Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Robot Chicken

So yes, the previous post was a little on the brief side. Though what else needs to be said except “Robot!”?

Anyway, other than the robot painting, I’ve been spending a lot of my time making costumes for the PTH. There is only one more weekend between now and then, so I do really need to crack on! The boys’ costumes are ready to be cut out (always the scariest bit) and then they just need sewing together. I even know what order I’m sewing the pieces together in! My costume is ready, but needs some finishing touches. I hope to do some work on these on Thursday night. (Tue = knit, Wed = gym) and then finish them over the weekend.

We’ve also spent a lot of time at the gym. I’ve been five times in the past couple of weeks. I think. We went on the day that it opened, which I think was the 14th (my brain is like a sieve!) and I began my program from the “New Rules” book I mentioned before. So far I’ve been able to squat with a 15kg bar, row with 20kg and shoulder press with 6-8kg each arm! Yey! I haven’t really noticed any difference, but I haven’t measured myself since we began. I plan to weigh and measure myself once I have completed the first “stage” of the program (in another 4 weeks if we keep up with the 3 times a week).

I’ve joined another secret swap on Ravelry, the CSI Swap! (Sorry, it’s closed now) The idea is that you buy some goodies for your pal (who doesn’t know who you are) and then you send the goodies to the pal along with some “evidence” as to who you are. I’ve ordered the yarn that I’m sending and I hope to also send some needles to go with, and maybe even a pattern to show off the yarn, who knows… in any case, it’s all good fun. I hope that my upstream is enjoying deciding what to get for me! The evidence bit is quite tricky though, I’d like my pal to be able to guess who I am based on the evidence, but also for it not to be too easy. I’ll work it out.

Knit-night has fallen well for me. I’m back to Telford on the 6th, but since knitting is happening on the Tuesdays either side of that all is well. The week commencing the 5th May is going to be hectic to say the least! On the 4th my parents are visiting, then the 5th is (in theory) free, on the 6th I’m off to Telford, on the 7th there’s the meeting and then I come back from Telford, on the 8th it’s the PTH, on the 9th I have my official gym induction and also need to arrange a haircut. On the 10th we’re off to a wedding (I’ll be wearing this dress) - What a week!

I’m toying with the idea of taking some more time off, but we have to decide whether or not we’re going to Australia. It’s not really a place that has ever called to me, to be honest. While the reef and the rock are surely spectacular… well, if there weren’t people I know there I don’t think I’d be inclined. I don’t know. But if we’re going to go all that way we’re not going to go for a week, it would be for two, or even three weeks. If that’s the case then I have a limited amount of holiday to play with!

And finally…
At the weekend we went to visit a local farm shop, who also had a petting zoo type thing. Here’s me holding Helen the Chicken. I had so much fun! Helen the Chicken was so sweet, she didn’t mind being picked up and held at all. In fact she was dozing off in my hands! Bless. She is a Belgian Bantam. There were also some chicks. They were normal chicken variety, some were brown (those ones were going to the hen coops to lay eggs) and some were yellow. The girl told us that the yellow ones would be “taken away and then brought back again.” I don’t think that the other people there understood that she meant that when they came back they’d be going into the fridge in the farm shop. I guess she put it like that because of the children who might have been upset. That is the way of things though.
I look forwards to having room for a chicken.

Monday, April 28, 2008


At H's Hen do we painted ceramics.
I painted a robot.
Before "cooking" Pink Robot After "cooking" Pink Robot

Monday, April 21, 2008

Things change and things stay the same.

I recently “friended” an old school friend on Facebook. I think I knew her until about 11 years old, so it’s been a while. Funny how people still look the same, isn’t it? You know, they do look different, but not.

I wonder how much of the me that was then is still the me that is now.

I still like animals, making things and messing around with computers. I’d still rather sit inside with a book than run around on a field. I still have a love/hate relationship with my hair and I’m still paranoid about the size of my rear. I still like to sing, and I’m still out of tune. I still enjoy dancing.
There are things that have changed too. Whether for the better or not I am not sure.

I look in the mirror and still see myself. I look at those photos and still see myself (well, except the one where I’m not sure it’s me) just younger, and perhaps a little more of an optimist. Or not, after all: “What’s the point if I’m not going to win” – a sentiment I fist expressed at about 7, and still find hard to ignore today. The meaning of “to win” can change though, and that’s the bit I have to work on. Sometimes you only have to beat your own goals.

