Tuesday, 27 January 2009


I have spent the last few days moping and feeling sorry for myself, but after taking yesterday off work I am now mostly recuperated and went back to work this morning. It was nice to have everyone sympathise with my bad luck. I had spent weeks telling everyone how much I was looking forward to my first holiday in years and now I've come back and have to tell everyone how I spent most of it curled up on the sofa watching daytime telly!

Unfortunately I don't really seem to have got all that much knitting done despite all the extra sitting around time. I think our house has been a bit too warm for my clammy old hands so I have really only been knitting in fits and starts. I have, however, used the time to have a good trawl round Ravelry looking for patterns. Normally this would be a bad thing, leading to more yarn purchases and a larger queue, but in this case I was looking for patterns for sock yarn I already have. These yarns arrived last week, both Regia Color 4-ply. The white is Candy and the multi-coloured shade is Papillion. The Papillion is destined to be the first of this year's Christmas gifts (I can't be accused of not being forward thinking!) and my original plan was to make another pair of Flutterby's. I think this would be a really lovely pattern for the colourway, but I feel like I might be missing out by making the same pattern twice when there are so many sock patterns out there I haven't tried yet. I think Leyburn would also be a nice pattern for the yarn but I have shied away from them because the pattern is toe up and says things like 'using your favourite toe'. I have never made socks toe up and therefore do not have a favourite toe. I haven't really had much interest in toe up before but recently a few patterns I would like to make have turned out to be toe up – Firestarter, Nutkin, Mirror Mirror – so even though I am very happy knitting top down (and have a firm belief in if it ain't broke don't fix it) I think the balls of Regia in Candy will become my first experiment in toe up, probably Nutkin, but I am not entirely decided yet. These socks should help me towards my New Years Knitolutions goals as I am most certainly trying out new stuff and I will need to learn a new cast on as well. Plus I would like to actually use up all the sock yarn instead of having silly bits left over and as these yarns come in 50g balls in would be nice to try knitting socks until the yarn runs out.

Speaking of resolutions, this year one of my main non knitting goals was to do more exercise, with a view to fitting back in my old jeans. I didn't really want to put 'lose weight' because that sounds quite frankly depressing and really being healthy should be more of a concern. Plus I know I'm not actually fat, I'm just bigger than I was and I have got some real favourite clothes languishing in drawers which I really want to wear again. I have decided it is time to be proactive! I have ordered a couple of new healthy cook books and I'm also going to try the Lunch Box Diet, mainly as a way to get a whole heap more vegetables in my system. I'm also going to join the local council gym, which is actually really reasonable and includes the gyms in all the leisure centres, free swimming and exercise classes as well. I will try and post any progress here, mainly because that is a bit of an incentive for me. I'll have to dig out my Wii Fit again as well because that is a genius bit of kit which will tell me how many pounds I lose without actually telling me how much I weighed in the first place. Nice. I may actually have to measure my success (I am assuming success, PMA and all that) in terms of number of outgrown clothes I have fit back into. I will also have to have a rummage through my drawers and pick out a real favourite and have that as a goal, i.e. the day I fit back into that shirt is the day I know I have succeeded. There are a couple of early candidates but I'll have to have a good sort out later (and throw out anything I would never actually want to wear even if it fitted too). Watch this space.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Day Three, Four and Five

You'll have noticed that I have combined the last few days in to one post. This is simply due to the fact that on Wednesday morning I woke up feeling terrible. Finally I have come down with the dreaded lurgy. Much as I really wanted just to carry on and do as much as we could, I really couldn't find the energy and just stuck to the things we had book, namely our spa session and a dinner reservation for the following night. During the day on Wednesday we had a little wander and spent most of the day watching My Name is Earl, which always cheers me up. I was also so looking forward to go to the spa I was on tenterhooks all day. At 5ish we set out in the pouring rain and walked to the spa. Luckily I was not disappointed. We got changed into our swimwear and put on our fluffy white robes and spent 3 hours relaxing. And sweating. A good proportion of the steam rooms had good stuff like eucalyptus and other cold busting stuff in the steam so I also got to feel way better whilst chilling out. It didn't last long once we left, but was good while it lasted. The huge bean bags and water beds there were soooo comfortable I could have stayed there all day and I so have to get me a multisensory shower. These shower have a few settings from warm to cold to freezing. head showers and side showers and my particular fave a kind of slightly bracing pepperminty mist which smells great and made my skin tingle as it dried. Mmmm. anyone know where I can get me a one of those? Overall it was well worth every penny and I can't wait to go again. Even the walk back in the freezing pouring rain didn't completely do for my nice relaxed mood, so it must be good!

