Sunday, 31 October 2010

You have to look for the silver lining...

I'm a great believer of looking for the silver lining.  It's not something I'm always good at looking for or finding.....  but life does tend to be a lot happier if you can find it.  So on Thursday morning after a horrid journey to Cambridge to drop my mam off for her coach home, I was in need of finding a little tiny silver lining.  Not a huge earth shattering one, just a nice little one to stop that sinking feeling that everything I touch that day will go wrong.

So on the way home along the A14 I took the advice of a friend and called into The Yarn Gallery which is just north of Bury St Edmunds.  I wasn't sure what I'd find but I knew a yarn fix would definitely brighten my day.

I'm glad I went......  By this point I had been up for almost 5 hours with no tea!  I don't do well without tea.  So when one of the first things they said to me was 'Would you like a cuppa tea?' I knew my day had taken a turn for the better.

It was a wonderful little place with lots of wonderful yarns to fondle and a variety of other things to dribble over.  Yup I spent money, well really, you didn't seriously think I wouldn't did you?

Rope - 70% Meriono, 20% Alpaca 10% Silk
This is called Rope and it'a a chunky which the label says to knit on 10mm needles.  I bought two skeins of this (65m each) which should be enough for a lovely hat or a scarf or something.  Something warm for the winter at any rate. 

I'm not entirely sure what this yarn was called but it's a Nylon Microfibre.  Normally I wouldn't go for something like this but it has the most amazing feel and there were some beautiful pieces of knitting on display which incorporated it.  I chose a colourway to match the Rope yarn as I'm thinking about combining them.

I also found a couple of skeins of a now discontinued yarn lurking in a corner.  Fab colours and again I feel they are destined for something warm for winter.  I'm not sure what yet but I'm sure they won't be in the stash for long hehe

The yarn was yummy but what really put a smile on my face was finding wooden dpn's in various diameters and lengths.  I bought loads... about 8 packs actually....  Cough cough..... Well they were a good price and I need them.....  I do honest!  You're not buying it are you?

So what am I going to do with all these dpn's?  Hmmm...  hats.... toys..... and first up is a Tea Cozy...

I love my tea pot.  It fits into my kitchen wonderfully but it's metal.  As such it doesn't keep my tea very warm for long.  Now what is the point of that I ask you.  I have smaller ceramic ones but this is the only one that will do a big brew.  So tea cozys it is.  The yarn is Araucania which I bought at Ally Pally.  Unfortunately the photo doesn't show it off well as there is a lot more green in there.

I've done a picot hem but I've not quite decided that the top will be like.  However one thing I am sure of is that it will help keep my tea warm as the weather becomes colder.

Hmmmm speaking or tea - time to put the kettle on........

Monday, 25 October 2010

The Bear with no name - has a name.....

A few weeks ago I decided to make a knitted teddy bear.  The pattern is a free download by Debbie Bliss that I found on Ravelry.  He was so much fun to knit but once finished he obviously needed a name.  But I just couldn't  find it.  I emailed some friends with pictures and asked their opinion but nothing really seemed to work.  Then via a few people a name gradually emerged.  

Ollie the Hopefull Bear

However upon hearing the name my mam burst out grinning and asked when I was going to make Stan to keep him company.  Hmmmm..... do you think Laurel and Hardy would approve?

Did I mention that my mam is visiting?  She arrived on Saturday and on Sunday we visited Wolverstone Hall which is home to Ipswich High School for GIrls.  Why?  I'd seen some signs for a craft exhibition.  Called Peninsular Crafts this turned out to be quite an interesting afternoon and there was even tea and cake ;-)

I really liked this painting and the baskets.  They seemed to sit together so wonderfully well even though they were by different people.  The painting had lovely texture and if I'd been able to aford it I'd have been very very tempted.  As for the baskets I just kept wondering how wonderful they would look with yarn in them hehe......

This was part of a larger wall hanging which was made up of all sorts of things.  I liked the colours that the face was made up of.

One thing that I'm finding more and more when I look at crafts sych as quilting etc is I spend more time wondering how I would make them than actually wanting to buy or own them.  I'm used to this with knitted items, like many knitters I tend to look and think 'HHhhmmmmm  I could make that and if I did I tweek this and change that just a little bit......'  But up until recently I've not had this desire or reacting with other crafts.  Kind of makes me wonder how long it's going to be before I add another craft to my ever growing list........

Saturday, 23 October 2010

The washing machine is talking about going on strike!

I have a lovely washing machine which I treasure.  It's amazing how you can love a household appliance.  My last one flooded the cottage when it died and the replacement took a few weeks to be bought and installed etc.....  It's amazing how much we rely on these devices.  As a result this one is loved and cherished.  BUT, it's threatening to go on strike due to over work this week.

