Sunday, 25 August 2013

OH!!! MY!!!!!!! BLOG!!!!!!!!!!

Indeed, I shall repeat! Oh! My! God!! Last week I tweeted a link to my blog. I share the link on twitter, Facebook, plurk etc to spread the word it's up. Last week my tweet was retweeted by a REAL blogger and all round good egg! As a result, oodles of people read my blog!

To everyone who reads this I thank you for taking the time to check in and see what I've been up to all week. If just a few of the page views from last week happen again this week, I'll be over the moon!

It's been an odd kind of week at work, I've been waiting for mania to start. It's like having the sword of Damocles hanging over your head. My regular second pharmacist is off and there's a bank holiday this weekend I was convinced that it was going to be mad busy. As it was, it's been busy, but not ridiculously so. Towards the end of the working week it became apparent that some evil swine has infected me! AGAIN! It can only be a month since my last cold. I usually brag about my immune system of steel, but right now it seems to have deserted me! So I'm sitting on the sofa feeling more than a tad sorry for myself!

On a brighter note I want to thank a very special person for a parcel that arrived recently. A while ago I won a project bag from Mel's Singlehandedknits Blog. Her very talented mum makes them, you know and I can't recommend this bag enough! Her shop is "sew buttons on ice cream" I can't find where it's hosted right now, but as soon as I find it I'll link it properly.
Octopi and Makai. I love the pocket!
Feeling the love this week -

I cast on a Drizzle hat and finished it! It's a lovely knit, the lace panel gives just enough challenge to keep your mind occupied, but not too much that you have to concentrate hard on it.  It got many admiring glances at work while I knit on it, I have a funny feeling that there may be requests for hats coming soon.

Just cast off, will try for a better photo once it's blocked and dry
Also this week I've been working on Makai. I'm really motoring on it now. I'm going to have it as my "out and about" project now because...... wait for it!........ I've picked up the Wisteria jumper again! 

I know! Get me!  You may be wondering what prompted this sudden interest in the WIP from hell.  Mel over at SingleHandedKnits is hosting a KAL. Not your usual KAL mind you! This is Mel after all. You knit whatever you like with a buddy.  My buddy is over in the USA and she needs to get a jumper done in time for Rhinebeck, she's a lean mean stockinette machine. I'm there to cheer her on, and she's there for me when I get in a stockinette funk!

I've made some good progress yesterday, I'm down to the waist shaping. Knitting a jumper for a girl my size is an epic undertaking. I'd like to say that it motivated me to get back on the diet, but so far it hasn't! 

Gosh darn it! Photo won't rotate! You'll have to crick your necks!

I've spun too this week, just a little. Knitting has been my obsession this week. I'm making steady progress with the Nunoco tops. When I started the project, I split the top in half just by putting the 2 ends together and pulling the top apart at the middle of its length. I was originally going to spin each half from end to end and ply the singles together. As I'm spinning the first half, the colours are being lost somewhat and I'm getting a highly variegated single. It's nice, and I like it, but I'd like to see more of the beautiful colours in the top coming through, so I'll spin the second single fractally and hopefully when the 2 are plied together the colours should shine

Can you see the green's and red's in the top?

On the horizon -

Next week I'll work on Makai in my lunch breaks and while I'm out and about, and Wisteria will feel the love of an evening. Once my buddy and I finish our jumpers we'll work on some socks together. I've got Neil's socks to finish, and then I fancy making a patterned pair for me. Any suggestions on patterns? 

I'll also spin, I'm going to take my time on this because I want it to be perfect. The person I'm spinning it for deserves nothing less.

Have a great week guys, and thank you all for checking in with me this week. See you next week!
Happy knitting!

Ellen x

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Normal service is resumed

Back to normality with a bump!

It now seems like an eternity since my holiday! How does that happen? Going back to work was mildly depressing, getting back on the hamster wheel of hell will do that to you!  As it goes though, it's been an uneventful week.

