Monday, November 24, 2008

I Never Thought I'd Say This...

But I think I have too much wool.

The sorting of the stash/bookcases continues and we spent a lot of time on Sunday sorting thought the books and getting some of them shelved by author. This is so I can see what I've got and can then fill the gaps.

The stash has been sorted into plastic crates, the problem being that we bought 10 and so far I have filled 15 of them and I haven't started on the shelving in the dining room yet. That's where most of the spinning / weaving / quilting stuff lives and I've barely scratched the surface with that. Blimey! I'm going to try over the next six months or so to not buy any more wool and to knit from the stash whenever I can.

I broke out of the Christmas knitting frenzy to knit a Moebius scarf yesterday. It was knitted with some yarn from the stash so I feel almost virtuous. It's blocking right now and there would be a picture here but the computer has decided that the cardreader thing doesn't exist so it won't upload the pictures. The printer's not very well either but that's another story.

Any way you'll have to imagine the scarf for now - it's knitted in Wendy Fusion in colourway Juniper Berries - lots of lovely purples and lilacs and pinks. I might make some mittens too. It was lovely to knit and the colours are great. I can't decide if I want to keep the scarf or to make it a belated birthday gift for a colleague.

I found a great online tutorial from Cat Bordhi for the Moebius cast-on here.

I'm loving the BBC's new drama Survivors. It's a remake of the original 1970s programme and I was a bit worried that they might have made an arse of it. I needn't have worried. From the evidence so far (first episode last night but I guess it will be on Iplayer) it's looking pretty good - updated of course but not unrecognisable from the original version by the sadly late, but very great Terry Nation.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday Book Update

I'm still on the Christmas knitting schedule, still busy sorting the stash, still discovering lots of things I want to knit right now, all at once.

But I've been reading. I finished City of Dark Hearts by James Conan, which I quite liked. It was interesting and unusual but a little bit wordy for my taste. I'd try another one of their's though. Then for a bit of a break from crime I read Annie Proulx's Fine Just the Way It Is. A collection of her Wyoming Stories. As with all short story collections there were some that worked better than others and I always find by the end that a bit too much of the writer comes through if you read them all back to back. For that reason I try not to read two books by the same author one after another. Short stories have the same problem but of course intensified in that way that stories are. Anyway you (or at least I) don't read Proulx for plot or for landscape but for her wonderful characters and this collection is absolutely littered with them. She has such a knack of making her people come alive off the page. I wish I could do that.

I'm now reading The Wine of Angels by Phil Rickman. I've not read any of his before but this one is for my crime reading group (topic - eclesiastic crime) so I thought I'd give him a go. I have to say I was a bit dubious - religion is not really my thing and the main character is a vicar (actually she's a priest-in-charge, but no-one listens to that). However I'm loving it, can't put it down. In fact I've been snuggled up all afternoon (on my day off) with it on the sofa. What better way to spent a grim, wet rainy afternoon than with a cup of hot chocolate and a great crime novel. Next book for reading group is The Name of the Rose, so a bit of a change in style there methinks.

I need to bring you all up to date with Bubba's progress. He's totally recovered from his op now and we have to thank the lovely Gayle from K9 Hydro in Aston for his speedy rehabilitation. We can't recommend her services enough - she really knows what she's doing and she so obviously loves dogs. Bubba took a real shine to Gayle - she's the only person outside the family that he will shout at and he took great delight every session in running into the building and shouting as loudly as he could. Gayle says Bubba was the best swimmer she'd ever had - but I bet she says that to all the dogs! Anyway, thanks Gayle for all your help and support and for giving us back our beautiful, bouncy retriever.

Monday, November 10, 2008

One Hell of a Task.

I've started today to try and sort out my stash.

This is part of an ongoing project to reclaim the house. It is groaning under the strain of an awful lot of stuff. There are boxes and boxes of books left over from when we selling them on eBay. Somehow, despite all our best intentions we've never quite managed to get rid of them all even though it's at least 18 months since we stopped doing all that.

Then there are our own books. I've got a collection of my favourite crime authors and some much favoured and well-battered classics. There's a growing number of craft books - knitting, crochet, spinning, weaving, quilting, felting etc etc.

Pete has a lot of books too. Graphic novels and books about comics mostly, plus a huge collection of comics.

Then there are books we have in common - antiques and collectables, film and TV books, some science fiction, books on dogs and on chicken keeping, cookery and gardening books.

We're making a concerted effort this week to sort the wheat from the chaff and get all the odd and unwanted books into boxes in the garage, from where we hope they will go to charity.

