Thursday, 29 December 2011

Oh, just one more thing...

The Epic Aran Afghan.

Dude, it is awesome.

Of course, that's just my opinion, but you can judge for yourself:

Here's a pic of the whole thing (minus the bit hanging over the fence) outside:

Pretty, huh? So, time for the deets. I used only 30 of the 40 balls of yarn I thought I would need, meaning I used about 2,634 metres of yarn, not the expected 3,418 metres. Quite a difference! Although, I now have a sweater-lot of yarn left over, so will be scouring the patterns on Ravelry for something I can make with it. Bonus! I used John Q Mia yarn, a 10 ply yarn sold by Knit World - purchased at the Wellington branch. I don't think they sell it any more though. It's a composition of 29% merino, 25% acrylic (gasp!), 15% alpaca, 11% corn, 8% cashmere, 6% silk and 6% angora. Quite a mixture (probably what they scraped off the factory floor) but to be perfectly honest, its lovely and soft. I found it delightful to knit with, and have a hat and scarf already made with it. It is very hard-wearing, and comfortable. Very minimal itch-factor.

The pattern, of course, is the Burridge Lake Aran Afghan. Full credit to Anna Dalvi for writing such a fantastically beautiful pattern. I loved knitting every inch of this afghan... okay, so I may have grumbled occasionally about the endless cables, but this pattern was a favourite of mine the second I saw it on the 5th July 2009, and sat in my list of things to knit until I decided to bite the bullet and cast it on. The cast on date was 21st September, and I officially finished it on the 22nd December - three months. Not too bad if I do say so myself ;-) According to my Rav notes, the yarn cost $104 for all 40 balls, which means the cost of this afghan was the low, low price of $78. Bloody excellent.

It was gifted to my mother-in-law on Christmas day. For some reason, the second I saw this afghan pattern and fell in love with it, I knew I would be making it for her. I've never changed my mind about that, so although I'd quite like to keep it, I was more than happy to hand it over once it was finished. There's only one thing that makes me a little nervous.

Please, please Alison, for the love of all that is holy, keep it away from the cat!!!

That is all.

So how was your Christmas?

I had a good Christmas, and once again got spoilt rotten :-) My parents got me a new food processor, something I've wanted since we left ours behind in Napier over four years ago. Now that I have a decent sized kitchen, I'll actually be able to use it. I plan on cooking a bit more now, and may even get back into baking. I'm convinced that the type of kitchen you have determines how much you cook. I had no real want to cook at the last place, and avoided baking as much as possible, simply because the kitchen was so tiny. Not only was there minimal bench space, there was only a half sized oven and two cook tops. Very difficult to feed a family of four in a kitchen like that, believe me! Since moving to this place, I actually want to cook, and am enjoying flicking through recipe books and magazines, thinking of things to make. Something I haven't really done in about a year.

I also got some herb pots and seeds, and planted them this afternoon. According to the instructions, I should start seeing results in about ten days. Hmmm, we'll see. I'm notoriously bad with plants. Still, I'm willing to give it a go. If all goes to plan, we'll have lovely fresh herbs to go with the fresh pasta Deane will be making with the snazzy new pasta machine his mother gave us. Yum!

Surprisingly, I haven't done one single stitch of knitting since I finished the afghan last Thursday. Not. One. I did finish Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M Auel, and read another book as well. I have to say, having an e-reader is just fabulous. No longer do I need to make sure I have enough books packed in the suitcase (taking up valuable clothing space) - I have all the books I need on one small device. And if not? It only takes a minute to download one. Brilliant. So brilliant in fact, I took great joy in giving an e-reader to both mums for Christmas. We can still share books! Yay!

The kids got some cool presents too - the most used so far I think would have to be the two books Santa brought them - Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and the sequel, Rodrick Rules. X has already read the first and is part way through the second, and T started the first book yesterday on the way home. I'm ridiculously happy about this. I always wanted my boys to be readers - I think they just might be. I'll definitely be getting the other books in the series to add to their collection (and I'll be reading them myself of course ;-p)

Must dash, Deane wants to order dinner online. I hope you have a good New Year - ours will be relatively quiet, as usual. Fine with me :-) See you next year!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Still plodding

Apologies for the involuntary absence - our internet took longer to sort out than expected. Temporary solutions just didn't allow for extended browsing jaunts, much less blog-land updates. However, we finally have our permanent internet sorted out, and I have a little time available for a posting.

We have only three sleeps to go until Christmas day. All I have left to do is sew half of one border onto the Epic Aran Afghan, and weave in all the ends. Alllllll the ennnnnnnds. There are many. Still, I managed to knock out a good chunk of the border knitting yesterday and finished them early afternoon, so was able to block them last night. Thanks to some decent summer-type weather, they were dry by mid morning, and I've sewn on one border. I'm procrastinating about the other, but have half done. The ends I think I'll do tonight in front of the idiot box.

The plum pudding is in the freezer, the peppermint bark and shortbread are all secure in their cellophane bags, the crystallised ginger is sitting pretty (or not so pretty, since crystallised ginger is kinda ugly looking if you think about it) in jars, and I've well and truly finished the Christmas shopping and wrapping. Can't say the same for Deane of course, but that is none of my concern. He's always been one to finish things at the absolute last second, so I'm not going to worry about it (read: trying to ignore things I can't do anything about, in the hopes of avoiding hyperventilation).

He has organised transport for us to Napier, since our car is still out of action (damned meanies, breaking into our car at the most inconvenient time possible), and luckily it has plenty of boot space, so we can not only fit all the Christmas presents in it for the trip down, there might even be some room to fit my favourite rocking chair in for the trip back - I've been looking forward to being able to sit in it for a while, and I have just the spot in our new place. It'll be great to be able to sit in it and read or knit the day away. Not quite the same as the spot it used to reside in, next to the pot-belly stove at my husband's childhood home, but good all the same.

I have had no chance in the last few weeks to go for a run, and won't for some time yet, so have decided (because I'm a lazy cow) to leave it until the kids go back to school in February. Thankfully, I have a good metabolism so I won't pile on the weight (in fact, my weight hasn't changed at all in the last four years), but I am a little concerned about my cardiac fitness, which is undoubtedly taking quite a dive right about now. Still, I know I can put in the effort to work it back up again, it'll just take a little time. February, there's no hurry to get here, mm-kaaaay?

The timer is about to go on the stove, letting me know the baked potatoes are done, and X is sitting right next to me, patiently waiting for the computer, so I better go, but I just wanted to leave you with a few colourful pics I've taken over the last week. Have a Merry Christmas, a wonderfully fun-filled New Year celebration (if I don't see you before then), and I'll post pics and deets of the finished (in time! Hurrah!) afghan next week. Enjoy!

Bought these the other day at the supermarket. After the weekend we had moving in, I needed a little cheering up! These hit the spot nicely :-)

The pohutukawa I see outside my window every day. Gorgeous!!

A simple, yet beautiful and delicious snack, to go alongside freshly baked gingerbread loaf on a lovely Sunday morning with friends.

And this picture again. Why, you ask? Just because its funny ;-)

It is 9.47pm, and I have officially completed the afghan!!!!! Oh, joy of joys!! I am so happy and proud :-) Sadly, there is nobody to share it with as Deane is still at work, and the boys are in bed asleep. Oh well...

