Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Guitar Hero - enemy of Knitting!

Well I have to confess upfront that since Christmas I have not knitted a single stitch, for shame! This is entirely down to my new Guitar Hero addiction, apparently the rhythmic pressing of buttons on a plastic guitar has the same effect on my psyche as the rhyhmic movement of needles and yarn. Unfortunately it is way less productive and I have very little to show for it, except for loads of pretend dollars with which to buy pretend new shoes for my pretend rock star. Oh dear. So far I have completed the guitar bit on easy and I'm now working through the bass bit on medium. I have had a bit of a go on the drums, but they are quite noisy and if you hit them as hard as you need to it makes your hands hurt a bit. I haven't had much of a go at the singing, I started a career and got hit with a bit of Motorhead and then 'no sleep til Brooklyn' which weren't really ideal, if I'm gonna sing I kinda need a melody! Chris has the hump a bit at the moment cos he isn't doing as well as me and that hurts his masculine pride! He is being silly because he has completed all the songs but can't get 100% on any of them and apparently that is really depressing. Boys.

I am going to try and get on with some knitting as soon as I can drag myself away from the X-Box. I did tear myself away to got to Bluewater yesterday and have a rummage through the yarn sale in John Lewis. I came away with 8 balls of Kidsilk Aura for £22ish, which was a total bargain. I think it will probably become a Wrap Top (image 1)from Rowan Studio 12. I really want to make Sloppy Joe (image 4) from the same collection but I need 9 balls for that. There is a lot of Aura going on Ebay todayso hopefully I will be able to report that I have enough for my Sloppy Joe by tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

Now on to the most pressing aspect of the day, it is New Years Eve and while I'm not sure what I am up to tonight I suppose I had better start finalising my resolutions. I'll break these down in to resolutions and knitolutions. I'm having to think extra hard about the knitolutions as I actually achieved 2 of them recently - learning a new cast on and learning magic loop. I guess I should learn yet another cast on and then think of something really challenging to learn. There are a few techniques I feel I should learn to master but haven't really bothered cos I don't want to make anything out of them (hands up entrelac) but maybe I ought to think about fair isle and eeek, steeking! I'm going to have a good think about it today and make a list tomorrow.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Well, that's that for another year

Christmas is well and truly done for this year, but I think we can look back and say it was a good one. Knitted socks we're greeted with enthusiasm, as well as people trying to put in orders for pairs of their own. That was really nice as obviously a fair amount of love and hard work went into them. My food gifts also went down well too, so no time wasted there either! I can finally reveal that I bought my sister the yarn etc to make her own Star Crossed Beret and she seems to have liked that. I got her the Malabrigo Worsted that the pattern called for in a light browny sort of shade which is really nice. Hopefully I'll be able to post a pic of that really soon. Chris absolutely loooooves his Guitar Hero, he is playing right now, and as predicted it was a really good thing to have here on Christmas Day with many people joining in. He claims he doesn't like the drums (I wonder if that is because he can't do it?) but is going great guns with the guitar. I got a few bits I really like too. Chris got me a bread machine which (because I am a total saddo) I completely adore. I also got a really lovely mirror, Loco Roco 2 for PSP, both series of The Tudors and loads of choc. Good times!

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Quickest hat ever!

I finished my Star Crossed Beret yesterday, I would estimate that it took around 5 hours of knitting time altogether and I love it. Given that I made it from yarn left over from last Christmas, so was arguably free, I love it even more. I went to see my Grandma today and she commented that it was really nice as well, so am properly chuffed. The mistake I made with the cables hasn't affected that finished product at all, so I'm glad I ploughed on rather than frogging when I realised. I had a touch of difficulty as I came to the end of the hat as I didn't have any dpns the right size and the hat was not going to stretch round any further but as I was using my Denise Interchangeables I decided to attach the longest cable and attempt a magic loop instead. I have never done it before and the cables on the Denise's aren't really flexible enough, but I muddled through and it seemed to work really well. Actually, that was he second 'first' of this project as I used the long tail cast on for the first time as well. Obviously I am glad that I learned these new things and that it went well, but learning those techniques was at the top of my New Years Knitolutions list! Clearly I will have to come up with some more things to replace them in the week and a half until New Year.