It's been a quiet one on the home front too. Ben has been staying with friends all week, and it's weird not to have him around. I know he's been away before, but that was with school and that's different (in my head it is OK!?) communications have been patchy at best. He went with his iPod, so he could message us or face-time us. He did neither, it's a good thing really because it means that he was too busy being happy to think about talking to us. I could reassure myself he was still alive by checking my friend's Facebook page for updates!

As I type this he's back home now and catching up on some desperately needed sleep!

On the crafting front, again normal service has been resumed. Work keeps eating up my time, it does get in the way of the good things in life!

Feeling the love this week -

It's been a Makai week for me. Mel's pattern is great, I'm enjoying the way mine is knitting up. Makai means "by the see" or "looking out to the sea", and Mel has designed it as such. Mine is a sunset sea, the neck cover at the top is the setting sun, then we have the horizon and the rippled sea below that.

I'm still working on Clue 1, I'm miles behind, and it's taken ages for the pattern to click in my head. I have to admit that up to this point, I was finding the knit hard going. I'm an intuitive knitter, I like to be able to knit without referring to a pattern all of the time. Now, I must stress here, the pattern is not difficult, neither is it badly written; it's just my brain not clicking with the pattern.  A few days ago it finally clicked. I decided to write myself a post-it note with just the beginning of the pattern rows on as a crib sheet. As I did that I saw the pattern, the rhythmn of the pattern sang out to me. Now I'm flying towards the shore! Work was somewhat delayed by the centre increase in the body of the pattern claiming it's first victim:

I managed to snap my KnitPro interchangeable right at the base where the wood meets the metal housing. I'm gutted. These needles have a lifetime guarantee, but you have to send them back to the place you bought them for a replacement and mine were a gift. So I've replaced them. And, seeing as how I was online and I needed to spend enough to get free postage a few other things may have fallen into my basket! Oops! More about that later though. While I was shopping, a pair of Addi Lace needles fell into the basket and I've swapped over to using this needle. Oh! My! Life! Don't get me wrong, I love my Knit Pro needles and wouldn't be without them, but these Addi's are divine! I mean, gorgeous. They're light, the wire is flexible, the tips are just pointy enough without splitting the yarn and the shaft of the needle is slippy enough to allow quick movement of the stitches. Maybe this is why the shawl is progressing as happily as it is now.

I've been almost monogamous in my knitting, Neil's socks have maybe had 2 rows added to them, if that!

I've spent a great deal of my evenings spinning. I wanted to finish the black and silver merino that's been on the wheel for so long now. I finished plying it on Saturday night. As spinning with intent goes, it was an epic fail. I wanted to spin a heavier weight yarn than I usually do. I was aiming for a sport to DK weight, so I wanted my singles to be about a fingering weight. As I was plying it became evident that my consistency in the singles was erratic at best! I was actually better at spinning thicker on the first black single, the silver one was much thinner and consequently I ended up with 450 yards of the finished 2 ply and 240 yards of an N-ply silver yarn! Dear Lord!

Both of these skeins will end up with my mum. She is getting back to knitting after many years off and she rang me the other day to ask if I could find out some information about some yarn on offer on a shopping channel. It was 60% acrylic, 20% nylon and 20% wool. Ick!! It was an aran weight too, so I suggested that despite the price, there might be nicer yarns out there! I decided that this yarn should be hers so that she can have some nice real yarn in her stash!

Next on the wheel is 100g of Nunoco precious! I'm spinning some of their top this time and it's for a very special person. I'm aiming to get over 1000 yards of a laceweight. I'm concentrating on my consistency, it's much better when I spin thin, but I want it to be perfect for her. She deserves the best!

It's spinning up wafer thin and it's a joy to work with, but I wouldn't expect any less from the Nunoco girls!

