Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Pastures new

I'm not really sure whether anyone checks back to this blog at all. I've been in the blogging doldrums for a long time but now a fair wind is blowing and I've decided to try and resume this blog, albeit in a slightly different guise. If you want to have a look you can now find me here:

Hope to see you there!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Widely read or bust!

I didn't make any very concrete new year's resolutions but I've been thinking about things I'd like to get done in the next year. I'm not too sure where life is going to lead us in 2009, possibly new jobs, maybe a move to a different city and that makes it hard to envisage what goals are realistically achievable. I did think of one little thing I'd like to get done though:

These are the books I want to read during 2009. They are all novels that I've owned for some time (I can't think of when my most recent fiction purchase was) and that I've either not read or started and not finished. I'd like to finish all of these by the end of the year. If I actually get my thesis out of the way eventually (even more so if I manage to divest myself of my current job) I think this ought to be an achievable goal - I don't always feel like reading that much when I've
been either researching or proofreading the whole day, which you can imagine limits my reading opportunities somewhat.

I won't be too strict with this, if I don't finish everything it won't be the end of the world and since most of these books are reasonably heavy going I'll excuse myself if I need to read some mindless chick lit for light relief now and again :o)

For information purposes here is the list of books (I'll try and update as and when I am able to tick them off the list):

1. The Berlin Novels - Christopher Isherwood - bought years ago and never even started(!)
2. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Robert Pirsig - nearly finished twice, will have to start again as I can't remember what's happened so far
3. Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro - bought a couple of years ago, never started
4. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer - bought last year from a pound shop (!) haven't had a chance to look at it yet but I loved Everything is Illuminated
5. Der fremde Freund - Christoph Hein - cheating... I've read this before but I desperately wanted to re-read it and I've already started on this one... easing myself in I guess
6. Der geteilte Himmel - Christa Wolf - bought in a clearance sale from the uni bookshop never got round to looking at it
7. Was bleibt - Christa Wolf - bought in a clearance sale again
8. Kein Ort. Nirgends - Christa Wolf - it's sort of related to my thesis topic so I bought it second hand, but got sidetracked by reading for research
9. Russendisko - Wladimir Kaminer - nearly finished this and it's all little anecdote-type vignettes so should be able to pick up where I left off
10. Perfume - Patrick Suskind - got at least half way through this and was really enjoying it but will have to start again now because it's been too long
11. Life of Pi - Yann Martel - a charity shop find, started but not finished
12. Siddhartha - Hermann Hesse - another vaguely thesis related thing bought out of curiousity but haven't had a chance to look at it yet
13. Austerlitz - WG Sebald - another charity shop find, not started as yet
14. The Sorrows of Young Werther - Goethe - had to read it in German as an undergrad, don't think I really got it so thought I'd try it in English
15. Elective Affinities - Goethe - ditto the last reason
16. The Stone Raft - Jose Saramago - was postgrad coursework which I didn't manage to read at all - naughty me!

Hope this list doesn't make me sound overly pretentious!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

First post of 2009

Happy New Year everyone! My year has been low-key so far although I have been suffering from a mean case of startitis since just before Christmas. I've started a pair of socks, 2 sweaters and 2 scarves since then, plus I have project on the needles, cast aside in favour of all the fickleness, which is really quite near completion and which I should probably try to work on. Anyhoo, the socks have been ripped out to be restarted at a later date, 1 of the sweaters is on hold (having knitted about 3 inches worth) - the other sweater is no more, 1 of the scarves bit the dust after only a few rows and the nearly completed project awaits seaming (I hate seaming)... only 1 of the projects from the bout of startitis has stuck...

here is the currect state of the one that endured:

Clapotis in progress

Of course you can probably tell what it is... the ubiquitous Clapotis. I've never made one of these before but something inspired me (maybe a project that I saw in the random faves pages on Ravelry?) and I just decided it would be good to cast one on ... the Kauni yarn was a bit of whim too but is working out beautifully. Anyway, the project, despite being only a week old is somewhere around 75% finished so I reckon I'll be posting an FO here before the month is out.

In the meantime I'm posting a little (actually maybe not so little) review of my day to day life in 2008 - more as a little aide memoire to myself, but if you are at all interested then feel free to have a nose around!

1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before?
Tried to walk up a mountain (Snowdon) – maybe in 2009 I’ll get to the top.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s Resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I didn’t make any specific resolutions for last year, this year I’d like to lose a fair amount of weight (and finish my godforsaken thesis).

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No – a friend and his partner had a baby just after Christmas 2008 and another friend is pregnant with her first child and my cousin with her third child. That’s as close as I can get!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Fortunately, no.

5. What countries did you visit?

Spain, Wales.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?

A job that doesn’t depress me, more guilt-free leisure time.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

I’m not good with days and dates – the only event which I can correlate with the correct date is the US elections on Nov 4 – I stayed up way past my bedtime (until Ohio was called) watching the results shows with the boyf. Cheesy, oder?

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Finally got offered a new job, hopefully I might be able to start it soon!

