Sunday, 14 January 2018

Of Pussies and Presidents

Job hunting sucks.  Job hunting when you're unemployed through no fault of your own, sucks even more.  I've managed my first week back after being signed off with work related stress.  I emailed all five of my consultants to let them know that I wasn't coming back to the department.  At the time of writing, not one of them has acknowledged the email.  Not.  One.  

On the plus side, this was waiting for me in my old desk drawer - a Christmas gift from one of my colleagues: 

She didn't realise that I read the Yarn Harlot's blog nor that I'm a little gutted not to have met her when she came to London last year.  The book is perfect; easy to read and was completed within a couple of days.  That's it's written by somebody I admire is a bit fat bonus.  

The book buying is carrying on unchallenged, as the book Protest Knits arrived this week.  (A gallery of some of the items can be seen here)  We live in strange times.  There are lots of things that I feel angry about, and if my knitting is a creative way of expressing that anger, then so be it.  Craftivism (craft + activism) is becoming more prevalent - and I can only see that being for the good. 

Craftivism in action - yarn-bombed trees protesting HS2, near Euston Station

Arguably, one of the more well known symbols of craftivism is the pink pussy hat.  I missed all the marches last year, as they happened just as Mr Knitty was in hospital; I was emotionally and physically wiped out, and my poor, poorly husband needed me more than the protesters did.  (Interestingly, there is now a move away from pink pussy hats, as they're not seen to encompass all women.  The Blaze has an article as does National Review

Protest Knits has a pattern for a pussy hat, so I could easily make up for lost time - especially as Donald Trump was reportedly coming to visit London in February this year (after my contract ended and I had time for protesting).  Pussy hat, here I come! 

Only, that's not the way it turned out. 

Twitter did what Twitter did best, and royally took the mickey, with the #IcancelledmytriptoLondon hashtag.  Sadly there were also anti-Islamic comments mixed in with the comedy.  As a result, my list of blocked users now has more people on it. 

So, no pussy hat after all.  Now where did I put my pink uterus yarn?

Saturday, 6 January 2018

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Twelfth Night

Now that Christmas is officially over, I'm feeling a lot more Christmassy than I was before it started.  (Of course I am).  After listening to Arne and Carlos' podcast about Christmas and how they prepare for it, I decided to buy their book of baubles.  Apparently it's the first book they published, which explains why they look quite so young. 

If you're a sucker for a freebie, there are twenty four baubles designed by Arne and Carlos that can be found on this website.  Both the instructions and the charts can be downloaded - but they're downloaded separately.  (It took me a while to work this out).  From what I can work out, about four of the freeebie baubles are in the book, and there are about five book baubles which are similar to the freebie baubles.  One of these baubles may become part of a project that I'm planning for around summertime-ish.

The Christmas cards are down

Card decorated by my two year old nephew
The decorations are down.

Baubles of the non-knitted variety
Let's do it all again in another 49 weeks.

Friday, 5 January 2018

I Totally Knit a Hat!

Yesterday wasn't the greatest.  This is the end of my time being signed off sick with work related stress.  Given how the NHS is supposedly so stretched, it's odd that they choose not to avoid sickness levels in their staff - but there you go.

I don't have the inclination to go into all the reasons why I'm not happy with the situation - but suffice it to say, I don't think I've been treated fairly and my work clearly has not been valued in the way it should have been.  It's one of these workplaces where people who are lazy or cut corners are rewarded, and those who work hard and do a good job are treated badly or let go.  It's totally the wrong way round, and I don't understand how it's allowed to happen.

Yesterday I spoke to my line manager about coming back to work.  I'm not going back to the department which caused me the problems (hurrah!).  However, the thought of going back has made me feel teary and anxious, which isn't a good thing.

However, I do have some things to cheer me up:

Wednesday's haul from the charity shop
Whilst talking to one of my neighbours last year, she commented that I only read non fiction, which I entirely refuted - before realising the truth in the comment.  This year, I've decided to alternate a fiction with a non-fiction book.  Buying from the charity shop makes more sense; it's cheaper than first hand, and when I've finished with them, I can return them to the charity shop. 

