Tuesday, August 30, 2005

How to be a good SP?

Round 5 of Secret Pal has recently started and I am participating for the first time. And already it's starting to freak me out a little.

Without meaning to come across as needy and sad, I do REALLY want to be a good SP, both "upstream" and "downstream". My "upstream" pal, to whom I will be sending goodies is a lovely lady and we have exchanged a few emails. My "downstream" pal, who will be gifting to me emailed me when all the matches were done, and I've sent a quick reply. It's just starting to strike me as a little odd that someone I don't know will be sending me presents over the next few months, but I won't be sending them anything in return. Also, I'm not sure of the etiquette for dealing with my downstream SP. Do I wait to hear from her? Do I email her regardless? I certainly don't want to make her feel pressured into contacting me. On the other hand, I'd like to get to know her a bit better over the next few months, seeing as she is going to be spending her money on me!

Any tips gratefully received, and if you're reading this SP, look forward to hearing from you! And I'm not ignoring you!!

And just to prove how important it is to me to get this kind of thing right.....

Hmm, not so sure I like the "do-gooder" description, but perfectionist? Definitely. I bet Gandhi was a Libran...

Monday, August 29, 2005

Bank holidays ROCK!

Oh, how I love bank holidays. That extra day off just seems to make such a difference, and turns a normal "Oh my god I've so much to do" weekend into a "relax, take it easy, plenty of time" type of weekend. And as a result, I'm sure I manage to achieve more ;)

This weekend has been so lovely, not least because the sun has decided to shine throughout. Saturday was a lovely lazy day. Did the weekly trip to Sainsbury's then enjoyed a leisurely couple of hours trawling through the many sock patterns I have downloaded over the last few weeks, in preparation for Socks #2.

I scored a couple of great buys on eBay last week - a ball winder for the princely sum of £3.70 (!!), which I've already had great fun with, and some beautiful botany wool 4 ply hand dyed sock yarn in "Sugar Blue" -100g for just £4.99!!

And so I've discovered another wonderful thing about knitting socks. COLOUR. You see, there are lots of colours I think are pretty, or cool, but which I would never use to knit a garment because the colours just wouldn't suit me, but with socks, well anything goes! So, yes, I can knit something with this oh so girly yarn in candy shades of pink, and cool blues.

I decided in the end to just go with a straightforward 2x2 rib and stockinette combo. I then plan to branch out into a pattern for Socks #3.

On Saturday afternoon, after we had fed and watered the livestock, we and the dogs piled into the car to drive to my little brother's for a gathering of the clan. This was to celebrate my dad's 70th, which was a couple of weeks ago, but they were on holiday with my big (rich) brother at the time. It was a lovely evening. The 4 nephews (Alistair 12, Tim 11 - belonging to rich bro; Ben & Max, 5 year old twins - belonging to little bro) had great fun playing in the garden with the dogs while the adults sat around and ate and drank to excess. What more could you ask?

Unfortunately I forgot to take the camera - doh! Will have to ask little bro to email me one of the inevitable family portraits we had to pose for - pics kindly taken by little bro's friend Chesh who was also attending with his wife Sally and their baby, Jake.

I do just have to mention that 11 year old Tim is over 5'6", wears size 10 shoes, and his voice is breaking. Alistair is of similar size and his voice broke about 6 months ago. Is this living proof of the effect of a couple of generations who have benefited from generally better diet and the NHS?

Yesterday was an equally lazy day. I spent a couple of hours in the morning planning the breeding programme for the goats for this autumn. The bucks have to be put in with the does in a few weeks' time, so it's a case of deciding which does are going to which buck (of 3). We have decided that as we have the space now, we will kid all of our breeding does - that's 23 if they all take! We've only previously kidded 10 at most, so we'll be very busy come next February / March.

In the afternoon, I cast on the socks.

Today I have spent the morning doing housewifely things - changing the bed, hoovering, ironing - ugh!

This afternoon I will settle down in the garden and knit.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A busy weekend

For once I actually managed to have a fairly productive weekend.

Saturday was the UK Knitty mini meet. A fab day and it was lovely to meet some of the girls from Knitty. Here they are in all their gorgeousness...

Holly & Charlotte discuss short rows (or something....). Note Holly's extremely professional camera which put my cheapo buy from Amazon to shame.

Rachel (left) and Elizabeth - just out of shot is Elizabeth's scary looking pint of white beer. I had no idea such a thing existed (I've led a sheltered life).

Kate, busy fielding phone calls from prospective flat mates.

And here we all are outside Mecca, no I mean Loop. A lovely yarn shop where we all managed to spend some of our hard earned pennies.

It was a great day, and so lovely to meet with and talk to other knitters in the flesh.

On Sunday I blocked Clapotis....

And here's a close up of those dropped stitches

Neat or what??

And the finished article..

It is huge. But beautiful. I love it. It is definitely one of the most satisfying knits I have done.
Does my bum look big in this???

Vital statistics:

Knit in: Hip Knits silk 400g
Colour: Swamp
Needles: 5mm (US 8)
Time on needles: about 3 weeks

I had to take out one of the straight section repeats as I didn't have quite enough yarn to do all of them. Looking at the finished length, I'm quite glad!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Am I Odd??

So, blueadt tagged me on the idiosyncracies meme that is currently doing the rounds. Well, I had some trouble thinking up 5 things that are a bit odd about me ;) but here goes:

1. I can only drink tea out of bone china mugs or cups. I don't know what it is, but it just doesn't taste the same out of a stoneware mug. Conversely, I HATE drinking coffee out of bone china. Go figure.