In other news - 

As I mentioned before, I had to replace needles this week. I went to my usual web shop - and they didn't have what I needed, so a quick internet search later and I was on a new site to me - I can't recommend this site enough. They have a great range and their service is good too. I ordered my goodies, and they where delivered the next day! Fantastic. The packaging was fabulous too! The yarn I bought came in it's own lovely bag, the shawl pins came wrapped in tissue, the needles came wrapped in bubblewrap and tissue. I might be a little bit addicted! When I registered with the site I got a discount code, it didn't arrive in my in-box in time for me to use it this time, so that just means I'll have to shop with them again! Ah well, I'll take one for the team!

I also got a delivery from Nunoco. Again!!! But in my defense, I was spending birthday money this time!

OK, from the top, there is Magic Garden, then Jewel Bug, then 2 batt droppings. I was so excited because that dropping on the left exactly matches my hair!!! On the left is a set of Chromatops, they're destined to be a gradient. So much to spin, so little time!!

On the horizon - 

I'm going to be working on Makai this week, I'll also be working on the new fibre on the wheel. I'm happy to work on these to projects. While I know that I've got other things to work on, I love to spend my time on these two. Happy days.

All the best for the week guys!

See you next time x 

Monday, 5 August 2013

Holidays Week Two

Day Eight - 
Morning campers!!! Woken by the sound of rain falling this morning. I've surfed the net for a while and now I'm sitting in the hall-way in our room knitting. I'm here because the boys are still sleeping and I don't want to wake them by putting a light on in the room. 

Today is our first full day in York. Not sure what we'll do, I suppose it depends on whether the weather is set for the day!

The day started off with us trying to find our way around. We headed for the minster. While we wandered through the shopping centre we wandered across a lovely church with a very grand clock
We went inside to find a beautiful church. It's called St Martin's and the altar is lovely. Very modern. It turns out it was bombed and had been rebuilt. 

Well, we walked Round York all day despite the on-off rain. We went to the minster and rather foolishly when buying the tickets I said " yes, why not!" when asked if we wanted to take the tower tour. Now, this tour involves a climb of 275 steps in a very confined spiral staircase. The climb is broken about halfway by the need to walk across a roof which is itself stupidly high!
Half way. Could have happily stopped, but wasn't about to give in. 

The views from the top where staggering, but I have to confess that I couldn't fully appreciate them as vertigo was taking hold and I was trying not to lose it infront of a hoard of strangers!
At the top. 

We had a look around the minster, but stomachs were calling so we stopped for lunch and decided to take the full tour another day. 

After that some retail therapy was completed. Not on my part by the way! Matthew rarely shops for clothes, but when he does, he goes for it. We had a lovely mooch around an antiques shop, 
bought a gift, and Matthew managed to spoil his surprise for Christmas by finding a watch he liked. I had to drop hints as heavy as bricks suggesting he wait a while to stop him buying it! 

We spent a ridiculous amount if time circling a block of streets looking for the Ronan Bath Museum. We could see it on the map, we could find a pub called the Romsn Bath, but the museum eluded us for hours. In the end we discovered that the museum was UNDER the pub! Give me strength!!!! Any how after losing another £10 we went in. The word museum is a tad misleading. What it actually is is a preserved dig site. Don't get me wrong, it is most certainly a Roman bath, but I'd hardly describe the small space barely the footprint of the pub above it warrants being called a museum. The chap manning the till was clearly passionate about the subject and I'm sure that given the opportunity he would be a mine of information. 

After the disappointment of the bath we set off looking for Dig. It's an exhibit aimed at children and it's run by the same company who run the Jorvik Centre.
Ben 'excavates' a site looking for some finds. 

He seems to have covered himself rather than uncover history!

 I can't praise it enough. The people there are great! Their passion for archeology is obvious and their ability to infect kids with that passion was great to see! I'd recommend it to anyone. Great fun and interesting too. 

After that was dinner and home. A good day

Day Nine - 
Rudely woken by flocks of geese honking on the river. Got out of bed to knit while the boys slept only to nearly collapse on the floor! It seems that that nasty spiral staircase has taken its toll on my calves! I'm in for a painful day today. On today's itinerary is the Railway Museum, the Jorvik Centre, the minster again as we missed half of it yesterday, and the Dungeons. Wish me luck folks!

