Wednesday, January 28, 2009

New recruit

Firstly, the exciting news, that The Man has become an uncle! He has a little niece. Aw. More news on that as it comes in.

I had an interesting French lesson yesterday. We were discussing how the French's perception of the English and the English's perception of the French is somewhat around the wrong way. I was surprised when over there last week at how little socialising was done, and people didn't talk about their weekends, or ask if anyone wanted to eat lunch anywhere other than the staff canteen, or go out for dinner or a drink after work. The English have this idea of the French in a permanent sloshed-up eating environment, very jolly and welcoming if they like you, but in fact they are quite private people. I suppose that's why the office is still composed of individual cells, rather than open plan. It's open plan here in London, and people chat about their weekends and home life all the time. Even though the English are supposed to be very straight laced and reserved, and never let on if there's a problem.

So, clearly I'm learning a lot of grammar in French class at the moment. Ahem. Next week we're translating Asterix et les Normandes. To hell with the subjunctive tense!

I am romping through Sock le seconde this week, just about to turn the heel. I have another two inches on the second sleeve of the goddamn baby cables jumper, then I can decide what to do with the sleeve lengths and finish the blimmin thing. It's been on the go for so long it kinda smells, having been chucked into so many travelling bags and pushed around the floor for so long, so I think it requires some wet blocking so I can wash it at the same time. I fear the garter stitch will stretch for yards, so perhaps that will solve the sleeve length problem!

After that - well, I have the choice of the Socktopus socks, trying to design myself a tank top, or designing some felted egg cosies for easter. I think the latter takes the priority really, as they need to be done and put on the website. It would be ace if I could knit them on my flights to and from the States, but BA (yes British Airways I'm talking about you - google alert me!!) still subscribe to the ban on knitting needles. But they allow pencils, which is a more sturdy long pointy wooden thing, and therefore could potentially do more damage. It makes no sense and makes me cross. Actually, I could knit the egg cosies on pencils, they need to be big for felting. I've seen someone blog about doing just that. Might make matching the gauge difficult for people following the pattern though!

Right, back to the paperwork. Happy Year of the Ox.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Big pictorial catch-up

So, as previously noted, I've been doing a bit of travelling. The week training in Paris was quite draining and as I've done quite a lot of sightseeing there before on other trips, I was happy to chill out in the evenings. However, one night I did venture out to see Sacre Coeur, which was very beautiful despite being in a less than salubrious part of town.

And another night I visited an old school friend who lives just outside Paris. It was of course lovely to see her, but also nice to see another old friend - a picture I painted when we were all 21, adapted from another painting (I can't remember what it's called though!) where I changed the characters to become myself (in the window), Sarah (on the settee) and Clare (being elegent and matriarchal in the chair). There are some glaring problems with the painting, the arches over the window don't match and the nets aren't level, and the cat (based on an old family cat) is proportionately too large, but there are also some pretty good bits, and I'm still quite impressed with my 21 year old self for persevering and finishing the thing. I think it took a couple of years to do in the end! It's nice that Sarah framed it and still loves it.

One thing I was trying to do in Paris was to finish some knitting projects, which I failed at miserably. I think I only did 8 inches of one sleeve of the baby cables jumper!

I have a question to you knitters though - for the sleeve that's done, what about the finishing? At the point I've got to, it should be bound off. I'm not sure it's long enough for me (clearly I'm a gorilla), so should I just do a plain garter stitch cuff, or should I do another cable repeat (which might make it too long)?

I think it only needs another inch or two, and I prefer my sleeves a bit longer so they cover the backs of my hands.

So, decisions.
Anyway, here is the yarn that I bought in Gothenburg - 300g of a sprucey dark green supersoft merino from Deisy Designs.

I also got some black cotton Paris yarn from Drops to make those hot pants, and (why, for the love of god, when I've joined the Socktopus club this year?) some more sock yarn. And some dpns that look like Knit Picks but are called Knit Pro, in the same layered multicoloured laminate.

Some other things from Paris - an Asterix comic book in French, and a very small Eiffel tower to go into The Man's new office fish tank. Obviously.

Oh, and I wanted to show you this, which The Man's mum gave us for xmas. The initials, I mean, not the cooker hood. They are just plain white plaster, but you can paint them. I was thinking of painting them gold, or perhaps (a bit too ambitious?) gilding them. What do you think?

Some more bits - moose things from Sweden! I had some more groovy things, but they've been given away as presents. A big swag bag of moomin things for Clare, some xmas decs for The Man's mum (special request), and another of those candle convection whirlygig things with moose on for mum.