Thursday's package.  Yes, we do have an underground bedspread.  All the best people do. 

Whilst on the phone, these arrived. Not all were for me; some were for Mr Knitty.  This package included books from Oxfam; radios and trains for Mr Knitty, knitting for me.   All my books were from the 50s, back when measurements were in imperial, and illustrations looked like this: 

Illustrations from Odhams Knitting Encyclopaedia 
and schematics looked like this: 

Schematic from The Complete Knitting Book, by Marjorie Tillotson

The bottom package was my (slightly drunken) Amazon purchase from New Year's Eve.  During the Design Your Own Lace class last year, Karie Westerman made mention of the stitch dictionaries by Barbara G. Walker - so they were on the wish list, and they are glorious.  

Today I finished knitting a hat for Mr Knitty.  It's slightly loose on him, but he says that's OK.  I had to let it swing, to try and untwist the yarn - and it was slightly hypnotic to watch. 

Pattern - Invisicrown by Sockmatician
Yarn - Regia, double knit. 

Right 2018, I've actually managed to achieve something.  I feel far more prepared for whatever Monday brings.  Bring it on! 

Monday, 1 January 2018

Bonjour 2018

I've been looking for my knitting resolutions for 2017 and can't find them, which either means I didn't write any, or I'm looking in the wrong place.

This was the year I conquered socks. I didn't manage to complete my Box O Socks challenge, but I do have seven more pairs of socks than I did in January.

This is also the year that I (sort of) conquered my bookshelf.  What started off as this: 

Now looks like this: 

It might not look that different - but it is.  There are more books for a start.  As I had more room for books, I had the desire to keep buying books to fill the space on the bookshelf.  The idea was to have all my knitting stuff together.  What you can't see is the stuff on the floor that I had to move out of the way to take the photo - so that clearly worked! 

Some of my favourite books from this year:

Books from March, when I was getting in to sock knitting

Bought in Iceland in August
Bought in October. Recommended retail price, £16.99  I got it for £3.00.  Bargain! 
There are so many more, but I got bored in trying to work out which ones to include (or not).  

I survived Mr Knitty being in hospital at the beginning of the year.  I didn't make it to Sweden, but we did go to Belgium.  I spent an amazing time in Iceland and have a list of things to show Mr Knitty when I take him back.  I want to run another half marathon this year, which will mean starting regular running again.  We're talking about finally buying a house. 

As for 2018, I don't really make resolutions.  I'd much rather make a list of things that I want to achieve by the end of the year, which are:

  • Knit a sweater/cardigan
  • Design a pair of socks
  • Knit at least one thing using the Iceland stash
  • Learn to knit continental style
  • Knit advent calendar for nephew
  • Finish the red shrug
  • This Thing of Paper KAL
  • Attempt to 'Marie Kondo' my yarn stash
  • Complete my Craftsy class on colour. 

This time next year, I'll have a look to see which ones I've managed to achieve.  

What are your hopes for 2018, knitting or otherwise? 

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Of Cast Ons and Floods

Last night, I fell asleep listening to Arne and Carlos' Christmas podcast - basically the two of them chatting about Christmas and past projects, whilst Arne knits a Christmas bauble.  I couldn't tell you what they talked about, as I fell asleep.  Having listened to about half of it this morning whilst washing up, I'd recommend a listen. 

Now, we're at Christmas Eve.  Apparently, there is a tradition in Iceland, that people are given books and chocolate on Christmas Eve - and they then spend the rest of the evening reading the books and eating the chocolates.  In November, a catalogue of new publications is delivered to every house in the country, the beginning of the annual Christmas book flood. (There's another article here and here - which more or less say the same thing, but still make me feel all cosy when reading them).  This year, I plan to follow the tradition, with these books:

Unsurprisingly, these were bought in Iceland over the summer.  (I also got a copy of Njal's Saga, but didn't think that I could complete it in one night).  It's a lovely tradition, and I might see if my sister will let me implement it with my nephew next year.  

