Whooosh – another week gone!

Alot seems to be happening but sort of in slow motion… every day DH comes home and asks me how my day went, to which I always reply “pretty good”, then he asks what I did. Now what did I do? I am always at a momentary loss because I can never remember right away what I did, then I start with the big things and then all the little things and then I’m shocked that I managed it all in the day. I need a to-do list so I can really get the most of that feeling of getting stuff done. Now, don’t get me wrong, the list of not-crossed off items is always longer than the list of crossed off items… but progress is made!

So to the week – a very eventful weekend last weekend, so I’ll start with a quick recap:

Friday night David & I went to to see the God of Carnage – a play by Yasmina Reza (same lady behind “Art”). A story about two sets of parents who meet to discuss how to deal with their two sons, one of whom beat the other with a stick. What follows is a hilarious descent from high moral ground to, well, childish name calling. Raph Fiennes was very funny as a slightly repulsive lawyer (ball scratching and stuck to his mobile). We also got to my old law school haunt of C&R, a little malaysian place in Rupert Court. The laksa wasn’t quite as thick as it used to be, but it was cheap and cheerful and still quite yummy.

Saturday we went to see Indiana Jones with LissaLoo (M&L) at the Electric, my all time favourite cinema in London. Indy was fun, not really up to analysis (too many plot holes and a few WTF? scenes (particularly the gophers and the monkeys) but still, it was silly and entertaining and classic Indy cheese. For that it gets two thumbs up!

Sunday was the big day for Jenny & Andrew – they got married at Kew Gardens, in a lovely room overlooking the gardens. The sun came out as they were off to get their photos taken. It was really lovely, very simple with a lovely poem called “The Orange” by Wendy Cope. Reception followed at Notting Hill, with honey from A’s father’s bees, hoummous on the table with pita, and roast chicken with delicious pomegranate lime rice. Dessert was spectacular – cheesecake was the best! Wine was provided by talented Julie. Then the music started – I think it was Hava Nagila, a traditional song for the Hora – a circle dance around the couple, where they get lifted in chairs above the crowd (this elicited a scream from J). Jenny’s father was in there, as was most of her family. We all joined in, not quite knowing what we were doing but going along with the crowd, laughing and dancing in circles around J & A. I think a party isn’t a great party unless there is a dance off and someone doing the splits, and J&A didn’t disappoint. Shona was in there doing a dance off against A’s little brother, and on winning, Shona went back out for two encores, of which the last was the splits! Pretty impressive.

Monday we were treated to a lovely dinner at B’s – bbq’d lamb chops, asparagus with hollandaise and mushy peas. A great dinner, and we got to spend some time with Pam and I before they headed back to Canada. We made a date for I to return for a summer party at ours (with Sophia and Paul, but apparently sans Barbara as mother has said she has to work!).

We were also given a beautiful wedding gift – a map of matrimony from B, P, LissaLoo, P,I, L & N. Thank you all. It is gorgeous. Now the question is – where best to hang it?

Now in case you’d thought I’d forgotten, here is my next photo for my alphabet series:
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I also found another A I just had to include:DSC_0024.JPG

On Thursday I received this parcel in the post:
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Which for very silly reasons I did not open til Friday. It contained all sorts of goodies:
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Jelly beans, kool aid, bare sock yarn for dying (with the coolest little flecks to make it look a bit like tweed), a little project bag, and, the piece de resistance, a gorgeous pink moebius cowl which I won on Marianne’s blog. It’s such a treat and oh so beautiful. Thank you Marianne!

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The project bag is perfect (one can never have too many!)
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and I will be using the dye and sock yarn for a secret project … again totally timely.

And for knitting – I was getting that weird running hard but getting nowhere feeling about my knitting and decided to stop stressing already and just cast on – so I did and feel much better for it. I had frogged my shetland triangle shawl and had been putting off casting on again, and hadn’t yet cast on my swallowtail for the KAL (see – so behind…) and I finally did both. And I wonder why I ever stressed about it – they are such lovely knits.

Here is the shetland triangle shawl, on 6.5mm needles (I went up and like it much better now)
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and the swallow tail, in Pagewood Farms Yukon (Navajo colourway).
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I absolutely love this colourway and the yarn. I might have to say this is my new favourite yarn – though I did enjoy Camelspin i am just loving this Yukon and how it is knitting up. Eee!