So, we have a moose tray and coasters, and a branch pot stand, and a whirlygig thing with snowflakes on. I love the expressions of the moose on the tray.
Right, we now have a SPOILER ALERT!!!!!! Anyone in the Socktopus club who has not yet received their January parcel please look away now.

This was a very fragrant parcel as it was full of foot spa goodies! The pattern for the socks looks pretty complicated, I'm glad we get two months before the next one. Yikes. Well, they always say that a challenge is good for you.


SOCK(topus)CLUB House Sorting Quiz

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Welcome to Yarnacre!  A Yarnacre loves life, enjoys the good times and rolls with the bad. You're easy going, love love yarn, and don't mind taking a risk now and then (ever finish a knit with 4 cm of yarn left? Oh yeah, you're definitely one of us!).  Adventure! Daring! Lots and lots of yarn! 

Yarnacre Cottage's mascot is a monkey.  The House colours are cinnamon and granite.
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Friday, January 16, 2009


This new job definitely has its perks. I've just got back from two days in Gothenburg, visiting a certain Swedish truck manufacturer starting with a V and ending with an O with a LV in the middle. (Now I use Google Alerts at work, I am suddenly nervous about Naming Names, because it's amazing what I get on my alerts, quite often people's personal blogs and notes about how good the car was in a snow storm, etc.)

Anyway, far from the usual Boring Blokes in Suits Looking at Spreadsheets, us desk drivers got to drive some of the trucks on their test track! Some of the trucks were up to 16 litre, 60 ton, 20m long. This manufacturer has a new product out which basically means any monkey can get a huge fully laden truck from A to B relatively easily. The truck drives like an automatic but actually there is a magic computer working the manual gearbox in the best possible manner. Things I learnt about truck driving include:

1. Your stopping distance increases considerably when there is 40 tons of gravel travelling behind you
2. The steering wheel is enormous
3. You can never have too many mirrors (or buttons and flashy lights on the dashboard)
4. Trucks are actually easier to manoevre than coaches are (yes, we drove them too)
5. Swedish test/co-drivers are very cool and have nerves of steel (No, fe haf nivver had anyone crash heeyah (twinkle smile).).
6. It's best not to wear high heels to drive a truck, but it's still not impossible.

This was one of the trucks I drove.

This was the first V-olv-o off the production line way-back-when....

... and look, the spokes on the wheels are wooden!

Things about Gothenburg:
1. The people are lovely and all speak really good English
2. It's cold in February
3. Nothing opens before 11am (apart from cafes)
4. It's a good place to go to get Moonin and Pippi Longstocking stuff (did you know she's depicted with suspenders too?), and loads of cool Scandinavian house things
5. Cars might stop at the pedestrian crossings, but trams sho' won't...
6. There are two yarn stores
7. Gravadlax goes well with pickled celeriac
8. Swedish is a really funky language to listen to. (If you want to emphasise something or be more polite, say it twice: Tack tack! means thank you very much, Hi Hi! means hello welcome on the plane.)
9. It's not where Batman lives.
Yes, a quick check on Ravelry revealed two yarn stores, and as one was on my planned route I popped in, and left a little worse off in the pocket but better off in the stash. This store stocked mainly Drops yarn, which was cool, although I don't think it's the softest in the world it does have a great range. There's another store across the river, so if I go back I'm going to try to get there.

And next week I am being sent to Paris for the week for Training. I fear there will be lots of sitting around waiting for people involved, when I could more usefully be sightseeing or knitting. Perhaps I will take some knitting into the office (maybe not on the first day). There are several WIPs that need to become FOs, especially before I get my first Socktopus sock club parcel which is due to come out next week. If I can get home with a finished jumper and second sock, I will be extremely pleased! I'm staying in an apart'hotel just by the Moulin Rouge, which is good because I get tired of fancy restaurant food, so I have the option of cooking for myself or nuking a ready meal. Unforts I don't think I will get to see a show, unless one of the other newbies going over for training fancies it. It's soooo expensive too! €99 just to go and see the show! Perhaps they do last minute discount tickets. Here's hoping.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Just come across this article about using waste as fuel (or the failure in this country to do so)
and have been very entertained by the slew of comments afterwards. I am not someone who religiously follows politics (or even current affairs really) - it only serves to depress and annoy me. But I feel guilty about ignoring it and fear this is rather a head in the sand approach. But then you look at the obvious wrath of some of the commenters to that article and I realise that these avoidance tactics could be worthwhile for maintaining my blood pressure.

