Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Sorry, really boring post ahead!

I have just realised that my efforts in keeping up with this blog have been lamentable recently, unfortunately I haven't really been up to much that is interesting really. I haven't done much knitting, bizarrely due to a case of startitis! I keep getting the urge to cast on new things, I think because I'm not currently inspired by what's already on the needles, but I made myself a promise that I would only have 1 project and 1 pair of socks on the go at any one time so I seem to have ended up just doing nothing. Maybe it is time to review my stance on the amount of WIPs I allow myself.

I have also been spending as much time as possible exercising in my continuing bid fit back in my favourite jeans. I'm not actually sure where I am weight wise as I haven't checked it out for a few days, but I'm sure I must at least be getting fitter. I'm currently swimming twice a week, going for a half hour walk at lunch and doing some form of DVD work out every night as well as dieting so hopefully I'll be back to being a skinny minnie in no time at all. Just because I haven't got much else to talk about I may as well put in my tuppenny worth about the DVDs I have been using. Firstly I got 'My Fitness Coach' on the Wii, which clearly isn't a DVD at all! This is actually really cool and I'll tell you for why. Although setting is up is fairly tedious, about half an hours worth of weighing and measuring and checking out how many of this and that you can do, when you get to the workouts it is really good. As you do each exercise along with the computerised lady (who is great because she is not real and you don't feel bad because she is way fitter that you) a bar runs along the bottom of the screen showing the name of the exercise and how much longer you will be doing it for, it also shows rest periods and you can also see what the next exercise will be before you start it so you are prepared. This is especially great for people (like me) who get annoyed on DVDs when the instructor says there are just 8 more to go and then when you are done asks you to do another 8. Why don't they just tell you there are 16 more to go? The best thing however is that when you have completed a section of exercises you are asked how easy/difficult you found it so that it will be easier of harder next time. This means that you can keep pushing yourself long after you may have given up on a DVD that provides no challenge any more. You also get a completely different combination of exercises each time you work out as well, which is really great for the easily bored. You might be able to tell that I like this! Highly recommended. I have also been using 10 Minute Tone Up, this is really good because it is split up into 10 minute sections (No! Really?) for different body parts and I just choose a different one each morning after I get up. The lady on this one is a bit strange so I try not to pay too much attention. She is frighteningly toned and sculpted and has a habit of doing a really fake smile after she has explained every exercise, but other than that it's easy to follow and I do work hard. The final one, I tried for the first time last night was Pilates for Weight Loss for Dummies. The lady on this one is also a bit of a muscle-bound she-goddess but once again the explanations were good and I really enjoyed it. Hopefully I will be able to report some really good results soon.

Well I hope that wasn't too dull. I'm going to try hard to have some actual knitting progress to report soon, but for the moment I'll be sweating and lunging and crunching as much as I can until I can fit a way to adequately do Pilates and knit at the same time!

Friday, 13 February 2009

Worst day ever

Forget Friday 13th, yesterday was a day full of such crapitude that today holds no fear for me. Thursday is the day I do my late shift, working from 1pm-9pm. I got up fairly early and set off towards the leisure centre for a swim. I was turning onto a smaller road from the main road and a pedestrian was waiting to cross. I swear she looked straight at me and then stepped out, it was only as I was about to run her over that she actually noticed me and did a huge gasp and stopped walking. Silly woman, thought I. Shortly after that, while I was just starting my 20th (ish) length of the pool and woman who had been swimming over from me decided to move to swim at the edge of the pool where I was swimming, looked straight at me and begun swimming right at me. Only when I changed course to go round her did she notice I was there and she apologised. By this time I was beginning to wonder if something had happened over night to make me partially invisible. This feeling was compounded on my way home when a massive lorry pulled out in front of me! Blimey I thought, what a strange day.

I managed to ride to work without incident so I thought things had probably settled down. Just to set the scene for later I must add that at this point we were having a really lovely day, a bit chilly out but dry with glorious sunshine. I went straight out onto the library counter only to spend the next couple of hours dealing with the most obnoxious man I have ever met. At one point I told my colleague that the next time that man came over he was probably going home without his nose! Eventually he was sorted out and (after some encouragement from one of my colleagues) he came to apologise to me for speaking to me in such a 'nervous way'. Eh?!? At this point I thought, we'll what a day, I'm sure it can't get any worse. Famous last words.