Now to finish FIL’s sock, CO for my other Kaw Kaw, Cedar Creeks and Indigo Moon Monkeys…..

Balance sheets

Why do they call it bookkeeping? It should be bookhurling cause that is what I feel like doing. Statementburning, numbermelting could work. Or maybe a let’s get a little more descriptive: crazymaking. Or lifesuckingevil.

I’m up to my eyeballs in old bank statements, and excel spreadsheets. As part of my attempt to move banks and convince the Pin Stripes that be that I’m a Bona Fide Business, I’ve been preparing my P&L account and balance sheet to accompany my business plan.

Now, I know that sitting down to the books every week would have meant that I was on top of it all and that I would need only extract a file from the depths of my computer and email it off to Mr Pin Stripes. ah yes. Note the use of the word ‘would have’. Thank goodness I did the last quarter at the beginning of the year – meaning instead of 12 months of records I had only… 5. So have spent the last few days putting the figures all in the right columns, and trying to make sense of the numbers. All those numbers. Numbers on numbers on numbers. The stuff of nightmares.

I worked until my brain was so tired the very tenuous sliver of understanding I was holding on to (with both hands) (in a white knuckle grip of death) suddenly and very abruptly was no more. Thank goodness I still had enough sense in me to stop. Or probably more correct, thank goodness my knitterly friend E arrived so that I could stop, and regain a sense of the good of the world (evil Excel, evil evil evil numbers…. ). I was so reduced by the evil-excel-sucking-of-the-life-force experience that I couldn’t actually pick up any knitting – too much brain power required to count those stitches- so I contented myself with some very soothing spinning and drafting instead.

Thankfully on Wednesday as well I had a nice sojourn from the books – Irmgard and Pam journeyed down to visit the flat and spoil me with a nice lunch! We had a very cute young waiter, and we talked of old beaus (beaux?), Pam memoirs (which I hurried her about so I could buy and read the book already!) and Pam and Irmgard told me about their first meeting, way back when I was still living with B in Brixton, and B’s first meeting with L, D & N in Ontario. It made me teary (and Pam too!). A lot of giggling at the table and Pam managed to get the waiter to blush!

And more things to be thankful for, this coming weekend – both for the bank holiday and for all the fun things to come. David is taking me to a play tonight – God of Carnage, date with Indy Jones tomorrow (with hubby. We’re an open minded couple!), Jenny & Andrew’s wedding on Sunday and then a second visit with the Dynamic Duo, B & Paul and little Sophia on Monday.

Now back to that blasted lifesuckingevil…..

Invisible CO join

Sorry for the weird photos – I realised how AWFUL my nails look (especially after having peeled an orange) and just had to cut out all views of the nasty digits.

Anyways, here is a mini pictoral guide on how I join my cast ons for a nice smooth invisible & stepless join! It’s a bit fiddly, but the finished result, IMHO, is worth it.

I’m using the magic loop method, but DPNs work too. This works with any circular join, and with most cast ons, though how you weave in the tail will differ slightly. This following are directions for german long tail cast on.

This long tail is leading off the photo to the left, and the working yarn is on the right in the photo.
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Knit a round (this is the first stitch). Try to make sure the first stitch is snug, not loose. No need however to yank it tightly.
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First round finished. Gap look familiar? No worries. We’ll sort it out soon enough. Just knit another round – and pull first stitch snugly again.
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After a few rounds the work will have a small gap at the join. I normally wait until I finish the sock to do the weaving in since it is easier to see, but sometimes I can’t wait and just want it nice and smooth. This one is after 3 rounds. Now what you are looking for is the very very first stitch from the cast on – the bottom most V. I’ve pointed it out using the needle.  You see there are three stitches to the right of the needle – daughter stitch on the cable, mother stitch under the daughter, and grandma stitch under the mom.  The grandma stitch is the one you’re after.  NOTE: IGNORE DIRECTION OF NEEDLE!