Tomorrow, packing and washing. But most importantly, photos of the finished afghan before wrapping it ready for Christmas. Three sleeps to go, remember!

Phew! Now that mammoth project is out of the way, I feel an itch to cast on some of these (thank you Yarn Harlot!). Alas, I don't have the yarn for them :-( Plus, its summer. I'll add them to my to-do list...

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

It's never easy, is it?

So we moved this weekend. I thought I was organised. Guess not. The actual move itself was pretty smooth-sailing, except of course for the bits that Deane had anything to do with (ie: packing the stuff in his 'office' etc - he left it until the movers were there moving everything out of the apartment. I was at the new place by then, so for all I know, the movers did it for him...) The new place is great - so much more space, storage room, everything is great. Except there was no hot water (the electrician had failed to install a rather essential wire in the fuse box); our new fridge had a hernia the first night and threw the RCD so we had no power for a while, until we unplugged the fridge. Then we just had no fridge until the next afternoon; the downstairs bathroom sink had no cold water (turns out we just needed to turn on the tap thingee on the pipe under the sink - duh); the TV aerial can't pick up analog channels, and we've lost the remote for the Freeview box - still waiting for the aerial guy to track down a spare remote so he can reprogram the box for us. It would be nice to be able to watch TV again, even if its just to entertain the kids for a while.

At seven his morning, I was standing at the kitchen sink and saw the rubbish truck whizz by. In the hopes that they hadn't done our street yet, I went out the gate to check, and discovered some ::insert expletives here:: had smashed two windows in our car and ripped out the ignition. Oh, and yes, the rubbish truck had already done our street, so now I have a full rubbish bin for another week.

Once, just once, I would like to move to a new place and not have any problems. Is that too much to ask?!?!?

Deep, calming breaths...

The kids are loving the proximity to school. We're all enjoying the novelty of being able to walk across the road instead of having to drive. I stand on the corner and wave them goodbye in the mornings, and meet them on the same corner in the afternoons. They cross the road on their own. Hopefully soon I'll be able to say goodbye without leaving the house, and wait inside the gate for them to come home in the afternoons (and just secretly spy on them out the window). I don't think I'm quite ready to let go that much yet though. Baby steps.

Sadly, with all the craziness of the move etc, I didn't manage to finish the third panel on the Epic Aran Afghan. Happily though, I only have two repeats left! I may be able to get those done tonight (especially since we have nothing to watch) and get to blocking them tomorrow. I can't wait to see it all put together! Oh dear, I hope I can let go of it once its finished, I really do intend to give it away but I'm not sure if I'll be able to... Perhaps I can visit it every now and then, so it won't really be like its gone...

The Christmas tree is finally up, the presents are laid below, and I can see beautiful pohutukawas outside my window. I must get a photo to show you - in the next few days, I promise. It really is a lovely kiwi Christmas icon, the pohutukawa. Such striking red flowers! Very festive.

I hope your week has gone a little smoother than ours, and you're looking forward to the Christmas break. Just a few more things to do myself. The boys finish up at school next Tuesday, so I'm extra glad we have space for them to run around in now. And of course, the school playground across the road if they get bored ;-)

Enjoy the rest of your week!!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Same again, thanks

This has been my view every day for the last week:

The only thing that changes is the length. I should be glad of that at least...

As of right now, I have knit 17 of the required 24 pattern repeats on the third and final panel (which is a mirror image of the first panel). The end is in sight! Just seven more repeats to go, and the two borders for the top and bottom, which are only 20 stitches across and won't be as long as the panels. This afghan has been a bit of a challenge - the pattern itself is not hard, but the sheer enormity of the project, and the added difficulty of fixing mistakes that any munson could avoid by paying attention have made this a mission and a half. I have thoroughly enjoyed knitting it though, and have to say I'm rather proud of it so far. I can't wait to see it all put together!! It will need to be blocked though, which will have to wait until we've moved into the new place and I can't knit the border pieces until that's done (or at least can't finish them). Still, at the rate of two repeats a day (and enough of today left to get one done), it will take me until Friday to finish the panel. We move on Saturday, and if I'm organised enough, I can get blocking on Sunday. With only 2 1/2 weeks left until Christmas, I have to say I'm rather relieved. I think I'm going to make it!

Oh, and btw, if you receive this gift and don't want it for whatever reason (and please be honest - some people just don't dig Aran, I get it), believe me, I'd be happy to take it back no questions asked ;-) Just sayin'...

The completion of the afghan has come at the expense of many other planned projects I have to admit. I wanted to knit socks for my sister, something for the boys' teachers (who've each had one of my children for a year and a half - they deserve something lovely), I had cushion covers to sew (also for my sister), a shawl (which is half done, maybe I can still finish it in time...), and oh, so many other things!! Still, I'm happy with the presents I've got everyone this year, and my sister's birthday is in March, so I can always knit the socks and sew the cushion covers for her then. The teachers are getting yummy goodies from Lush, and the shawl was an 'extra' present anyway.

Sadly, my running has taken a bit of a hit as well. With the kids sick quite a bit this term, and Deane so busy with work and often away, I missed a lot of chances to hit the pavement. My 15km achievement seems to have been a one-off. I've managed only two runs in as many weeks, and they've been a measly 8km and 6.5km respectively. I have learned that fitness is a hard won thing - you need to earn it, and work to keep it. I'll keep digging away at it for now, and when the kids go back to school next year, get into a better routine. At least, that's my plan. We all know what happens to my plans...

I've rather enjoyed reading the Yarn Harlot's suggestions to non-knitters about what to buy their knitterly friends and relatives, particularly the first one - here. It's a must read. She's updating her blog every day with new ideas for knitters. So many cool things!! And the best part? The wonders of the internet have made it all accessible. I've really got the hang of this internet shopping lark - several of my family's Christmas presents were bought over the net this year. Oh, such fun. I love making things for people, and I love thinking of things to give to friends and family that I think (hope) they'll love.

Christmas. A time for getting together and enjoying great food and good company, with fantastic summer weather and lots of relaxing. Ah, yes. Next week's plan (apart from finishing the afghan of course) - plum pudding, shortbread, peppermint bark, and home made crystallised ginger. Mmmmm, yummy. Did I mention that Christmas-time has good food? I have to say, there's something about my mother-in-law's roast veges that I absolutely love. Whether its anything to do with being cooked alongside turkey and lamb, I can't be sure. But I look forward to them every year. Fresh, juicy, delicious strawberries and cherries!! Oh my. Hawkes Bay has the best berries, without a doubt. Breakfast with the fan-dam on Christmas morning, making all the kids wait not-so-patiently to open their presents... I'm looking forward to Christmas this year. I think our little faux tree will be going up on Sunday. Maybe Saturday. Depends on how well the move goes.

I hope you're looking forward to the 'silly season':

Mwaaahahahahaha!!! Yes my husband is a dork, but he's a happy dork, and I love him.

In the mean-time, for me at least, it'll be more of this:

Psst, just so you know, I edited about 20 million exclamation marks out of this post before publishing it.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Or. Ga. Nised.

