Friday, December 28, 2007

All were well received...

Christmas has been and gone in a predictably quiet fashion, as Dave and I spent it at home, just the two of us, the cats and of course, our ongoing colds. The tree survived without feline interest and the wrapping paper was left unmolested which has led us to believe that Charlie has taken his cue from Missy. i.e. other than prowling around the base of the tree from time to time (who knows what might be hiding there) they've both pretty much ignored all festive decoration.

Unlike this pair (courtesy of Esther) who while very cute leave me relieved that my cats are so well behaved!

The presents I knitted or crocheted for my family seem to have gone down well which is both a relief and a surprise, since my family are not into crafts or hand made gifts at all.

There is even reported sibling bickering, because one niece got a hand knitted scarf and the other one didn't; with the one who didn't complaining bitterly that she'd been left out. My explanation that I ran out of time was accepted by her mother (my sister) who said she'd explain I was an exceptionally slow knitter, the way her brother-in-law was a very slow typer. This left me with the very firm impression that my sister and her family have absolutely no idea how long it takes to knit a scarf and believe one can be whipped up in an hour or two, rather than the more realistic couple of weeks. Some of us have day jobs after all!

Being a free woman who is no longer working on Christmas presents, I finally started knitting Dave his long awaited scarf.

It is taking a long, long time. As you can see, it's mostly moss stitch with a cross-hatch effect picked out across it. Done entirely in either knit or purl, the pattern is easy enough, but the 18 row repeat needs concentration which in my cold ridden state I don't seem to have and the 4mm needles mean each repeat is just a couple of inches, so progress is slow. Still Dave likes it, so there is a good chance he'll wear it when I finally get it done, so I shall continue to persevere.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen, we present... first socks!

It has been a quiet few days here at Chez Lurgy, with the only healthy ones left standing being the cats. My guess is that I picked up a second virus (probably from my father who had a cold when we visited) while in Cornwall last weekend, which latched onto the wake of my original cold and rather knocked me for six.

Worse, Dave caught it as well, so both of us have been coughing, sniffing and shuffling around in a zombie like fashion. This has disrupted our plans over the past few days, since even venturing to the chemist at the end of the road proved to be exhausting. Even knitting was too much of an effort!

We were hoping to go to a carol service tonight, but I doubt either of us could get through one line without inducing a coughing fit... So we shall probably have to skip that as well.

It's not all doom and gloom though, as I did eventually muster enough energy to finish my socks...

So here we have my first socks, knitted from Web of Wool's basic sock pattern, with a few suggestions from the Yarn Harlot's Knitting Rules! thrown in. Her explanation on decreases and arranging the stitches on the needles so you have top and bottom stitches in the same place, helped a whole lot. The yarn is one of Regia's self striping 4-ply's, 75% wool/25% nylon.

I finally got there. I'm not sure the grafting or the decreases are the neatest, particularly on the second sock where I was struggling to breathe while working on the toe. It did serve as an excellent distraction from being miserable though!

And finally, Happy Christmas to anyone reading this and I hope you'll be joining myself and Dave in tracking Father Christmas as he makes his epic journey around the world tomorrow night.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

And that's that for another year...

I'm still full of lurgy and I don't think spending the past few days driving around Plymouth and Cornwall helped. I know that when we came to a halt on the M5 last night (due to an accident somewhere near Bromsgrove) I was relieved for a chance to blow my nose!

The ongoing problems with internal pressure build up in my sinuses aside, the trip wasn't too bad. There was one particularly hairy moment when we were returning from Bodmin to Plymouth late at night, only to find the A38 was closed. We had no choice but to head off across country, navigating tiny country lanes completely lacking in lighting or signage, driving to Dobwalls via Lostwitheil. The resulting journey being made even more exciting because of a bus which sat on my rear bumper, repeatedly flashing his lights at me because he'd decided I wasn't driving fast enough.

Credit goes to Dave for successfully navigating us across Cornwall, through a combination of creative map reading, guesswork and sheer handsome genius.

Other than that, the trip went pretty much as planned, with my schedule seeing us visiting family in Plymouth, Bodmin and Penzance. I've covered a lot of miles, delivered gifts, collected one or two of the same, found both the yarn shop (Knit Wits)and habberdashery (Buttons and Bows) in Penzance, worked my way through a box of tissues and knitted some sock.

As you can see from the picture, the first sock is done with its toe grafted shut. I've done my best to match up the stripes on its pair which is well on its way, with its heel turned just earlier today. My hope is to get it finished before Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Take two... or possibly three...

I can confirm that I do indeed have a cold that is now in full swing and making life difficult. With an awful lot of work to get through this week, I've resorted to the Beechams and I'm relying on caffiene to keep me on my feet. With winter making itself felt, I decided to be sensible last night and stayed home rather than meeting up with my fellow knitters in the Town Crier. I'd have only sat there alternating between soggy mopping of my poor nose and frantic sneezing, neither of which would have made me very good company I fear.

So at home, I pushed on with the sock which is progressing well (again). I'm working on the decrease for the toe (where it all went horribly wrong last time) and looking forward to my attempt to graft the toe closed very soon. Grafting is reputed to be scary and so it will be interesting to see if I manage it OK.