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Here’s granny again –  just to the right of the needle. If you look carefully, you’ll see gran’s right neighbour (eg the stitch on the left of the needle) has a loop of yarn anchoring her.  Gran doesn’t have this cause she was the very first cast on stitch from the long tail cast on.  If you used a slipknot, she’d have a little knot under her.  I don’t do the slipknot since it makes the join less smooth (and you don’t really need it anyways). NOTE: IGNORE DIRECTION OF NEEDLE!
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Okay now you can follow the direction of the needle.  You take your needle, bring it from the front of the work to the back just to the left of gran.
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A little recap:
Gran is the pink stitch. She doesn’t have an anchor loop. If you look at her neighbour, in blue, she does (the yellow). So to make a nice smooth join, and make gran match her neighbours, I take the tail and give her a little anchor loop too. YOu can also think of the anchor loops as scarves for the grannie stitches if you like. I like the image of all the grans sitting knitting – and you’ve just gotta get them all scarves, right?

Once you’ve pulled the yarn through from front to back, you come from back to front on the right of gran, between the yarn on the bottom and the yarn above it.
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Then find the anchor loop for the neighbour stitch, and point your needle under that loop.

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And then through from front to back left of the second stitch (gran’s neighbour).
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Tighten up any slack from the tail, and voila, smooth invisible join.
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A is for…

Back last night from a weekend on the Isle of Wight visiting DH’s folks for my FIL’s big SIX OH. We left bright and early Saturday morning for the drive down to Southampton, and caught the ferry over to the island.

Saturday the weather was a bit dreary, drizzling away but we spent a nice afternoon sitting in PIL’s conservatory sipping tea. We then went for a visit to the QuayArts centre just down the road from the PIL’s. The QuayArts centre houses a shop for UK artisanal products – paintings, sculpture, jewellery, and also hold exhibitions in two dedicated spaces. It has a huge cafe, and a seminar room. I was flicking through the programme for the year and they have all sorts of wonderful musicians coming from all over the UK, as well as short courses (silversmithing caught my eye!). We then went to Arreton Barns, a mini crafts village with a glass blowing workshop, fudge shop, cafe, woodworker’s studio and a little grocers selling local organic produce. Saturday evening we went to the pub around the corner from the QuayArts centre, which had an etching of the local brewery from I think the 1700s. FIL said that some of the houses in the etching still stood – looking just as they did back then. We went for a quick detour after dinner and sure enough, the brewery with the tiled arches was still there – as well as the house on the corner – Georgian I think? It was lovely whatever period it was from.

Deuce also came with us and spent his time tearing around the PIL’s house making his funny meowing noises. Sunday morning was sunny and warm, so David & I took Deuce for a long walk around Godshill, a little touristy village with thatched homes and more crafty shops – this time more about tourist souvenirs than artisanal product. Still, the village was an interesting stop, and we visited the Model Village – a little park with miniature replicas of various buildings and places on the island.

The local pub with Pugzilla:
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And real size local pub with DH and puggy.
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Then it was time for my FIL’s bday lunch – we went to a local hotel restaurant for sunday lunch, met up with David’s grandma, and some of FIL’s friends. We ate far too much, had dessert coffee and chocolates, then went back to the PIL’s for bday cake and bubbly.

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I finished some socks – sadly not a pair. One for FIL’s bday (I gave him an IOU for the full pair later this week) and on the way home I finished the foot on my first Monkey Caw Caws. So far I have single socks for Cedar Creeks, Monkey (chestnut Indigo Moon), Monkey (Caw Caw STR), Express Lane, and FIL socks (modified Francie in Indigo Moon). To be finished are Karenina (first sock), and Neighbourhood Tunnels (first sock). I better get the cycle going so I can get some pairs together. First stop is FIL’s second sock, then the unfinished first socks, then the others.

We also brought home the PIL’s wedding gift for David & I – a gorgeous handcoloured original map from 1882 of the Isle of Wight. It was meant as a tourist map, so has helpful advice on where to go and good places to visit. Thank you S&F!!!

I was also tagged by Tapmouse for a meme “Peeps I want to know more about”.