Gasp!! It has been over a week since I last posted! It's been pretty busy here though, I am knitting like a madwoman trying to get this afghan finished in time - I am now almost quarter of the way through the third and final panel (not including the two border strips). Much less mistakes this time around, as I think I may have it sorted finally ;-)

I have booked the movers, organised the carpet cleaner, and have packed everything that can possibly be packed in the house.

Please don't send me hate mail, but...

I have finished my Christmas shopping!! All that is left is for Deane to get a few bits and pieces for the boys, and a couple of family friends, and we're done. A couple of items still have to arrive in the mail, but everything is wrapped and stashed in the top of the wardrobe (which was emptied last week thanks to packing). Oh my, it feels good to be so organised. Now all that's left is to knit knit knit. And make a plum pudding. But that will happen after we've moved.

How is your Christmas planning going?

Monday, 21 November 2011

Next year? Sleep overs.

Ugh. The boys' birthday party, although not a complete disaster, didn't exactly go off without a hitch. I had to wait for Deane to finish a phone call before we could leave (at the absolute last possible second so as not to be late). On our way we were to pick up one of the kids attending the party. He wasn't home. The babysitter had 'got confused' about the times, and had gone to the park. Grrr!!! After knocking on doors, speaking to the next-door kid, phoning various phone numbers and driving around the block a few times, we managed to find the child. Unfortunately, he was wearing shorts, a t-shirt and jandals. Not ice-skating appropriate clothing!!! So we had to go back to his place and grab appropriate attire before zooming off to the venue. We managed to arrive only five minutes late, and only one other kid had turned up.

We hauled everyone inside and got them kitted out with skates and frames (none of the kids were able to skate without them) and I went out to wait for the others. It turned out to be a waste of time, as nobody else turned up. At least not for another hour. Meanwhile, the coach came along and said to ditch the frames, as she was used to teaching kids how to skate without them. Well, after about ten minutes, T was off the ice and refused to go back on, one of the kids had fallen over a number of times and was very sore, and very upset, and wanted to sit down. Only X and his friend were left on the ice, clinging to the sides of the rink. After another five minutes or so, the coach gave up. Waste. Of. Money. It was supposed to be a half hour lesson :-/ Falling-over kid got some better skates, and we gave him back his frame, so he was happy. The other two grabbed their frames back as well, and all was hunky-dory again.

Just before we headed up to the party room, the only other kid to turn up, turned up. So we went in and scoffed as much food as possible (although there was still enough left for four kids. Funny that...) had some cake, opened the few presents (un-organised kid didn't have a present. Wonder why?) and then we all trooped back downstairs for another hour of skating. Thankfully, with frames again available, T decided he wanted to skate after all, and I just kept watch on all the gear.

Unfortunately, even with only five kids in total, we still had to pay for the minimum of eight, so it ended up being a very expensive birthday party. Next year, the boys can invite one friend over for a sleep over each. I can't deal with the stress of a party that people don't RSVP/bother to turn up to. I'm starting to wonder if I'm the birthday-party jinxer. Last year, I was away for X's party, so Deane went it alone. Every child turned up, they had a great time. For T's party, Deane and X were away, so it was just me. Nobody turned up to that party, so T and I hung out together. This year, both Deane and I were there, and less than half the kids turned up. WTF? Must be me... ;-)

Some good news though, we're moving! In three weeks' time, we will be residing in an actual house, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, one of which has a bath tub, with an actual garage, and an actual real-life laundry, two decks, a proper-sized living room, and actual kitchen with cupboard space, and there is actual storage!!! Oh, and there's a grassy outdoor area too. Did I mention there was parking for more than one car? OMG, there will be space to move around in!!! And somewhere to put my spinning wheel!!! And it's across the road from school too, so X can be all responsible and walk to school by himself ;-) Using the pedestrian crossing of course (^_^) The rent is astronomical, and the landlord is anally-retentive, but it's about time we lived somewhere that doesn't resemble a shoe-box. Deane's happy with it, even though it'll be about a half-hour walk to his office. I'm certainly not going to complain! Supermarket five minutes' walk away, school, dairy, laundromat (mwahaha), doctor and chemist across the road... sorted ;-) And the library is only 15 minutes away too. Can't wait. And the best thing? We can have visitors!!!

I spent several hours yesterday and today packing up the stuff we don't need out, which is actually a lot easier with Deane away at yet another conference, or two, or three. (Taupo/Christchurch this time, and Auckland later in the week so at least I'll see him at some point). I have this horrible feeling though, that when he arrives home, he'll ask where ::insert item name here:: is and I'll have to find which box I packed it into... For now though, I'm enjoying the extra space and tidiness I have created by squashing everything into boxes and shoving them into the spare room/Deane's temporary office. I can't do much more though, all that's left is stuff we're using, so I just have to clean clean clean. I've got quotes from five different moving companies, and have narrowed it down to two, so I'll book that tomorrow. Our current landlord is being really nice about everything, and coordinating open home times that suit us. She's also organising the carpet cleaning for us. Fabulous. For once, I'm actually happy to be moving!

And now for a bit of randomness:

I have four repeats left of the centre panel for the Epic Aran Afghan, then I can start on the third and final (not including the borders) panel. I might actually make the Christmas deadline, if I really put in an effort...

This week, I'm re-watching the Twilight movies in preparation for seeing Breaking Dawn Part 1 this weekend. Life is so much better when you have things to look forward to, don't you agree?

Hope you're enjoying your week!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Busy week

Sitting here taking a breather (read: avoiding housework) in amongst the craziness that is this week. And it's only Thursday! Here's the condensed version:

15km run. Dude! What a mission!

Athletics Day at school. Got a wee bit sunburned - oops. Guess that's what happens when you run out of the house in a hurry, thinking you're going to have time to swing by home and grab sunscreen and a hat before heading out again to sit in the sun for a few hours, only to find that your plans (as always - why don't I ever learn?) don't work out.

Christmas shopping. Yep, being all organised and stuff this year. Had to get birthday party supplies for this weekend as well. Then sat and made up the goodie bags for the kids to take home after the party. This year, the boys are having a combined party, at Paradice. Easiest party organisation ever! Book the party, send out the invitations, make a cake, and just meet everyone there. Food/drinks/entertainment: covered, courtesy of the ice skating rink. Awesome. Now, if only people would bloody well RSVP!!!!!

8km run. Housework (supposedly). Laundromat. X's 9th birthday. Wow. N I N E . Trying to ignore the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 DVD sitting on my shelf, newly acquired during by shopping expedition yesterday. Seriously resisting the temptation to say 'screw it' and head to the movies to watch The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 all by myself. Nobody needs to know, right? Damn, housework and laundry... At least I don't have to cook dinner tonight, I believe X wants McDonalds for dinner. Sweet.

In amongst all this, I have managed to get some knitting time in (of course ;-P) I have nine repeats of 16 done on the centre panel of the Epic Aran Afghan. I'm nearly at the halfway point!! Although, considering I started this monster project back in September, and we only have (oh dear) 37 days left until Christmas... Somebody stand behind me and crack the whip, will you? I need to get my butt moving!!