The rest of my working day passed without incident. In the early evening we were a little surprised to hear that it was snowing outside after the glorious weather we had seen earlier. We kept checking outside, but really the snow was quite wet and none of it was settling. This was still the case at 8ish when I was having my break. However, when I stepped outside to go home it was like the world had changed. There was snow everywhere. I will admit to feeling a bit worried but I figured that once I was off campus and on to the main roads it would all be clear. I had a little wobble as I made way across campus but I recovered and went on my way. The librarian I work late with, who also has a motorcycle was not so lucky and he came off at the place I skidded. Making my way on to the main road I saw that things were no better there but being a big brave girl I soldiered on. Unable to see through my steamed up visor, I pushed it up, then unable to see through the snowflakes throwing themselves against my eyeballs I put it back down. I did this a few time before I found a happy medium that at least allowed me to slightly see where I was going! By this point I am freaking out. A couple of miles further on I am really freaking out, the snow is still coming down, cars in front are going slower that I am comfortable going and I am approaching the brow of a hill and I know it is all downhill from there. And then, just as I had always known I would, I felt the wheels slide out from underneath me and I'm going down. Luckily it was all just a really gentle slide and there was no impact of any kind. I'm fine, but in rather a predicament. I start to pick up the bike, not entirely sure I can do it and in my mind's eye I can see the person in the car behind jumping out to give me a hand. Any second, I think, someone will help. Nope. Somehow I get the bike upright but facing the opposite way than I had been going and still in everyone's way. Despite the slipperyness I manage to push the bike up hill and out of the way so everyone can get by me. Which they do. A long line of cars just driving by. Two people asked if I was ok but didn't offer to get out and help. One person shouted that I 'should have got a car'. So, to recap, I am now out of harm's way, pointing up a hill in the snow standing on the right side of my bike. The stand and the lock for my seat (under which is my phone) are both on the left side of my bike. This means I have to just stand there holding onto the brake and pray I don't slip. I manage to one handedly extract my phone and call Chris. The story ends well, I get rescued along with my miraculously undamaged Vespa but not until I have stood by the side of the road for another 10 minutes just praying that someone will stop and help me put the stand down so that I can let go of the brake. I'm not going to try and analyse the state of society today or anything like that, but really, I've heard so many heart warming stories about people helping each other out in times of need and now I realise just how special and rare a thing that is. At lunch time I am off to get presents for Chris and his brother who did come out and help me, and in my opinion went above and beyond the call of duty, just to let them know how grateful I am that I had someone to put themselves out for me.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009


Even though I have plenty to be getting on with designing my own hats I felt the need to cast on for Felicity on Friday night. I have been thinking about making this for a while and I recently received 2 skeins of Cascade 220 that I ordered from First 4 Yarns. I love their online shop, they have lots of good stuff and I will be making it my new challenge to go on holiday near their actual shop so that I can go in and have a look. Anyway, I has decided that I would be making this hat in cream and settled down to get started by looking at other peoples projects on Ravelry. Right away I could see that a lot of people were casting on different numbers of stitches and using different sized needles from the pattern. I nearly gave up there and then but decided to have a little faith and cast on as per the pattern. Right away I could see that the stitches wouldn't even fit round the needle for me to join them and therefore would most definitely not fit round my head. I knit one row anyway because that usually bulks out a bit, but still no go. I then went up to a 4.5mm and cast on the requisite amount of stitches which still looked a bit titchy so I cast on another 10 stitches and went for it. Clearly swatching might have made this less of gamble but I thought that it wouldn't be the end of the world to rip it back. When it came to the increase rows I started on the second set as I already had 80 stitches and then just added an extra couple of even rows before decreasing just to make up the length. Miraculously after all that guessing and fudging I produced this..

Not only does it fit and look pretty much like the pattern, it also looks pretty cool and I love it. Sweet. I think I will probably make another one with some stripes or some kind of pattern on, but not until I have made some progress on my own designs.