Okay, back onto the up-beat side of the blog. I’ve been hurridly knitting some bootees for the new baby (not mine) to go with the card I’m sending. Photos to come, probably. Easy knit, even when hung over.
Oh yes – here’s a tip. White wine, then gin, then red wine, then sambuca (sp?), then more gin – don’t try it.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Woo Hoo

Look what came in the post Addis I ordered these on the 8th, so considering they came from Hong Kong they got here pretty quick.

As far as I can tell they are genuinely addi needles, there’s no reason for me to doubt their authenticity. So yes, six sets of addis all ready for me to try two-at-a-time socks. Woo! i can’t decide which of my yarns to use first… ArucaniaNDSAlpaca Merino Sock Yarn These are all nice yarns which don’t really require a fancy pattern (I’m going to try a fairly plain first two-at-a-time) I could use the Kaffe Fasset stuff because it’s in two balls, which is easier for two at a time!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Persimmon homes can not spell

I was on the bus on the way back into town from our other offices. I was idly reading the signs on a new housing development. They advertise the mortgage offers that Persimmon homes is offering on these houses and flats, such as a 120% mortgage.
On of the signs reads thus:
Mortgage Sudsidy available.
I had to look twice, but it really says that. Now, I’m sometimes willing to give people the benefit of the doubt, so when I got back to my desk I went to dictionary.com and looked up sudsidy - it’s not a real word according to them (and according to me, too). It offered a close word: sudsed (to make something soapy, or slang for beer) or subsidy (which I suspect is what they really meant, meaning “a grant or contribution of money” {one of the four definitions}).

I can’t be the only person to have noticed this. What I want to know is:
If the person writing the request for the signs didn’t notice when they ordered, the sign maker didn’t notice (or didn’t care to point it out) and then when they put the sign up those people didn’t notice either, then why isn't someone paid to check this?
I feel I would be poking my nose in to go to their marketing suite and tell them, but I would guess that nobody else has told them because the sign is still there!

I wish I'd taken a photo of it...

[Edit to add: someone on Ravelry has suggested that the implication is that the Mortgage company will take you to the cleaners... made me laugh anyway]

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


We went to the gym last night. I got my fitlinxx number (yes, once again I’m a number…) and I also did the first “workout A” of the first section of the program. This consisted of a warm up (10 minutes on the treadmill) a semi specific warm up (some odd-looking stretching) and the into the weights. I did the squat, with 10kg of bar-weight. I did some 45ยบ push-ups, I rowed using 15kg, and did a move called “step up” with 6kg.
This was all well and good.
My legs ached a bit this morning, which I expected. I still think I could squat more. But after carrying my laptop to and from our out-of-town office (on the bus) my chest muscles are really hurting!

On the up side, it didn’t stop me from knitting on the bus on the way back.

Thank you to everyone who has left such nice comments about the dress. It’s nice to hear that other people think it is nice too. I hope it looks as good on me as on the dressmakers’ dummy! And I must find something warm to wear with it!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Knitting is not aerobic exercise, no matter how fast you knit.

On Saturday morning we went to Remnant House to buy the material for the PTH costumes. It cost more than I was planning on spending, but the material is lovely! It’s great colours. I’ve been struggling with the pattern, but I think I’ve been trying to make it too complicated. As soon as I simplified what I was doing it began to make sense (woo!) and I should have all the pattern pieces for the boy costume soon. I’m making costumes for some of the other team members too, so we should mostly match, which is nice.

I’m still progressing (albeit slowly) on the sweater for OH, though I haven’t done much on it since Thursday, I think. Between buying material, making dresses, making costumes, going out for people’s birthdays (Happy birthday Lint!) and visiting my parents in their caravan (they’re on holiday, they don’t live in a caravan. Not that there’s anything wrong with living in a caravan. But you know.) I haven’t had an awful lot of time to knit.

Of course, that’s not to say I’ve had no time, and really I’m making excuses because I’ve started two more new projects. I finally started the cross your heart square from the monthly crochet-a-long that I joined. It’s the February square, so I also have the March and April squares to do! I’ve done mine in white-with-pink-spots and blue-variegated yarn. It looks okay so far, I have two rounds to do.
I also cast on for the scarf I was talking about in my last post, branching out. I’m using an angora blend yarn in a really nice shade of pinks, peaches and pale oranges. Louisa Harding Angora (colourway 9) Pretty, isn’t it? It’s so soft too!

