Monday, January 29, 2007

Nuns on the Run

I heard a little snippet on the radio news this lunchtime about some nuns in Greece who've gone missing. It seems that these nuns set up a knitting business to earn some income for the convent, but they blew all the money on trips to knitting shows all over Europe and on some fancy industrial knitting machines, so the business went bust...and now the nuns have gone awol.

So if you see any nuns acting furtively...don't call the police....invite them to your local knitting group. They might have some hot yarn they want to off load!

(I swear I'm not making this up, but I can't find a link to the story anywhere on the web)

Support the Stitching Sisters!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Spinning is relaxing.... really is. I'm not sure that a couple of weeks ago I would have agreed with this, though people kept telling me. But today for the very first time I found it relaxing.

I have spun almost a full bobbin of the Corriedale - and I enjoyed doing it. I am so pleased with myself. There are no photos yet as it is too dark now but it does look remarkably similar to the half-bobbin featured earlier in the week.

I have also plied all the remaining singles of the blue / green merino and it is hanging over the bath, setting the twist as we speak. I'm still trying to decide what this is destined to be. I can't decide if there is enough for a short lacy scarf, or if I should knit some handwarmers with it. I might try a little swatch later and see if I get inspired.

I am progressing with Pete's neck down cardigan. He's tried it on (as far as it goes) and it fits. I've started one sleeve and shall finish both of them before continuing with the body which has about 6-8 inches to go, as I'm a bit concerned about whether or not I have enough wool. The beauty of the neck down thing of course is that once I've done the sleeves I can just carry on down the body until it's long enough or I run out of wool!

It's knitted from some pure wool that I bought on eBay and it has a bit of oiliness to it, which makes it quite a harsh knit, especially as I'm having to knit it on 4mm needles to get the gauge I wanted. It makes your fingers a bit greasy, and I think it's this wool that is causing a slight rash on my wrist. I hope Pete appreciates the hardship I am going through to knit this! Anyway the good news is that once washed (and I washed the swatch to check) this wool changes character (and colour) and becomes lovely and soft and fluffy. I just wish I had skeined it up and washed it before knitting it. I have another pack of it in a deep chocolatey brown and I shall definitely wash that before I knit it.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

In Which I Show Remarkable Restraint

I was very good. I was. I went to Web of Wool and I DIDN'T buy anything.

They had some of the beautiful new Colinette Jitterbug sock yarn, and some great Opal in fantastic colours / patterns. But you know what? I decided that I didn't really need to buy any more sock yarn just at the moment. I'm halfway through the first of a pair of socks for Pete, and I have some Hipknits that I bought at the NEC and I have some other stuff that's waiting to be socks, so even though they had some yarn that would be just right for some red and white stripy socks for the Evilpixie, I didn't buy any.

I hope you're impressed.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Look What I Made...

I have been spinning every day that I haven't been at work this week and I can feel the difference. This is what I produced today -

It's Corriedale and I bought the roving on eBay. I feel very proud of it but I'm not sure what I shall do with it afterwards - I shall have to dye it as cream is so not a colour you can wear in my life.

The knitting continues on Pete's neck down chunky cardigan.

The pattern is from Knitting Pure and Simple and I bought it from Get Knitted. I'm hoping to find an auction in excuse to go to Bristol soon so I can visit their new shop.

Talking of Yarn Stores (we were weren't we?), if the weather is OK tomorrow we'll be going to Leamington for the day. Leamington is home to a good auction house, several fine charity shops, a Starbucks....and Web of Wool.

This makes it great place for a day out - quick view of the auction, bit of book browsing, bit of yarn browsing, cup of coffee. Mmmmmmmmm.

I've given up on Mortal Mischief by Frank Tallis - too slow moving for my tastes I'm afraid - and I've started The Naming of the Dead by Ian Rankin. I was a bit wary of this one as I thought the last Rebus wasn't the best in the series, but this one is shaping up to be a cracker. I can't wait to get to the bit where Rebus meets George Bush.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Learn to speak Swedish

Overhead at an auction this week -

Two men (I use this term loosely) discussing immigration and how the UK is going to hell in a handbasket because "we just let everyone in". Apparently, according to one of the men we should be more like Switzerland because "if you want to live in Switzerland, you have to speak fluent Swedish....and if you want to live in Switzerland you have to live the proper Swedish way of life."

