Friday, October 31, 2008

Out of kilter

OH didn’t believe my prognosis on the computer when I said it was dead and that we needed a new one (or at least a new hard drive).
So he invited The Black round to take a look. We gave him coffee and his girlf provided cake. We gave him the Dell rescue disk and the system install disk. He ran lots of Dell diagnostics which claimed that all was well (seriously?) and then the windows disk said that there were un-recoverable errors.
Man, I hate being right sometimes.

So, we’re definitely in the market for a new computer or hard drive, or possibly both. OH is pretty keen for me to have a computer of my own because I get really cross when he changes the settings on mine. And it is my computer. Actually, it’s our computer, which is tremendously difficult to acclimatise to – even though we’ve been sharing computers for the past five years or so. OH and I have different ideas about what is useful to have on a computer. So I might think that the Flickr Uploadr is pretty cool, but he’s downloaded the Ikea kitchen planner. Actually, that’s a bad example, since we both use both...

In other, non-computer news, I can’t knit fast enough for this cold weather! I’ve already decided that when I finish Mum’s cardigan that I’m not knitting anything else for anyone else (except maybe OH, or if I feel like I really want to) and I’m only knitting for me. I feel oddly gleeful about the idea. I thought “I don’t knit that much for other people anyway”, but when I look at my projects...
I have 52 projects on Ravelry.
9 are in progress, of those nine, five are for me.
5 are ugh! And 2 are snoozing. These are frogged or not happening, so they don’t count.
That leaves 36 completed projects.
Of those, 14 are for me.
That’s rubbish.
So, once I’ve finished the four projects which are not for me (one for a friend’s baby who isn’t cooked yet, one for OH, one for Mum and one for my Secret Santa) then that is it. No more nice knitter. Well, until I redress the balance a little, and I think knitting for babies doesn’t count as knitting for other people. I have really enjoyed knitting for others, but it’s just not happening anymore. I want to have nice warm cosy woolly things that I have made. In the meantime, I think I might have to go buy a new cardigan!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Two Posts in One Day...

I expect that when I said that my computer wasn’t working a couple of you might have thought “Oh no! All your stored patterns! All your photos! Your music!”
However, panic not. You see, I have a memory stick on which I had recently saved all of my patterns from the “My Knitting” directory on my PC. Phew. Thank goodness for that.
My photos are pretty much backed up too. Most are on CDs (all the Florida ones, all the France ones) and the rest are on Flickr. There are some still on the camera, but that’s okay too.
I believe that I bought my various music before the old computer died but there is some that I didn’t. I’m not sure what I’ll do about those. I might just buy them again as there’s probably only a couple of songs. I find it slightly irritating that iTunes is not clever enough does not trust me enough to remember that I have bought music from them before. I know that they do that to try to prevent file sharing. I wonder, if I email them my receipts and my sob story (boo hoo my PC died) they might let me have them again for free? I doubt it.
Also, this will then be the third PC that my iPod has been connected to. I think I’m only allowed five. That worries me a bit, because my iPod has been a darned sight more reliable than my PCs have. My iPod is over 2 years old (got it September 2006) and still in great shape! The PC came to us around May 2007 and is broken. The one before that lasted a good while though, since university! (Getting on for 5 years I think)
I wouldn’t say that my iPod gets the kind of abuse that my PC does, so it’s not really a fair comparison. But still, if my iPod continues to outlive my PCs, I’m going to have to buy a new iPod. Which seems silly to me.
So, in a roundabout way, I’m coming to the view that I should perhaps consider getting an Apple Mac of some sort (the Mini?).


