Monday, March 31, 2008

Ethics versus Environmental.

Caution: Pet Peeve coming up.
You may have noticed that as time goes by I am becoming more environmentally and ethically aware. Some of you might think that those are the same thing, and so I feel that I must point out that they are not. There may also be some mention of bananas, but I don’t know until I finish.

First, lets begin with the difference between environmentally friendly and ethical (caution: both links are to wikipedia, which may or may not be trustworthy).
Here’s my stab:
Environmentally Friendly is when you take care of the environment. You might recycle plastic bottles or paper, you might choose to cycle rather than drive somewhere. Environmentally friendly actions have an impact either no impact or a positive impact on the environment. It might be that you buy things which don’t get packaged in eighteen-squillion layers of plastic wrap so that sea-gulls don't get all tied up in the plastic wrap after it's dumped on a landfill somewhere.
Ethical is a broader brush stroke, I admit. It’s a philosophy. Behaving in an ethical manner might, for you, mean also being environmentally friendly if you believe that not doing so is “wrong”. For me, ethical is more of a “treating people fairly” kind of approach. It’s about giving the man that picks my bananas (see) a good wage to do so. It’s about making sure that the Blue-Faced-Leicester sheep farmer gets a decent price for his fleece too though (don’t get me started on the UK wool marketing board!).

I can exemplify where the two don’t mesh with bananas (sorry).
Lets say that this specific banana is grown organically, in Brazil.
Tariq, a banana picker, is payed a good rate for his services (I have no idea what rate that would be, but the nice people at Fair Trade give the banana a sticker to say that they think it’s fair too)
Then the bananas are sprayed with goodness knows what to keep the bugs off in transit (oh good, so they’re not really organic?)
And then they are flown 3000 miles across the world to be put in my local shop.

Now while I could be being ethical still, by buying that banana, I think I wouldn’t be environmentally friendly would I?

My dad doesn’t believe that carbon emissions are causing global warming. That’s fine, he’s entitled to his view as I am to mine. However, he once said to me about religion:
If the people in church on a Sunday are wrong, they’ve wasted their Sunday mornings. If the people not in the church on the Sunday are wrong, they’re going to Hell.
I’ll let you think about that one for a moment.
If the people who don’t recycle and don’t shop environmentally and ethically are wrong then we’re going to be up to our ears in it reasonably soon.
If I’m wrong then I lose nothing, as it doesn’t take much effort to buy loose potatoes instead of pre-pack.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Unbelievable

I am incensed! The Evil Delia is promoting New Zealand Lamb at the moment. While I am sure that New Zealand lamb is fantastic, it’s being shipped from the other side of the world just so that some sticklers can have lamb at Easter – appalling. Okay, so Welsh (or Lincolnshire, or Devonshire, or wherever) lamb isn’t in season yet. In the UK lambs are only just being born so they’re not ready yet. That’s no reason to go and buy imported lamb. Delia should be ashamed of herself.
It may be admirable that her new cookery book and show has got people who don’t usually make things from scratch (Lint, I’m looking at you) into the kitchen, but seriously – frozen mash? What is that about? How hard is it to peel and boil some potatoes, then mash them up with a masher?

Delia has sold her soul, clearly. Not content with showing the nation how to boil an egg (yes, she really did) she now wants us to put frozen mash in everything. Come on Delia – sort it out!

In other news, our new gym is opening in just over a fortnight. It’s been too long, I feel all flabby and unfit. OH bought me an interesting book, New Rules of Lifting for Women (Link to Play.com) which talks about the different benefits of endurance training (like running) and weight training. He favours weight training (could you guess) although he hasn’t completely convinced me that I never need to use the treadmill again; I am now convinced that I don’t have to spend 25 minutes running on it. Nor do I need to do triceps kickbacks. Woo. And I can eat chocolate and peanut butter on the diet it recommends. There has to be a catch, right? Well I don’t know. Maybe there will be when I start doing it. the important thing is that my new goal is not to lose weight, but to lose fat - in other words, I’m going to have to measure my body fat percentage (my bathroom scales can approximately do that) and also my waist/hip etc. but I shouldn’t worry if I don’t lose any actual weight. Well, we will see.

On the knitting front, I haven’t got anything new to report. I’m using up the leftover Cascade 220 from my slippers to make a Nintendo cosy (I think I mentioned it?), I’m still working on OH’s sweater. I have yet to cast on the second Earl Grey. The hat is coming along, but hasn’t been touched for a few days.
I was asked why I “never wear anything” that I’ve knitted. It’s an interesting question really. Okay, not very. You see, I think that pretty much all non-knitters think that you can rustle up a sweater in a day or so, or even hours! Come on people! Many people also seem surprised that I’ve only knit one shrug and no other “proper” clothes yet. I have only been knitting for a year and a bit, and also do all artists paint landscape? Why do I have to knit sweaters to be a knitter? Okay, grumble over!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Team Building

We went out with some of the team last night for some bowling, pool and DDR. I didn’t partake in the pool, I’m no good at it and then I get cross about losing. I did play some air hockey, which was good fun. I think OH let me win, but that’s not so bad! One of the girls who used to be on my team and I played DDR (Dance-Dance-Revolution, or Dancing Stage Euromix) which was great fun. We even managed to get some of the boys to have a go (I hope that The Black enjoyed it, as there is video evidence!)