Maxine, you are right - there is no convenient call centre who you can ring when your 40 year old spinning wheel isn't working correctly, although an email to Ashford in New Zealand (who made it all those years ago) was promptly and helpfully answered. No, what you need is the help of the delightful Stan at the Walsall Handspinners group who took my wheel in hand on Friday evening, fiddled with it, replaced my wonky DPN temporary fix with another thicker knitting needle as yet another temporary fix, and got me up and running in no time at all. Thank you all at the group for your help, advice and welcome. I'm looking forward to learning more and sharing ideas with you all.

Not much news today as I was working all day yesterday (back to the retail job, but only 2 days a week, not too arduous) so very little knitting / spinning / reading has been done this weekend so far. This morning has been taking up with catching up with some listing on eBay and doing the weekly shopping. I shall make up for it this afternoon though with both knitting and spinning if I can, might even set aside an hour or two for reading as well.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Spinning Woes

After much faffing about and email correspondence with various helpful people who know these things better than me it seems that all the problems I've been having learning to spin on my wheel are not solely down to me.

The wheel is missing a vital component. There's a pin that goes through the middle of the hub from top to bottom to hold the crank rod in place - only on my wheel this pin is missing. So the crank rod has been slipping in the hub and making it very hard to keep the wheel spinning round. I need to get a new pin and in the meantime I have fashioned a replacement out of a bent DPN. This is not pretty but it does the job, although the wheel is a bit clunky now. It seems that it might need a new crankrod to solve the clunkiness. Ashford (who made the wheel) tell me this so who am I to argue. Only problem is there doesn't seem to be one in this country, so it will have to be shipped from NZ. They haven't got back to me to tell me how much it's going to cost yet.

Anyway with my jerry-rigged wheel I have managed to spin a little this afternoon with a reasonable amount of success, though it is way too dark to take pictures of this.

It's definitely an evening to snuggle down with some knitting and a glass of wine, listening to the wind howling outside. The roof has already come off the local school, so I'm hoping it doesn't get much worse.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I've been busy...

..knitting swatches -

And starting new projects. There's this one -

Which is a neck-down zip up cardigan for Pete in olive green chunky pure wool.

And this one -

Which is a zip-up hoody for me from the Knit Cafe book. It's a silvery blue in pure wool, though I know it looks a dingy grey in the photo.

And I got some lovely roving in the post -

I'm really looking forward to working with this as the colours are so yummy. I've identified that there is a problem with my spinning wheel (so all the anguish was not just caused by me being rubbish at spinning). Hopefully the fault can be fixed without too much effort / expense.
Anyway there is no time for spinning at the moment as we have been to 2 book auctions in 2 days and the living room is overflowing with boxes of books that need to be sorted and listed asap as it's getting difficult to move or see the telly!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sunday, Sunday

It's been a pretty good day. The weather has finally changed from wet and windy and it's gloriously bright and sunny, if a little cold.

So we took Bubba for his favourite walk. Of course because I am an idiot I forgot to take the camera so there are no photos, so you'll have to imagine it. Sutton Park in January - it's muddy, there are lots and lots of dogs (of all shapes and sizes), lots of walkers, joggers, bikers etc. There's swimming after sticks (for Bubba, not us), and then more mud on the way back. Retriever heaven. I promise I'll take the camera next time.

I have photos of other stuff though - I even have photos of handspun yarn - made by my own hand - but you have to promise not to laugh, as this is my very first attempt. Actually I saw some very similar looking yarn in my LYS this morning - the difference being that their's was supposed to look like that and mine - well, it just came out like this -

This is the first attempt - some spun on the wheel and some with the drop spindle, and plied (very badly) on the wheel. I love the colour but I'm not sure how it will knit. There's about 17 yards of it. It's a mix of blue and green merino.

Then there is this -

This was my next attempt - mostly spun on the spindle and also plied with the spindle (as I am having some technical issues with the wheel). There's about 25 yards of this one which is mostly the greener stuff and less blue. It's more what I was aiming for but there's obviously still a long way to go!

The rest of the day has been reserved for knitting (with no doubt a little TV watching in there somewhere).

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Loving My New Drop Spindle

I was struggling with the spinning wheel so much that I caved and bought a drop spindle which came in the post yesterday.