I saw this meme on this blog and thought, why not? So here goes.
Tune in later if you're not bothered. Oh - but there will be no new photos for a while with the computer having gone and died. So I'm having to recycle old ones for now. Sorry.
  1. Do you like blue cheese? Yes.
  2. Do you own a gun? I own a glue gun and a staple gun.
  3. Have you ever smoked cigarettes? I’d be lying if I said no, but I claim to be like Bill Clinton, ahaha.
  4. What flavor Kool Aid was your favorite? The Grape and Strawberry made my yarn a nice colour
    Pastel Nexus
  5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? No.
  6. What do you think of hotdogs? They’re horrible, unless you use proper sausages!
  7. Favorite Christmas movie? Christmas Carol, starring Patrick Steward (or the Kermit one is funny too…)
  8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Yorkshire Tea
  9. Can you do push ups? Not proper ones
  10. What’s your favorite piece of jewelry? I don’t really wear jewellery, but I like the red beaded necklace that blogless HB made me.
  11. Favorite hobby? Knitting, duh!
  12. Do you have A.D.D.? No, I have no excuse.
  13. Do you wear glasses/contacts? Yes, glasses, and they look cool.
  14. Middle name? Nope.
  15. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment?
    • I wish my neck didn’t hurt
    • Mmmm tea (one just arrived)
    • Why do I do these memes?
  16. Name 3 drinks you regularly drink? Tea, Gin and Tonic, Wine (oh dear)
  17. Current worry? That I have to replace the computer and was trying not to be spending money.
  18. Current hate right now? Clothes shops round here don’t have trousers in my shape!
  19. Favorite place to be? In bed.
  20. How did you bring in the New Year? Last year, dinner with friends. But I was working on New Year’s Day.
  21. Where would you like to go? Gosh, that’s a list! Somewhere warm would do.
  22. Name three people who will complete this. I doubt anyone else will bother.
  23. Do you own slippers? Yes, I crocheted some.
    Fluffy Not-Bunnies sides
  24. What shirt are you wearing? I’m wearing a pink vest with a beige sweater over it.
  25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? Never tried it.
  26. Can you whistle? Yes, but not in tune.
  27. Favorite color? Pink. Red.
  28. Would you be a pirate? Arrr. Seriously though, probably not.
  29. What songs do you sing in the shower? Whatever’s playing on the iPod.
  30. Favorite Girl’s Name? I dunno, something exotic sounding or with a funny spelling
  31. Favorite boy’s name? See above.
  32. What’s in your pocket right now? I don’t put things in my pocket.
  33. Last thing that made you laugh? Yarn Harlot’s blog.
  34. What vehicle do you drive? VW Polo in pistachio
  35. Worst injury you’ve ever had? Broken leg (I was 3, I don’t remember it)
  36. Do you love where you live? York is a great city! I’m less enamoured with the house, but it could be worse.
  37. How many TVs do you have in your house? One.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

RIP My Dell

My home computer has died. We managed to get to a DOS screen (of sorts) and I tried C:\chkdsk to which it replied that it couldn’t find a mountable volume. Oh dear.
So, it looks like we might be in the market for (yet another) new PC. We might be able to just replace the hard drive. I don’t know how easy that would be, it’s a long time since I did anything to the insides of a computer (not since I unsuccessfully tried to build my own PC at university!)
So, at the moment I’m not sure what the plan is. This one didn’t go “bang!” at least, it just failed to work. It’s a bit of a shame; I was all set to be impressed by our Dell. As it stands, I’m wondering if we can afford a Mac instead. My main concern with switching to a Mac is the lack of software. I wouldn’t be able to run Civilisation IV any more (the only game I play on the PC in fairness) and we’d need to find a new word processor (not the end of the world). And I start to feel like Apple are becoming almost as monolithic as Microsoft, which isn’t a good thing!

So, I’m limited to internet access at work, which I should only be using in my lunch break. No internet banking, no shopping (except places where I can use pay pal) no Ebay – it’s blocked. At least they’ve built a massive new PC World near my gym. (!)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sorting it out one room at a time...

In three weeks’ time I have a week off work. We were thinking about going somewhere on holiday, but eventually decided that we couldn’t justify spending all that on a holiday. I am planning on going to the Knitting and Stitching show in Harrogate (more information here, if you’re interested)

The rest of the time off is to be devoted to tidying, rearranging and generally improving the state of the house. I want to finish making the curtains I began this time last year (!) – I made the main curtains, but we still need liners, drapes and a net. I have everything I need to do this, except for motivation and time. The time off work gives me the time, so I just need to get motivated. One of the things which is hopefully going to motivate me is to get the craft room sorted out (maybe get rid of the sofa bed which is so uncomfortable nobody will sleep on it!) I wonder if we could donate it to a charity shop. (Would that be bad Karma?)
I have a massive craft table in the craft room, a three-drawer chest full of yarn and then a stack of boxes with spinning stuff, dying stuff, beading stuff and card making stuff. Something tells me that this could be better organised than being in a bunch of cardboard boxes of varying sizes! The other things that are in the craft room are: the sofa bed, ironing board, box of tools, some rubbish, an old bathroom drawer set (icky), some clothes which need adjusting in some way, two chests of drawers with OH’s clothes in, some workout equipment and a drying rail for clothes.
Perhaps I should keep a list of all the things we could try to sort this out. I’m more motivated to sort out that room than I am any of the others, if I’m honest.
The lounge/diner is another big trouble spot. Because it has so many uses, from library to study to dining room to dumping ground; it’s in a state. There the issue is less one of storage (though that would help, if we had some more useful storage type devices) and more one of the room just being weird! We don’t have the living room at the front half of this room, as is traditional. This causes us many issues (including trailing wires everywhere) which would be solved by being the other way around. However, that end of the room is colder and noisier. Maybe the new curtains will help.
I’ll let you know how it goes, though I’ll probably be more excited about the K&S show!