I didn’t do too badly in the bowling, 69 in the first game and 103 in the second. I came an overall 8th (of 12) but OH came a respectable 3rd.

Still haven’t cast on the second sock. Tut. Still, we have a nice long weekend off work now. There are too many other distractions!

You might have read on Lint’s blog that there is now a tea-trolley service in our building. It’s costing me a damned fortune, because instead of having the tea from the machine (lovingly referred to as hot river water) I’ve been paying for my tea instead. On the plus side I get to collect stamps from the lady who brings round the trolley (who is lovely and friendly!) and when I have filled the card (is it 8 stamps?) I get a freebie. That happened today; I had a full card, so I got my morning wake-up brew free! That makes me happy.

I’ve been playing lots of sudoku on my DS. It’s meant to be good for me (great excuse) and keeps my brain fit. I enjoy sudoku too. I’m not the fastest sudoku-er there has ever been, (though I did score rocket speed for one yesterday). I’m 8% of the way through the sudoku puzzles available on the Brain Training game. I wonder if there are more on Brain Training 2?

It’s also pay review time at work. I expected, given my fairly recent promotion, that I wouldn’t get much of anything, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised! I rather expect to pay a massive wodge of my bonus tax, NI and student loan repayment (graduate tax, really).

Although I’ve queued BMP from Knitty, I am thinking about using the charts to make a bag instead/as well. My thoughts are for a satchel style bag with a space invaders screen on the front of the flap, and a high score table on the inside. Oh well, if it comes to fruition, I’ll post about it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Knit, natter, and train your brain

Last night’s knit night was a quiet affair; only two of us this week. Still, I figure if we keep talking about it and keep turning up, other people will join in eventually. If not, it gets me out of the house and forces me to knit on the Manly (Rav), so why not? Funky Flower is good company anyway! (and when Blogger stops being broken I’ll add her to the Blogroll. It might be because of the filters at work?)

Outside of that, I’m afraid I’ve been a bit lax on the knitting front. I mentioned Guitar Hero III last post, which is a chronic time suck! Trouble is that once I get on there and I’m in the “zone”, I find it hard to put the controller down admit defeat and go to bed. The new wireless guitar is wicked too!
But, my company treated me to a £25 voucher to a place of my choice. (don’t get me started on slashing one bonus and then giving us another) and I have been wanting to get a Nintendo DS for ages. Since before Christmas! I have finally taken the plunge (and no, the £25 didn’t cover it by any stretch!) and bought myself a silver DS and the Brain Training “game”. I was shocked to discover that my brain age was in its 40s! So I’ve been training (for two days) and have got it down to 31. I hope to get down to at least my real age! It also has Sudoku on it, which I’ve been doing at lunch instead of my knitting. (I know, I’m sorry, normal service will resume once I cast on the other sock)
Of course, just owning Brain Training isn’t enough (oh no, I’ve unleashed another time-and-money suck!) so I’ve ordered Nintendogs: Dalmations and Learn French. At least the learning French one will be useful. The idea is to recap my GCSE French, which I was awarded ten years ago, ready for our holiday in France in the summer. Suffice to say, I’m a bit rusty. I still remember the basics, but much of the grammar; tenses and stuff like that have fallen by the wayside. I can still say “j’ai un petit pois vert avec un grande nez” which means “I have a green pea with a big nose” – not especially useful, but then most of the foreign that I know is either ordering drinks or not useful. “Konnichiwa, watashiwa Tsuki des, Samurai dewa arrimassen” means “Hello, I am Tsuki, I am not a samurai” in Japanese. Oh well.

Yes, the socks. I’m suffering second sock syndrome a little. I need to get the darned thing cast on before I lose the will to knit it. it’s the thought of all that rib! Funky Flower has sent me a link for a stretchy cast on to try, because the cable cast on (that I usually use) is a bit tight for OH. My new sock knitting book recommends the long tail cast on (I have yet to find a tutorial, mainly because I haven’t looked).
Since we have a long weekend though, I hope to get some knitting done.

Other plans for the long weekend include: more baking, move the stuff in the bathroom so there’s room for the new towel/bedding washing basket, finish the curtains that have been sitting waiting to be hemmed for about a month. Depending on the weather we might go off on a day trip somewhere. You know, usual Easter weekend type stuff.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Also...