As far as Christmas goes, I am very nearly completely ready. All presents are bought and wrapped, I have handed over the ones for people I won't see until after the big day and the freezer is stocked full of party food for Christmas Day evening. I am very excited as there are loads of prezzies under the tree for me and I really can't wait for Chris to open his! That is the big massive one which is literally under the tree! I'm not actually sure what will happen when he does open it - perhaps I'll have to make him unpack the contents and rewrap the empty box or the tree is going to look considerably smaller. We are expected around 9 people (as well as ourselves) on Christmas Day, so we want the place to look lovely so we don't need a teeny weeny looking tree showing us up. To be fair though, I think the main attraction will be what is in that box, so maybe everyone will be too busy playing Guitar Hero to care. Anyway, I'm really not sure how I am going to make it through 2 more days at work when I am this excited about Christmas! I think there will be hardly anyone in the office and all of the Universities have broken up so I think those of us who are gonna be working are just going to be wishing the days away til we can have a lovely week and a half off. Can't wait.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Nearly here!!!!!!!!

19th December – 6 days to go!!!!! Clearly I am a little childish about Christmas still, but I don't think that is a bad thing. There are shiny decorations everywhere, gifts are given, food is eaten and I get a whole week and a half off work, what's not to be excited about! I am nearly completely ready, I have now made fudge in addition to the peppermint creams and think I will just make one more type of sweet for the sweet treats tins. Originally I was going to make truffles, but the fudge is way chocolaty so I need to find something a bit less so. That will be my task for today as I need to have the times ready by tomorrow evening as that will be the last time I see the recipients before Christmas. I think this is a very realistic goal though so worries there. The only thing which would stop me is that I have completed about ¾ of the Star Crossed beret and I am really itching to get that finished. I can't believe how quickly that has knit up, I started it on Wednesday evening, got a couple of hours in yesterday and all I need is an hour or so to finish it off. Instant gratification! I sort of tried it on last night and I think it is going to look really cool – despite the fact that all the cables are the wrong way round (I'm going to be billing that as a pattern modification rather than a mistake!). Unfortunately I think that the Slouch Cover Up may have to lie fallow until after Christmas. I draped that over myself yesterday and I don't like the way the shoulders have turned out, they are a little bunched up and clearly need some attention. I don't really want to have to rip out the 3 needle bind off due to the fuzziness of the yarn so I think I will leave it out of sight until after Christmas when I will have plenty of free time and I can have a really good think about the best thing to do.

I'm off for my 3rd Christmas bash this evening, which I have been very much looking forward to. The first was last Friday, when I met up with all the girls and guys I used to work with at Medway Council. The booze was most certainly flowing and a good night was had by all (especially Becky, right, and whoever that bloke is)! On Tuesday we had an official work Christmas lunch, which was quite nice and tonight I am off to the Christmas curry night with my colleagues, yum yum yum! Tomorrow I am off for a buffet tea at my parents house to help celebrate my Dad's birthday (actually on 23rd – but as that is far too close to Christmas we will have a little party for him tomorrow) so I'm hardly having to cater for myself at all at the moment!

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Things to do

It's now just over a week until Christmas is here (hoorah!) so it is time to assess how ready I am for the big day. Hopefully if I can put in all down here then I have half a chance of spotting the glaringly obvious thing that I have no doubt forgotten!