Yet to happen:

Meeting Miss Jenny for coffee/brunch for a good ol' catch up before she heads off on a plane outta here. Haven't seen her since I was last in Wellington. About a year ago. Must get back down there some day... Baking the birthday cake needs to happen somewhere in here too.

The all-important combined birthday party for my two boys. One already nine, the other very-nearly seven. My, how time flies.

Um... sleep in? Please?

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

You knit and learn...

I knew fairly early on that I'd miscrossed a couple of cables at the beginning of the centre panel of my Epic Aran Afghan, but I couldn't quite figure it out just by looking at it, and decided to knit a full pattern repeat and part of the next, so I could compare and see where I'd gone wrong.

Can you see it? Here, I'll help you:

In my 'I've fixed plenty of mistakes, I know what I'm doing' confidence, I carried on knitting, figuring I'd do a Yarn Harlot and snip a thread, re-knitting the mistake row and grafting it back together later. I'm getting pretty good at this knitting lark, right? I'm sure I can fix a wee mistake like that no problem. So I kept knitting. About 3/4 of the way through the third repeat, it was starting to get to me. So I decided 'I'll just fix that now, then it'll be over and done with, and I won't have to worry about it staring back at me any more'.

I searched the net, found a little tutorial on how exactly to do this type of 'repair', and found the strand I needed to snip:

Then it was just a simple matter of undoing the row, picking up the stitches, reknitting it, and grafting it back together, right? Wrong. So very, very wrong. After spending a good quarter hour trying in vain to pick up the stitches (the bottom ones were fine. The top ones? Not so much...) I gave up and decided to revert to my fail-safe method:

Quite some time later, all is well again:

The lesson? Fix a mistake as soon as possible, before it turns into a nightmare!!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

On the road again

Yes indeedy, on the road to getting stuff finished! I spent a good couple of weeks basically avoiding my knitting - with only the vanilla handspun socks and the Epic Aran Afghan to knit, I wasn't overly inspired to pick up the needles, getting distracted instead by the second Nikki Heat novel (which, by the way, is just as awesome as the first) and surfing the net for thoroughly excellent Christmas presents (because, y'know, I like to at least pretend to be organised).

So, socks are done:

Didn't get them done before the end of October (see previous paragraph) but they were finished in the first week of November, so better than nothing. I just knit generic toe-up socks with a 2x2 rib for the legs, and used Cat Bordhi's most excellent sweet tomato heel. The yarn turned out to be a fairly thick fingering weight, nearly sport-weight, so the socks were only 52 stitches around. They could've done with a few extra stitches in the legs, but I didn't increase before the ribbing, and I couldn't be bothered a) frogging back to include increases, or b) increasing in the ribbing, so they stayed at 52 stitches around. They still fit, so it's all good.

I have started the second (centre) panel on the afghan - cast on yesterday. So far, I'm only 1 1/2 repeats in (of 16) but I expect to get quite a bit done over this week, with X at home with chicken pox. His are worse than T's, and he's rather miserable, so there's lots of sitting on the couch doing bugger all at the moment. I'm not complaining...

If I get stuck in and actually spend some time working on this thing, I still have a good chance of getting it done before Christmas. Although I also have other projects on the list - ie: a baby cricket vest (special request) that I have the yarn for - some yummy Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo that I can't wait to cast on. I have the pattern ready to go, I'm just waiting for an extra ball of red (because I accidentally ordered pink, which just won't do for the wee little boy it's being made for) and I'm good to go. I also have some sewing projects to get stuck into, and maybe some foodie stuff. Although that can probably wait until last minute. I wonder if I should make a plum pudding again this year...?

Speaking of 'on the road again', I got my feet out on the road (or rather the footpath) yesterday morning, for my longest run to date: 12 kilometres. I nearly reached Kelly Tarlton's! (Which is my personal goal. The next goal after that is running 15km. One step at a time.) It felt good, and I still had some juice in the tank at the end of the run. Made me feel better about the whole quarter marathon thing - I think the combination of head cold/upset tummy/earlier-than-normal start to the morning was probably what got to me at the end of the race. I've come to the conclusion that paying money to enter a race I have no chance of winning is a little pointless, particularly when there's nobody to cheer you on at the end. I'll just keep setting myself goals and cheering myself on (in my head of course - not going to do the whole Rocky-at-the-top-of-the-stairs thing, that would just be weird).

I think it's important, being a stay-at-home-mum that doesn't have to go out and work, to set personal goals. It gives me something to to, and gets me out and about. I don't want to become one of those people with no motivation in life, sitting around all day wearing track pants and sweatshirts with the curtains closed watching movie after movie. Oh no, I'm waffling...

I am however, currently in danger of becoming an internet blob, so I best get moving. Washing to do, dinner to organise, sick kid to tend to, and personal goals to achieve. Onwards!!!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The race is run, and I'm still here

What an experience. We had Indian for dinner on Saturday night (my idea) - it was yummy, as usual, but I did not feel well later that evening, though I couldn't decide if it was the food or nerves. I ended up having to take a couple of ginger capsules to deal with the nausea and went to bed early. I woke up at 5.30am Sunday morning, got out of bed, and only managed one piece of toast for breakfast. No cup of tea, just a small glass of water. Not the best breakfast before a race. Got myself all geared up and wandered down to the start line for the Quarter Marathon.

Thankfully, it wasn't too cold, as standing around for ten minutes with just a singlet on at 6.40am isn't all that fun. It was interesting listening to the pre-race chatter from other participants who were clearly with a friend or in a group. Discussions on what music to listen to during the race ('Eye of the Tiger' on repeat was one guy's idea of motivation. I'm 90% certain he was joking), how far they'd run before, who dragged them into signing up for it, etc etc. Then the race started, and the chatter turned to near silence.

The sound of thousands of feet hitting the road over and over again all around you is quite something.

I felt pretty good running the race, and knew my pace was steady. It was just before I hit the 4km mark when the race leaders started flying past on their way back to the finish line. I started counting (just for something to do, since I hadn't brought along my iPod) and lost count somewhere around 185 - they were coming too thick and fast after that. A little while later I swung around the halfway mark and started heading back. I was feeling good, so I think I may have picked up the pace just a little - I could see some people up ahead of me that where a little bit closer earlier on in the race, and I thought it would be nice to be able to keep up with them as they seemed to be setting a good, easy pace.

I think it was around about 6km or 7km when we saw the first full marathoner running along the road - he got a large round of applause from us measley quarter-marathoners. I gave a wee clap to all the full and half marathoners that ran past us, until about the 20th or 30th runner - by then I was a bit sick of clapping while running. After a while, I noticed there was a lady who appeared to be keeping pace with me. If she got a little ahead and realised, she'd slow down a bit. When she saw me approaching out of the corner of her eye, she'd speed up just a little. Some time after the 9km mark she looked over and asked what the race distance was, and I told her - 10.55km. Well, if I'm honest, I actually said "10.3km, but mine's a little out". Then realised she was talking about the race distance, not what my sportband said, and replied "oh, you mean the race! 10.55km". She probably thought I was a bit looney.