Courtesy of Twitter, I saw the #ChristmasEveCastOn hashtag.  I didn't even know that this was a Thing - but apparently it is.  Knitters up and down the country will, apparently be casting on something to knit over Christmas.  Should I have time to join in, it will be with this yarn:

West Yorkshire Spinners yarn.
Left to right: Chocolate Lime, Candy Cane, Cayenne Pepper
This is West Yorkshire Spinners' Christmas yarn - candy cane. I first heard about it via Winwick Mum's blog as she designed the pattern which is sent out with the yarn.  It was so popular, it went out of stock, with a fortnight wait for more yarn to be dyed.  I got some from Loveknitting - along with the Chocolate Lime contrasting yarn - then got impatient and bought some directly from West Yorkshire Spinners, along with the Cayenne Pepper colourway.  

In checking both balls of yarn, I was quite happy to see:

Despite coming from different shops, THEY'RE THE SAME DYE LOT!   (This makes my life so much easier).  I don't know whether to do a pair with red toes and cuff and a green heel, or green toes and cuff and a red heel, or cuff, toes and heels in all red or all green.  There may be enough for all combinations.  (Winwick Mum managed to get two pairs from one ball). 

Before then, I need to clear the spare room, do a final shop (I think this is the third final shop), make the chilli for Boxing Day.  Mr Knitty has done his bit to help clear up, by finishing the pizza in the fridge, to give me more fridge space.  The Prosecco and orange juice are both chilling in the fridge ready for tomorrow.  It's taken some time, but I'm starting to get a bit excited about this whole Christmas thing.

What does your Christmas Eve bring you?  Are you all chilled and out and ready, or doing a last minute mad rush like me? 

Merry Christmas. 

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Design Your Own Lace

Wednesday 29th was interesting, as I found out that my contract wasn't going to be renewed.  It's fair to say that tears have been shed.  The model of the service is changing; the doctors want a nurse running the service, so they've put in a business case for a nurse to join the team "which will make your life easier", making me surplus to requirements and back on the job hunt.  I've been left feeling entirely un-wanted and questioning the integrity of those around me.

Sunday 3rd December was the perfect antithesis to all this.  I took a class called Design Your Own Lace, by Karie Westermann, followed by the book launch for her new book This Thing of Paper  I was held at Wild and Woolly in East London.  Typically, I was running late - but my state of anxiety was calmed by the smell of weed on my fellow bus passengers. 

Basic summary - the pattern of the lace is determined by the location of the decreases.  These will determine where the 'pull' of the fabric is, and what the final result will look like.  Also - the pattern you design, has to be interesting to knit. 

We started by writing out a lace pattern on squared paper, and then knitting it.  You may notice (I didn't), that I didn't write the pattern on alternate lines - meaning that either the pattern would have to be knit in garter stitch, or a combination of stockingette and reverse stockingette. 

On the plus side - I got a comment to the rest of the class about doing maths down the right side to make sure that the increases and decreases all matched up.  

We were shown three variations of the same pattern, all which had the decreases in different places, which lead to a slightly different look.  We were asked to try and work out which one was which.  Given I had got up early and hadn't had breakfast - this was a bit beyond me.  

Top to bottom:

Shetland Horseshoe
Faroese Horseshoe
Orenburg Horseshoe

During the lesson, Karie was showing us sample pieces for her book.  Once she'd got out the Rubrication shawl nothing else in life mattered.  It is completely lush, so tactile and beautifully red.  Seriously, I could have spent the rest of the day stroking and admiring it.  

There were pastries - proper Danish pastries.  

What remained after our tea break
The shop itself was so lovely and welcoming.  It felt like a proper knitters' shop - as opposed to a shop which sold yarn.  There were samples of things hung on the walls, and sample of things you can knit, should you want to.  Were it closer, it would easily be my LYS, it's just so cosy and welcoming.  I felt that I could easily throw my shoes off and curl up in the corner with a project - and nobody would blink.  