I finished the Noro Gloves, click here for pics!

Woo!

Socks, Hats and Guitars

Since my last post I’ve been to Telford, finished one of the socks, started again on the hat, and received a gift!

 Cable Closeup So, yes, while travelling to and from Telford for work, I made progress on the Earl Grey Sock for OH. It looks pretty good on; I’m quite pleased with it! The stocking stitch is pretty even and the cables look nice. Here’s a close-up of the cables, in case you like that sort of thing…

I’ve re-cast on the hat, with less repeats. It looks a bit better, but I’m still not convinced. We will see.

Anyway, OH surprised me with a gift when I got back from Telford. He’d bought me Singstar III with a wireless guitar! So unsurprisingly I haven’t done a huge amount of knitting since then! I have, however, completed the easy level! Haha!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Bedslats and Broomsticks

So, we trekked off to Ikea on Saturday morning. Early on Saturday morning. It wasn’t anywhere near as unpleasant as the Bank Holiday escapade.
Of course, as it was Ikea, we didn’t only buy what we went for. The bedslats were a success though. We also bought some nice tubs for our recycling needs. We have them in our under-stairs cupboard. They stack, so they’re space efficient. We have two smaller ones for paper and card, and one big one for bottles (plastic and glass), tins, tetrapak cartons and pretty much everything that doesn’t qualify as paper, cardboard or compost-able. We don’t keep the composting waste under the stairs though. That would be silly.

I fixed the gloves for my sister. Remember the Fetchings? Well somehow they came unravelled in an odd way – there was no end, just a loop. Anyway, I tacked down one end of the loop and then crocheted the edge before tacking down the other end (with a few running stitches in the same yarn). I don’t think it will come undone again. I hope not! I didn’t take any photos, I didn’t think that an unravelling glove was that exciting

 Noro Glove, unfinished Something which is exciting, or at least to me is exciting: the Noro glove! This is the left glove (the thumbs are slightly differently placed on each glove). The right glove is mostly brown so far (don’t you just love Noro’s fade-colour stripes?) but I think it might be purple soon. I still have to make a hem at the cuff so that it has a picot edge. I’m not sure about picot edges, but hey – lets be a devil. The pattern (from Noro Designer Mini Knits, Design 27) is meant to be knit flat and then sewn up. I didn’t read the pattern properly so I’ve been knitting in the round on my new 4mm/20cm dpns. Oh well, I don’t like seaming anyway!

I haven’t cast on the hat again yet. It’s sitting next to the sofa waiting to be picked back up. Other than that, I’ve done pretty much nothing on the sweater. I have done some more on the socks, I managed a few rows on the way to Ikea (I wasn’t driving) and then more again this lunchtime at work.

I’ve ordered a book about knitting two socks at a time on two circular needles. I’ve no idea whether it’s any good or not. It would have the benefit of when I make mistakes like completely forgetting to cable on one of the cable rounds on Earl Grey, that I don’t need to worry, I just forget on both. No problem. I gather you can use the same method with sleeves and other things that come in pairs.

NB: don’t eat very old ryvita with slightly dodgy blue cheese on them. It’s not recommended.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Not an FO

The hat I've been working on is a bit on the big side. I've ripped it back and I'm trying again with two less pattern repeats.
Otherwise I am loving the pattern though!
Still not sure about the colour, but it's a good test knit!
Aargh

...and a little bit of that...

...And shake your bum?

The mattress is great. I had such a good night’s sleep last night. I was expecting to be cold (we took away my fleece under-blanket) but the topper was so warm. In fact, at one point I was perhaps even a little too warm! (that just never happens, anyone who knows me IRL will attest to the fact I’m almost never warm enough!) it doesn’t smell as sheep-y as I thought it might, though it was strong enough when the plastic bag was opened! So, all is forgiven from we love sleep since their before 9:30 arrived in plenty of time! The mattress topper is nice. OH claimed that he still didn’t sleep very well. He’s now blaming the slats under the main mattress (the new one is just a topper) so we have to go to Ikea apparently. That’s always risky because I buy stuff in Ikea. Sadly, the new Wilkinsons in York don’t do bed-slats. OH seems to think that the Ikea ones are the best ones anyway. But the nearest Ikea is in Leeds. And will probably be busy.

I thought about going to the other knit night (the one I went to last month) but since I wasn’t home from work until 6pm, and then we sorted out the mattress, so we cooked dinner at 6:35. I could probably have turned up late, but I decided not to bother.
I did a bit more on the sweater for OH last night, probably another inch. I’m finding quite a few knots in the yarn I’m using, Rowan Pure Wool Aran. There’s been one in every ball so far, and two in the current ball of brown. It’s really quite frustrating! So, I’m now in the market for a ball winder. The idea being that I can re-wind all of my balls before use and therefore get rid of the knots. Depends on how much I’ll have to pay for one though!