Firstly, the things I have done. I finally stopped procrastinating about the slightly too short Fluke sock for my Aunt and that is now finished. It really did take me no time at all, so I don't know what all the fuss was about. I will get those wrapped tonight. I have also bought a couple of large bottles for the liqueur. I will give those away as main presents and divide what is left into tiny bottles to add as extras to other presents. I have begun work on the sweet treats tins for my cousins and my grandma. These are the peppermint creams all done and dusted, I think they look really pretty and they taste pretty yum too. The recipe was from Good Housekeeping Christmas magazine and is essentially a whole load of icing sugar, a tiny bit of cream of tartar mixed with some peppermint essence and a few spoons of evaporated milk. In the magazine they made circular ones but I hadn't got a cutter that size, and besides I like stars better. The mints are faintly green and pink, I would have like them to be a bit of a stronger colour but I got bored of kneading in the colouring. Oh well. My Christmas cake has marzipan on it which has been drying out for a couple of days so hopefully I can get on and ice it tonight. Which brings me neatly on to the things which I still need to do! The cake is going to be a version of the one on the front of the aforementioned Good Housekeeping magazine. I like it because essentially it is really just a tealight holder which will make me feel better when nobody actually eats any of the cake! We also need to go out and buy a whole load of party food ready for Christmas evening when both my family and Chris' family are coming to our house for a buffet tea. Granted everyone will be completely stuffed and no-one will eat anything, but we have to put on a good spread for the sake of appearances! Plus that way we won't have to cook for several days and can live on sausage rolls and onion bhaji's. I also need to get the rest of the ingredients for the sweet treat tins. I think I will put chocolate fudge and chocolate truffles in there, so I need to get all the bits and then get on and make them. I will be seeing my cousins on 23rd December, so I need to make sure that their presents are ready to take away with them that day. Just to add to things, the reason I will be seeing them that day is because it is my Dad's birthday (how inconvenient). I have got him present but that is not wrapped yet. I'm hoping that he didn't actually spot it last time he came a visiting because it I left it on the coffee table for all to see. Ooops. Hmm, what else. My sis's present is still not completely done, but she reads this so I won't mention that. Other than that lot, I think I'm done. Put down in black and white it all looks perfectly manageable in a week. Obviously I have a full time job and a social life to fit in there too, but we won't worry about that. I'm feeling optimistic.

In non-Christmas news, the Slouchy Cover Up is now mostly done. All the main knitting is completed and the shoulders have been joined, but the next step is picking up stitches for the neck band and I'm sure I have mentioned once or twice how I feel about picking up stitches! I was totally convinced I would have this project done by Christmas but I may yet be foiled by flipping picking up stitches. I will try to just bite the bullet and get it done, but once that is done then I have to do seaming (jury is still out on whether I hate seaming or picking up stitches more) so I'm thinking that there is still a good few days procrastination left in me before this project gets done. To be fair, as listed above I have got plently of other stuff to be getting on with. I also feel the need to be writing angry letters to the builders who are working on the house next door, which will take up some valuable knitting time. I mentioned a little while back how e lost all out power due to workman cutting through our electric cable and how annoyed I was (I think poking knitting needles in people's eyes may have been mentioned). Well, on Friday these workmen chopped through our telephone cable and knocked a big hole in the building that houses the pump for our cess pit. When I got home yesterday they had chopped through the gas pipe, leaving us unable to cook and without hot water and this morning they had completely blocked the drive so I was nearly late for work. I understand being clumsy, clearly I am a very clumsy person, but these people seem very reluctant to apologise, let alone put things right. The gas people did come out last night to fix us up but the workmen were refusing to take any liability. I think a strongly worded letter will certainly make me feel better even if it makes no difference to the situation! Right well, better go and get on with all that needs doing, I hope to be able to say within the next couple of days that all has been completed and that I will be doing nothing but watching Christmas films and knitting until the big day comes around.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Quick update

I don't really have all that much to say today, but I started the shoulder shaping last night for the front of my Slouchy Cover-Up – woohoo! This is the point where I get all excited because I am very nearly done, and also when I tend to find that I slow down a bit because I'm nervous about where I may have gone wrong. I worry if it will fit properly, I worry if the front and back have ended up the same length and mostly I worry about the fact that I will very soon be seaming! I hate sewing up my projects, mainly because I'm not very good at it and I would hate to think that I have spent weeks knitting something and then it looks crap because my seaming sucks. I have tried to prevent this to a certain extent by leaving all of the shoulder stitches on a holder instead of casting off. I will then do a 3 needle bind off so at least the shoulders will look good. I figure that way even if I muff up the sides then all I have too is keep my hands permanently by my sides and no one will be any the wiser! I'm really looking forward to having this done because I think it will be really pretty and I'm hoping it will be light and airy but also quite warm and should be perfect for this really chilly weather we are having.