Remember how I was whinging about a headache last weekend?  Well by Monday morning I was ill.  That horrible ill where you can move about but only in a zombie like fashion..... the brain is functioning just enough to control your legs on the way to the bathroom but any form of normal reasoning etc is just not happening.  I didn't make it into work but did drag myself in on Tuesday morning.  By mid-morning though I was heading home as it was obvious to all that if I didn't I'd probably keel over before the day was out.  Fortunately I woke up on Wednesday feeling fine.  However, (and this is where the washing machine comes in) I have this strange thing when I'm ill.  I wash things.  No I don't know why.....  I just tend to wash things in my zombie state.

So the washing machine had been working hard during my illness......

Then on Wednesday, Pebbles the mad puppy dog decided it was appropriate to wee all over my bed rather than ask to be let outside.

More washing, duvet, blanket, sheets........  Oh and don't forget about the normal washing that a household with two dogs and three cats generates......

You starting to see a pattern here?

So here we are on Saturday morning and..... yes you guessed it..... the washing machine is hard at work yet again.  Another duvet this time as Jake really has hurt himself.  Remember the jumping up and down incident last weekend?  Well it now looks like he's broken the end off one of the bones in his leg.  The vets aren't exactly sure at the moment but as a result he's sleeping in my bedroom so I can keep an eye on him.  I have no problem comforting him at night etc but I simply can't cope with a duvet covered in dog fur......  So the washing machine has definitely been the hero of the week in this household.

This is Jake on holiday in Scotland earlier this year.  I did wonder about taking a piccy of him with his bright red bandage all up his back leg, but seriously, who wants to look at photos of a sick dog on a blog!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

The Best Laid Plans of Beast and Man

Well after a hectic week I had mentally slated today (Sunday) to be a day of pottering around the cottage, knitting and relaxing before the work begins all over again.  But surprise surprise it's not gone quite to plan.  To start with I've not been feeling well.  I've not been feeling well all week if truth be told, but given the number of people I know who have had full blown colds and man-flu I can't really complain about a persistent headache and a bit of sneezing.

So yesterday morning after the beasts got me up early I decided to finish off the scarf I've been working on.  This is made out of a beautiful 100g ball of Manos Del Uruguay Silk Blend which was a birthday present from a friend.  It came with the instructions to knit something nice for myself from it.  The colours are beautiful blues and greens that remind me of the sea.  A couple of years ago I took some photos looking down to the sea from the cliffs near where I grew up in the North East of England.  I remember at the time standing there and wondering why we never appreciate the beauty of where we live while we live there.  The colours of the waters below me looked displaced.  Not the sort of palette you would expect from the north coast of England, more a tropical lagoon.  Casting on I wondered about the stitch to use, eventually deciding on a very simple stitch which is mainly plain knitting which would allow me an easy knit which I could easily do while tired on the sofa.

So Saturday morning I finished off the last few rows and the ends were sown in.  I picked up my beautiful soft, silky scarf and realised I had nothing at all to wear it with.......  I wore it anyway when heading into town for lunch with my friend Maytheweed although I'm not sure a black fleece coat was the best partner to show it off.....

While in town I bought some bamboo 5mm dpn's to start my next project.  Many months ago I say the beautiful toy elephant Elijah by Ysolda on Ravelry and fell in love with him.  Last week at Ally Pally I bought some variegated blue/white silk yarn and the idea just took hold.  So I quickly did a swatch to check the size of needles I would need and added them to my shopping list. This morning I sorted out the pattern and cast on.  This would be the point where the plan starts to look a little less inspiring.  I was quickly working my way down the head piece and decided that a cuppa tea was in order.  While making this, Jake the dog started to give me the puppy dog look through the door which leads to the conservatory so I opened it to allow him and his manic friend Pebbles into the main part of the cottage.  As usual this involved Pebbles heading straight to the cats food bowls (we you never know what you might find) and Jake jumping up and down in the air like an idiot in front of me to ensure he gets my attention......

And this is where the plan all went wrong again.....

Remember the plan?  A nice relaxing day?  I'm not sure what Jake did but one second he's jumping up and down like a loon and the next he's squealing in pain and refusing to put his back right leg on the floor.  My best guess is that he landed awkwardly from one of his bounces and hurt himself.  The noise was horrible...... Pebbles went mad trying to work out what was going on and I couldn't get near his foot to check it as this placed my head (remember the headache) right next to his head which was still emitting the VERY loud squeals of pain.