I started reading Boris Johnson's book Lend Me Your Ears, where the mop-topped one starts by writing about his time as a reporter based in Brussels. At one point, apparently, there was a discussion about the classification of snails, and the upshot was that snails were considered not meat, but fish. Now, no matter what steps of logic you think you're going through within a classification process, when the outcome is something so clearly barking, why would you stick to it? And don't get my father started about some of the rules and regulations associated with farming these days. Apparently they are even coming around and checking you have a tidy farmyard, and fining you if not, and the amount of paperwork he has to do means that he has to spend half the day in the office and not actually looking after the animals on the farm.

If anyone out there can point me to some good clear summaries on the following I would be grateful:

1. The goals of the EU (which I thought was to facilitate trade amongst member countries, not piss all the citizens off)

2. The reasons we (the UK) went into it (other than the above) and the ongoing benefits we reap from it (if any)

3. The reasons why they are legislating now about how high we have to position light switches on the walls of private houses in the UK (which I'm sure has nothing to do with trade, or is it to prevent discimination against short electricians?).

Monday, January 05, 2009

Knitting Plan

Puss has quite rightly pointed out that I am all mouth and no trouser hotpant about knitting some pole dancing get-up. So, here is a rough outline of what's high on the list of possibles for this year.

Apologies that these are mainly Ravelry links:
1. Paris shorts from Drops Designs
2. Felted slippers from Drops
3. Heroine by Jennifer Lipman-Bruno
4. Flower Basket shawl by Evelyn A Clark
5. Swallowtail shawl by Evelyn A Clark
6. Nederland vest by Mary Jane Mucklestone

The hotpants will be in black lurex with 'inverted superwhore' written on them somewhere. Puss is charged with inventing a new move of the same name. Felting is always fun and those slippers look quite cute. I am also going to design some felted egg cosies for easter, which I had better get going on soon I suppose... There are two shawls to choose from (I'll only do one, I'm not a masochist!), so I too can experience all that is knupps. And the tank top is a starter - I am going to have a play around and design my own. One day.

Other things are of course socks (having joined the Socktopus sock club) and perhaps some mittens. There are some lovely jumpers out there but I am still battling with the Baby Cables jumper (nearly finished one sleeve!) which is taking forever since it's too cumbersome to take on the train. So, small projects are the order of the day!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Brave New Year

I am sitting here, with my feet up on the gym ball (which is quite the best use for it) watching the entire Colin Firth series of Pride and Prejudice on some obscure Sky channel. Six hours! And it's just got to the proposal scene! This Christmas has been really very laid back but I think it's just as well that it's coming to an end because I think I am starting to lose my marbles somewhat - becoming rather forgetful and airy fairy. Cooking has been badly burnt and craft projects deemed disasters and consigned to the bin. I think the leetle grey cells are suffering under too much tea and daytime TV...

Our Christmas Day walk required some sartorially dubious methods to avoid getting muddy trousers.

My little nephew Rory has started learning about How Things Work. I love how you can see things click into place in his mind.
And we ended up at the 02 on New Year's Eve, to see - guess who?

Can you see him behind that red piano on the star? Just about?

Alexandra Burke and Will Smith made an appearance.

There were an inordinate amount of boobs in the show, including the inflatable pair hanging in the ceiling, and Pammie's almost covered ones wiggling around a pole.

Nice shades huh?

Those are inflatable legs on the left, and a couple of phallic bananas. It was a good concert but you always feel a little removed from it all in a box (yes we were kindly given free corp leftovers again). I imagine the Red Piano tour in Vegas would have been pretty amazing, which is where this show was clearly designed for.

So, back to work tomorrow. I am still writing a list of goals for 2009 (I don't believe in resolutions), but for a start I have:

1. Find out what I have to achieve to get a promotion at work
2. Learn to crochet and do one of those amigurumi things, possibly a ninja vampire.
3. Buy a house
4. Lose a stone
5. Decide a direction for the wool business
6. Keep on top of the home filing

It's a strange sort of a list, because I feel like I got to a good place in my life last year - I got a new job, started a knitting group and improved my knitting, moved in with The Man, started blogging regularly. There are other things that I'd like to do, but those are more nice to haves rather than must dos. Like, spending some time writing, improve my pole dancing, do another dance class (salsa or tango), perhaps do a sewing machine class. Hopefully work will continue to be manageable so that I have time to do these things!

The beginning of 2009 looks promising though - I have two business trips abroad in January (one of which is a week in Paris), and then in February The Man and I are going to Arizona. He's got a tournament in Phoenix, so during that I'm going somewhere three hours from Tucson to be a cowgirl, which should be amazing, and then we're joining up again in Phoenix and going to see the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley. I can't wait - not only to go cowgirling for a bit, which I've always wanted to do, but to do a bit of a road trip with The Man and see some stunning sites. Having these things to look forward to makes life so exciting - I love all the planning and research and anticipation!