The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

1. What was I doing 10 years ago? Eek I have trouble remembering last week let alone 10 years ago! So let me see…1998… (I’m counting backwards in my head – I know where I was on the eve of the Millenium – on the banks of Sodermalm in Stockholm listening to Europe, that Swedish hard rock band (don’t laugh), singing ‘The Final Countdown’ to the final countdown of the 1900s- so everything is counted forwards or backwards from then) – I was living in London, the first part of the year at my first year of law school living in Bermondsey London, and the second half at second year of law school living with B in Brixton.

2. What are 5 things on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order):
-Socktopus stuff (parcelling up packages for sending, catching up with suppliers for current projects, scan an order form, lots of boring admin type things)
-finish up some typing for the longest sock
-research a few hotels for a knitting retreat
-remember to eat lunch and breakfast

3) Snacks I enjoy:
-japanese rice crackers -but only the ones that come in little flower shapes.
-toffee popcorn
-bubble milk tea (FAVE stuff, though am now out of bubbles and tea so can’t make any more myself)
-Taiwanese street snacks – though these are more like meals than snacks – shaobing, youtiao, xiaolongbao, zongzi…
-cherries. ripe dark crunchy sweet sweet sweet juicy cherries!

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire: Wow, what a question.. the choices… I would give away chunks of it to family (paying off homes/cars) but hopefully in a way to ensure fiscal responsibility (no ferrari gifts!) and give them the freedom to live to work rather than work to live… put a chunk into some sort of trust/foundation which would invest money in NGO’s doing valuable work (eg charities, educational projects, health projects etc), put a chunk into scholarships of all sorts for educational promotion/research particularly for kids who have great potential but who also have alot going against them….and of course the selfish things – pay off the house, get a new car (our second hand car is on its last legs!) – I’d be tempted by an Aston Martin… but I guess I’d want a fuel efficient car (maybe a hybrid or electric car) that was comfy to drive and sit in and a good powerful motor! DH would be able to see if he wanted to leave his job to start up his dream company doing biking tours around foodie places… I think though I would want a private jet. Damn the carbon foot print! It would make it much easier to travel with puggy (can’t bear to put him into cargo)! I would expand Socktopus to a global empire so I could globe trot visiting the different shops with Puggy on the jet. 😉 I’d have to make sure I bought and conserved vast swathes of rainforest and coral reefs to offset the carbon footprint tho…

5) Places you have lived: Calgary Canada, Edmonton Canada, Paris France, Beijing, Hong Kong, London England, Stockholm, and if summer internships/school count, then Taipei, Kassel Germany & Shangahi.

6) Peeps I want to know more about:

Samro
Cathy-Cate
Emms
Jane
Justine
Sooze

I’ve been thinking about doing a photographic exercise for a while now – training the eye to look for common shapes in unconventional places. When B mentioned my picture a day project, which fell neglected in the wayside, I thought this would be fun and give me a bit of a challenge. So the plan is to capture the entire alphabet, photo by photo, in everyday scenery.

Today we start with A… and here A is for traffic barrier:
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Catering to our every whim…

Okay, maybe not EVERY whim, but a Ben & Jerry ice cream vending machine is pretty awesome. Came across this at Heathrow Terminal 3 arrivals. B treated me whilst we waited for Pam and Irmgard. The two of them came giggling through the doors waving away happily at some strangers. Barb tried to entice me with a Frothee but I stayed loyal to my ice cream! The ladies will be very busy this trip- brighton, haye-on-wye and of course Sophia's already very full diary! I can't wait to spend more time with P and I- I never laugh so much as when they are regaling us with their stories!

Off to IoW tomorrow to celebrate a certain gentleman’s big SIX-OH. Last time we were there deuce was still a wee puppy – should be interesting to see him run around this time!

Dyeing to spin…

Diane’s dyeing tutorial on Saturday has really opened the floodgates! Yesterday I went over to hers and created these:

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It was great fun – with three primaries and lots of plastic cups I went at it mad-scientist-esque. Mixing and pouring and mixing and pouring to get the colours, and throwing in randoms to see what would happen. I’ve really pleased with the results, even though I did worry I had created a lot of chewed up clown!

I had intended to overdye the roving I dyed on Saturday – but I forgot it at home. Not to worry, I managed to do it when I got home that evening. Too bad I forgot to take a photo of the before, but I am very pleased with the after:

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Not sure how these will spin up, but it will be very exciting to see what happens. I’m also getting more control on the wheel – i”ve graduated up a gear and can now have the wheel spinning faster for me whilst I pedal less.