It was a very picturesque scene this morning as I looked out and everything was sparkling with frost, the puddles frozen and shining. Unfortunately I did not appreciate this to it's full extent when I realised I couldn't go back to bed and was going to have to go outside, brrr! The ride to work was actually ok though. I have really been frightening myself, imagining black ice everywhere and having visions of myself having a nasty accident but the roads have actually been fine. Apparently they were quite bad this morning just beyond where I live but luckily (for me!) the gritters seem to have been doing their job in my part of town. I will probably still ride everywhere at 20mph, just to be safe. Just hope you aren't the one stuck behind me!

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Oh Christmas Tree....

It is starting to feel like Christmas round here now, the Christmas tree is up and decorated and I have wrapped some presents so it really feels like I am getting there. I have to add right away that the Christmas tree looks way better in real life than in that picture! For some reason it looks like the Leaning Tower of Piza even though it is perfectly straight and the jacket hanging on the wall will have to be put away as soon as possible. The lights are much brighter that they look as well, I will probably have to take another picture in the dark to show what it really looks like. It didn't take me too long to decorate, Pootle only had a short game of bauble football before I got them all on the tree, but only time will tell if he tries to steal them back off the tree. He did cause a bit of trouble while I was gift wrapping yesterday and I ended up throwing him out of the room, but I think the present I was wrapping was so huge that he couldn't help himself! You can see in the picture that Chris' present is so huge that we have actually decided to put the Christmas tree on it. I had to go out yesterday and buy extra wide paper in order to wrap it ( it was quite a challenge trying to get the roll of paper home from the shops on the Vespa, but I did it!). Anyway, I had finished sticking down one side of the parcel and started to spin the box round to do the other side, only to find Pootle hiding inside the parcel, I shooed him out but not before he had made dozens of tiny claw holes in the paper. Luckily it doesn't notice too much, but I am now hoping and praying that he doesn't decide to try and get back in and shred all the paper. Fingers crossed....

Friday, 5 December 2008

My name is Hannah

Well, even thought I stated that I would feel guilty about keeping Chris' super dooper Guitar Hero set, clearly that was not enough for karma (yes I have been watching My Name is Earl). Yesterday I was well and truly smited. To cut a long story short, I was in a bit of a hurry getting ready for work and to make matters worse my straighteners were on the blink. Unwilling to allow time restrictions to dictate the state of my hair I went in search of an old set I had seen in a drawer. Quick as a flash I whipped them out and plugged them in and YEOWWWCH! Eventually I managed to regain my senses long enough to discover that there had been no backing on the plug I had just put in the mains and had just given myself a nasty electric shock. I was very a big brave girl and finally managed to stop crying about 20 minutes later while Chris phoned work to let them know I would be late. Clearly I am ok after my ordeal, but I will admit to feeling a little out of sorts for the remainder of yesterday.

Luckily my little accident hasn't damaged my hands in anyway and I can still knit. Not much to report really, the lSouchy Cover Up is getting there, I have increased for the sleeves on the front and I am now on the last push for the neckline. I thought I probably ought to throw in a little picture of some socks I have been quietly working on in the background. They are a basic pair of bog standard sock which I have been working on as and when I have no other knitting in the room. The yarn is Regia Galaxy, I do quite like it, the yarn is really nice but I don't seem to have really achieved the 'planet rings' look that is intended. I still like them though, even if they are not quite as 'spacey' as I had hoped. For shame, I still haven't made any progress on fixing that short Fluke sock, unless turning it inside out to look for the woven in end counts! I have however diagnosed that I probably won't get very far like that and it will probably be better to snip across the toe. I have plenty of yarn left so I may as well. I'm not sure when I will get round to it, my little bro and his girlfriend are coming to visit from Manchester this weekend and the annual Christmas Dickens Festival is being held in Rochester High Street as well so there is not much time for knitting left. Unfortunately there is also not much time till Christmas left either so I'd really better get a wiggle on!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