With regard to my own designs, progress is slow but steady. I have 2 hats that will henceforth be known as 'Thief in the Night 'and 'Forgotten'. I know what the basic construction will be for both of them and have created a chart for Thief in the Night. I need to decide on an eyelet pattern for Forgotten and then I can cast on and see if what I want to do will work.

I am pleased to announce that I am still following my healthy diet and I am now at W-3lbs. We went for a swim last night and I think I must have thrashed out the swiftest 30 lengths of my life. We went to a different pool to normal and it was just awful. They are doing it up and the whole place is a total crap hole. They are also holding swimming lessons at the same time as the adults only session so there was loads of shouting and splashing and generally it was not terribly relaxing. I usually go to an early morning session where I just make my way serenely up and down the pool mentally compiling my shopping list, but that really was not an option last night. Chris spent the whole time bobbing up and down with a face like a smacked arse and is now pretending that he has caught some kind of disease so I'm not taking him swimming again! Yesterday I ordered My Fitness Coach for the Wii which looks quite good. I'm hoping that it will provide a bit more variety than Wii Fit and with any luck will give me enough of a workout so that I can avoid joining the gym. I wouldn't really mind going there but all that travelling back and forth would really up too much of my knitting time and I really don't have enough of that as it is.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Can I have my brain back please?

So I wrote yesterday's post, all about hat ideas invading my brain willy nilly, turned to my notebook to make a few sketches and it all started again. I now not only have loads of ideas for variations of the hats, I have sketches detailing matching neckwarmers for each of the variations. When will it end?! I have already drafted in my sister to be a test knitter once I finally have some semblance of a pattern and what with her being a teenager and all I know she will be more than happy to tell me if it such, or if the finished product is just not cool! I am actually going to try and cast on for some swatches this weekend so hopefully that will go well.

Not much else has been going on for me at the moment really. I'm making steady progress on all of my projects but nothing noteworthy. The weather here is now drizzly and crap. The forecast does keep changing though so we're not really sure what to expect this weekend, hence I haven't made any plans to avoid disappointment. I have been doing my diet now since Monday and am currently at W-2lbs! I'm going to have to rethink the way I do it next week cos it not entirely convenient to eat a bit of salad every hour when I can be away from my desk for 2 hours or more every day. I'm definitely that the amount of veg and greenery I have put away this week must be doing me some good but I just need to find a more convenient way of going about it. The one thing I must comment on from eating loads of salad is the price of cucumber. I'm sure last time I bought on it was about 60p but yesterday I paid £1.20. What is going on in the world of cucumber farming that has caused that? Shocking!

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Inspiration Strikes..

…which is nice, but I would rather it waited until the morning instead of striking while I'm having a quick read before going to sleep! I've been going through a bit of a hat thing recently and much as I really want to get going on some of the larger items from my queue I just can't seem to be able to stop thinking about hats. While this isn't terribly surprising, the entire reason I started knitting was because I wanted an unlimited supply of hats, I had stopped making them for several years and concentrated on other stuff. However for the last few weeks I have been trawling Ravelry for hat patterns and poring over single skeins of lovely yarns to find my next hat fix. So, I made a few decisions and knew exactly what I wanted to knit next and then bam, halfway down a page of The Book Thief (seriously check this book out, I read it, closed it and then opened it again at the beginning and went straight for a second read – marvellous!) I just 'saw' an idea for a hat I have got to have. I gave up reading and thought some more about this hat as I was drifting off to sleep and then bam (again! WTF!) I suddenly remember another idea for a hat I must have had about 6 years ago and had completely forgotten about. Now I have to sketch, swatch, design and make not one but two original hats before my brain explodes, when I already have loads of other hats I want to make where someone else has done all that hard work for me. Nightmare! I have done several sketches and have a basic idea of what I want to do, so my next step is to dig out some scrappy yarn and see if what I want to do is possible before going out and choosing the perfect yarn for these hats. Watch this space to see how I do with my first real foray into designing.

