Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I've finally got organised with the camera so here goes with some pics.

Firstly, our alternative to a Christmas tree (because we don't have time or the space this year), which cost me all of £6.49 at Argos, because I had all the bits to put on it (lights, ribbon, some bits and pieces) - across the mantlepiece:

Then some sock pics of the first completed sock:

I think the shaping worked quite well from a fitting point of view, but not sure it is very beautiful to look at (not helped by being modelled by my pallid calf). The cable at the top is called 'trellis'. I think there are too long, but can be boot socks. They fit which is the main thing!

And lastly the latest pair of bootees.

Don't you just love the way the sole curves? So cute!! These ones are going to Shanghai for a work colleague who is relocating. His wife is due in Feb, and they go at xmas. Brave girl! Pattern is from Simple Knits for Cherished Babies, but I added six yos in row 9 to make eyelets, and then an i-cord lace. Apparently this means they are rare bootees that actually stay on.

Hope the Christmas jollities are going well for you all!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Why do I make things so difficult for myself??

Saturday was glorious. The weather was cold and crisp, the sunlight pale gold, and I was standing in a field with nearly all my family. We were shooting, and looking down the line of guns I could see my brother, my dad and my uncle, with mum behind waiting to pick up. The late afternoon sun sparkled on people's breath and the dogs' coats. That is the sort of day that is good for the soul.

Last night the knitting girlies met up for a Chrimble meal at our usual haunt. Poor Claire had to stay home to babysit the 'feral child' (which conjures a great Quentin Blake image), so four of us did a bit of knitting and a lot of chatting. It's so nice to make new friends who don't care how much you talk about knitting, because they share the passion. I usually have to make do with just saying to people, 'look at this!' and people grunt and agree that it's something woolly, and then I have to change the subject before they either glaze over or think I'm a mad spinster before my time. It turns out that Rowan is also making great strides into self-sufficiency and has a homemade wine collection to rival that of The Good Life, so we discussed blackberry and elderberry wine and spiced mead. We all quietly envy her. One day I'll stop working full time and learn how to make cider and good bread and be able to sew and knit and grow my own veggies.

I didn't take any knitting needles last night, just a sewing needle to finish and sort the ends out on a pair of baby bootees, the first Next Generation sock, and a little heart I knitted on the train while bored, which might become a christmas dec if I add some backing and a loop to hang it by.

The Christmas social whirl is in full swing and I don't have time to get organised. I need to wrap some presents to distribute to people before xmas but don't have time. I need to do some laundry but don't have time. I need to get an outfit sorted out for the office xmas do, but don't have time. I need to do some back exercises (which take 10mins!!) but you get the idea. Next year I must make a note not to put more than three engagements in the diary per week. In fact I shall write a reminder in the diary now. Why do people save up for xmas to have loads of drinks anyway? What's wrong with the rest of the year?

Here are some more whys:

Why do other people write emails soooo slowly?
Why do I keep getting granny whiskers on my chin (and why to they have to start out as spots)? Why do people have to have birthdays during the festive season? Someone should ban sex during March.
Why can't I have a crystal ball to tell me if a better house will come onto the market in three months time?
Why did The Man decide to put my white bra in with the darks wash?

I think I need to sit down in a quiet room with a cup of tea.

Anyway, found this on Needles on the Move , and was shocked by the comment:

'Emma says, 'this one is originally from the Big Read. Apparently they reckon most people will have only read 6 of the 100, which I think is astonishing.' I do too.'

Here are my answers:

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Underline those you intend to read.
3) Italicise the books you LOVE.
4) Reprint this list so we can try and track down these people who've read 6 and force books upon them.

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. The Bible
7.Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare - Some, at school.
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - J D Salinger
19. The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma - Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini (audio books count right?)
38. Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres Mans
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding

50. Atonement - Ian McEwan - but saw the movie
51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel52. Dune - Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
73.The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses - James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession - AS Byatt - well, most of it.
81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte's Web - EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom (don't waste your time with this one though)
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

52 out of 100. Interesting. The ones I've underlined are ones that I would like to read but I'm not going to lose sleep over. I wonder who makes these lists, and why it's these books particularly they rate? There are several I've not even heard of.

And just for good measure, one more quiz:

Your rainbow is shaded green.

What is says about you: You are an intelligent person. You feel strong ties to nature and your mood changes with its cycles. Those around you admire your fresh outlook and vitality.

Find the colors of your rainbow at spacefem.com.

Spot on for me, and green is indeed my favourite colour.

Update: The friend who I was due to see tonight has emailed and is just recovering from the lurgy and so has asked to postpone drinkies. While I was very much looking forward to seeing her and I'm sorry she's been poorly, yay, I have some time to wrap presents tonight to give to mum tomorrow to distribute to the rest of the family as I won't see them all before xmas! Phew.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Mange tout, Rodney

I am feeling very smug because I've just translated a knitting pattern from the French. Yay for the internet and people who make the effort to create knitting glossaries for knitters!

