Tuesday 27 October 2009

Day becomes night

You wouldn't believe how dark and wet it is today. Usually I have a nice view of the hills from my kitchen window, I feel claustrophobic when the mist is down. I went to the dentist this morning for the final work on the tooth that fell out whilst I was in Italy, its all fixed and I am £191 lighter. The weather was too grim for me to spend any time in town so I am back home and plan to take it easy. The stove is already glowing, the knitting bag contains something suitably pink and the cake box is full. That'll teach the weather to be so awful.

Thursday 22 October 2009

I am a great aunt

Yes I am. Amelia Jasmine, love the names, was born yesterday morning at 9.25, 8 lbs something and all doing well. She was a breech baby and delivered by Cesarean so she and Mum will be in hospital down in Yorkshire for a few days. I am so excited, the Christmas gift knitting is out of the window now, its pink ballet tops and cuddly little cardies. Luckily I am in town tomorrow because even though I have one of the biggest knitting stashes known to man, there is nothing suitable for me to get started. I'd already bought this card in case my niece had a girl, so sweet and this morning there was a card through our letter box from Pam and Andrew congratulating us on becoming great aunt and uncle.

In actual fact we are both great aunts because from being tiny our youngest niece couldn't understand one of us being aunt and one uncle, so we have always both been aunts, and we like it that way.There is only one irritation today, I can't find the last ball of Rowan All Seasons Cotton to finish this little cardigan. I believe the yarn came as a joining gift when I renewed my Rowan membership and it was just right for this pattern. I knit the back and two sleeves to check I had enough yarn and I definitely did. That means there is one ball somewhere in the house, which I have turned upside down twice searching but to no avail. I know the minute I pull my work out and start something else that ball will turn up, so annoying. Its not as if I have the band to try and find more in the same shade or dye, I may just have to buy more yarn tomorrow and start again, its not everyday you become a great aunt and I do want to be an eccentric one.

Monday 19 October 2009

Knitting now - vintage

One of the nice things about being a knitter is that people will give you wool, quite often old and sometimes unidentifiable. Luckily I don't have any of the latter at the moment but a quantity of the former that I've been using up.
I made this lacy scarf in 2 ply, yes that's right, it was like knitting with cobweb. I thought I had just a single 1 ounce (28 g) skein of this Sirdar pure wool but when I undid it to start winding I found there were 2 so I felt confident I had enough for a scarf. In fact just one ball was sufficient, which means I can embark on more fine and lacy work, eventually.
I also have a lot of Lister Poodle 2, very retro, in a not very pleasant colour combination that would have made a dreadful jumper which seems to have been the original intention judging by the quantity. This boucle does make a well padded and comfy pair of welly socks but since its 97% wool and 3% nylon I'm not sure they will last very long.And finally I made the cotton I got in the charity shop into a simple cowl,inspired by though not as elegant as some of the ones Tracy makes. I knit an oblong till most of the wool was used, made a button hole then finished the ball. I had to fathom out the right place to stitch the button but got there in the end.
I just realised what a garish post this is with such a mixture of textures and colours, still I am happy that all the yarns are finding a useful life after all these years. I can't imagine that the lovely wools we use nowadays, Noro, Opal, Araucania, will ever seem so dated or undesirable, but who knows, there's nothing new in fashion so brown beige and orange could be the new black.

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Enlighten me

As well as being a chartered structural engineer Mr FF has an MBA in marketing - an integrated communications-based process through which individuals and communities are informed or persuaded that existing and newly-identified needs and wants may be satisfied by the products and services of others - apparently. We have had some quite heated discussions about what makes good marketing as I like to think I cannot be persuaded to purchase items that I don't really need (apart from wool, books and toiletries of course, but that's not need that's lust). I am not a lover of the buy one get one half price offers though I admit I can be tempted by the buy one get one for free, aptly abbreviated to BOGOFF, if its a product I know and use. Equally I don't like the vouchers you get when you make a purchase for say £5 off next time, this has seen me leaving the checkout to go back round the aisles searching for a way to spend the voucher but there is never anything for just £5 in the range and I then have to make a determined effort to leave the shop and throw the voucher away. I'm much happier with a straight forward pricing system, just give me £5 off the bill now, though of course finding anything that has been substantially reduced is tempting, I found two perfectly healthy clematis the other day at £1 each in the bargain bucket and soon snapped them up.
So how can you explain this. I was in Homebase (again) and after finding the above mentioned clematis I went to buy some energy saving light bulbs, the main purpose of my visit. I needed two types of bulbs, one priced at 99p each and the other at £1.29 each, however there was an offer on 3 for £1. That just doesn't make sense, who would ever buy one for £1.29 when you have have 3 times what you need for £1 and afford to throw 2 away. Even the marketing engineer couldn't explain that one, the offer is endorsed and subsidised by the energy supplier E-On, but they are in the business surely of getting us to use their electricity not save it. Needless to say we bought a few. Mr FF was so delighted with the purchase that he actually replaced any remaining energy consuming light bulbs we have in the house with these new ones (even though there was still life in them and he comes from Yorkshire). He did point out that the new bulbs have a lifetime of 10 years allowing for them to be switched on for 3 hours a day. No way do we leave lights burning unnecessarily so we have reached the conclusion aged 60 and 61 respectively that our bulb changing days may be over.