Thursday dawned and I felt even worse, once again we had a little wander about so that I could purchase medicine and tissues. Apart from that we hung out in our villa for most of the day before keeping our dinner reservation at Huck's. I had reserved this online before we left and my main reason for picking it above any of the other restaurants was that the deposit was only £1 as opposed to £10 elsewhere! Luckily we had quite a nice meal so it was a good call. I was a bit stuffed for the rest of the night, just to add to my troubles so we had an early night after packing as much as we could.

This morning we had to be up and out of the villa by 10am and I woke up at 8am feeling even more crappy. We had planned to spend a bit of the day going to the gym and having a final swim, but I just couldn't do it. When I found myself feeling a bit teary after thinking about how my cats must be missing me, I decided I must be far too poorly so we headed straight home! The cats were pleased to see me, but they clearly haven't spent the whole week pining! I have found myself checking out prices for another break later in the year so I can certainly say that if it weren't for the dreaded lurgy we would have had a really brilliant time and I would certainly recommend it. As for the rest of today, I can see a take away, some telly and an early night in my future.

Day Two

Woke up feeling refreshed this morning, gotta get me one of those comfy comfy beds! Decided today was going to be an active day so after breakfast we were straight off to the gym. We had been along and had a peek at the gym yesterday so we knew it was quite small, but really it would be nice if they had 2 of each machine so we could work together. We got there early enough that it was just us though so it was ok. Instead of a shower we headed straight to the pool and spent a good 15 minutes in the warm outdoor bubbly pool, heaven. It's been lovely and sunny today after yesterdays gloomy windy rainy and haily crapness. We had another go down the rapids. Well, yesterday's bruises are starting to fade! Then we tried out the side by side death slides. We both shot down them at alarming speed and I know I went skimming across the landing pool like a skimming stone before unceremoniously sinking like one. I can honestly say that neither of us have giggled like that for a long time – probably because of the shock, but mainly because having five days to play like children is just great. Speaking of playing like children, after a stop at home for lunch and a bit of knitting we were off again for a session of roller skating. As predicted Chris didn't really take to it, but it took me right back to childhood. I have to say I don't remember it being such hard work though. If there was somewhere near home I could skate I totally would because it felt like fantastic exercise. I guess just dragging around all that extra weight on your feet must give you a pretty good work out on it's own. After dinner we headed back to the pool, mainly to check out the outdoor pool in the dark and because there should be less children. The outdoor pool was lovely, there were blue lights under the water and twinkly lights and it was all very magical. The rapids was also quite fun because no one can see you flopping down like a beached whale when it is dark! We spent most of the time though in the outdoor whirlpool and then decided to take the quick way down to the normal pool, as there was no queue we went for the longer flume we hadn't tried yesterday. Mistake. We found out afterwards that this flume is not at all scary, except in the dark as there was no light at all. If we had been down it before we would have known that there were no sudden descents or anything like that, but in the pitch black we both went down bolt upright with our eyes as wide open as they would go. I can't remember feeling as relieved as when I popped out the bottom of that slide! After that shocker we dried off and headed for home, then back to our lovely comfy bed before Day 3.