I've been playing with it yesterday afternoon and again today and the drafting is finally beginning to make sense. I'm actually producing something that bears a slight resemblance to wool - sure it's a bit uneven, and it's overspun in places but I'm getting the hang of it. A little bit more practice and then I'll try again with the wheel. No pictures of the spun singles - too embarrassing and also not enough light - maybe once I've plied them.

I'm feeling much happier about the whole spinning thing now, I was beginning to think I'd never get the hang of it!

Monday, January 08, 2007

A Trip to Oxford

I just realised that I didn't blog about my day out to Oxford last week. It was Wednesday and comprised a morning mooching around bookshops, a cup of coffee at Starbucks and a visit to my MIL.

I had quite a successful morning in the bookshops, getting all these -

That's (from the top) Coronado by Dennis Lehane, a wonderful collection of short stories that I've been after for a while (half price in the Borders sale); How to be Lost by Amanda Eyre Ward, Pete spotted this and thought I'd like it; The Terracotta Dog by Andrea Camilleri, because I've been wanting to read this for a while; The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton, because it's a proof and it's NYP, and it just looks interesting; Food Lovers Guide to Texas, because we might get there one day and will probably want to eat when we do; A Crime in the Neighborhood by Suzanne Berne, again it looks very interesting; The Moon Tunnel by Jim Kelly, because he was recommended to me by Dee at work; and last but by no means least No Good Deeds by Laura Lippman, because I love Tess Monaghan and I have all the others. These were all charity shop / secondhand shop finds except the Dennis Lehane so I was pretty pleased with my haul.

Oh, and Borders had the Winter issue of Spin Off so I got that too.

I think I need to learn to read faster!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

How Not to Sell a Book......

...well, not to me anyway!

A couple of weeks ago we went into a local second-hand bookstore. We were looking for a particular book to make up a set, but they didn't have it. Anyway while we were there we spotted, high up on a dusty shelf, another book we had been looking for - Twentieth Century Children's Writers. This is a weighty tome, but useful for bookdealers like us as it has a wealth of information. We asked how much it was, and the owners said they didn't know, got it down for us and found it was marked at £75. We laughed. The owners then said that the book had been there since they bought the shop and the price had been that of the previous owners so they would check and see what the price would really be. So we waited a while and the girl came back and said it would be £35. Then she justified this by saying that we wouldn't be able to get one cheaper anywhere else (untrue). And look, she was giving us £40 off. Now we had already determined that we wanted to pay £20 for the book, but we'd have been prepared to haggle if she'd been the slightest bit amenable. But she seemed to think she was doing us a favour by offering us this book which had been sat on her shelves unwanted for at least 6 years, and which she didn't even know she had, and offering us discount off a vastly inflated value that she hadn't set in the first place. Needless to say we didn't buy the book. I expect it's still there although she said, now that she knew she had this book, she was going to put it on the internet.

Well, I just want to say Yah-Boo-Sucks to her because I got my copy of the book in the post yesterday morning, all the way from Canada, and it cost me just £18 including the shipping, plus it's a newer edition. And by buying the book from the dealer I used I am supporting literacy. I am feeling very smug but am resisting the urge to go and dance about outside the shop waving my book and sticking my tongue out.

Knitting news -

I have finished the Opal Dreamcatcher socks, and not a moment too soon. Much as I love the colours I was bored to death with these socks by the time I was finished.

So now I've cast on....another pair of socks! These are for Pete, as he has now officially killed the first dog-walking socks and is wearing down the next pair. These are proper sock wool so in theory they should be a bit harder-wearing than the others which were pure wool.

Book News -

I have finished March by Geraldine Brooks, which I enjoyed very much, although I do have a confession to make. I have never read Little Women. I'm sorry. I intend to rectify this ommission this year (it's on my list of 501 must-read books), but in my defense, I have seen at least 2 different films of it!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone, wherever you are.

I'm not one for New Years resolutions really but there are a couple of things I want to do this year if I can.

  1. I will try and read a little more non-crime fiction in this year.
  2. I will learn to spin if it kills me (which is possible going by progress so far)
  3. At some point this year I will try and knit one thing that is challenging

That's not too onerous is it? I should be able to manage that, don't you think?