I was at my sisters at the weekend to celebrate her birthday (Happy Birthday again!) and we had a really nice time shopping in Liverpool 1 (the new shopping complex) although it was a bit cold and rainy, and L1 is outside! We sent the boys to a brewery, which they enjoyed too. Excellent all round! I’m looking forwards to seeing my sister and her fella again at Christmas.

Friday, October 24, 2008

UK Shoppers

If you want to buy the Wensleydale Longwool that I mentioned in the last post, but can't get to Wensleydale to do so, check out Ecoknits.
They also stock NDS and Artist's Palette - though you could check out their websites (as linked) too. (Artist's Palette have lovely laceweight, I sent some to my SP!) Ecoknits also stock The Nude Ewe, which sounds good.
I've never tried Ecoknits, so if you do let me know!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Support our Hill Farmers!

Today on Ravelry I followed a link to this article from the Telegraph about how last spring (2008) some farmers found it more economical to burn their fleece than to sell it to the British Wool Marketing Board.
It’s a travesty! I know that we can buy a synthetic sweater on the high street for £10 – or less sometimes, heck – I’ve done it! but there is nothing to compare to a real wool sweater.

You can see here what price the British Wool Marketing Board will pay for fleeces. Note that the prices are “up to” and not actual prices. That is the most a farmer will get for their fleece.
They also claim that “The British Wool Marketing Board operates a central marketing system for UK fleece wool with the aim of achieving the best possible net returns for farmers.”
On This page you can see that the average price that the WMB are selling fleeces for is 71.39 pence per kilo. They pay farmers a maximum of 58p per kilo (Cheviot) – so on average the WMB are making at least 13p profit on each kilo of fleece.
On the information provided for hand-spinners, you can see that a whole fleece varies from 1kg (Shetland breeds*) to 4.5 kilos (Wensleydale**)
I’ve managed to find the price list on the site...
For Shetland fleece I think that the WMB is making around £1.85/kilo for handspinners***.
For Wensleydale they’re making about the same - £1.86 by my reckoning.****
I’m sure there are overheads to be met, but the idea of a farmer making less than 50p per kilo of fleece does sound a little stingy. (That means for a flock of 100 Shetland sheep he might only make £50-100 per year for fleece, or for 100 Wensleydale sheep he’d get around £175-225 as they have larger fleeces)
Many farmers in the UK breed their sheep for eating, with the fleece being a bonus. However that bonus used to be enough to pay rent for the pasture on which the sheep graze. I doubt that this is covered at 50p per kilo.
The article I linked to above states ”The cheques they received for wool used to cover their rent. Now it's almost worthless because fewer people want woollen products” - I’ll repeat that - fewer people want woollen products. This is not a good state of affairs. Synthetic fiber is usually a polymer – it’s made from oil basically. Nylon, for example. We made nylon in Organic Chemistry lessons. (In this case Organic means that it belongs to a family of hydrocarbons to which methane, ethane etc belong to, not grown without chemicals) I confess, the sweater I’m wearing today is made from 17% Nylon and 83% Viscose. To manufacture viscose you need Methane. I'm cross with me.
But woollen garments are so much nicer! They are warm, breathable and envirnmentally friendly***** So, in the words of podcaster Brenda Dayne, if you’re cold, put on a sweater. That’s what they’re for. And I’ll add, make it a woolly one, if you possibly can.

Lastly, we need to do something to get our famers a better deal on the price of fleeces – whether that’s buying fleece direct, or simply getting them a better price from the WMB? Many years ago dairy farmers started making ice-cream from milk that the Milk MB told them to pour down the drain – perhaps we can do something like that?
Come on people, support the farmers!

* Shetland yarn is quite well known, check out Jamieson’s for example where 100g of dyed Aran weight is £4.50.
** Wensleydale yarn is nice, and has a beautiful lustre – check out Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Shop (very nice people)
*** Assuming that fleece bought by WMB at 45p/kilo and that I get an average (1.5kg) fleece.
**** Again fleece bought at 45p/kilo and assuming I get a 4kg fleece this time.
***** Some might argue that they’re not environmentally friendly because of sheep-farts. Some might argue that they’re not because of the processing of wool. I’d bow to the processing argument, but I am talking about hand spinning here too. once you have the spindle or wheel there aren’t many production costs – except cups of tea in my case!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Forgive me for I have sinned...