Unfortunately, it was about 300m from the end of the race that my energy was running at its lowest, and I was in danger of passing out. When everybody was digging in for their big strong finish, I had to slow down, out of fear of vomiting or flaking, whichever came first. I kept going though, determined to finish at a run, not a walk. I tried to keep an eye out to see if there was anybody cheering me on - sadly, there was not. Oh well. I crossed the finish line with an official time of 1:05:08 - 544th place overall (out of 1,689 finishers) and 240th female across the line (out of 1,041). Not bad for a first-timer, who wasn't feeling 100%. The lady who'd kept pace with me for the last third of the race came up and said "thanks for setting the pace for me" to which I mumbled an inarticulate "huhyahmsrigh", or something to that effect. I passed on the banana and bottle of water, still battling the black fuzziness at the edges of my vision, and walked through to the area set up for removing and returning the timer tags. It was about then that I remembered to press the stop button on my sportband (oops! According to Nike, I ran 11.03km in one hour, six minutes, with a severe drop-off in speed at the end). I sat down, removed my tag, dropped it in the bucket, and headed through the exit arch, grabbing a bottle of Powerade Isotonic on the way. Then I walked home.

I hadn't brought my keys with me, so I had to buzz the apartment. Deane sent X down to let me in, who told me to wait outside the door. After several minutes, the door opened, and Queen's 'We Are the Champions' was playing on the laptop. Deane had set up a 'finish line' across the kitchen for me to run through. Wally.

I went straight to the shower, then we finished packing our suitcase and jumped in the car. Six hours later, we arrived at Cooper's Beach, in Doubtless Bay. We stayed in a lovely apartment right on the beach

View from the downstairs deck

Where the kids built sand castles

and I made starfish (but no sponges)

Collected shells

many, many shells

And went swimming

or paddling

There was a bit of exploring too

X played a game of chess with Deane that took two and a half days, and I read the rest of Snuff by Terry Pratchett, all of The Vampyre; A Tale by John William Polidori and Honeymooning by Rachael Herron, some of Big White Panties by Dale Alderman and Shattered by Sophia Sharp before deciding they were crap and starting on Naked Heat by Richard Castle. I only knit a few inches on my handspun socks though. It was a nice, relaxing few days.

We're back home now, T's fully recovered from his bout of chicken pox, and X is showing no signs of them yet. I feel much better, and keen to get back into the swing of things. School tomorrow - hurrah!!! Oh God, it's already November...

Friday, 28 October 2011

Two more sleeps

I went and picked up my registration pack for the QM yesterday. The official 2011 shirt is bright lime green. Totally in-you-face green. I won't be wearing it for the race. My official number is 20850. After seeing how many people have signed up for this race, I'm thinking I'll be finishing somewhere closer to 2,000th. Even that may be a little too optimistic...

The point of this race for me is not to win (obviously) but to participate, and set myself a challenge. Call me crazy, but I'm seriously considering signing up for the half marathon next year. Lets not jump the gun though - I should get this one out of the way first!

Unfortunately I'm battling a head cold at the moment, which turned up yesterday and has been getting steadily worse. It has appalling timing I must say - I do not fancy running when feeling like absolute shite. So I'm getting lots of Vitamin C in the form of fruit juice, resting (ie: sitting on the couch and knitting) and getting to bed relatively early in the hopes that I can kick it in time for the race. Fingers crossed!!!

I finished the first panel for the Aran Afghan yesterday - it took me over a month, which does not bode well for getting the entire thing finished by Christmas, so I'll have to pick up the pace a little bit. At the moment though, I'm knitting a pair of handspun socks (my first handspun socks!!) - they'll be relatively plain so shouldn't take too long to knit. I was intending to get them done by the end of the month, but with only a few days of October left, I'm not sure I'll make that deadline. We shall see...

Well, I'm off to 'rest' some more - wish me luck for Sunday!!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Trying my best not to hyperventilate...

Only four more sleeps until the quarter marathon!! I've printed out my official eticket, and I can go and pick up my t-shirt, timing tag and gear bag tomorrow, when registration opens at noon. OMGOMGOMG..... deep breaths...

School started back yesterday, but I still have one kid at home. The poor thing is absolutely covered from head to toe (literally) in chicken pox. I'm sure it will only be a matter of time before the other one suffers the same fate. Oh, the joys of childhood disease. Thankfully (I think) I'm in the clear - I had chicken pox as a child, as did Deane. So unless this is some awful mutant strain that we are not immune to, we should be okay. The XBox has done a surprisingly good job of distracting T from scratching, but he can't be on it 24/7 so he has managed to do a bit of damage. And he scratches in his sleep. A lot. What can you do?

Having a child (or in the case of last week, children) at home has given me plenty of knitting time, and I managed to finish off a pair of socks:

Gretya in Knitsch 'Cook's Beach', knit on 2.75mm needles (a nice change from 2.25mm!) This was a very quick pair of socks to knit, but it took me a little longer because I got sidetracked knitting a Milo vest and a Vanilla bum cover for a wee baby boy born to a family friend last week. No pics at this point, because I knit them while in Napier over the weekend, and handed them to the proud new mum as soon as they were finished. I had neglected to take any form of camera equipment with me at all, so had to borrow a digital camera from somebody else, who doesn't actually own a computer. They assured me they would get the pictures to me eventually, but I have no idea how long that will be so you'll just have to take my word for it.

The Milo vest was knit in Naturally Loyal in shade #931 (a turquoise-blue), and had two owls on the front. As this wee boy (who is as yet unnamed) was born a healthy 8lb 14oz, I skipped the newborn size and went straight to the three month size. Same with the soakers, which were knit in Naturally Loyal in shade #913 (an olive-green - here's the shade card so you can see). Both were excellent, well written patterns. They shall come in handy in future, I'm sure. The best thing was that I was able to send them directly to Hedwig, and have them on hand at the touch of a button. No more carting around bits of paper! W00t!!

I have less than two repeats left on the first panel of the Epic Aran Afghan - I'm very excited to be finishing this panel, and look forward to starting the centre panel. I'm a little bored with the cabling on this one, and it will be nice to have a break from these cables and do some different ones for a while, before having to revert back to them to finish panel #3 (a mirror image of panel #1). I have no idea whether or not I'm going to get this done before Christmas, but I'm determined to try, so I'll keep you apprised of my progress. I know you want to know. This is nail-biting, hanging-on-the-edge-of-your-seat knitting, isn't it? ;-) Mwaaahahahaha!! (Yes, I know I'm an idiot. Let's move on)

Just wanted to say before I go, that the Rugby World Cup final was an absolute nail-biter, but the boys brought the Cup home, and did a fantastic job of making this country proud. Sadly, as we were travelling, we missed the ticker tape parade in Central Auckland, but I hear it was a doozy. Way to go ABs!!!! Now I have to go pick up the not-sick child from school, which means dragging the sick child away from his distraction. Ugh.

Enjoy your week, and think of me this Sunday morning, when I will be getting up (ridiculously early) to run 10.55km with a bunch of like-minded loonies. And coming in somewhere around 200th place, would be my estimate... ;-)

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Deep breaths. In... Out...