Today was another jam packed day. We started at the National Railway Museum. Wow. Even for someone like me who really isn't fussed about trains, you can't help being impressed. 
I found my way home!

I also found platform 9 3/4! Does that mean I'm not a muggle!?

The collection of locomotives is wonderful. They have a bullet train, the Mallard and the Flying Scotsman. The Scotsman was having an overhaul and so wasn't on display, but there was still plenty to see. 
Queen Elizabeth II's bed in her train. Strangely un-fussy I think

After a great morning it was time to move on. We went to the Jorvik centre. I'd been here as a child and while it has been updated technology-wise, history hasn't changed in 25ish years so the exhibit was pretty much as I remembered it. Have to say though, they seemed to have toned down the smells! Ben was very impressed, he had lots of questions. 

The day rounded off with a trip to York Army Museum. It follows the history of two of Yorkshire's army regiments - the Royal Dragoon Guards and the Prince of Wale's Own Regiment of Yorkshire. It's another small independent mum run by great enthusiasts. Ben was enthralled by all of the weaponry. The guys manning the entry desk were great, I can't praise them and their museum enough

We decided that we needed to chill for the night and made our way back home, having our dinner in a riverside pub. Yum. 

It was a great knitting day. I managed to cast off a huge sock and cast on a new toe while walking around the railway museum
And I finished "The Scarf"! I've just flicked though my camera roll on the iPad and realised that I don't have a photo of the finished article! Doh!!!!! So here is one of a nearly done version!

Day Ten -
Our last day in York. We had a late check out time which got the day off to a relaxing start. I hate it when you have to rush around getting packed and out of your room early. It puts my stress levels on a high before the day even starts!

Today was another crammed day. We took a guided tour and the minster. Bear with me now, but it was a fantastic tour! York Minster houses 1/4 of the world's surviving medieval stained glass!

This window is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It's a miracle it survived through to the present day. During the reformation, anything that people prayed to which showed anything other than God was destroyed. 
The Five Sisters window. So called it's said because it resembles five Cistercian monks. This order of monks wore off-white robes. This window isn't a coloured window, it is decorated with geometric patterns similar to those often seen in Islamic decoration. This is because the window was paid for by knights returning from the Holy Lands and the Crusades. 

This is the roof of the Chapter house. It isn't consecrated land, it's the meeting room for the church and is so called because a chapter of the bible is read out before each meeting. The ceiling is held up by an astonishing oak beamed roof. You have to marvel at the architecture; and the fact that they had no safely systems. Everything was done with pulleys and ropes and a healthy dose of faith! Around the base of the ceiling is the most amazing stone work. Each figure is different and many reflect the stonemasons' irreverent sense of humour!

This is the South Transept. It was badly damaged by fire in 1984. I remember entering the Blue Peter competition to design new ceiling bosses! You can see the magnificent Rose Window at the top of the building. 
The east end of the minster is undergoing a massive renovation. The Great East Window has been removed. It is the largest piece of medieval stained glass in the world. Inside the east end you can see the Orb. Inside the Orb you can get up close to panes from the window which have been restored

The dragon gives power to the beast. During the conservation of this piece an eye socket was discovered in the face of the dragon, and a new eyeball was inserted!

St John glimpses God in majesty. The conservators used historical evidence to restore God's purple cloak in this pane. It had become patched with a jumble of different colours over time. 

The stonemasons also have a huge task. Outside the church you can see them working. Must be like living in a fish bowl! But it was interesting to see their craft in action. 

Ben took a photograph of this too. His camera told him that a blink was detected! Oohhh scary!

