Thursday, 31 March 2011

What happens when a item goes off to its intended recipient?

At times I wonder about becoming a selfish knitter. You see I make a lot of items for my loved ones. It is general a gift from the heart for a seasonal occasion like Christmas or anniversary event such as a birthday.

Ape and George from the
George of the Jungle movie
Dear Hubby, J, was on the no knit list for almost 10 years after a white Aran cabled jumper was made to his precise specifications and then never was worn by him.... I knew when he picked the wool it was too hot and he would not believe me. Heck what did I know I had only been married to him approximately 10 years by that stage and knew that he was my personal hot water bottle system.  I relented in 2008/2009/2010 made him 2 vests and 1 jumper. I can honestly say I have not seen him wear any of them more than once or twice..  You wonder why when you consider how big he is that he has been put back on the no knit list. NAH not when you consider he is a silver back gorilla I have had to knit extremely long stretches between neck and waist or shoulder to wrist.

This labour of love has been
 seen on the floor frequently.
Daughter, Ry, well where do I start... She should be on the NO knit list thanks to the way she looks after items I have knitted for her. If you want to have an overview of my projects over the last couple of years just look on her bedroom floor. Lately she has scored some items since I am trying to Stash Down and she scored the Reynolds merino/mohair mix that I can not use for my own garments. 
An old Billy vest for Rh.
Of the three of them Rh, aka the boyo (the son) is actually the most appreciative of his knitted items.  He loves knitted socks and wears his jumpers and vests to a point past where they no longer fit him. That is an interesting crop top vest? I have had to steel old vests off him cause he would keep wearing them when they would not even cover his kidneys. He is almost due for some new items once I get the never ending queue of projects beaten down a bit to a more manageable level.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Tidy mind, tidy stitches.

Hang on....  I actually subscribe to the philosophy of a tidy desk means a sick mind. So how do I get to a tidy mind equates tidy stitches.  Well I find a messy work bench hinders creativity.

I find Ravelry was brilliant for organising my yarn stash theoretically but I am working on dealing with my stash in real life. One of the first things is I am doing is trying to get it under control. I am doing the Stash down in 2011 and so far so good. I have only brought 3 skeins of yarn while there has been over 30 skeins come out of the stash.  I have been using large plastic crates for my yarn stash but I am currently in the process of refurbishing an old steamer trunk into my yarn trunk.

Above is a picture of what drawers should be there in my trunk but they are missing.  I am wanting to replace the drawers with Palclear UV.  This is a clear perspex product that will allow the contents of the drawers to be viewed but has the UV protection in so if the trunk is standing open sunlight does not damage the draw contents. The lining material also needs replacing and the outside of the trunk also needs work.  But I estimate that this option will provide approximately 4 plastic crates worth of storage but also provide me with beautiful display piece.

As part of the fit out of the trunk will also creating storage space for the various Nameste bags and other accessories that I have.  I just love my nameste bags and I will be acquiring a couple more.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Skill + 1UP

Last year I took the challenge of working on my Lace skills.  It was about 18 months ago after many many attempts and a bit of determination did I finally get how to read lace charts.  I have become so familiar and comfortable with the charts in the last 12 months that I now find looking at written instructions to be a pain in the arse and sometime confusing. Who woulda thunk for this dyslexic bunny?? I just needed the hand holding and support from the ravelry beginner lace knitters group!

To think I struggled the first time I knitted this pattern.

This year I am working on developing my technique knowledge and skills through the use of socks. This is where I using sock projects to work on alternative construction techniques and approaches such as toe up, two at a time and different heels construction.

One of the recent completed sock patterns.
I am also trying to improve my colour work and design skills and the sock projects are giving just enough practice for each. I am doing the lace challenge again but this year all the patterns are more advanced and this is a reflection that I am advancing in my skills.  I am also working on my spinning I am determined to get better at lace weight.

