first girlfriend. but ultimately he just wanted me to be happy, and did everything he could to make sure i was.
from my dad, i get my love of awful puns & ridiculous jokes. i get my ability to make up silly songs for every occasion, and my musical talent. i get my seriously sweet tooth, and my enjoyment of bad action movies. i get my hair that wings out at the sides uncontrollably once it gets past a certain length.
& i get it now - even though he & i didn't always see eye to eye, he truly loved me & would have done anything for me. although he's not around anymore, i got to have an amazing dad for 25 years...

...lucky me.

Friday, October 13, 2006

hat -shaped hat

- in walked a man in the shape of a man holding a hat-shaped hat -
(ani difranco, "hat-shaped hat")


i always get songs stuck in my head, and i've been singing this song over & over, making up my little hat kits in preparation for the miso funky market next weekend (at which the lovely elaine is going to let me use a corner of her table, as i don't have enough handspun to fill a whole table yet!). the hat pattern i wrote up to go with the kit is a simple, basic, hat-shaped stockinette hat, which is what prompted the song. the kits are slowly taking shape - i was a bit worried about each kit having enough yarn, so i'm adding accent colours for stripes just to be on the safe side (although i managed to knit the test hat out of one 50g skein of handspun with no accent colours to bump up the yardage, so perhaps i'm just being paranoid - it even fits me, and i have a disproportionately large head).
i'm actually finding the thought of trying to sell my handmade things vaguely alarming (that's my 97% neurotic personality showing again!). i'm also having a dilemma over pricing the hat kits - any suggestions? the kit comprises (more than) enough handspun to knit a hat (varying fibres, depending on the kit) as well as a basic pattern inside the label, & some pewter charms for embellishment - the yarn colours & the charms are worked around themes - the one pictured below is called (perhaps rather obviously, but i like it!) "strawberry beret"...


so, how much would you pay for that? (be nice...)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

yikes...

like a computer can give an accurate picture of my personality...
oh.

Neuroticism
97
Extraversion
0
Openness To Experience
60
Agreeableness
26
Conscientiousness
13
Test Yourself Compare Yourself View Full Report

ok, i knew it wouldn't be great... but 97% neurotic??? ack. now i must go away for a while & overthink this... :)

(edited later to add...)
now, let's compare that with the scores of the resident sock appreciator. (if you in fact are interested enough to click through to the full report, please ignore the bit about the RSA being a 25 year old man from yemen. people home exhausted from a full day at the office do unexplainably silly things.)
Neuroticism
31
Extraversion
74
Openness To Experience
65
Agreeableness
84
Conscientiousness
70
Test Yourself Compare Yourself View Full Report
who can tell me which one of us is the stable one in this relationship? (apart from that bit about yemen, that is.)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

a day late

(and a dollar short?)
once again, i've missed "lucky tuesday"... i'm only a day late this time, & happily i'm full of it today (luck, that is).
today i'm lucky because it's rainy & gray, and the fog is rolling in so that when i look out my window, all i can see is the sea. i've been sitting in my comfy chair pretending i'm the only person in the world, drinking excellent coffee, listening to agatha christie audio books & knitting the cashmere susan shawl. i won't bother with a picture just now - progress pics for lace are always a bit disappointing. although it currently looks like an amorphous blob, it is in fact about 10 inches of shawl length. the rows are about 500+ stitches at the moment, so it's taking about 25 minutes per row, and it's only getting wider - this could take a while to finish. with the cashmere handpainted lace and the ebony circular needles, though, just knitting it is pure luxury.
i'm also lucky because i'm going to club noir on the 21st, and i'm very excited - it looks like it's going to be a great night (& since i don't get out much, this is a big deal for me!). i've been planning my outfit furiously, as they have a strict dress code, and the more goth & glam, the better. i already have a black dress that's pretty fancy, but i hardly ever get to wear it - it's quite clingy & alas, i'm - shall we say - not as slim as i used to be. enter the great invention of the half-corset:



you can find just about anything on ebay, can't you?
with my clothing sorted, i've been searching for some fantastic shoes to go with the outfit. the caveats are a) they must be cheap (i'm very short of cash!); b) they have to be relatively goth/glam, and go with an outfit that features skulls; and c) i have to be able to dance all night in them. due to a serious lack of girly abilities (i can't, for the life of me, walk in heels) the perfect shoes were proving hard to find. then today, i was strolling down the "main street" of my town (i put this in quotation marks because the town has a population of about 10,000 people, so the main street consists of about ten shops). as i was passing one of the charity shops, i suddenly thought "hm... i should look in there, they might have shoes for me". keeping in mind that the average age of the town residents is about 65, and the shoes one most often finds in charity shops here are either pastel-coloured or orthopaedic, i was extremely surprised to find these, for the bargain price of £6...

aaaah... feel the biker love. get me a pair of fishnets, and i'm ready to go....

... lucky me.

Monday, October 09, 2006

throwing a wobbly

in the ongoing saga of my weird & not-so-wonderful health, i've woken up this morning with a serious case of the wobbles. i seem to be having near-constant vertigo & dizziness today, as well as an odd feeling of my brain being very slightly "disconnected" from my body (very peculiar & not at all pleasant!). i managed to wobble my way around the park this morning & toss the ball about for the pup (luckily we have one of these ball throwing things for him, which makes things easier for me & means he still gets a good run about!) & wobbled my way back home, where i've been wobbling about the flat for the rest of the day. it seems to not be so bad if i stay very still, so of course i needed to cast on some new socks to cheer me up... and what better than my first try of socks that rock sock yarn?



i got this from my knitty secret pal in the last secret pal round-up (it's not available yet in the UK, alas!), as an apology for her package to me being delayed because she'd not put enough postage on it! i felt a bit guilty at the time that she felt she needed to apologise - i was just happy to be getting lovely presents in the post, and wasn't really bothered by the delay. now that i've started knitting with it, though, i'm glad that she felt guilty, or else i would never have got such gorgeous yarn!! it's so nice to knit with & the colours are beautiful (the colourway above is "ruby slippers", wound into a nice centre-pull ball - by my fantastic new ballwinder that i finally managed to win on ebay after bidding on them for about the past six months with no success, so that's cheered me up as well).
i've also managed to card together some more fibres - this time it's merino & angora, dyed using the microwave kool-aid method as described here. the carding took ages & was a bit sneezy as the angora was very fluffy & flyaway, and kept going all over the place. i'll try to spin some up tomorrow and see how it goes.
(hm - blogger won't let me add the pic of the dyed fibres so i'll try & do that tomorrow as i must go lay down now).

off for more rocking socks... and if the socks are a-rocking, don't come knocking... (i'd probably fall down on the way to answer the door, anyways).

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

cherry bomb


the dyeing & spinning experiments continue, as does work on the prototype project - a test knit for a hat kit that i'm hoping to sell, incorporating handspun yarn, a basic pattern of my own invention, and some pewter charms for embellishment, all based around a central theme (different theme ideas are still being played around with, so any suggestions are gratefully accepted - if i use your theme, i'll send you... i don't know, some chocolate?).
the prototype hat used the "cherry flame" dyed merino/silk handspun, and since my order of charms hasn't arrived yet, i improvised & used a beaded cherry stitchmarker for decoration. i've had the above song in my head since i started dyeing & blending the fibres, so the cherry embellishments seemed appropriate:


elaine is going to have a table at the next miso funky market in glasgow (october 21st - come and buy things please!) & i'm hoping to put some handspun up for sale on a wee corner of her table, as well as some more hat kits. i've been spinning, dyeing and blending fibres like a madwoman to get things ready in time as well as test-knitting the prototype & working out any pattern kinks. i'm hoping that people will like the hat kits - whenever i see single skeins of a nice handspun, my first thought is usually "pretty - but what would i use it for??" so i'm hoping if it's in a kit form, that question will be answered & people will be more likely to buy it... we'll see.