We're well over halfway through the school holidays, and I'm managing to hold it together. I started out this time around with a bunch of activities written onto little cards. They were thrown into a bag, and every morning the bag would be shaken up and one of the boys would grab a card out. The rule is that we have to do whatever activity is on the card, whether they want to or not. I was nice, and included a few XBox days for them (it's always best to avoid meltdowns, non?). The first Monday of the holidays was officially a bum-around day, because they'd stayed up late the night before to watch the All Blacks play Argentina in the quarter-finals. The rest of the first week ended up being almost all XBox days as well, although we did get a baking day - they made biscuits with mini M&Ms on them - and on the weekend we took them ice skating.

They had so much fun ice skating, they wanted to go again the next day! In fact, they're still asking if they can go again. Maybe we'll have a couple of ice hockey players in the future... ;-) Deane would be happy! Perhaps next holidays I'll sign them up for some lessons. They started out scooting around with frames, so they didn't arse over too badly, and by the end of the session, they were both able to shimmy across the ice without them. T was a little clingy with his frame, but gave it a go (without holding a hand too!) and did surprisingly well. I was certainly impressed. I rather like that they make such small ice skating boots - they're so cute!!

I don't know if you've ever noticed while ice skating, that by the end of a session, there's all these little spots of blood in various places around the rink - inexperienced skaters falling over and injuring themselves. Thankfully I've not yet done this (although I've seen Deane fall over many times while showing off - quite a laugh I have to say) - but there's always a first time, right? Ice skating is fun, and a great excuse to get out the woolly hats and mitts :-)

This week we went out to a place called Crystal Mountain. I'd never heard of it, but a work colleague of Deane's had told him about it, and said it wasn't bad for a day's outing. So we went out and had a look. To be honest, I was a little dubious when I pulled into the car park - the place looks really run down. All the grounds are overgrown around the outside, the fences and gates look about ready to fall over, and when you pull up it looks rather sparse. But we went in and paid our admission fees, and started with the crystal museum, which they've set up under the main building. You take an elevator down (80 metres, according to the light panel in the elevator car) and walk into what looks like a cave, chock-full of natural rock crystals of every size and shape - amethyst, rose quartz, lapis lazuli, hematite, agate... there's even petrified wood, dinosaur bones and fossilised insects. I found it quite fascinating - particularly the desert roses - though the kids were only mildly interested. Still, they walked around (looking for kryptonite, which we didn't find) and pretended they were in the home of a really smart cave man, who had invented the elevator.

Once we'd seen everything in the museum, we headed back up and got stuck in to the activities - trampoline bungy, pony rides, a roller coaster, train, feeding the animals (llamas, alpacas, lambs, goats, peacocks and peahens, chickens galore, roosters, a turkey, ducks, rabbits, guinea pigs, emus, horses, probably some others that I can't remember...) - they had a great time. We went on the roller coaster twice, they rode the horses at least three times each, and I lost count of how many times they went on the trampoline bungy. X was very proud of completing a total of 22 back flips! Somewhere in the middle we had some lunch, and they drew a picture (paper and crayons supplied - hurrah!). We were there for about 3 1/2 hours, and could have stayed longer if I'd allowed them more roller coaster rides, pony rides, and bounces on the trampolines. Not the flashiest theme park, but good for a day of children's entertainment that won't have them bouncing off the walls.

Yesterday we went swimming at West Wave, before dropping Deane at the airport. By the time we got home and I got them to bed, it was quite late, so it's probably a good thing they've pulled another XBox day out of the bag today (I'm sure there weren't that many to start with!!) - fine by me, I have knitting and reading to be getting on with ;-)

I was so excited about getting my Kindle, Hedwig, that I started knitting covers for her that very afternoon. She now has two (plus the neoprene cover she came with):

Hedwig's Sleeping Bag, knit with some Vintage yarn left over from the Ron Weasley blanket squares. I had to adjust this pattern a bit to make it longer, as the original pattern appears to be made for a smaller version. The width was fine, but the length was way too short - I added 12 rows of the stripes at the top, and it still could have been longer. Still, I quite like it.

Not happy with just one cover, I made another one, again with leftover yarn in my stash - from my blue sweater, and some white aran weight from my Lupin scarf:

Hedwig's Argyle Pyjamas! The fit is much better, so I know the pattern is written for this size Kindle (of course, it didn't occur to me until I saw the pattern name that there would be different versions of Kindles, and they could quite possibly be different sizes... never mind). I may block this to get the corner of the cover flap to sit properly, but I like it all the same. Rather stylish, don't you think?

I've also been knitting more on the Epic Aran Afghan (only 6 1/2 repeats left on the first panel!!!) and some socks as well:

The first sock of the pair - Gretya - knit in Knitsch 'Cook's Beach' (yarn club colour). I was going to knit a pair of gansey socks in this yarn, but the pattern didn't really show because of the twist of the yarn and the slight variegation, so I picked this pattern instead, and I'm glad I did. It's a nice pattern, and very quick to work up. The second sock should only take a couple of days to knock out but I'd like to get some more done on the afghan first.

Although I keep getting distracted by books - I read the first Nikki Heat novel (which Deane had kindly loaded onto Hedwig). I thoroughly enjoyed it, and want to read the other two, but feel I should read the two library books I have in my possession first. So I'm currently reading The World House by Guy Adams. This dude must have a seriously warped mind!! It's quite an interesting read (although the editing is a little unfortunate - there's a number typos throughout the book). I find myself wanting to keep reading to see what happens (which I suppose is the point of a story). Next on the list is Quite Ugly One Morning by Christopher Brookmyre. I remember somebody recommending it some time ago as a good read, so I'll give it a go.

Right now though, I have to get the boys cleaning up the lounge, and I have to get dressed (sitting here in my bath robe - not a good look). Enjoy the rest of your week!! Only six more sleeps before school is back (Labour Day next Monday, an extra day off school - ugh).

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Thirty two

Yep. 32. Starting to feel old...

I remember way back (ahaha) when my parents were this age. I thought they were really old. Of course, its all relative. When I was a new entrant in primary school, the ten- and eleven-year-old kids looked huge. I was below average height, which probably didn't help. Still am. Other people still look huge - the tall ones at least ;-)

I got a cup of tea in bed this morning, and the boys came in all dressed (hurrah!) with a parcel nicely wrapped up in fabric (from my stash - guess Deane went digging. I wondered why he needed safety pins).

It was a Kindle e-reader, named Hedwig. Here's the back:

The owl, while not the 'real' Hedwig, is a snowy owl, hence the name of the Kindle. Clever Deane ;-)

And here's the front:

Yep, I will always have eyes watching me while I read, saying "are you sure you've got time to sit around and read? Don't you have some housework to do or something?" I shall master the art of ignoring its stare ;-) Shouldn't be too hard, with the books Deane has already loaded on there for me - A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R R Martin, and the three Nikki Heat books by Richard Castle (aka Dan Brown and other real authors). I love the Castle TV series, and I'm very much looking forward to reading the books - I hear they're very good.

There's also a couple of knitting books on there - Vampire Knits and Lily Chin's Knitting Tips & Tricks. Fabulous! Deane always comes up with the best presents (^_^)

I finally got around to getting some pics of my Simplicity cardigan, and was quite horrified to see how wide my shoulders are in comparison to the rest of me - totally disproportionate!! I now know why so many people asked me when I was growing up if I was a swimmer...