I’ve done two pattern repeats so far. It looks interesting so far, but I’ve heard that lace usually looks awful until it’s blocked. Fingers crossed, it will look better when it’s blocked! It’s quite nice to knit. I suspect I’ll not learn the pattern, as it’s a 10 row repeat, though only 5 of them are pattern, the others are just purl except the border.

I bring the sock with me at lunchtime still, so that goes on by about 5 or more rows each day. I love the pouch that my Discworld pal got me for sock-project transit. It rocks!

Our gym opened today. We’re planning on going for a late-night gym session, from about 8pm. (They’re open til 10pm) I have my new program from my book, which is pretty good I think. I get to warm up, then do some weights, then I’m done. I might go swimming too, I haven’t decided.

I hope I get on with the new program. I’ve got a bunch of measurements to take before we begin so that I can track my progress, though I’ve taken most of them in the dress/costume creation process!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Lift like a man, look like a goddess?

I went to the new gym last night for a look around. It looks, somewhat unsurprisingly, like a gym. Really though, it’s quite nice. The pool is a sensible size (20m) and there are lots of each kind of equipment. The yoga and fitness studios were both nice, and there’s a boxing area where they intend to do boxercise at some point. They couldn’t give us a program (or a log on number for the system) last night though. I’d like to think that there’s a better reason for that than that they are disorganised – we have been signed up for about 6 weeks, but they’re only now inputting the numbers? Hmm. In any case, this means that I get to make up my own program to begin with. They will automatically give us a basic program (ahaha) which I plan to ignore and do my “lift like a man, look like a goddess” (it really says that on the book) program. Woo! Honestly though, I love the concept: step away from the treadmill!

Last night I spent a couple of moments reviewing my stash, and finally got round to frogging the scarf that never was. Now I have almost two full balls of Louisa Harding Kimono Angora (Rav Link). I don’t know what to do with it. It knits at DK weight, so I had a go with the experimental search on Ravelry to see what it suggested. There are lots of scarves, some socks, hats and lots of baby things. It was being a scarf before but I wasn’t feeling it. frankly I don’t like knitting scarves because they take so long and they’re repetitive! I might be tempted with a lace one, at least that would lend some interest, and might get my lace mojo going for Muir (Rav: Muir, Muir Along) but we will see. I really want to make it into something that I will be able to wear because it’s such lovely stuff! I quite like the look of the top non-sock non-baby pattern: Branching Out from Knitty.com which looks so pretty. And I think I probably have the tools required.

I’ve been knitting the socks for my OH again at lunchtimes. I am afraid that I don’t think that the cables are going to match up entirely. Because I have the attention span of a five year old crammed full of smarties, I keep forgetting to cable, Still, if anyone (other than another knitter) is crazy enough to get down on their hands and knees and check to see if I cabled both socks at exactly the same time then that’s their problem not mine. OH doesn’t mind. He’s happy with one sock, but I think you need a pair to get the full enjoyment out of them!
And I am so pleased with the long-tail/thumb cast on. It’s stretchy enough and it looks nice too. It’s a lot better than the knitted cast-on, IMHO. I might use it for everything from now on! Though when casting on a large number of stitches it might not be recommended. I might have to learn another new cast on then.

In other news, the PTH is coming again soon, so we’re off to buy some material to make costumes tomorrow. Our theme is so cool. I’ll let you guess what the theme is when you see the costume(s) though.

Monday, April 07, 2008


The dress.
Like with knitting, I still have a few ends to deal with, but this is pretty much it. The front picture is the best colour likeness. dress front
As you can see, the up-and-downness of the stripes isn't maintained. It was a considered design decision to do that (I couldn't see how to make it better without making it more complex) dress side dress back

Radio Blah Blah

Terry Wogan was funny this morning. We’ve had a little bit of snow and ice this weekend, it’s caused a few problems. He sang thus (approximately):
Good King Wenceslas looked out
Two weeks after Easter
Traffic stuck on roundabouts
Every hill a pist-e
It didn’t bother Northerners
They didn’t care in Pres-ton
In Newcastle the men went out
With only shorts and ve-ests on