Monday, 28 March 2011

A Tale of Two or Three Yarns: lessons yarn addicts learn

As a yarn addict there are some lessons we all have to learn.  Each yarn addict may have to learn that sometimes even though you love the colour or feel or texture of the yarn it is just not going to work for you in the project you are working on.  I have found out that through hard and painful experience that I can not knit with mohair not even a small percentage of mohair mixture. After many years in wilderness of the tropical climate of Northern Australia where I got to knit in lots of cotton and the very very rare wool yarn I thought I would be able to knit with these other wonderful yarns like wool, angora and mohair when we moved to UK.

So like a good rowan knitter who gets her magazine subscription each year (about 2006/7) I was given was given a couple of balls of Kid Silk Haze, (70% mohair, 30% silk).  The Kid Silk Haze is also known as yarn crack in many a yarnie's stash.  When I got these balls it was summer and I thought that it was just my normal summertime hay fever issues were interrupting me when I was playing with yarn. I didnot even think that it might have been the yarn but it must be the high pollen count for the day. I was sneezing and sniffiling aware to the point were I did not feel well enough to knit.  I ended up putting the project and therefore the yarn away for a couple of days and low and behold my nose stopped dripping like a tap. Who had changed the washer? Picked up the yarn and within 20 minutes my nose is like a river and I am ready to rip the eyes out of head.  Mohair is not my friend.  

I have even tried lower percentage count mixes such as 14% mix that I accidentally brought for myself. I had done the colour choice and not read the ball details too closely, as it was online special price on closeout sale from Webs.  Webs is a very bad place for bank balances but great for developing and extending the size of a knitter's stash. Imagine the chagrin in this household when the cause that I was sniffling so much was the 14% mix. But But I love this colour and it was going to be something for MEEEEEEE!!!!!! I had to rip out that cardigan I was working on as there was no way I would be able to wear it.   Imagine having 20 balls in a pretty yarn in your stash and not being able to use it.  Stuff that for a monkey's! Where are the antihistamines and one new carnaby skirt for the daughter since she like the colour as well and has absolutely no problems with the mohair content.  Damn! that is so not fair. Of course since there was no reason for me to use the left over balls Daughter had to put the request in for a matching jacket. This yarn was the one I used for the MIA 1 & 2 projects for the daughter. I still have to finish the sleeves but I have to find another packet of antihistamines first.

Like any yarn junkie there are some yarns I just have to due their colour. I had been drooling over Zauberballs for a while and I finally got my mitts on some.  I was a joy to play with. However, even though I am a yarn junkie there are some yarns that I can never see myself using such as jelly yarns.  When I first learnt about this yarn a number of years ago it was an adamant no sodding way, Hell could freeze over first before I would ever use it. But now I can see the possible potential in this yarn but it is still a case of not for me.  I am not being a yarn snob but I just don't enjoy knitting with 100% acrylics.  I have used them and not liked them.  What is the point with knitting with something you don't like using and therefore decrease your enjoyment to the point that you absolutely hate the project?   There are times when I have to use acrylics but they tend to be acrylic mixed with a natural product so it is a case of choosing a yarn for the purpose.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Clocks turning jumping forward

Today we lost an hour and now we are on Summer time.  So we are heading into more light per day does that mean I will get more time to do things in a day.

This week I am participating in the knitting and crochet blog week and I hope you all enjoy the various posts that have been prepared.

So I would like to do a big shout out to eskiminiknits who is organising this event again.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Earth Hour 2011 / Stop the cuts March

Tonight is Earth hour were we the world needs think about how our resources are being used and what we can do to use them wisely and thoughtfully. Today has also seen a largely peaceful crowd of 250,000 marching in London protesting the cuts to services. These people in social services such a libraries and healthcare are also resources we need to think about how we are using or wasting.  

What do we as a society want to value? What can we do to improve our resource usage and the impact we create in the environment and communities we live in.

Is rapid consumption really necessary? Do you really need the latest and greatest gadget? What about your community and fellow man?  