After the class was over, and we'd had lunch - I came back for the book launch, which involved Prosecco and chatting to other knitters.  Larissa - aka Travel Knitter was there, selling some of her yarns.  I bought the sock yarn in the colourway Adire - unique to Wild and Wooly

 - and a couple of skeins of  Tanami in the colourway Double Happiness to knit the Rubrication shawl. 

Larissa doesn't put dye lot numbers on her yarns, as they can look entirely different, depending where in the pot they're dyed.  However, she can tell just by looking, whether a pair of skeins will work together or not.  I was quite impressed.  

During the class, Karie told the rest of the students that I did a class with her last year, and gave her grief throughout.  I'm not sure I remember it quite that way!  Either way, I told Karie, when signing my book, she was more than welcome to make reference to me giving her grief if she wanted to.  Generously, she chose not to:

There were also some button badges at the counter, which I couldn't resist.  

Button badges for my coat - all of which have since been lost.  I blame the work Christmas party. 
When I first learned to write, I was told that speech marks should look like a 66 and 99 - so how amused was I with my (second) final total? 

For a purchase of a book about books and writing, it was just about perfect. 

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

What I Did Last Week

Got a yarn order delivered:

This is going to be for my nephew's Christmas present. 

Had a meltdown at work

My line manager couldn't understand why I was so upset; I thought it was pretty obvious.  Lesson learned is, next time, to take a deep breath and make it clear every last thing that I'm not able to do, because I've run out of time. 

Bought some beads, which may well end up in a project at some point

After going in to meltdown at work, I went along to Flying Tiger to look for some beads, after hearing on the Sockmatician podcasts that he bought some chunky beads from Flying Tiger and designed a cowl around them.  (From the look if it, I've got exactly the same beads that he has).  I've got some Rowan alpaca yarn to have a play around with, so we'll have to see what happens. 

Bought a book: 

Friday was pay day and we went for drinks after work.  I'd seen this book in John Lewis a couple of weeks ago, and wanted to get it before it disappeared from the shelves.  I was intrigued by the idea of architecture as an inspiration, and liked some of the patterns that I'd seen.  

The book wasn't where I expected and I had to ask one of the assistants for a book: "I can't remember its title; it was 'something Knitting' and was about architecture".  She didn't have a clue - but did help me find a copy, tucked away behind another book. 

Bought another book:

The Nordic knitwear designers Arne and Carlos were doing an event in Liberty of London called 'Meet the Designers'.  I arrived with twelve whole minutes to spare, feeling hot and flustered.  After I spent a couple of minutes pretending to look at the yarn in an attempt to calm down, I started chatting to them - and they were lovely.  Somebody came along and spoke Norwegian to them, which I wasn't expecting - but it is London after all, so it wasn't a massive surprise. 

I'd already seen their video explaining why their Regia Pairfect yarn is only suitable for cuff down socks (unless you want a really odd looking sock), so we had a discussion about that.  Carlos explained the theory of cuff down socks; Arne picked up that I didn't look quite convinced. 

We talked about short rows - working out the differences between the fish lips kiss heel and Japanese short rows (apparently you lift the stitch on different sides).  Carlos made a comment that they were leaving the shop to go straight to the airport - which I took as my cue to depart.  I got their book, and a ball of the cuff down Pairfect yarn, as the colours were nicer.  They had both left the shop before I'd paid.  I didn't get a photo, but they did sign the book. 

I can work out the first word is 'strikk' or some variation - but can anyone make out the rest?

Messed up the second sock in the pair:

Somehow, I've dropped a stitch, then pulled the stitches above it so tight, that there isn't a ladder to pick up the dropped stitch.  I suspect the best way to fix it, is to drop a couple more stitches each side, to get a bit of wriggle room back.  It's either that, or undo about twenty rows. 

Bought a magazine with the cutest diary:

Free with this month's issue (number 81) of Knit Now magazine.  I doubt I'll be using the diary - but that's my nephew's birthday present sorted for next year.  First, however, I need to find the pattern so I can get cracking with his Christmas present for this year.

What has your week brought you?