...I cast on another project at the weekend.

  • I wanted a quick knit so that I could have something finished to make me feel better (it’s not finished yet)
  • I have to get something made very soon for my Secret Santa (well, for the end of November...)
Okay, I only have those pathetic excuses. I am weak. Anyway, the offending item should be finished in a couple more days. I can’t say too much about it because it’s for my UKarma (Rav Link) Secret Santa Giftee. I’ve also bought the gift for that now, almost within the budget. So, only the edibles to add.

This weekend we went to Masham, and from there on to the Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Shop. Seriously – go there if you’re in the area.
I noted, before we left for Masham (another nice town, go there too) that there were no opening hours marked on the website. I thought that maybe they wouldn’t be open off-season. And certainly not after 4pm (we arrived at about 4:15 or so). Not so! The lovely owner (possibly Ann) opened up the shop especially for me - talk about service! So I got some lovely goodies. One is the aforementioned gift, so no piccies, and a poster of British Sheep Breeds (!!Wow!!) and a book about sheep. Lastly, a big ball of Wensleydale sheep wool top. Ready for spinning. Woo!

I have made some progress on the spinning front, but I have decided that the red/red/orange doesn’t go with the purple/pink I already spun. So I still need to find something to make with that. Perhaps I could use it for trim on something. I’ll think about that.

Anyway, I realise that I haven’t treated you to any pics of the latest FO, so here are:
The Ladybird socks:
Ladybird Socks 3
More here

Friday, October 17, 2008

SP12 Parcel 3 - the Reveal!

Parcel 3 Goodies Tada!

Here's the parcel my SP12 upstream has put together for me for the third and final instalment of SP12. Can you see all those goodies? Can you?

Wow, so where to start. There's oooooooodles of yarn, but I'll leave that for a moment.
There's (top left) a beany sheep, who is so cute! I was very excited to see her!
In the middle of the picture you can see a badge with balls of yarn on. Very cool. I'll be wearing that for the knitting & stitching show, along with my Ravelry badge.
Above that you can see a felted bowl (which rocks!) and a tube of beads which I hope to make into something nice - I don't know what yet.
To the far right you should be able to see a sock-in-progress tube (with my current Noro sock in already!) - My upstream kept the other one of the pair - as I would have in her place. Who needs two sock-in-progress tubes? I only ever have one pair "in transit". Well shared, pal!

So, the yarn... There's some lovely cotton in plain and striped pink (bottom right)
There's some lush sock yarn from Hipknits (bottom centre)
There's... Llama Yarn This "Llama Yarn" - which isn't made of Llama, that's the company name. After a look on Ravelry I think it's probably banana silk. Banana Silk! I've been dying to get my hands on some of that for an age! Woo!
Last, but not least: Alpaca Lace This is alpaca lace. I did some hunting on Ravelry again, and I think it might be Mama Ocllo. It's lush in any case. I'm already trying to decide what it aught to be... Ice Queen? Wisp? or something else?

So, Thank you for all of the parcels, Mazzam! I love everything from all the parcels! I just have to figure out what to knit with all this yarn!

Also, if you'd like to check out my downstream, I've been spoiling Kayb.

I've really enjoyed SP12. If you fancy playing in SP13, head over to the blog. I'm not playing - it overlaps Christmas and I'm not organized enough to manage SP and Christmas!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Stop Casting On!!