Also, I had fun this weekend on This Site finding out whether I am a geek, a nerd or a dork.
Your Score: Pure Geek (I was so right!) 43 % Nerd 65% Geek 34% Dork
You scored better than half in Geek, earning you the title of: Pure Geek. It’s not that you’re a school junkie, like the nerd, and you don’t really stand out in a crowd, like the dork, you just have some interests that aren’t quite mainstream. Perhaps it’s anime, perhaps it’s computers, perhaps it’s bottlecaps, perhaps it’s all of those and more. Your interests take you to events and gatherings that are filled with people you find unusual and beyond-the-pale, but you don’t quite consider yourself “of that crowd.” Instead, you consider yourself to be fairly normal.
Which, you are.
My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
You scored higher than 25% on nerdiness
You scored higher than 90% on geekosity
You scored higher than 61% on dork points

Don't try to access it at work, as it's on OKCupid, which is blocked.

The dress, which the material in the last post is for, is now finished except for the hem on the open ends of the belt (it’ll take about two minutes to do that bit) but the light was so poor by the time I was finished that I couldn’t take photos. I have not decided whether to take the photos of it on my mannequin (yey – no me in the pic!) or whether to put it on and venture outside. Since it’s very thin, I’m thinking I’ll go for the mannequin option. I’m really quite pleased with how it’s turned out. It’s a good length, it floats nicely. The stripes look funky and the floral trim works much better than I thought it might! It’s all because of the teeny tiny felted tote which is my bag for the wedding.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Loads of finished stuff!

I finished the Nintendo Cozy so I can go back to the sock at lunctimes.
In other news, We now have a blackboard in our hall for leaving ourselves messages on. It seems to work. blackboard I've also mounted the masks from the masked ball, they're pretty in a new pale frame, which melts into the background. Spot on. mounted masks And I bought the material for the dress I wanted to make for the upcoming wedding. The floral print is actually designer fabric (whoops) so cost about double what the stripe did. The stripe is a cheesecloth, which is nice. soon to be dress It's on the way to being made.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Random Ramblings

Today we were evacuated (badly) from our building. I was in the lunch room and the fire alarm sounded for a couple of seconds and stopped. Then it went off again and then stopped. I packed up my knitting (I have on repeat left on the DS cozy) and my lunchbox and headed back to my desk. (it is about now in the retelling that I realise how stupid I was being.) The rest of my team were gone. I assumed that, as I had been told that it was not a real drill (!!) they would be back, and the rest of the people on my floor were still sitting there, working away. As the sweet vending machine on my floor isn’t working I picked up my bag and headed for the canteen for a chocolate fix. As I stepped out of the lift, I noticed that there was a big crowd hanging out at our evacuation point, and there was a lady in a yellow vest at the door. Hmm. So I wandered over and said “should I be evacuating?” which was confirmed. Then I said, “everyone else on my floor is still sitting there, working”. They sent someone else up to check. There was a cross person complaining about this as I left the building. While I was out there, I chastised myself (in my head, so the world doesn’t know I’m crazy) for not picking up my knitting, so I was stuck out there with nothing to do. We weren’t out there that long though, I’d probably only have managed a couple of rows, and cabling while standing up is hard!

Lace Knitting
I’ve also been chatting with some other knitters in the Muir-along group on Ravelry. I asked them whether they thought it was too tough for a beginner. They said no, but with caveats:
  1. knit a swatch. this will be hard for me. I don’t like swatches. However, it will give me a good idea about how the yarn will look in this pattern, whether I have the patience and whether I know how to count.
  2. use stitch markers to keep count of where you are
  3. don’t use stitch markers because you have to keep moving them. Yes, I know these contradict. It seems to depend on whether the knitter in question is happier counting or whether they’re prepared to have to jiggle their markers about a bit.
  4. LIFELINES yes, lifelines are lines of thread (or apparently dental floss works) which run along your knitting at regular intervals so that if (or when) you make a mistake (that you can’t either tink back to or fix as you go) then you can frog back to the lifeline and pick up the stitches including all of those pesky yarn-overs without any problems. Brilliant! And we have plenty of dental floss, though I wonder if it will make my knitting smell minty?
So, I feel able to order that lovely yarn that I’ve been oogling for days weeks, and some addi turbos! (insert cool sound effect here). Addi are talked about among the knitters online as a good needle, and certainly the Addi Circs that I was sent in the Secret Pal swap for the felted bag were lovely to work with. And since I;m paying for postage anyway, I’ll probably order some additional needles so I can have a go at two-socks-at-a-time. Woo!