9. What was your biggest failure?

Not finishing my thesis, plus too many minor failures for me to want to list!

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Sprained ankle.

11. What was the best thing someone bought you?

A Nintendo Wii (for Christmas – wonder why there hasn’t been any knitting content for a little while?.....)

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

The fabulous Richard who finally made it all the way to being Dr Dick.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Mine sometimes (not so much appalled, a little ashamed and depressed though).

14. Where did most of your money go?

Bills, biggest purchases were a new tent and a new camera.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Too many silly little things to mention – what can I say, I’m an excitable type…

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?

Kids – MGMT – at least it was surely the catchiest tune of the year.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

Fatter or thinner? Fatter.

Happier or sadder? About the same.

Richer or poorer? Poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Saving up. Working on my thesis.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Disappointing people. Feeling guilty and ashamed because I felt I wasn’t working hard enough (even when I was working my arse off! – can you tell this is issue is a thorny one for me?)

20. How do you plan to spend Christmas?

In 2009 we would like it to just be the two of us with a couple of side visits to the respective families.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?

It has been a good year for our relationship despite a lot of rubbishness going on our little world.

22. How many one night stands?


23. What was your favorite TV program?

House, Waking the Dead.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Not that I can think of – which I would say is a good thing.

25. What was the best book you read?

I don’t think I managed to read a whole book that I hadn’t already read before – so it’ll have to be The Secret History even though I’ve read it loads of times.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Seasick Steve, and the rediscovery of Manu Chao – great music for working on the thesis.

27. What did you want and get?

In a childish way: a Nintendo Wii, in a serious way: a job offer.

28. What did you want and not get?

Lots of jobs I applied for, the perfect pair of black boots.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?

All my old favourites, I can’t think what stuff I saw at the cinema – Sex and the City, Burn After Reading – they were both OK.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Went to the greyhound track in Hall Green and lost a lot of money! I turned 27.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Working less.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
The year of the skirt (relatively speaking).

33. What kept you sane?

The boyf, friends, taking breaks even if that was hard and left with me with difficult emotions to deal with.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Daniel Craig maybe, but he’s a bit of a perennial.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?

Not sure.

36. Who do you miss?

My family, especially my brother, didn’t see much of him this year.

37. Who was the best new person you met?

I didn’t really meet anyone new. Except fleetingly.

38. What was the best thing you ate?

Probably something from the restaurant where my brother works.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008?
If you can handle the guilt it’s always worth taking time for yourself to relax and be you.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
I’ll have to think about that and get back to you!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas knitting complete!

(But, well, let's just say, I didn't set myself that high a bar to clear!)

I met with my friend last night and we exchanged Christmas pressies - I think (I hope) that she liked her earrings - I always seem to be rather nervous about giving handmade things - you hope the recipient likes them on the one hand but on the other hand you want to try and communicate that they if they aren't too keen they needn't feel guilty and wear such things out of obligation! Anyway enough with the paranoia, how about a couple of FO pictures?

Knitted earrings - subtle

Knitted earrings - vibrant

Knitted earrings and gift pouch

I'm most pleased with the way the dyed wooden beads worked on style 3 from the Bijouterie collection, the other pair gives a small amount of subtle shine - they are made from clear glass seed beads. If you want to see the Ravelry page for this project you can find it here although it's not that informative! All the pairs of earrings I've made so far have been made with findings from Palmer Metals, silver-plated copper wire from Fred Aldous and a variety of beads from Sayila. I would recommend all of these companies for their product ranges, prices and speed of delivery :o)

As a small aside it is worth me pointing out another great reason for knitting this project - it has allowed me to cross off three more points on my Knitting Manifesto, namely, knitting with wire, knitting with beads and knitted jewellery. Huzzah!

I think there is only one more thing for me to say in this post, and that is for you all to do as the nutcracker army commands you:

Nutcracker dolls - take 1

*Have a lovely Christmas and a wonderful 2009!!*

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Winter Knitty has a lot to answer for!

Overall I didn't find the latest Knitty that exciting - there are only 2 patterns in there that really caught my eye. First off there is Amelia which I think is a lovely little cardi, which hopefully I will get a chance to knit one day. Secondly there is the front cover pattern Bijouterie which had an unexpected impact: it broke my resolve regarding not doing any Christmas knitting. I find Christmas quite stressful enough generally and this year has been my "year of stress" so far, so I certainly wasn't planning on adding to it by setting myself lots of deadlines I'd be unlikely to meet (I'd wanted to knit a shawl for a good friend who was very taken with my Adamas but steadfastly and with a heavy heart decided not to go for it). Then Bijouterie came along... well, knitting some earrings ought to be faster than a shawl and my friend will still get a knitted gift... it's not too bad. I ordered some materials and decided to start with a test run straight away. Here are the results of said test run:

Knitted wire earrings

I tried out all three of the patterns included in the collection - I couldn't quite seem to get the second style to look quite right so I discarded my scrappy efforts and moved on knowing I wouldn't have time to refine the results. I'll be keeping these trial versions of styles 1 (on the left) and 3 (on the right) for myself (although I'll probably undo the style 1 attempt and reuse the findings). I'm currently working on the second versions of each of these styles and these will be the ones that will actually go to my friend - I'm going to use coloured wooden beads in style 3 and clear seed beads on style 1, I also need to be more careful to make my stitches nice and even on that pair, the trial version is a little sloppy looking... these are very quick to make so expect to see the results soon!