I spun up some of Natalie’s absolutely stunning Ochil roving into a 2 ply (the sandy coloured one on the bottom.

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It’s set against my last handspun (blue and pinks, also from the Yarn Yard). The improvement is not great, but it is there (at least, I think it is!).

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More of the fingering weight I am looking for, and less of the aran weight that creeps in when I’m not paying attention!
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It’s also definitely a bigger skein than my previous attempt even though the weight was similar (100grams vs 98 grams) so I must be getting closer…and it is divinely squishy! It is wrong to want to leave my face in it all day?

I’m almost feeling ready to spin up my Mustang Sally!

Oh and I keep meaning to respond! Wye Sue the alpacas were in Wales, on the way back to Abergavenny. The farm was called Panteg Uschaf (at least that was the sign near it).

And glad everyone had a great time this weekend!! 🙂

A Knitterly Weekend

This past weekend David was away at a friend’s stag (up to Liverpool & Snowdon), and I took the opportunity to truly indulge – three days of knitivities: Friday night was the monthly Socktopod Socknitter meet up. Saturday morning was spinning & fibre dying at Diane’s, and that night a PJ knitting/Pride & Prejudice party, and Sunday was a very lazy breakfast knit on our balcony (complete with mimosas!).  A lovely full weekend… and now David is home it’s complete!

Friday morning Ysolda arrived to stay for the weekend. This is the first time I’ve met this young & very talented Scottish designer, though we’ve corresponded by email before this.  It’s always so intriguing meeting the people behind the blogs & designs, and Ysolda proved to be fun loving and VERY adept with the knitting needles.  
That evening we went to the Hide bar in Bermondsey for the second Socktopod Socknitter meetup where we had the use of the private back room – lovely venue (though part of the room was a little dark for knitting… silly me brought dark blue yarn!!).  No photos (doh! have to remember next time).  There was the lovely Angela, Ysolda & Noraknits, the usual & very well behaved (c’mon ladies, where’s the scandal in that?) suspects Lara, Jane, G&M, Laura, Diane, Ali, Mel, Alex, Jen (& the dashing Woolly).  There was some knitting on the STR longest sock, Diane held a short row toe & heel tutorial, and I tried to knit on my dark blue sock but soon gave up to munch on hummous and bread.
Saturday morning was a late early morning – the spinning group meet ups are normally for 10am. We managed to arrive very fashionably for 11am… we did some fibre dying with Diane and the block preventing me from trying it out is now lifted. I don’t know why I felt it was such a faff but actually, it was super easy and not messy at all.  Watch out acid dyes -here I come!  We followed up with a picnic in the park near Diane’s.  A nearby icecream truck played its jingle like the Pied Piper and off we went to return with 99 flakes.  There were suntanners and picnicers and footballers all enjoying the hot weather.  By about 4pm we disbanded, me off to Sainsbury’s to pick up food for the evening.
A few hours later, Ali, Mel, G&M, Diane, Emms, Laura, Jen were all sitting around the tv knitting away, munching on brownies, strawberry shortcake & pizza (not quite in that order!) and watching the whole series of P&P.  Sarah my dear Yoshimi was down from Leicester special for the night – it was fantastic to see her and catch up.  Mr Darcy continues to be very hot.  Ysolda joined us later that evening, and we were up till the wee hours chatting and watching Lizzie & Fitzwilliam get it on.   As the evening progressed, 6 very hardcore pyjamaknitters were left and sleeping bags and duvets were rolled out.  The next morning saw a very lazy breakfast in the sun, alot more knitting, another short row tutorial and then goodbyes.  I dropped off Mel, Jen & Ysolda at South Ken and went and got some gelati with Sarah then a coffee to chat a bit more (and knit too of course!) before she too had to head off to Harrow to pick up her car and head back north to home hubbie & her Norse God fancy rats.  
We did manage to get some photo ops with Hooli, Woolly, Elijah & Otto in the Yarn Room.  Don’t worry, Hooli’s now got one of those fake ciggies to help wean him from the habit.  No smoking allowed in the Yarn Room.
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