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Computer Systems are Down

Last weekend, Mr Knitty took me on a tour of Down Street.  This made at least one of my friends a bit envious.  For those who aren't complete geeks, Down Street is a tube station that went out of service before World War II and was then converted to be the headquarters of the Railway Executive Committee.  Staff would be in the station for three weeks at a time, so conversions included a kitchen, bathrooms and sleeping quarters.  There were no lights, so we all had to use torches.  There were points in the tour we had to stop and switch the torches off, so that they didn't distract drivers passing through the station.  Of course, I came away with design ideas.

My wristband, which I inexplicably lost somewhere between the tour and dinner. 

The outside of Down Street, as it looks now. 

A plan of the station, displayed inside.

There's a host of abandoned stations across London.(I really want to visit Brompton Road; our tour guide is holding out for King William Street).  Transport for London still own the abandoned stations, some of which are still maintained should they be needed for emergency evacuations.  (Better pictures of Down Street from other blogs are here and here

I've never been so excited to see something which isn't in the Johnston typeface. 

The telephone exchange, buried deep inside the station

The lift shaft, which I immediately recognised from pictures I've seen in blogs. 

The purple and green sparkly socks are continuing.  As I was getting bored of vanilla socks, I thought I'd stick a pattern on.  The pattern I wanted didn't quite work, so I ended up with this:

Pattern of stockingette and garter stitch stripes.
Yarn = Funny with sparkle, by Opal in colourway drollig/droll

For some reason, I'm having problems with getting a basic pattern right.  I messed it up and tinked back, only to mess it up again.  I tinked back again, only to find:

See, just above my thumb?  Knits where there should be purls - and vice versa. 

This is why vanilla socks will never go out of fashion.

A couple of months ago, I ordered yarn from some independent dyers in North America (The Yarn Jar, String Theory Colorworks and Desert Vista Dyeworks).  The yarn is luscious and I want to support small businesses.  However, I made the mistake of getting them sent to my work address, which meant that the delivery card went missing and two months later, I still don't have my yarn.  I was trying to resolve one order last Monday with Loriann from The Yarn Jar, but Etsy was throwing a wobbly.

At the same time, I was trying to buy yarn for my Christmas knitting.  Website one had what I wanted, but it had an SQL error at the till, so I couldn't pay.  Website two didn't have everything I was after, so I had to enlist the help of website three.

Two purchase problems in one evening.  Is the Internet trying to impose stash control on my behalf?  It seems the only logical solution.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

A Summary into Winter

Yeah - my aim at posting once a week has rather fallen by the wayside.  Since coming back from Iceland, I had a couple of months of horrible stress.  It's levelled out a bit - but I suspect it'll be back soon.  

  • I spent a weekend with my sister (which will be a separate post, somewhen). 
  • I had a birthday.  I hate birthdays, but even by my standards, it was hideous this year.  To add insult to injury, I didn't get a birthday cake.  
  • Mr Knitty and I spent a weekend in Salisbury; he thought I needed to be cheered up a bit - and he was right. 
  • Aunt S and I went to a recording of The Last Leg on Friday.  Apparently if you stay in the restaurant having another glass of wine, and only arrive at the studio ten minutes before the deadline, you don't actually get in to the audience.  Oops! 

  • For reasons beyond this blog - one of my colleagues has gifted me a bracelet, I'm also starting a new pair of socks.  You'll notice what they have in common. 

Meanwhile, last weekend I spent the best part of two days feeling ill.  (I'm not 100% recovered.  I did try some knitting, but it was sporadic.  It's really difficult to concentrate when you just want to be asleep. 

Whilst scrolling through Netflix, I found the National Knitting Evening broadcast in Norway in 2013.  Oh, I so want to visit Norway now.  I'm wondering if I could persuade Mr Knitty to come with me on a knitting tour of Norway for my next Big Birthday. 

During the evening, people were sharing their knits, via social media.  This was my favourite:

Of Pussies and Presidents

Job hunting sucks.  Job hunting when you're unemployed through no fault of your own, sucks even more.  I've managed my first week b...