I knit the 35" bust size, with Vintage Purls laceweight yarn in 'Quinn'

Last night, I finished knitting my Danu socks:

Aren't they beautiful? Knit in Malabrigo Sock yarn in 'Ravelry Red'.

Because of these socks, I haven't got any further on the first panel for the Epic Aran Afghan, but will knit some more on this now before casting on another pair of socks. I need a wee break from tiny needles!

For now though, I'm going to pry the children off the XBox and put on a movie to watch, before Deane and I go out this afternoon. I assume we're having dinner somewhere among other things - you never can tell with that man...

Thursday, 6 October 2011

How do you sleep?

I sleep on my stomach. Always have. In recent years I've been sleeping in what I like to call a 'Superman' position - one arm extended straight up above my head, the other curled around my pillow, tucked into my chest. An advantage to being short is that I fit perfectly into the length of the bed, fingers curled just over the top edge of the mattress, and toes not-quite touching the bottom edge. Deane has had to adjust his sleeping position to fit around me, because I refused to change. That may have a lot to do with my recurring neck problems (not to mention of course, the large amount of looking down I do in a day, what with knitting, reading etc).

My neck has been quite stiff and sore this week, so after some discussion at knitting group yesterday, and more discussion with Deane last night, I decided to try sleeping on my back. Horrible. Uncomfortable. Boring! There we were, both lying on our backs, nearly a metre between us (gotta love a king-sized bed!). I started imagining us as an elderly, chaste couple, sleeping together. Me, with a full-length flannel nightgown that tied up under the chin, Deane with stripey long pyjama pants and a baggy white singlet. I started laughing and just couldn't stop! For some reason I found this picture quite hilarious. It took a while for me to settle - I'd quiet down for a while, then another giggle-fit would errupt. I eventually got to sleep (on my back I think), but I have to admit it wasn't the bed night's sleep I've ever had. Several times I woke up and just gave in, flipping over onto my stomach and snuggling down. No surprise that my neck isn't any better today. At least it's not preventing me from knitting, so it's not the end of the world ;-)

Things may improve with a round of physiotherapy or a few visits to a chiropractor, but as I very much doubt their prices will be reducing any time soon, this will quite possibly never happen.

I have been rather busy in the knitting department of late, although not much to show for it. I finished my Simplicity cardigan last Saturday night, and blocked it straight away. Thanks to the wonders of laceweight yarn, it was dry by morning, so I could weave in the ends and wear it to knitting group at the library. Still haven't got any pictures of it though - all in good time...

The last blanket square was finished:

June 2009 Afghan square in Vintage Porcelain and Port Wine

I've turned the heels in my Red Danu socks, and am now working on the feet. I'd knit one heel at knitting group yesterday, but mustn't have been paying attention, because the heel flap was a few rows too short - something I discovered when knitting the second heel last night:

I frogged the offending heel, and reknit it, so all is well:

Knit in Malabrigo Sock in Ravelry Red

And I'm over halfway on the first panel of the Epic Aran Afghan:

Hmmm, now that I've posted this photo, I have spotted an error in my knitting that will have to be fixed. Can you spot it? Here, I'll help you:

Thankfully, I have mastered the art of dropping down a section of stitches and reknitting them, thereby avoiding having to rip back row upon row of knitting. Should take no more than half an hour to fix! I guess the little reminder I gave myself to check my work thoroughly while knitting this afghan hasn't yet sunk in. I wonder how far I would've got before realising my error, if I hadn't posted the update photo on here? The mind boggles...

I took a little time out from knitting last night, and we, as a family, went to the boys' annual school art exhibition. We were pleasantly surprised to find that T had won a prize for the second year in a row!

X was a little disappointed, especially since they spelled his name wrong when labelling his artwork, but I think he's moved on now. Again this year, the winning artworks will be displayed at the local supermarket for all to see, so it'll be fun to go along and have another look during the school holidays, and T can put on his proud face and say "that's mine". Yay. Mum will have her proud face on too ;-)

Right, I'm off to fix the afghan! Enjoy the rest of your week!!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Mind ever-changing, patience of a squirrel in Autumn

You know how last week I said I really wanted to cast on some socks? Well, I did, but not the ones I originally intended. Instead of casting on Toxic socks, I went on a hunt, tracked down a digital copy of Yarn Forward issue #26 from July 2010, and cast on a pair of Danu socks instead. Few people (on Ravelry at least) have made these socks - whether its because the pattern was published in a magazine, or because they're knit on 2.25mm needles with 80 stitches around I can't really say, but they're lovely socks, and I'm glad I decided to make them.

I've been a member of Sock Knitters Anonymous on Ravelry for some time now, but almost never participate in the monthly Sockdown Challenge, for various reasons. They've just started a new cycle of the Challenge though, and I was determined to join in! So with the designers for the month of September named, I spent most of the month um-ing and ah-ing over what socks I would make, and whether or not I would actually have time to knit them, before I finally decided on the Danu pattern. Of course, looking at the picture, they look like fairly simple socks. It wasn't until I'd purchased the online copy and printed the pattern that I realised they were knit on small needles with lots of stitches. I will not be deterred though, and have managed to get through six pattern repeats on the legs so far:

And the yarn? Oh, the yarn!! Malabrigo Sock in Ravelry Red. Simply stunning!! The more I knit with it, the more I want to buy skeins and skeins of it to make anything and everything!! Of course, the budget will not allow it, but dude, its good stuff! And the colour is just gorgeous. I'm going to love these socks for ever and ever and hug them and kiss them and marry them. Oh wait, I don't think you're allowed to marry inanimate objects... Oh well, I guess Deane will suffice, and I can just wear the socks :-) I have until the end of October to finish these (which I'm sure will be no problem at all) and I will enter the draw along with hundreds of other crazy sock knitters to win a prize. The odds aren't in my favour, but on the plus side, I get a cool pair of socks! I've already picked out the pair I'm going to knit for October - they look much simpler. Its Tea Time socks, which I think I'll knit in the September Knitsch Flights of Fancy Yarn Club colourway:

Isn't it a beautiful blue? Its called Cook's Beach. LOVE it!!

In other knitting news...

My poor, neglected Simplicity cardigan has one sleeve done. It only took me a couple of days, so I know the other sleeve will only take me a couple of days as well, then I can block it and wear it, but I've been sidetracked by socks, and blanket squares, and a cabled afghan. I'm on the last square of ten, but me being the impatient wee thing that I am, blocked the squares and sent them off before remembering to take a picture!! And I sent them to the wrong address! The person I sent them to participated in the last round, and I still had her address (or so I thought) so I posted them off, only to discover she moved last month - oops. Hopefully she'll be able to arrange something at her end to get a hold of the parcel. Way to go, Jody... I'll post a pic of the last square when its done though - this one is being knit with Vintage yarn again, in Porcelain and Port Wine.