The other thing that Winter Knitty has to answer for is the fact that it made me spend money not just on materials for the knitted earrings but on a little gift for myself as well. I've been looking for a nice needle storage case for a while so when I saw the listing for a circular needle holder in the cool stuff section I thought I'd check out the etsy store listed. You can do the same thing by looking here. It's a bit risky though, because, like me, you might be instantly smitten and find yourself clicking 'buy'. I bought myself this lovely needle case:

New needle case - outside

It's a lot more stylish than most of the mass-produced ones I've seen in the shops and has plenty of space for my (currently) relatively modest collection of needles:

New needle case - inside

A reasonable price for a lovely hand-made item as well, and it arrived really quickly, especially given that it came all the way from the States during the dreaded Christmas postal rush period.

So, there you go, Winter Knitty has a lot to answer for - but nothing that I'll hold a grudge about!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Adamas ist fertig!

Oh yes, Adamas is done!!! Fortunately it was finished blocking on Friday when there was actually some sun in the sky - so I decided to make some metaphorical hay while it shone :o)

Here is the shawl in all of its glory:

Adamas in the wild

I am really pleased with it - perhaps that comes across without me having to be so explicit about it - oh well, nevermind. I will express my ardour further through the medium of photo mosiacs!

Here are some close-ups of various aspects of the shawl:

Adamas Shawl details

And here, more to give a general impression of the size of the FO than anything else, are a few modelled shots:

Three views of the Adamas Shawl

If you want to see larger versions of any of these mosaic photos just click through to my Flickr photostream.

So some details - this is the Adamas Shawl by Miriam Felton of MimKnits. It's been made using Adriafil Merino 2/30 cobweb weight yarn purchased from Angel Yarns (definitely one of the cheapest yarns of this type that I have found so far). I held the yarn double and knitted on one long 3.75mm circular needle. Ravelry project page is here.

Well, what can I say? This is my first true 'lace for the sake of lace' project and I love it! The pattern is beautifully simple which suits my tastes but also means that the repeats are easily memorised. I love the way the whole shawl grew out from the bottom point (out of just 5 stitches) - by the end the rows are pretty long, but they still flew by because working on this project was so addictive and I was so keen to finish it. The yarn is lovely and soft as well as being a real bargain and I think this shawl will make a lovely warm scarf without being too bulky.

I think I could quite easily become totally hooked on making lace of this type and I have already added several potential future projects to my favourites list on Ravelry. Once I've cleared a few projects from my queue I think I'll definitely be turning to lace again...

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I am on tenterhooks waiting to find out how my Adamas Shawl will turn out. It's currently blocking and looks a bit like this (but less wonky - once I saw the photo I moved some of the pins around to try and straighten the diagonal edges):

Adamas Shawl Blocking

I am quietly confident that it will turn out well (at least I certainly hope it will). I couldn't seem to quite get it to stretch to the measurements given in the pattern - mine is just over 5' wide at the top and about 2'6" down the middle - I think that should be a good size though - I would expect I'll mostly be wearing it as a big cuddly scarf anyway.

There was a slight delay in beginning the blocking process when I realised I didn't have any pins that were up to the job; that meant I had to wait a few days while the 'T' pins that I ordered online turned up.

I haven't been slacking off in the meantime though, I have not one but two finished projects to show you from the intervening period. These two go together with my Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf (as blogged here) to complete a little garter stitch trilogy.

I give you without further ado my Zeebee hat:

Zeebee Hat

Knitted in James C. Brett Marble DK - 5mm needles - I messed up my gauge measurements so I knitted 5 segments instead of the 4 stated in the pattern. Pattern here; Ravelry page here. This pattern is genius - the fit of the hat that it produces is really nice - covers the tops of my ears well which I like in a hat! I, sadly, am not a genius hence the reason I miscalculated the gauge and ended up knitting 5 segments instead of the stated 4 - it doesn't seem to have harmed the finished product at all though.

Next up are my garter stitch mittens:

Garter Stitch Mittens

Knitted in James C. Brett Marble DK - 4mm needles (magic loop method). Pattern here; Ravelry page here. This pattern is also simple but effective - I had a couple of false starts with these but that's because I didn't bother to make measurements of my hands before I started and just worked on a trial-and-error basis - they still only took a few evenings worth of knitting to finish though.

I'm very pleased with my little garter stitch collection - I only hope the jacket that kick-started the whole process still fits me this winter!

I've just been swatching for my next planned project as well - news of that to follow when there is something worth reporting on! All I can say for now is that I have managed to get the correct gauge without too much trouble - phew!

With any luck the next post from me will be one which is full of pride for a successfully completed shawl. Fingers crossed!