It’s been a while. Not so long, but longer than I usually leave between blogging.
This is mostly because I have completely failed to upload any pictures of my completed socks, or my sock in progress. I’m a bad blogger.
So, what’s going on with me? Not a lot really. I’ve been looking at and queuing lots of lace projects. lace is nice, it looks complicated and often isn’t as complicated as it looks. Sometimes it is complicated too though. I’m getting better at reading my knitting, which is an important part of knitting lace. I think I might have to be brutal with myself. I have quite a few projects on the needles, and I need to get some of them finished. So, I’m thinking about not casting on anything new until I have finished what I have on the needles at the moment. Brutal, no?
What do I have on the needles?
Noro Sock Noro Socks - these are getting my “at work” knitting time, as they’re the most portable of my projects. If I stick to my not casting on, then once these are complete I will have to bring a different project to work! I really like these so far. If I remember when I get home I’ll switch the picture to be one of the actual socks!
Clapotis - there are 8008 Clapotis on Ravelry, and it’s in 4213 queues. It’s a beautiful scarf/shawl thing, and there’s so much scope to make yours a little different than everyone else has. Mine is using sock yarn, 237 of those on Ravelry come up when you search for “sock” in the Clapotis category. I really must take an updated photo. This is getting most of my “sofa” knitting time, as it’s simple enough for me not to go wrong while engrossed in something. Also, things like the Vice Presidential debate are made more interesting by knitting along! clap markers
The remaining projects I find I spend less time knitting on, and these are the ones I want to concentrate on before I cast on something more.
For Mum Cardigan for Mum - I really do want to finish this! It’s a cotton yarn, which I don’t enjoy working with as much as I do wool. The lace pattern is simple and effective, and there’s no side seaming, only seaming on the sleeves. What more could I ask, really? Branching Out 1 My First Lace - or not, really, because I’ve finished lace socks now. This is really pretty, but as with all scarves (except for Clapotis, so far – touch wood!) I’m bored of it before it’s long enough to even think about casting off. Tut.
Sudoku Blanket. Yes, it’s still here, still technically on the needles. I think I need to find a pattern that I like for the next eight inch square, as the one I’ve been working on is not as nice as the first one was. Since I have to knit 9 of each pattern I’d prefer it to be a pattern I don’t hate! Crochet Squares (bag?). I started this because I didn’t think I’d be able to knit on the plane on the way to France. They way it’s going, I’m not likely to do any more on it until I next get on a plane! No, really though – it’s just basic granny squares which I plan to sew together into a bag. I haven’t decided how many squares yet.

I promise to be a better blogger soon! Proper pictures and stuff. Honest!

Oh - by the way - notice the new layout of the blog? I finally figured out how to make the page wider (call yourself a programmer???) so yey! proper tables, pictures at full width, the works!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Too Funny

I have to share this Yarn Harlot post with you all.

I'll have some completed sock pics for you soon.

And oh yes, I'll be looking to get in on the sock-foisting (next post)... Now, where might I find someone eligible...?

Friday, October 03, 2008


A thought for the day:
If you are cold, tea will warm you. If you are too heated, it will cool you. If you are depressed, it will cheer you. If you are excited, it will calm you. Gladstone, 1865
So go on, put the kettle on.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Power of Love Knitbloggers...

Check this out:
A Community Fibre Farm needs a Tech Makeover.

To be honest, I think they're as worthy as anyone, but I voted for them because I love the idea. Someone owns a farm, but people own the wool before it's even fleece, never mind if it's spun yet! What a great idea!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

I'm Spinning Around...

(Guess the artist?)

So, I counted the number of lengths in my mini-skeins of the pink stuff and measured around my elbow (the niddy-noddy I used was my arm! I will use my new wooden one [niddy noddy, I don’t have a wooden elbow], but it needs sanding and sealing first).
I worked out that I have about 53 yards of it. I haven’t figured out the wpi yet, but it’s not even anyway. For Calorimetry I’d need 93 yards. So I’m 40 yards short. And that’s assuming that I get gauge. Which given that (without measuring) I think I have some bits that are about 4ply/sock weight, and some that are Aran/Worsted! I’ll let you know what it averages at!

So, I have three choices:
1. Spin another 40 yards of a contrasting/matching colour.
2. Make something different with this yarn (but what?)
3. Keep this yarn as some pretty but unused handspun and move on.
I’d like to make something with it, so I guess I’ll have to work out what the wpi are. Even if I only make a coaster in the end, it will become something. I don’t like the idea of yarn that isn’t meant to be knit!

I feel a little like I’m being unfaithful to my knitting when I spend time spinning! I do enjoy spinning though. It takes a little more concentration than knitting does at the moment, but then I haven’t had much practice with the spinning. I love the spindle I bought at the spinning class we had. I’m also still Andean plying most of the time. I’ll have to put a nostepinne on my Christmas wish-list (although I’ll also have to recommend a place it can be bought from!)
I haven’t spun all of the pink that I got ages ago. The original plan was to spin enough, thin enough, to make socks with. I don’t know whether that’s still my plan. I’ll have a look at what I already spun and decide from that I think. I have 100g in total, though I am not even half way through the first 50g bag.

I’m thinking of spinning this one: Bonkers Fibre 1 as it comes, and plying it without regard for colour repeats. So I should get a variegated heathery type yarn. I think that will be nice. With this, also, I haven’t the foggiest idea what I’ll make!

I don’t like to talk about work on my blog, which is why no details about the job thing. (I get whiny, or rant a lot, and there’s no need for it really!) Suffice to say that it’s a difficult time and some people are doing a lot of soul searching.
In the dream situation I would own an angora bunny farm, or possibly alpacas. Alas, that’s not to be, not right now anyway.