Podcasts are fun
I’ve been listening to Brenda Dayne’s podcast, Cast On, for some time now. She lives in Wales and chats about mainly knitting. I like to listen to Cast On in the bath. Now, a long time ago in an old Cast On, Brenda mentioned some other knitters who were podcasting. Since I was listening to her back-episodes, and I was in the bath, I totally forgot to look them up. They were, and indeed are, Lime & Violet: two crazy Americans who so far talk about yarn, dogs, alien babies, stalking Brenda Dayne and yarn. Oh, and also yarn. And knitting. And more yarn. You get the idea. They’re quite funny to listen to, and remind me a little of some of the banal conversations I used to have with my best mate on the bus on the way home from school. Anyway, I’m on something like episode 6 which was back in 2006, and they podcast weekly, so I’ll be catching up for a while. But they’re funny and distracting enough for lunchtime without distracting me too much from my cables.

Signing off
Yeah, I’m done for this time. mental note (or, well, blog note): take some pictures of something to make the blog look more interesting.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Making, making and more making

I enjoyed the April Fool on the BBC yesterday with the flying penguins. I saw the article at about 8:15, and it took me until about 8:35 when I was drying my hair to realise that it was April 1st and therefore it was probably not for real. I admit to being slightly disappointed!

Knit night at Brigantes had more people there this week. We had six of us for some of the evening. It was pretty good, and I made some progress on the sweater. When I got home I finally sat down and cast on the second sock for the pair for OH. I used the long-tail cast on (it was called the thumb method in Simply Knitting, which were the instructions I followed in the end) and it seems to have worked so far. I had only about an inch of yarn left at the cast on tail though, which was a bit scary! I’ve only done two rows so far, so I can’t really comment on the stretchiness of this cast on versus the knitted cast on I used for the other sock. If it works out (and it should, Yarn Harlot recommends it in her book Knitting Rules) I may well use it for other knitting; notably the sleeves of the sweater. OH would prefer a stretchy edge there I’m sure!

I’ve been ogling some nice lace weight yarn to make muir with, but I’m still undecided.

I’m also planning on making a new dress for the wedding I’m going to in May. As well as making PTH costume(s), so I’d better start soon! The PTH costumes shouldn’t be too hard actually, I just have to get Leon to make a decision about what he’s going to be in case that’s anything complicated. It’s just over a month to the PTH, so I doubt it will be that warm, but this costume isn’t really one where you can wear a coat. Though perhaps underclothes might be prudent.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Put your money where your mouth is

Last night was shopping night. We went to our usual supermarket having not really eaten last week’s shop. Having picked up the few bits we needed, I casually glanced over at the poultry counter. There haven’t been any Organic chickens for about two months since the chicken programs Jamie Oliver and Hugh F-W filmed were aired. Anyway, there were two beautiful organic chickens sitting on the shelf, waiting to be bought.
We don’t really need chicken, but I thought I’d have a look. The price has gone up, but I expected that to happen now that the demand outstrips supply. It’s 50p a kilo more expensive (that’s around 25p per pound in real measurements). That made the not-quite 2lb chicken a princely £10 (almost). Well, I ummed a little more.
But, I decided I have to stand by my convictions and put my money where my mouth is. If I’m so committed to having chickens have a better life then I have to be prepared to pay for it. So we bought the chicken. I reckon it will make easily three, maybe four meals if I’m careful with it. if I can stretch it to four meals (or more) then that’s only £2.50 per meal, which is pretty reasonable.

I can understand that your average single parent with two kids to feed probably can’t afford to spend that much, even if it could last for four meals. Perhaps the problem is that we (as a nation) have become too used to being able to shovel our gobs full of whatever we want, whenever we want. We never had the waste-not want-not culture that some of our parents, and grandparents (and even great-grandparents for some of the younger generation now) did. I don’t think that we need to eat a whole chicken for every meal, every day. I think that we should aim for meat-and-three-veg most nights, but that could be chicken, fish (yes, I know that’s not cheap either), pork, lamb (don’t talk to me about blue tongue), beef, or indeed any other edible animal (rabbit, pheasant, guinea fowl – I could go on)
My point is that we should stop viewing it as our right to eat more chicken than we can stand (or in the case of many, to eat just the breasts and legs and then waste the rest of the good bits) and start viewing it as our privilege.

[steps off soap box, for now]