Day One

Well here I am on holiday for the first time in 3 years, hurrah! We set off at about 10am and arrived here at Center Parcs just after lunch time. We wee a bit early for getting in to our villa but we had a little explore and saw what we could see before getting in our little home for the week and unpacking. The villa is very nice, not a bad place to live at all and the bed is really really comfy. After we unpacked we headed straight for the pool, what with that being the only free activity with which to fill one's time. We bobbed around in the pool for a bit while Chris spent some time rediscovering his ability to swim (apparently it's been a while) before we went off to see what else the sub tropical swimming paradise had to offer. As it turned out, lots! We went down a slightly rubbish flume (there is a better one but we weren't in a queuing mood), went to the outside pool where the water was really warm despite the fact it was hailing and then went off down the rapids. Essentially this is a way of combining swallowing water and getting bruises, but is really quite fun, although I would strongly advise against flimsy swimwear. We stayed for an hour or so before heading for home, definitely thinking that this holiday had been worth the wait.

In the villa we had a quick shower in the worlds most entertaining shower (for some reason the fact that some of the streams of water rotated somehow impresses me far more than it should), had a massive curry, decided there was no way that was going to be digested in time for another swim so settled down with some knitting for 2 new episodes of 24. Yep, they have Sky One here, bonus! I finished my first Flutterby on Sunday so I cast on for the second one and watch Jack Bauer finally get round to kicking some arse. Then to bed, did I mention the bed is really really comfortable!

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Why do so many knitters have cats…

…because it now seems to me that they are about as compatible as carpenters and woodworm. Yep, once again Max has displayed her little penchant for Kidsilk Haze and it's friends – this was a ball of KS Aura.

I had caught her trying to eat the ball while I was casting on a couple of days ago so I quickly finished up and moved the project (placed neatly inside the pattern book) down by the side of my chair where she couldn't see it. Unfortunately this meant that when she finally found it today I couldn't see what she was doing until it was far far too late! After I got over my initial murderous impulse I managed to save about ¾ of the ball, this would be better news if it was a consecutive ¾ rather than 2 smaller balls with the middle bit missing. Luckily the pattern I am using only calls for 9 of the 10 balls I have so here's hoping that really is the case. The cat is now acting all humpy with me for ruining her game but I think she'll get over it – when I let her back inside! I had started this project to take away on holiday with me next week, for some reason I feel more comfortable taking existing projects away rather than starting when I get there, but I think I will pack the Kidsilk tonight and only start the project again when I am in a different county to that pesky cat.

On a better note, the Flutterbys are flying by, the first sock is nearly done and I still love it, it is so bright and cheery that working on it makes me happy. I can't wait to have them done because I'm sure that just knowing that they are on my feet will brighten up my days a little. I think that is the beauty of socks, while there is no way in a million years I would wear any kind of outer garment is those colours or that pattern, with socks it's totally cool. Similarly I think most people would shy away from someone who was wearing a wildly variegated cardigan with 5 colours and a lace pattern, but if it was their socks..well that would be fine! I guess socks are where we can display a little bit of personality without marking yourself out as one of those people who would describe themselves as a bit mad. You know the type, people who wear trousers with fluorescent frogs on and talk too loudly about how 'mad' they are. I don't want to be that person, but neither do I want to be just like everyone else, so having my own handmade, one of a kind socks just makes me feel I'm expressing 'me' just a little bit, but just enough. Now, where is that cat, While I'm philosophising I've got a few words of wisdom for her!

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Where I shout ‘by all that is holy, I need a swift’….

..but then remember that I only need it once in a blue moon and can't really justify the cost. More on that later.