Next week I have to go to Telford with work. It’s a three-and-a-half hour train journey each way. This means that in order to be there at 9am for a meeting, I have to leave the day before and spend the night in a hotel. The only benefit of this so far is that I will have 7 hours worth of knitting time, on the train. It will not actually be that long because of the trains not being direct. Though we only change in Birmingham. So I get two hours or so uninterrupted. Which should get me a few inches of jumper or sock done. If I can finish one of the Earl Grey socks then I will have something like a recipe for the other, including how many rows to do. I’m a bit prescriptive like that, I like things to be the same number of rows. Unless they’re not meant to be, of course!

The hat pattern I’m making up is going well, but my row gauge is nothing like what I thought it would be. The pattern bit should still work, I hope! We will see. I’m looking forwards to trying the bobbles. OH told me that the Sudoku throw “doesn’t count” as a project that needs finishing because “it won’t be finished until 2020”. While I like the “doesn’t count” bit, I like to think that I might get the rest of it done before 2020. okay, so it’s taken me a year to knit nine squares. So in theory it will take me another eight years to finish (which would be 2016, thank you very much) but I’ve neglected it a lot, especially during the scarf making pre-Christmas. Maybe he’s factoring in my impulsive sock-yarn buying.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

With a little bit of this...

So, we had another Ravelry meet-up last night, in Brigantes in town (nice pub, good soft drinks). There were only three of us, but we’re hoping to gather some momentum through the Yorkshire Knitters’ group. It was good though, I enjoyed chatting with other knitters, and not just about knitting. I also managed to get another ten rows or so done on Manly (Rav Link) for OH. It’s one of those projects which isn’t especially exciting to do. It’s a good knit-and-natter project though because it doesn’t take a lot of concentration. The only thing I have to do is remember to purl the purls!

I’ve had a bit of a splash at La Senza today (and online yesterday)
I like getting post, so I don’t mind that I’m getting most of it in the post, but if I’d known I would have gone to store. Anyway, they have an offer on bras which makes bras (even in my stupid new size) quite reasonably priced, providing that you like weird colours or spotty bras! Fortunately I do, so I now have a brand new bra with fruit on and matching knickers.
I’ve also ordered some more PJs online, that’s plenty of PJs then though, must stop. (ever wonder if you have a compulsive streak? First sock yarn, now underwear and PJs – what next?)

You may ask “Where is the mattress review you promised?” because we were indeed supposed to have spent one night sleeping on our new mattress topper. However, despite OH staying home all day yesterday, it did not come. OH called them at about 3:30pm to be told that they had lost it. WTF? How on Earth do you lose something that big?? Anyway, the man said that they’d organise to send us another one before 9:30am today. Hang on, isn’t there a 5 week turnaround on mattresses because they’re hand made – isn’t that why we were waiting? Hmm. Someone is telling porkies somewhere. So, I waited in this morning (since my commute is a mere 15 minute walk, and OH’s is that plus a 40+ minute bus ride) for the mattress. I was meant to thoroughly check it, but there was no way the man could hang around, his lorry was the size of a house and was blocking the road. Okay, I exaggerate, but he was in the way. The box is undamaged and has the right description. I’ll tell you if the mattress was worth it tomorrow when we have actually slept on it.

Otherwise I am planning on beginning OH’s slippers soon; the socks are going well too. I’ve cast on a hat for me which is meant to be a bit like the hat off the Vodaphone advert, but whether it will be or not (since I’m making it up) is another question! I’m also plodding on with the Sudoku blanket. I’m not liking some of the patterns which are really hard to do (don’t know if it’s the yarn, needles, the way I knit or what) they’re mainly knit-into-the-back-loop-of-the-next-stitch ones, which I’m finding hard. Maybe it’s the cast-on that I’m using (cable) so I’ll investigate some other cast-on methods. (I should for socks anyway)

I still have 600m of the pink-and-white yarn I used for the Evening Star Shrug so I could do to find a project for that. (it was very good value, and it is lovely stuff, but the ebayer only posts in fits and starts) buttony sweater is an option, that says it needs 495 yards which according to Google is almost 453 meters. The pink woolly stuff is 200m per ball, and is chunky. Blackberry is interesting, but I’m not sure about the cables, I don’t think that they would work in the variegated pinks. 98-47 Shrug in “Eskimo” which would only use up half of what I have. I like that with the sticking up collar! I’ll have a look through all my patterns (which are only half-organised at the moment) and see what there is there too. It’s such a pretty and warm yarn, but I haven’t tried washing it yet. I do have some ecover wool wash now which makes me happy. Environmentally friendly and hand-knit friendly: woo!