2. Also tea-related. Whenever I have a hot drink of any description I always leave about an inch at the bottom of the mug. This stems back to my childhood. My poor mother took forever to cotton on to the wonders of teabags, so as kids we were served tea made with the leaves. Why she didn't use a tea strainer is beyond me. These days people would call it child abuse. Anyway, by the time our tea was being served in bag form the habit was already ingrained, and I just can't make myself finish a hot drink.

3. I consider myself to be a very shy person, yet every job I have ever had has involved meeting new people on an extremely regular basis. My previous career was in theatre - hardly the place for shrinking violets, even though I did work backstage. For the last 18 years I've worked in a profession that relies on connecting and engaging with people. My primary role is even "Client Relationship Manager". How did that happen?

4. I have a thing about eyes. I can't stand touching them - even my own. I can just about manage to rub my eyes if I have an itch, and apply makeup, but I could no more wear contact lenses than fly to the moon. And as for touching someone else's eyes - euch!! If Eddie ever gets something in his eye I'm no help whatsoever. I have no idea where this phobia comes from.

5. I talk to myself. Out loud. A lot. Often Eddie will come into the house and think we have visitors because I'm rabbiting away to myself. I do it so much I'm no longer aware of when I am doing it. I think I manage to curb the compulsion when I'm in public, but maybe not. I can see a great future ahead of me as "that crazy old dog lady who smells of wee and loves ramming her shopping trolley on wheels into unsuspecting ankles".

So, now you know more about me than you probably ever wanted to. Ok, off to find 5 people with blogs who haven't been through this ritual humiliation yet......

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Sometimes I wonder....

whether I am perpetually predestined to only knit scarves, shawls and (maybe) socks, since these seem to be the only things I can knit without things going horribly wrong.

First there was the "Oh b***ocks* I've run out of yarn with only about 20 yards needed and it just happens to be a one off hand dyed lot", which led to the frogging of the last sweater I was knitting.

Then at the weekend I got out my Lovlund to wash and block. Now, ok, after I cast off the front I just stuffed it into the bag as we were about to move into the house, and, no I didn't compare the front to the back (which I knitted first). Until I'd washed and blocked it. Bugger. The sleeves on the back are, well, odd. And not really like the sleeves on the front. And no way can I sew this up without it looking absolutely pants. Which means I'm going to have to frog the back to the point where I cast on additional stitches for the arms. I HATE that. Once something is off the needles, it's SO hard to go back and do it again. But I will. One day. Soon.

On a more positive note, Clapotis is coming along beautifully in the (frogged) silk. Mind you I did end up tinking two rows (of 107 stitches!!) last night for no bloody good reason, other than I temporarily lost my place and thought I'd made a mistake when I hadn't. I hate that too.

Today, during my lunch break at work, I went to Knittinghelp.com and learned how to do a long tail cast on. Yay! Ok, so it took me about 10 minutes to catch on, and my first attempt ended up being too short FOR JUST ONE MORE STITCH - and that's after I carefully followed the instructions to allow 1" per stitch (I even allowed a bit more), but they don't tell you you need even more than that because trying to do the wrapping round your fingers thing with 6" of yarn, and less, isn't going to work, not even when you try to eek it out by tying the end of the yarn to a rubber band. Still, the second attempt was successful (and faster), and yes I do now have a tail of about 2 feet dangling which was spare (better safe than sorry), but hey I can always use it for the seaming.

So, I have cast on for Klaralund and that is what I'll be knitting on the train for the next god knows how long. It's also probably what I'll take to the UKnitty mini meet on the 20th, because it's a simple pattern so even I should be able to talk and knit at the same time, without having to undo the whole lot when I get home. Yes, another sweater. I'm a glutton for punishment...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

A Knackering weekend

Just recovering from a completely knackering weekend. On Saturday we trimmed all of the goats' feet. 58 goats, that's 232 feet! Bent double all day - my body was one big ache by the time we'd finished.

On Sunday, all the goats were sheared. Here's our shearer David hard at work..

I really don't know how he does it. Bent double from 8 a.m until 5 p.m wrestling with goats weighing up to 80 kilos, and for just £2.50 per goat. He certainly earns his money!

The adults are used to being sheared now, but this was the kids' first shearing, and they do tend to scream! It sounds like we're killing babies! Still you can't really blame them when they go from this:

to this...

The pygmies looked smug, knowing they didn't have to suffer such indignities...

To add insult to injury the buck kids were also separated from their mums and put in with the adult bucks. Luckily the adults are real gents and are treating the young upstarts very well.

On Monday we started moving into the house. Oh joy! Flush toilets and my first shower for 5 weeks!! AND I got my stash back within reach.

On the knitting front, I finished knitting Lovlund at the weekend, and hopefully this weekend I'll get time to wash and block it before sewing it up (the worst part). Pics to follow. I've cast on for Clapotis in the yummy Hip Knits silk, Swamp. So far I'm loving this pattern. It is so logical and methodical. It needs just enough concentration to make it interesting, but not too much.

Strangely, while watching TV the other night and admiring my lovely knitted socks (again), Eddie asked me to knit him some socks! Wow, that's the first time in 20 years he's asked me to knit him anything.

Not long to go now until the 20th when I'll be meeting up with some of the lovely UK gals from Knitty for a day of drooling over yarn, KIP'ing and generally having fun. Can't wait!

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