Well, I have had a productive few days – 2 FOs, 2 new WIPs and 1 vicarious FO, get me! The Cropped Waistcoat is done, it took me about 5 days in the end I think and it's turned out quite nicely and will certainly see some wear. I initially decided not to put a button on it cos I preferred the way it looked open, but then I wore it to work and spent the whole day pulling it closed so I think I will put a button on after all! I managed to find only one button in my entire collection that even slightly matched, but luckily it is perfect so I'll try and do that tonight and take a picture as well. My Space Socks (left) are also finished after many months languishing as my project that I only did when I couldn't concentrate on anything complicated. I'm glad they are finished cos I needed another pair of socks and they are nice but I'm sort of regretting that they are not still there for when I need mindless knitting. My latest sock project (Flutterby Socks) is actually very easy but you do need to be counting and paying at least a little bit of attention, so they don't really work the same. I have also cast on for the Sloppy Joe now (but that is as far as I have got), I think it will be fairly simple but it is all ribbing so it will be important to keep half an eye on what I am doing. I think I have an old project hibernating somewhere which was cast aside as it was miles and miles of 4-ply stockinette, I guess I should probably dig that out to replace the Space Socks, hmm, good idea! So that is all of my projects summed up for the moment, but my sister has just finished her Star Crossed Beret that I gave her all the bits for. She has done a really good job on it, especially as it is her second ever project. I wish my second project had been that cool. All I had to do to help was send her a link to Knitting Help to show her how to do increases and then she came round last night so I could show her how to magic loop when the stitches got a bit tight round her circulars. The finished product looks great and should fit well (we'll wait til it's blocked before final judgement though – don't want to tempt fate) and the yarn is just lovely. I much prefer her hat to mine (made from Brown Sheep Lambs Pride) so I'm almost certainly going to have to purchase some of the Malabrigo to make another one for myself!

Now, with reference to the beginning of this post, before I cast on for the Flutterbys I was actually intending to make something with some Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn I bought at the Knitting and Stitching Show last year. However, whilst looking for the perfect pattern for it on Ravelry I saw the Flutterby pattern and knew it would be perfect for the 3rd skein of cursed Violet Green Yarn and had to cast on immediately. I am now of the opinion that the 'third skein's a charm' and it was just the first 2 that were cursed, but will refrain from saying that out loud until both socks are finished and have been through the wash at least once. I know better than that! Unfortunately by the time I realised I wasn't going to be casting on with the Cherry Tree Hill I had already wound the skein into a ball and as usual it was a complete palaver and as usual I vowed to stop being such a tight wad and get a swift. This was my ingenious solution for not having one on this occasion…

and this.....

is what happened approximately 20 seconds later. Perhaps attaching the ball winder to the cat's scratching pad was just begging for trouble!

Preparations have now begun in earnest for out holiday next week. Chris has finally purchased some swimming shorts so will now be welcome in the swimming pool. I have booked us a restaurant for the last night and have also booked us a session of roller skating. I'm not proud of this, but it turns out Chris has never roller skated so I thought it would be well worth a few quid to see that in real life (does buying a ticket for someone to do something where they will almost certainly hurt themselves for my own entertainment count as ABH?). Hopefully I will be able to take photos! Just to vindicate myself I will point out that they do provide safety gear at the roller rink, so when he falls over he should be ok! We leave on Monday and come back Friday so I should be able to post all about it then.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Knitting v. Guitar Hero: Knitting Fights Back!

Well I have finally managed to squeeze in some knitting between Guitar Hero sessions and I am now well on my way to my first FO of 2009. I decided to wait until the Kidsilk Aura from eBay arrived so I could knit the Sloppy Joe as soon as possible and decided to fill the gap with a quick knit instead of starting the other Aura project. I recently decided to frog an old project which had been hibernating for far too long so the yarn from that, some Chocolate coloured Twilleys Freedom Wool, is now well on it's way to becoming the Cropped Waistcoat (3rd pic) from Rowan Studio 13. You might have noticed that I absolutely love Rowan Studio patterns, they are all very 'me' and because they come out every 2 months there is always something fresh from them that I want to knit. In a way I wish they came out a little less often to give me a chance to knit all the things I want before giving me more stuff which I have to knit NOW! I started knitting this on Friday and have completed ¾ of it already, I'm on the armhole decreasing for the second front and once that is done I just have to pick up a few stitches for the cable collar. Now I know what you are thinking, I know that picking up stitches tends to lead to a lengthy delay in the finishing of projects where I am concerned however this time will be different! Firstly I am trying to stop being silly when it comes to finishing and secondly with this project the prospect is not too daunting. All of the back and shoulder stitches have been left on holders so it really is just a few stitches around the front of the neck which need picking up. Also the collar is quite a substantial part of the garment so it's not like the Slouchy Cover-Up where I will be picking up loads of stitches round the whole neckline just to cast then straight off again on the next go round. Just thinking about that makes me shudder and I have decided this second that I will probably crochet it instead. Why didn't I think of that before?!