Anyway long story short......  Jake is now curled up by me feet and there doesn't appear to be any breaks or anything like that in his leg.  He's still not walking on it but he's no longer crying in pain and has allowed me to check it over.  I'm going to give him a while to have a nap and calm himself down before deciding if we need to disturb the vet.  As for my Elijah?  Well I've decided that the swatch may have lied as it seems to be knitting up much looser than I wanted.......

Hmmmm so decisions decisions, do I keep going?  Frog and restart?  If I frog how do I alter it?  Smaller dpn's or knit on these but double the yarn.....  Oh the best laid plans.....

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Ally Pally

Well after looking forward to it for months today was my visit to Ally Pally.  I've not been able to visit before but have heard so much about it.

There were quite a few coach trips going from this area but I managed to book onto one with several friends from the local knitting groups.  I was one of the last of this group to get on (there were several pickups) to find that the back seats upstairs had been nabbed for our motley crew.  Memories of the naughty kids always sitting on the back seat lept to mind and sure enough we were the loudest bunch on the coach.

The journey went smoothly and we arrived just before 10 o'clock.  Soon we were in and mooching about.  Unfortunately many of the stalls and exhibits had signs up asking people not to take photographs so I couldn't take piccys of all the lovely yummy things we found.  I did take a few shots and hopefully none were of things people didn't want photographed.

This is the most amazing miniture quilt.  It was part of an exhibition stand and was no more than 18 inches or so across.  The detailing was amazing.  I really admire quilts and maybe one day I will have enough spare time to have a go.  There were certainly many wonderful examples there including the most beautiful teddy bear one.  I really wanted to take a photo of that but the lady whose stall it was said no.  That sort of thing was disappointing but fair play I certainly understand.  It was a little harder to understand with the exhibition stalls, kind of seems to defeat the object of exhibiting but I suppose people are worried about copys being made or something.  Anyway I can away with the details of the lady with the Teddy bear quilt and maybe at some point in the near future I'll persuade one of my quilting friends to help me get started.

Now these beautiful baubles were really eye catching.  Again beading is a craft that I've not really explored much but these really stood out.  I didn't price them as I don't decorate my home for Christmas, between 3 cats, 2 dogs and a tendancy to visit family anyway I don't really see the point.  However if I did I could so easily see these gracing the lounge and flickering in candle light.

Now this huge, errr, white thing was on exhibition.  It caught my eye from a distance although I'm not entirely sure what it was.  It reminded me of a cross between a snowflake, a net curtain and a stencil.  I suppose it was a wall hanging.  Regardless I stood staring at it for quite a while.

Some of the big names you'd expect to see were also there.  The two photos above were taken on the Rowan stand.  I have a strange relationship with Rowan.  I really want to like it, especially the yarn, but invariably I'm disappointed.  If you get a good batch then it's great but I find a lot of balls have knots.  I once bought a 50g ball and it had three knots in it.  So now I tend to admire Rowan and but buy it.

So what did I actually buy?  Well a beautiful leather handbag for my mother, some yarn to make a knitted Bagpuss and some wonderful hand dyed worsted weight silk.  The Bagpuss is an Alan Dart pattern and when I saw it I just knew it was going right to the top of my list of projects.  I don't really remember the tv program much but it must have made an impression on me as a child.  Whenever I see a photo of Bagpuss I always want to reach out and cuddle him.  So now maybe I'll get my own Bagpuss to cuddle.  The pattern calls for Aran yarn but I couldn't find any of that in appropriate colours anywhere so had to settle for it in dk.  Still I can't see why it shouldn't work in dk provided I'm consistant throughout.  Fingers crossed....

Well like many knitters and crafters who were at the show today I'm now at home, drinking a cuppa and wondering if it's to early to sneak off to bed.  Perhaps there will be wolly dreams of all the lovely projects I can make out of all the yummy yarn I bought, all presided over by the comforting presence of a Bagpuss......

Saturday, 2 October 2010

A little Treat......

Well it was pay day this week so I decided to treat myself.  I'm sure for many women this would mean shoes, make-up, a night on the town.....  Nope I've booked myself on a coach trip to Ally Pally and bough a couple of balls of yarn.  Last of the big spenders eh!

I also took a trip over to picturesque Lavenham in Suffolk.  I've heard a lot about this place, not least because they have a renounded Spinners Guild.  Unfortunately I wasn't there for spinning but it was a lovely place to have a look round.

Lavenham was very prosperous in the 15th and 16th centuries thanks to the wool trade.  It would have been nice to have had a bit more of a look round but unfortunately they weather wasn't that great and I had things to do.

It's been a long week and I'm now looking forward to my armchair upstairs and some knitting ;-)  Perhaps tomorrow I'll have the energy to block my mams shawl.