After the minster tour I wanted to go to the Shambles. It's a tiny street of old buildings almost falling in on themselves. 
There is an LYS there called Ramshambles. I wanted to find a skein of local yarn there. I did find some natural coloured Aran weight Yorkshire yarn. But I wanted something with a bit of colour! The shop did stock Eden Cottage Yarns with was odd, because Vicky, who dyed the yarn comes from 20 miles away from me in Appleby! Not very local to York, so I left without buying anything (I had quickly popped in on the Monday to buy a set of sharp tipped circulars to knit the scarf but they only had Pony [bleuargh!] and the lady in the shop spent ages telling me excuses why she couldn't get Addies or Hiya Hiya's. I couldn't help thinking that other LYS's manage, and I'd rather sell no circulars rather than sell rubbish ones!) 

We called York a day after that and headed out to the Yorkshire Air Museum. Another fantastic museum. It's filled with great exhibits following World War II. There are also great aircraft, many are in flying order!
Ben and a replica Spitfire

A huge Halifax

A Gannet - some self-assembly required!

A Mosquito undergoing an engine rebuild. I wonder how many 'bits' will be left over when it's put back together!?

We spent a couple of hours wandering around and then decided we were museum'd out and it was time to head home
I love the way sunlight streams through the clouds. That's Penrith in the distance by the way.
Nearly home. Once I was unpacked and the washing machine was started, I worked on blocking Jesn's scarf. It had to be dry for the next day - her birthday!

Day Eleven - 
 The scarf dried thankfully and we had a wonderful lunch at the Sharrow Bay hotel. It has a Michelin star and I could tell. The food was wonderful and the service was superb. I was so proud of Ben, he ate lots and tried everything! The food was a great deal fancier than anything he'd experienced before! 
A stroll in the gardens after lunch. Lovely

Day Twelve - 
My birthday! It came and it went. I treated myself to dome Nunoco fibre. It should be delivered when I get back to work on Monday. I think I might need cheered up, so fluff is just the thing I'll need!

I did get lots of spinning done though. I'm working on the silver top I said I'd finish a couple of blog's ago! I am making progress! I think I'm over halfway through the 50g now. The plying is in sight!  I also cast on another Piper's Journey. I'm using Opal Sweet and Spicy in the red onion colour way. 

The pattern calls for a sport weight yarn and this is obviously fingering. I plan to continue on the body past the stitch count given in the pattern until I'm happy with the depth of the shawl. The applied edging used 6 body stitches with each repeat, so I'll increase to a multiple of 6 stitches and the work the edging. I have 2 balls, so I'm reasonably confident I have enough yardage!  

I'm also working on Makai. I started it as my guilty pleasure while we were in York. I'm working on the ripple pattern at the moment and I have to say, it's not stuck in my head yet, so I'm referring to the pattern each row. It's hard going, but I'll speed up as I get into it! 

Day Thirteen - 
A catch up with the housework day. Not overly exciting, I worked almost exclusively on Piper's journey and spun on my wheel in my down time. Jean made a lovely dinner as my post-birthday tea. She is just too good!

Day Fourteen - 
The last day of my holidays. Today I'll drop Ben off at his friend's for the week. He's excited to go stay. I'm excited for him, but nervous too. I do miss him when he's gone. 
So here I am, 8 o'clock in the morning finishing this blog before the motley crew wake up. I'll get Ben packed and ready to go, I've still got a mountain of washing to do (where does it all come from?!). Next Ben and I have an Airfix model to paint, I need to get something in the slow cooker so my dinner is done after my 200 mile round trip to drop the boy off, and somewhere in amongst that I'd like to get some knitting done! At the moment it seems unlikely, but we'll see!

On the horizon - 
My return to work will hopefully be uneventful. I'll have lots of bills to pay and mail to work through, but hopefully all will be well. 

I have a swimming lesson to give for my cousin

I'm hoping to get a dying lesson for me! 

I'm really hoping I can get to plying the black and silver merino together. 

Will I get to clue 2 of Mel's Makai?

Will I get the body of Piper's Journey completed?

Who knows. We'll see. 

Have a great week. 

Normal service resumes next Sunday!