Saturday 10 October 2009

Jack Frost is about

I was told by a neighbour yesterday that we have already had our first frost, I hadn't noticed but maybe the dusting of white disappeared while I was still snuggled under our recently installed winter weight duvet. Nothing here seems to have been affected but I am moving the last of the tender plants back indoors or into the greenhouse just in case. Meanwhile the garden is doing its best to keep some colour, I cut a tiny bunch of sweet peas this morning, the sunflower soldiers on and the sedum spectabile autumn joy is making a brave show. Look at the delicate display of Clematis Jouiniana Preacox, it's not a climber in the usual way but scrambles all over the place, because it's so beautiful I let it. As its a late flowering clematis and susceptible to early frosts I don't always get such a good display but this year its covered in tiny white stars and looks gorgeous. I often cut little sprays and bring them into the house.
I don't know how much longer these flowers will last, obviously not long enough for me, so I've been planting my bulb order, a total of 400 bulbs that need to find places in the garden and 10 hyacinths in pots that might just flower for Christmas. That's what gardeners do, keep planning and planting and looking forward. Hope the sun shines on you this weekend and the frost leaves your fingers and toes alone.

Tuesday 6 October 2009

Bam bam boo

The commissioned v neck is complete and delivered, it will be presented later this week and we will all be waiting to hear how it is received replacing as it does something of a family heirloom.I've also stopped knitting the blanket squares and stitched them together, I think this is enough to make a decent knee blanket that I'll be sending off to the Macmillan appeal this week. I was dreading the joining operation but a wet afternoon saw the work done and I might even be willing to tackle something like this again. So for now I need something simple and have started a pair of plain socks in Wendy Happy, a mix of 75% bamboo 25% nylon. This is the first time I've used bamboo and I'm not really enjoying it in the way I might a ball of Opal. The yarn is very silky and therefore slippery, splits easy and a dropped stitch will quickly run many rows back. Apparently bamboo is being touted as an environmentally friendly choice from a renewable resource, no plants are killed to produce the yarn and within a few months a new crop can be harvested. I believe the same criteria can be applied to sheep. Bamboo is naturally antibacterial, is breathable and cool, strong and flexible with great drape. Likewise wool. I'll be interested to see how the socks wear but at the moment I'm thinking that a high percentage wool is my sock yarn of choice. It may be a bit more expensive but I'd much prefer to look out of my kitchen window onto a field of happily grazing sheep rather than huge canes waving in the breeze.

Thursday 1 October 2009

A day in town

In Edinburgh on Tuesday for a haircut and then to meet up with Joanne, Amanda and Stewart the adorable new born for lunch. Such a sweet little dot he is, Amanda is glowing with happiness, it was a delight to see them all and the jumper was well received. We had so much to say that the waitress had to ask three times if we were ready to order, we hadn't even looked at the menu just chat chat chat. While I was in town I managed to have a quick look round the local charity shop and found some wool, 200g of 4 ply green superwash pure wool for 50p, a couple of cakes of I don't know what but like the colours, each 100g at 50p each and a ball of pure cotton fancy stuff again 50p. Got to keep the supply stocked up and they will do nicely.
I also called at Homebase and found these in the bargain bucket, how I like a gardening challenge. Three penstemon that had been £4.99 each reduced to 50p, they are all herbaceous so although there won't be any more flowers this year I can plant them in the border and expect a good display for years to come. This one is Melting Candy, it still has a few flowers left so you can see how pretty it will be, I got two of that and one Vanilla Plum purple with the same white marking. Also a tray of 6 white cyclamen that had been £5.99 and was reduced to £1.99. I took off all the dead leaves and flowers, potted the three worst specimens together so they can encourage each other and the three best ones into individual pots. They are all standing outside for now getting used to their new homes and enjoying a bit of autumn sun. International wool and plant rescue, my work is never done.