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

MIA project update

In the end neither MIA1 the Carnaby skirt and the MIA 2 Hunting Jacket got to go with the daughter on her trip to Greece. The finishing of MIA1 did not happen before she walked out the door to get on the plane at an ungodly hour of the night (2 am) and we are still at that point in time on the projects. The complexities of real life has got in the way. I did not get any further with the sleeves while she was away but she had a great time and is even keener on doing History at Uni.  Funny how kids change their minds about University as until 18 months ago she was all Science gun ho now she has the humanities bent.  I think this the better option because I feel she can engage in the subject better and she appears to have a real flair in an associated subject (Creative Writing) ala her Nanowrimo and other story telling activities. History and Creative Writing can be done as double major so she has some job prospects even if she goes into teaching.  Shock Horror the thought of another generation containing a teacher. We have 4 or 5 generations depending on which side of the family you look.

I have managed to cast on another couple of projects but I am way behind cause I am not getting much done as I have had to stop basically most projects to do a urgent project or two to expand my interview portfolio for the Creative Crafts Degree.  Some days I doubt myself about this change in direction but I then remind myself what have I got to loose and is it really that important to maintain the existing status quo.

Point Current StatusDo the Creative Crafts
Pay Check.
Existing pay check but it we are pretty sure it will be  
smaller in the next academic year thanks to systematic changes to HE Funding.
Scholarship to cover the fees available
Bursary for 3 years equals 1/2 existing pay check.
Private support students only need a couple and will match existing pay check. 
    Love the 1:1 student interaction
    But hate the complex politics and management stress
      Getting out of the rat race and being able to develop a further area.
      Stop stressing about workplace which is making miserable.
      Potential to develop a design enterprise
        HealthDeveloping more issues with auto immunities the ability to work full time reduced. So would I really want to do this many hours and not have a home life to using all my spoons for work.Why not work part time in something you love
        How much longer will you have the functioning to do the course
          Life StyleA little bit bored in the job
          Lack of workplace intellectual stimulation and no possible future opportunities for promotion.
            Learning new things
            Have a long term interest in the area.
            Opening up another teaching subject area and thus future career options

              There are other reasons why I jumped at this opportunity

              • I needed a change as I felt I was in a rut 
              • Cancer opened the eyes to consider that not putting creative side of life on hold any longer
              • Life is too short to be doing something cause it pays the bills.
              • Need to enjoy more life with the family rather than always be recovering for spending the hours at work.  Cancer provided a wake up to how much life can be effected by running out of spoons.

              So the point of this post.  To remind myself to stop being a wuzz and having the collywobbles over the whole decision to apply for a new undergraduate degree.

              Saturday, 19 March 2011

              Spring is definitely here now.

              I really don't trust the crocuses and daffodils to be a sign of spring. For me spring is definitely here when the cherry trees blossom. The yellow of the broom is a sign of Spring is almost established but when the cherries bud and bloom is Spring most definitely here to stay and we are on our way to warmer weather. Should I say relatively warmer weather as we are talking about England here.

              On Monday I saw the pink buds of the cherry tree and it seems it was a symbolic sign for me. Chemo ended this week whoo hoo! and I have an opportunity to do something I have wanted to do for many years but did not have the access to do. On Monday I saw that new undergraduate course is being offered starting in September 2011 at one of the local universities and applications were to be in for this week. The fastest ever UCAS application was done and submitted. A phone call later from the admissions tutor and it appears that I am in provisional dependant on my interview on Monday Two weeks time. I just have to pass the interview process.

              Its not that I am giving up the Dyslexia support and other work I do but the uncertainty factor is getting higher and higher and the pressure in the institutions is squeezing tighter and tighter. Life is just too short for this sort of hassle YKWIM?? Added to the hassle of working full time in the HE sector, the part time PhD has been on hold for almost 12 months thanks to the ConDem government and it is apparent that it is not worth continuing as the classroom will be a completely different when ever they finally announce all their plans. With the recent bout of chemo and the navel gazing that it induced I feel with all the change happening in the HE sector it was time for me to change again. I have changed career on more than one occasion it looks like right now is the perfect opportunity. I had been toying with going back and getting a new engineering degree for a few years but hubby had threatened divorce as he felt that it was not the course what I was looking for.  He was right but I could not find what I was looking for course wise. I did not want to do structural engineering as I was more enamoured with product design and the limited production of handcraft items.  I did not want a single craft program like ceramics but one which allowed me to participate in multiple design sectors.  