The first aim is to reclaim the spare bedroom, long used as a stockroom and general glory hole. It's also where most of my stash resides. My problem is that while I started off with just one little stash, now I seem to have stash for all the many different crafts I've been trying. Knitting has the largest stash of course, because it holds all the little gems bought over time, some lovely sock wool, some other irresistible bargains acquired gradually, plus lots of odd cones and balls bought at car boot sales. Then there's quite a lot of hand-spun, made by me but not used for any project yet. These are mostly biding their time waiting for inspiration to strike. Spinning requires a different sort of stash - I've not the sort of spinner who buys what they need for a specific project and spins it then buys more. I buy bits and pieces of all sorts of different fibres, different colours, different textures. I just can't resist pretty colours. (I bet you're not at all surprised by that are you?)

Weaving again requires a different sort of stash. Of course there are lots of knitting yarns (and hand-spun) that you can weave with, but quite often there's not enough of a particular yarn for what I want to do, or I need a warp yarn (which needs to be strong) in a particular colour, or I see a project in a magazine I can't resist. There's also something very irresistible about those little project packs of fancy yarns from Texere. I feel I need one in every colour (though I'm trying really hard not to). I'm just hopeless.

This summer I have been accumulating fabrics as well in readiness to make a quilt over the winter. Don't ask me when I think I'm going to have the time to do this.

Anyway, we went off to Ikea this morning and got lots of those stackable plastic crates and I've started to organise the stash(s). This may take sometime.

Oh, and there's just one small problem. I keep finding all this yarn that I'd got and forgotten about. As I'm pulling it out of the wardrobe (where it currently lives) and sorting into the crates - lots of new and wonderful ideas are forming. When am I ever going to find the time to knit them all (and I haven't really started on the fibre and weaving stuff yet!)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

We Thank You

We thank you all for making the right decision.

I sat up until after 4am, until it was official, until they had called California for Obama before toddling off to bed for a while. A great day in American history.

Now the hard work starts. Can this man turn round the world's low opinion of America? Can he rescue America's ailing economy? Can he reunite a nation hideously divided by the most negative campaign I've ever seen? We hope he can.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Over To You......

A message for America.

So, here we are at last on the final day of the campaign. Many of you will have voted already, many will be voting tomorrow. I hope you all take advantage of the opportunity. Democracy is not a thing to be taken for granted or to be treated lightly. Make sure you exercise your right to vote and remember as you do so all those people in years gone by who were denied this chance, and all those in other parts of the world who are denied it still.

It's all down to you now. The eyes of the world are watching you. We're trusting you to make the right decision for all of us.

Go vote.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Sunday Update

As promised a little update on the week's reading and crafting activities. These have been somewhat curtailed by having to work Monday to Friday this week - terrible! But at least it means a few days off in a row now.

Yesterday was a quiet day, with a trip into Lichfield to do a little shopping in the morning, mooch around the charity shops and a cup of coffee. Very civilised. The afternoon was filled with football scores, knitting and reading the papers. Oh, and cleaning the chicken coop. A bit messy but it doesn't take long. Usually it's a Sunday task but the forecast was for rain on Sunday. I'm not sure it would be so quick and easy in the rain. The chickens are becoming more and more friendly. Hillary in particular shows no fear and will let me pick her up without even any corn as a bribe. The others are a bit more reticent but we're getting there. Currently they are squabbling over a bowl of mash with apple sauce and mealworms added - apparently it's chook heaven!

I'm still in the throes of Christmas knitting so progress on my own knitting has been slow - I did a few rows on the Hypnosis sock and got to the heel. However the pattern has a few errors in it and that and the problem of reading the charts back to front and from the middle to the edge and back (the chart being written for knitting in the round and the heel being worked back and forth) was making my head spin.

I have however been weaving on my Knitter's Loom.

This is a Christmas scarf for my Mother in Law (don't worry she doesn't read the blog). It worked up very quickly. I warped the loom on Sunday afternoon and finished the scarf on Thursday evening. I'm very pleased with it and and am resolved to do more weaving.

I've been reading too, though not a lot. I started and finished Cold in the Earth by Aline Templeton. It's set in Galloway during the foot and mouth outbreak and as well as being a pretty good crime novel it's a fascinating picture of how a community is torn apart by an outbreak of the disease. I would certainly read another of these.

In a quest to find something as good as C J Sansom, which I can happily recommend to customers for Christmas gift buying, I am now reading Blood on the Strand by Susannah Gregory. I probably should have started with the first in the series but this is the one which was at hand. It's fairly good so far, but I shall have to see how the character of Thomas Chaloner develops. It's a bit later than the Sansom books, about a hundred and twenty years or so, but it's still an interesting period and not one I am familiar with (plenty of those to choose from given my knowledge of English history).

The other book I'm reading at the moment is City of Dark Hearts by James Conan. James Conan is the pseudonym of William Horwood (of Duncton Chronicles) and Helen Rappaport. It was previously published (in hardback I presume) under the title Dark Hearts of Chicago. I've not sure why the slight chance in name, doesn't really seem to make much difference. Anyway it's set in Chicago during the World's Fair in 1893 and it started well enough, but I'm around halfway, about 250 pages in, and the pace has slowed rather. Hopefully it will pick up again soon.