A very strange day

Yesterday, for the most part was actually a very ordinary day. I got up, went to work, did what I do at work and then came home again. Chris car is very not working at the mo, so after a quick look in the (very empty) fridge Chris brother very kindly drove us to Asda so we could buy some food. We got all of our food shopping done and bought a couple of baby bits for Chris' new nephew Peter (it took them a few days to decide but the little fella is now Peter Alexander) and on the way to the checkout I spotted some tiny bottles of martini in boxes of 4. It suddenly struck me that these would be perfect for putting my liqueur in. I've been searching high and low for nice bottles and although I've got my eye on some bug one, I wanted a few little ones as well. These were just right and work out cheaper than empty ones! So off we go to the checkout where I get asked if I have any ID. I don't due to the fact that I am 28 and don't really need it. The checkout lady is adamant even when I explain that I have been allowed to buy booze for 10 years now, but apparently because I look under 25 (why thank you!) and have no ID, even though I clearly look over 18, no sale. I make her feel bad by telling her I only wanted the bottles and had no intention of drinking the contents. She looks guilt stricken but still won't sell them to me. She then won't sell them to Chris because he is with me. Little does she know that I called my mum and dad who were on the way to the shop themselves and got them to buy them for me! So I got them in the end, but seriously, who still has to get their parents to buy their booze for them at nearly 30!

As they were dropping round my little martini bottles, my parents also brought the package containing Chris' main Christmas present round as well. I'd had it delivered to their house and had been unable to move it as it was too big to fit on the Vespa. I wasn't actually expecting it to be quite so huge when I saw it the other day, but I was in a hurry and didn't think too much about it. However when my dad handed it to me last night, I could barely carry it and alarm bells began, very faintly to ring. Now, because Chris doesn't read this I can reveal that I had purchased for him Guitar Hero 3 with Wireless Guitar (retailing at around £60). I was fairly sure that I should be able to carry this as I haven't heard of people being unable to play Guitar Hero due to the extreme heaviness of the guitar. I then got Chris to help me carry it and heard a sort of clanking nuts and bolts kind of sound, the alarm bells really started clanging then and I could ignore them no longer. After making sure Chris was definitely in the bath I finally opened the box and was rather overwhelmed by finding Guitar Hero World Tour Complete Band Edition!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Worth £150!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! While I have been struggling with my conscience over this, I have decided I will probably get over the guilt when I see Chris' face on Christmas Day!

With regard to knitting, progress continues steadily on the Slouchy Cover-up. I'm optimistic that it should be finished by next week. I'm really looking forward to getting it done, firstly because I think it will be a vary useful piece in my wardrobe and secondly because I'm just about ready to move on to something which does not involve endless and very long rows of stocking stitch. Also my Knit Picks Options kit arrived the other day and it is so shiny and lovely that I really want to get on and knit something with them right now. I'm actually very proud of myself for not going right ahead and casting something on with them even though I have a project on the go. I have always been a bit of a one for startitis and last year I decided to take myself in hand and make myself promise to only have on project and one sock on the go at any one time. I have actually managed to stick to this and even though it has been hard at times, I have noticed an increase in the amount of FO's I have got so I think it is a good thing. I am going to start thinking about some New Years Knitolutions for the coming year and see if I can continue to improve my knitting skills and become even more prolific. Much as I love to knit, the real joy for me is having something new to wear (in that way it is kind of like a really slow shopping process) so anything I can do to speed that process up is a bonus. I think I will try and set myself 5 goals for the coming year knit wise so watch this space.