              So for the next week or so I have to develop a portfolio and prepare a number of samples for the interview so I can be a full time student in Creative Crafts.  Imagine being able to knit for a University class assignment. It will be a novel experience for me to be a full time uni student and half time part time work. I have always done Uni as an add on to Full time work and everything else. So I am going to be flat out like a headless chook for the next week or so getting ready for my interview cause I really really want to do this course. Keep all your bits crossed for me.  

              Sunday, 13 March 2011

              Rav Taver's surprise parcel BOO.

              The RAVTAV or Ravelry Tavern is a online thread were a bunch silly ravelry members play regularly with great frivolity and virtual booze.  We have a Gorilla as a barkeep and the cleaning crew are bunch of fairies and elves. The standard drink measure is a bucket of rum.  Note a bucket not a glass we dont believe in half measures.

              A gang of regulars in the tav recently sent me a care package. Finally I have had some sunlight today so photography was possible but I had work and therefore I delegated this to the boys ie Hubby and son.

              The unpacked box in sunlight
              As you can see I scored a bevy of monsters that each make me laugh great guffaws and chuckles. I was laughing so hard in the post depot car park when I got the box that I had streams of hysterical tears down my face. Even my normal house postie (who nipped out the back of the depot to the delivery van car park for a ciggie) laughed when he came over to see if I was all right. I must have looked a sight sitting in the car as I always go blotchy when I cry even when it is due to laughter.

              The disabled parking for the local post depot is actually in the main depot van delivery area and you have a special little buzzer and the person manning the parcel desk comes out to see you.  The special parking arrangements are so you don't have to get out the car and attempt to get in the building via the most un-disabled friendly entrance to a building I have ever encountered for a public service agency. I had already done the buzzer and the parcel desk postie had collected the card and brought the box back to me. I could not wait to home so it was lets break into the interesting red parcel in the car.

              Patience is a virtue which I just don't have when it comes to parcels. I prod and poke mail parcels to the nth degree. I totally know I get this from my mother who as nefarious for investigating christmas pressies in the same manner. So I  creating complete chaos in the front seat while roaring with laughter over each item. Of course when when my house postie asked I told him all about ravelry and the silly gang while showing him everything that had come out of the box. Postie had that look when I had finished raving about every item which said "I will just agree with the deranged woman and she will eventually leave me alone"

              So my house postie wants a copy of any photos for his bit of the wall in the depot. I think it was going to go up with a comment of the weirdest and wackiest parcel he has ever been involved in with the delivery (he did the card slippy thing in the door). I already have a reputation for mugging the postie who is on whenever I am waiting for a yarn parcel.
              Give me my wool now !!! pretty please!
              So here is another big thanks to gang who did this box for me and a heads up of who made what:
              • a Yip Yip Alien from hishummingbird
              • Fur monster from dawnmc71
              • a Pirate duck from maggiesocks
              • a Captain Jack Sparrow and pirate theme-d sweatshirt from Jlwiemelt
              • a sock monster who are holding onto a pair of socks and some heavenly fibre from wonkyknitter
              • a grumpasuraus who could have been me for the last couple of months from bzzymom29
              • a slug family from Lissaplus2
              • A lovely little bag and green Cyclops alien monster from Twirlymom
              • large green slug from sishogan
              • a nautilus by geneticsgirl
              • a Little Alien and mini monster from Samiad
              • a couple of cards and a joint letter from the gang.
              Also a big thank you to all the other co-conspirators who managed to keep it a secret for so long while being in on it.   

              With much loves and thanks,


              Wednesday, 9 March 2011

              Running out of time

              I am running out of time on MIA 2 we have T minus 6 hours until she jets off to Greece on the school trip.  I have half of two sleeves left to do along with sewing it up, doing the neck band and blocking it.  I also have to finish sewing the lining into the skirt.  With this shockingly short time frame before she walks out the door I just don't think it is going to happen so I am activating plan C for contingency.  I am slightly delusional but not totally.