Just to reassure you that I have been doing real knitting as well as the imaginary kind, I have now cast on (again) for the Sloppy Joe Top and also for a pair of socks. I had to start the Sloppy Joe again after the Max cat got a hold of the first attempt and I've got about 3 inches done so far. This is now kept in a drawer when not being worked upon! I really really love the look of the finished garment and as soon as I saw it I knew that I must have it, but I can really tell that I am going to hate every minute of it. It is knitted flat in a 4x3 rib and I cannot tell you how many times I have got mixed up and accidentally knitted 4 when I am on a purl 4 Knit 3 row and then not noticed for half a row. I think I have spent more time unknitting that I have going in the right direction. The Kidsilk Aura I'm using really isn't helping matters either as its extreme fluffiness makes unknitting slow and awkward and also makes the mistakes difficult to spot quickly. I will keep ploughing on though, whilst telling myself over and over again how much I really want this top. The socks I am making are these with my beautiful monochrome Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn. This yarn is looooovely! My knitting feels great and the yarn is really smooth and feels really strong when you knit with it. The pattern calls for 2.75mm needles, which I am using. All the socks I have knitted before I have used 2.5mm so I am a little concerned that these will be massive, although not actually so concerned that I have swatched (bad Hannah). I'll knit a few inches and assess the situation before ploughing on, but be prepared to hear that I have ripped them back and started again!

With regard to the weather that we have been having, most of the snow is gone now, except for some horrible slush patches here and there. It has been raining all day today and the temperature is not meant to go anywhere near freezing so the threat of ice seems to have gone too. For the moment. It is possible that it might snow again at the weekend, but we Brit's never seem to believe it until we see it when it comes to snow, so I'm not holding out much hope. I'm fairly sure that we haven't seen the last of the cold weather though, which is a good thing because one of my 'divine inspiration' hats is going to turn out to be quite thick and warm. No more clues for now though!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Snow Day

It snowed yesterday. A lot. I got up in the morning and there was snow everywhere, but I thought I'd better have a crack at getting to work. Chris said he would take me and after three attempts we had got up the track to the road and were on our way. About half my workmates made it in and there were a few students kicking about but really not much was going on. It kept snowing so I decided I'd better go home at 1pm before I got stuck at work, because that would not be cool. So I had an unexpected afternoon of knitting, which was lovely. I kept going on my Flutterby socks and decided to make a big ass bobble hat as well, the weather kind of compelled me! I cast on this (Ravelry link), with the intention to finish it the same day but I had to rip back the first 6 or so rows due to being a dummy so I didn't finish it until today. This is it....

Although I would have preferred it to be a bit longer, with a slightly larger bobble, I really like it (I have it on now - maybe I should go put the heating on instead). It took me only a couple of hours to make this so I'm definitely going to make another one with an even chunkier yarn. I am actually off work today, even though the snow has stopped it is still on the ground and it is really icy. Chris couldn't get the car off the drive, let alone up the track to the road so a whole day of knitting for me today! Because of that I have also finished my Flutterby's....

I really love the pattern and will definitely make it again but I didn't like the way the yarn behaved when I got to the foot. I think because you only have half the amount of slipped stitches on the foot it took more yarn per round and the yarn consequently began to pool. Then when it became clear that on the second sock the pooling effect would happen with a different colour on top I was quite peeved. I was hoping the socks would at least match but no such luck. Oh well, as long as I keep my shoes on when I show them off (or at least only take one shoe off) no one will be any the wiser.

So today I have scored two FO's so I need to get casting on again. I'm going to have a second stab at Sloppy Joe seeing as the Kidsilk munching kitty is nowhere to be seen and I will have to cast on some more socks today while I'm at it. I think I know which one's I'm going to make but I haven't committed myself yet. Today is also Day 2 of my diet and I'm not minding it at the mo. I had a quick go on my Wii Fit yesterday just to log my current stats to keep track of everything. I'm going to call my starting weight as W and hopefully soon I will be able to start logging it as W-whatever. I have decided that I will be rewarding a significant success with a new sewing machine, so I definitely have some incentive. My old one is in bits with no imminent hope of repair and really it was a bit cheapy and rubbish. I got enough use out of it to know that I really do enjoy sewing and can make something wearable so I'm looking forward to that reward when it comes. Right I'm off to eat more sprouts and cast on a new project, C ya!