I am not tempting fate once more by posting pics.

And finally (cos this is just a very quick update really)... Tomorrow marks an important blogging birthday, as it was the 14th December last year that I first wrote properly in this blog, my previous post having been a "Hello, what's this blogger thing then..." type afair. Doesn't time fly!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


After a wet, cold and miserable weekend - today I've woken with what certainly feels like the beginning of a cold. At the moment I'm in the fuzzy headed and active sinus stage... I'm still being optimistic and hoping it will blow over; I far too much to do over the next week or so to be ill!

Friday I worked from home - much to the cats' delight - while I waited in for my new washing machine. I'm happy to be able to report it was delivered as expected, has been unpacked (which involved a lengthy search for mythical plastic bits supposedly underneath the machine but nowhere to be seen) and connected to the water supply and waste pipe. With an ongoing torrential downpour throughout the weekend, I gave it a test drive and it works a treat. The only downside was just how long these 'A' rated appliances take to complete an economy wash!

Saturday I headed down to Warwick, to hunt for some knitting needles in the Crafty Cottage. Sadly, Jo had a sale on which destroyed my wavering self control and I ended up buy some very nice Lousia Harding 'Grace Silk and Wool'. I stayed for a while, enjoying a cuppa, sheltering from the rain while working on my sock and looking through some books. Jo also passed on some antiquated crochet mags which a gentleman had given her which belonged to his late wife and were in search of a new home. I was also completely surprised to be given a Christmas present, completely bowled over really since it was genuinely unexpected. Thanks Jo!

The rest of the weekend was dedicated to wrapping the mountain of presents I need to haul down to the South West to give to our families. I even managed to persuade Dave to wrap a couple!

My other preoccupation over the weekend was my first sock. I posted a picture of the sock last week, but on Thursday (the day after the photo was put up), the sock met with an accident.

I'm still not entirely sure what happened, but I'd reached the toe so was decreasing when some stitches fell off the needle. I didn't spot them until I'd knitted around and then I tried to pick them up. No matter how I tried, I couldn't. They were right in the decrease area and all that happened was I kept splitting the yarn.

After struggling for 20 minutes to pick the stitches up, I decided to take a deep breath and remove the needles, rip back a few rows to before the decrease and then put the stitches back on the needles. What I hadn't counted on was how difficult it is to pick up a round of stitches at such a tight guage. To cut a long story short, I just couldn't get the stitches back onto the needles.

Later, after much silent cursing and hard staring with no progress and things just getting worse every time I tried to fix it... I gave up. I ripped the entire sock out.

Friday evening, I started again.

And now... I'm on the foot again, slowly approaching the toe. Fingers crossed that this time, I make it all the way to the end!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Awash with technical details

For the early part of this week I've been mostly at a conference, listening to many, many presentations on Oracle whilst wearing my professional hat. It's been tiring, with long days where I've got up long before dawn, hiked to the nearest train station, suffered the indignity of public transport before hiking to Birmingham's Symphony Hall and Conference Centre where I've had my brain filled with all sorts of technical details. Then I get to repeat experience of public transport to get home somewhere after 8:30pm.

Of course, I should still be there but being absent from work for several days on the trot is tricky, especially since I'll be off on holiday after the end of next week. I have oodles of work to get on with and very few days in which to do it.

After a couple of days of commuting to Birmingham, I've remembered why I hate using public transport and why I would be reluctant to take a job where I had to spend over three hours every day getting there and back. I've also discovered that I've forgotten how to talk to sales people, which used to be something (in a previous incarnation) I had to do on a regular basis. I worked out early on that I should have sorted out business cards, after I wrote my name and contact details down for the third or forth time. And of course, I missed tea and email and access to the internet in general. I could have lugged a laptop along with me and we were wi-fi'd up, but... That would have meant carrying it all day and walking a good two miles through Coventry holding onto it. For the uninitiated, Coventry (while not completely awful) does have its share of criminal types, and a woman walking alone in the dark (be it 7am or 8pm) through poorly lit streets has to remember this.

Today, normal service resumes and I can start off by saying some with relief that I've finished knitting washcloths for this year. No pictures, since once you've seen one you've seen them all but there are some examples here if you really want to see. I'm not entirely sure how many I've made... I lost count somewhere along the way, but if there are not enough to go round then it's tough. I'm done.

On Sunday, the sun came out - albeit briefly - and so I dragged my favourite kitchen chair out onto the patio to take some photographs.

Here we have a Four Cable Scarf, based on the Double Cable Scarf from One Skein by Leigh Radford.

I initially cast on enough stitches for three cables rather than four, but after knitting up some eight inches or so, decided it wasn't wide enough and ripped the whole lot back. I started again with 52 stitches for four cables, incrementing by 12 stitches for each cable from the original 28 specified by the pattern. I also added a considerable amount of length by increasing the middle ribbing section so that the whole thing measures about 6ft.

The yarn is a standard superwash wool DK and in daylight a sort of pinky red which is very pretty as well as a strong colour.

I'm pleased with this one. It's my first go at cables and as someone who a year ago didn't know how to knit (other than in a vaguely recalled way) I think it marks my progress in eleven months somewhat.

Another indicator of how far I've come is this...

My first sock. Still on the needles and coming along well.