              Two fronts done.
              As per normal when you have a deadline life has interrupted and having the great effect of dumping me on my arse.  I should have taken this project with me when I spent the 8 hours + waiting round the Southport hospital last week but I grabbed the easy grab my sock in progress bag.  I am also pretty sure the hubby would have spat the dummy at me knitting a jumper while in A&E.  Sock is acceptable but full-sized large project in public a little embarrassing for him in most places. 

              Blocking of the MIA 1 project, Carnaby Skirt
              Plan C.

              1. Finish inserting the lining into the skirt and making sure buttons are firmly attached.
              2. Step out of the way and let hubby and daughter do the packing of her bags.  Homicide is not an option but could be on the cards if I am involved in packing bags with daughter.
              3. Knit on sleeves but don't try and kill self to complete them tonight.
              4. Find an ice pack and bottle of rum for after daughter leaves at 2am tomorrow.
              5. Send text message to daughter tomorrow and remind her I want a decent photo of her in the skirt in Greece.

              Friday, 4 March 2011

              Plodding along

              Like many I find the balancing of life sometimes a little difficult to do.  Yesterday I got knitting time the hard way, definitely not the recommended way. I was doing the routine things that everyone does when getting ready for work or start of day such as having a Shower and I managed to fall out of it. Not just a mini trip or knocking my toes on the bathtub rim but a lets plant the face first onto the bathroom floor as I attempted to step out of the bathtub. Our shower is over one end of the bathtub. 

              After rearranging self for decency and attempting to get a look at the damage I found that I would not be getting up off the floor without assistance.  A pitiful cry of help went out and the youngest came to rescue me.  I got given my glasses so I could look in focus at the damage not just blurr. A winnie the pooh band aid was applied to my broken skin on the foot to stop bleeding and a small dose of sympathy in "That was a silly thing to do" handed back to his mother. It was a funny to hear my own and my mother's commentary and phraseology coming out of the mouth of babes.   He got me off the floor and downstairs, a bag of frozen peas and looked again at the bruise when he commented "Can I stay home and look after you cause you wont be able to go to work". Thank you that is a lovely offer but now tell me why you dont want to go to school. It turns out he had to do a class presentation and the thought of standing up to speak was giving him the hebie jebies.  He went to school and presentation went well.

              Last pair of socks which were worn to keep tooties from freezing.
              He was right I was not able to go to work.  I could not even put the foot on the floor to do any weight baring. Dad (J) had done the train run and gone into work early as Thursday is his early start.  I managed to call him before he started teaching at 9am and we decided that he would drop by in a couple of hours to review if I needed to do a hospital trip after his morning class. We have a local hospital but it does not do Adult A&E or minor injuries.  So I was thinking it would be lunch time and was getting settled to do some knitting after contacting all the students whom I was standing up or sitting up when Hubby came home early due to a flat tyre in the wheel chair.

              People are fascinated with 4 dpn hedgehog
              So I ended sitting a round a lot today and waiting. Thus I was sock knitting in public a lot of hours today. Drive to bike shop 10 mins. The two attempts to get wheelchair wheel sorted equalled 50 minutes sitting in car park. Getting to adult minor injuries 30 min drive. 1 hour after checking in with reception I got seen by triage nurse,  sent round to minor injuries section to spend 2 hours before doctor confirmed in 3 minutes it needed xraying. 2.5 hours in xray waiting room. Xrays done in 10 minutes. Sent back round to minors waiting room another hour to be seen in 10 minutes flat to confirm diagnosis and be given treatment (RICE & current orthotic shoes).  Drive home 30mins. Both J and I at this stage were going urrrgh about feeding the household so we picked the kids up and went out to a pub tea. Daughter of course managed to have her favourite dessert.

              Sticky Toffee Pudding

              All in all today can be summarised as
              Bad points
              • metatarsal damage ie Footballer break to 2nd and 3rd tarsal.
              • missing students sessions and therefore the pay from seeing students = less yarn
              • waiting around a lot
              Good points
              • I got to knit a LOT
              • I got some lovely comments for the possum socks, Wangi's, from the various nurses, doctor and radiographer.
              • I got some serious advancement on my Dublin bay socks
              • Taught a couple of other patients in radiography to knit and convinced  some others to join Ravelry
              • Got a pub tea