I'd seen Ysolda's great little neckwarmer here, and thought that a clever trick, but she's not bringing the pattern out anytime soon, so having trawled through Ravelry came up with this, which turned out to be in French, and so with a combination of this, this and my trusty English-French online dictionary, we have the solution!

Donc, pour une écharpe française:

3mm or 3.5mm needles (no notes on yarn, they use something red and fluffy)

Cast on 2 st on 3mm needles, and in garter stitch increase one stitch at each end of the row 17 times (36st), then knit straight for 8 rows

To prepare the vent, separate alternate stitches onto a spare needle.

On one of the needles, knit in 1/1 rib for 20 rows. Then do the same for the waiting stitches [on the spare needle].

Put all the stitches back onto the 3.5mm needle (alternately).

Knit garter stitch for 50cm, on the last row do 18 [equally spaced] decreases (18st) and then do 1/1 rib for 20 rows.

Replace 3mm needle then increase 18 stitches evenly and do 8 rows of garter stitch.

To make the other point, knit 2st together at the start of each row; when 2 remain, bind off.

The increases and decreases don't seem to match up to me, but I'm sure you can figure it out. Clearly my knitting translation skills still need some working on!

This is just the basic technique, Ysolda's scarf has some lovely intricate details, but I'm going to give this a try and see what I can come up with myself.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Why am I not still in bed? Why? Why? I got to sleep at 1am last night, and this morning it's pouring with rain, the trains were late, and so far there's not much happening here as half the team are away. Dullity dullesville.

The reason for the lateness last night was seeing Simply Red at the 02. It was good, but I felt a little young to be in the audience. Well, free tix are free tix! And whatever you think about Mick Hucknell, he can sing. On the way home in the taxi (I'm glad someone negotiated a fee before the day with the cabbie, it's very scarey seeing the meter click into triple figures) one of the other concert-goers tried to sell a job at her company to me - Client Services (ie account management) for an American bank who lends to technology companies. Yeah. How many alarm bells can you have attached to one sentence??

The social whirl had kicked in again and this week and next week are pretty solid. What will I do without my CSI and NCIS fixes?? And why do we all insist on waiting until xmas to catch up with friends for drinks? All it means is that on xmas day, you just fall asleep exhausted on the sofa. Hey ho.

So anyway. On Monday, I took The Man to see Tinselworm, Bill Bailey's current standup tour. Apart from having the Second Worst Restaurant Meal I've Ever Had* beforehand (do not go to the Scotch Steak House on Shaftesbury Ave under any cirumstances), the evening was redeemed as the show was fantastic, hilarious, erudite, and various other superlatives. Bill, apart from anything else, is a great musician, and played two guitars, three keyboards, an oud and his theremin. I love the way his hair is part of his act. And how just making some noises along the lines off 'ooooh...hmmmmm....haaahhhh!..... eerrrrrhmmm...' can have the audience in stitches, before he's even said a word. We did laugh solidly for the entire show, crying with laughter for some of it. If you can get tickets, go see it.

(*The worse meal was at the now closed down Paul 'Elvis' Chan's Gracelands chinese restaurant in Tunbridge Wells. As well as cheese flavoured sesame prawn toast and some sort of greyish congealed beansprout dish, Paul was clearly so bored and jaded by his 'Elvis' show that at one point he walked off the stage, still singing, and sprayed his armpits with deodorant.)

Tuesday night I was out in T Wells with Clare and PaulV. We were all at school together and therefore have limitless capacity to be silly together. I expect the wine helped... By the way, the new specials on the Pizza Express menu are *delicious*. And I don't even really like pizza all that much. We discussed Clare's most unsecret secret at length (can I disclose yet Clare?), coming up with various outrageous suggestions, and were updated on Paul's love-life (join a running club).

By some fluke and chance I managed to avoid a hangover yesterday, although the brain was a little sluggish because I managed to decide to wear a red dress, failing to realise we were going to see Simply Red in the evening, and therefore people would think I was either a mad fan or trying to be post-ironic.... And I had two Chris de Burgh comments as it was.

The next few days / couple of weeks run thus:
Dinner with The Man and his mum tonight
Drinks with The Man's boss at his house (Dress code: party. What does that mean exactly for a do at the boss' house???) on Friday
Shooting on Saturday (xmas shoot, which is have a long morning session then come inside for proper hot food and port, rather than cold sandwiches and port in the barn followed by another afternoon session)
Viewing a house
Knitting group xmas gathering
Drinks with a friend
Mum's birthday dinner
Team xmas lunch / karaoke (messy)
Something with the pole girls
Drinks with another friend
Company black tie xmas do

In between I have to fit in xmas shopping, sorting out the flat, coping with a petulant car, sending xmas cards, and knitting. I have finished one sock, using a lot of new ideas (for me), and now am slightly dreading the second one, but I am trying to convince myself the first one took so long because I was working it out as I went. I just have to copy it on the second. How hard can it be??