I suppose I had better explain a little more about the frogged yarn as well, it seems like a shame to pull apart a project and not wish it some form of farewell. I have changed it's status to 'frogged' on Ravelry, but I feel a bit bad that I didn't even take any pictures of it before it went – oops! The picture below is what it was going to be, I had actually been coveting it for ages and finally bought the pattern and the wool it called for ( back then that was almost unheard of) but when I made a start I found that I was having real trouble following the chart, I was constantly getting the lace pattern wrong (which could have been the chart or my own ineptitude, I'm happy to blame either) and then the whole thing looked a bit small. I struggled through the back and found myself having even more trouble with the front so I ground to a halt and finally admitted the other day that it was never going to be finished. Around the time that this was dawning on me I bought the latest Rowan Studio in which all the patterns call for Little Big Wool and I realised that the Freedom Wool might make a good substitute. I was a good girl and made a swatch which confirmed my suspicions and signed the death warrant for the poor old Twilley's Bolero!

Anyway, no matter what the Freedom Wool ends up as, I will be very glad of it once it is a garment. I've come back to work today and it is freeeeeeeeezing! I got up this morning, which was very difficult after nearly two weeks of lie ins, stumbled bleary eyed into the kitchen to feed the cats and couldn't quite work out why the frost was so thick on Chris car. After blinking a few times to wake up my eyes I had a proper look and saw that the whole garden was covered in a blanket of snow. Normally this would sent me into spasms of excitement but I have never ridden my scooter in the snow before and I was a bit jittery. I knew most of the roads would be gritted but I was a little concerned about going up the track from our house to the road. As it turns out I was right to be worried, I skidded sideways about halfway up, considered sliding back to the bottom and making Chris drive me to work, but sheer bloody mindedness won out and I gingerly half rode, half paddled my way to the top and I was fine the rest of the way. It started snowing again about halfway to work, which played havoc with my visibility but made me feel a bit like I was the Star Ship Enterprise going at warp speed as the snowflakes flew vertically past my visor! Now my only concern is getting home again, I'm sure it will be fine but it will be dark and I'm really freaking out about ice. Apparently the temperature is going to drop even more tonight so I'll be feeling even more intrepid tomorrow. Guess I'll post again then if I live that long!

Thursday, 1 January 2009

I'm a winner!

First off, good news, I did win 10 balls of Kidsilk Aura yesterday for £25. I was sure I wouldn't win as I was out when the auction finished, there were several lots going but as I wasn't going to be there I risked bidding on 2 thinking I would probably win both or neither. As luck would have it I only won one so I will be able to make my Sloppy Joe in a nice forest green colour. My only concern is whether to wait fir it to turn up and get knitting that or whether to start the Wrap Top right away. Why can I never decide?

As promised I have finalised my resolutions, which are thus:

1. Learn 2 new cast ons - to be finalised but each with different properties, no point knowing 4 cast ons which are all used for stretchy sock tops!
2. Make a garment using some kind of colour work. I'm perfectly capable but I'm lazy and think things will take longer if I use more than one colour.
3. To either make Chris the hat I have been promising, or to teach him so he can make one himself.
4. Stop procrastinating when it comes to finishing garments, picking up stitches etc. I'm sure if I work harder at doing it properly I won't dread doing it so much.

1. To get off my lazy bum and do some regular exercise.
2. To regularly wash my scooter, it would look so much nicer not covered in mud.

That's it really, I'm all about keeping things achievable! Once I have done all of those maybe I will set myself some new goals. For the moment I have one small trimph, I pit down the plastic guitar long enough to finish turning the heel and make a good start on the foot of my Space Socks. I can't be too proud of it though, it is only really because Chris was playing so I couldn't!