The afghan is coming along nicely - I'm over quarter of the way through the first panel so far:

I'm knitting it in John Q Mia yarn I bought a couple of years ago from Knit World in Wellington, for something ridiculous like $2.30 or $2.80 a ball (can't quite remember now). The afghan will take around 40 balls of yarn, so I'm glad I got it at a good price. Its not the flashest yarn around, but it is remarkably soft, and I quite like working with it, even with the slight hint of sheepy smell it has.

I managed to drag out my sewing machine yesterday too, for a bit of a change of pace. I got the most awesome swap package in the mail the other day:

OMG look at that fibre!!! Yummy!! And dude, the brown fibre in that little bag there? It's yak! Yes, YAK!! Wow!!!! Anyway, the fibre was wrapped in some really nice fabric, which was the perfect amount for a box bag - something I've always wanted. So I hunted out a tutorial on the interwebs (amazing place, this internet thing), and away I went. I also dug out some neat fabric from my stash, that my friend Margaret had given me a little while back - perfect for a knitting project bag. So after a few hours sewing, I ended up with two (slightly wonky, but who's looking that closely?) box bags:

This one I'm going to keep for myself, because the fabric is beautiful:

And this one, I have an idea for:

I have enough interfacing for one more, I just have to get another zip. And have a good ol' dig through the stash to find the perfect piece of fabric :-) The size of the bag is perfect for a pair of socks-in-progress, but they can be used for other things as well. Me? I think I'll use mine for socks. Of course ;-)

Gosh, time has flown yet again, and its time to pick the boys up from school (oops, so much for doing the housework...) Hope you're having a good week!!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Yarn diet? What yarn diet?

Since declaring that I was going on a yarn diet on or around the 29th July, I have spent a little over $400 on yarn, fibre and needles. In my defense, over half was spent at KAN which totally shouldn't count, and about $66 worth was for a swap, which also shouldn't count. So really, I've only spent about $100. Not bad for two months' worth, huh? Think of the investment! ;-) (Us yarnies are really good at justifying purchases of the fibery kind).

The blanket squares for the Ron Weasley swap are coming along nicely - I blocked the first five, and here's a wee pic:

The top three are knit using some green Naturally Loyal left over from knitting Cecil(ia), and the darker green was a ball of Skeinz Prism yarn that was in my KAN goodie bag. The other two were knit using the Vintage yarn I bought from The Little Craft Store last week. The pattern is deceptively easy - you only knit with one colour at a time, and its a simple slipped stitch pattern that any beginner knitter can do. I've knit another 2 1/2 squares since, and should have them done in time for send out, the date for which has been extended to the 8th October. Yay! Gosh, its hard to believe its nearly October already!! OMG, I'm going to be 32 in under three weeks...

Let's not get sidetracked though. I finished the Rick socks I was knitting in the Knitsch Kelly yarn:

Love them! Don't have skinny enough legs!! Good thing they're already assigned as a Christmas present ;-) After I'd bound these off, I found myself with a lonely two works-in-progress. I knew the blanket squares would be finished soon, so I wanted to cast something else on. Of course, I have the problem of wanting to KNIT ALL THE THINGS so I couldn't decide between Toxic socks which would look seriously awesome in the bright pink Wollmeise and black sock yarn I have in my stash, or the Burridge Lake Aran Afghan that I've had on my to-do list for about two years. It finally came down to the fact that I had the afghan yarn in stash taking up valuable storage space in the spare room, plus the pattern already corrected with errata on hand. So cast on the afghan I did. I haven't got far because, seriously, this thing takes concentration!! Cables cables everywhere! All at different stages! Oh, the fun I will have!! I was hoping (because apparently I'm crazy) that I could get this done by Christmas, because it is supposed to be another present (ever since I first decided to make the thing, it was going to be a gift. I just never got around to it). We shall see how it goes...

I have the feeling though, that the Toxic socks will be cast on soon. They're just too awesome to wait for long. The afghan isn't the kind of project you can cart around, my squares will be done soon, and I'm avoiding the sleeves on my Simplicity cardigan (although I'm not sure why...) Did I mention, I want to KNIT ALL THE THINGS?!?!?!?

I really should just dive in and knit those darned sleeves. It's silly to put them off. We're coming into Spring now, and I'll want to wear that cardigan soon. No excuses really. Perhaps I'll finish the squares first, then the sleeves. Hmm.

Speaking of putting things off, I've been avoiding road running for a while, and working myself up into a lather about the impending quarter marathon I stupidly signed up for several months back. It's at the end of October, which is arriving at a fair rate of knots. I've gone a little soft, and have been sticking to treadmill running because its easier. Well, this morning I bit the bullet, and went for a run along Quay Street/Tamaki Drive - a popular waterfront running route. Turns out I had nothing to worry about!! I had no problems, an ran a nice 9.36km at a fairly easy pace in a little under an hour. I don't think I'll have any issues running an extra kilometre or so come race time. As I like to say (and it makes X laugh every time) - piece of piss! I can do this quarter marathon - bring it on!! And just think, when I've finished, I can reward myself with a nice, hefty yarn purchase ;-p Ooh, what shall I buy myself for my birthday? (Or rather, tell Deane what to buy for my birthday). A couple of skeins of Fibre Co. yarn, or a skein of Sweet Georgia from Little Country Wools? The Sweet Georgia just because it is gooooorgeous, and the Fibre Co. yarn because I want to make this hat and OMG that yarn is squidgy soft! A few skeins of TouchYarns Merino Possum so I can knit the Mandel sweater? A subscription to a knitting magazine? Perhaps I should start leaving hints around the place now...

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Hey, where did Spring go?

We had some really nice weather last week, but this week has gone back to crappy wintery climes. Rain, chilly winds... bring back the warm sunshine!! Although I am a little jealous that Wellington got a really awesome hailstorm with massive thunder and lightning. Seems I always miss out on the good stuff. Woe is me ;-)

With Deane away in Singapore last week, I churned through a season of Buffy and a season of Bones on DVD, and a pair of socks for dad, not to mention half a pair of socks for somebody else. They were originally going to be for me, but you need skinny chicken legs for this style of sock (a little too snug at the top) so they'll be going to somebody else. Plus, I maintain that I don't like green! Even though I happen to be wearing green right now, but I digress. The sock looks fantastic, and absolutely needs its mate. I'm so very glad I decided to repurpose this yarn:

Don't you agree? I shall try to get the pair finished this month, and declare that this shall be the first project for the 2011 Christmas Gift List. I have already chosen the lucky recipient (because, you know, everybody wants a pair of handknit socks, even if they don't realise it yet) ;-) Anyway, project deets:

Pattern: Rick by Cookie A (love her!!!)
Yarn: 'Kelly', a Flights of Fancy Yarn Club colourway from Knitsch
Needles: Ummm... (runs off to check) ...2.75mm - the pattern calls for 2.5mm, but I had an inkling that this pair would be a little on the tight side due to the bias pattern, and went up a size. Glad I did! Wouldn't have fit otherwise (still don't fit me well, but you know...)

A deceptively simple pattern to follow and memorise - very intuitive. The foot chart does require a little more attention, but not much.

And my dad's socks are on the way to him now for his birthday (which isn't for another few days, but what the hey?).

Pattern: Earl Grey by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka the Yarn Harlot
Yarn: Regia Havanna Colour - although I don't know what the colour name is, because I can't understand German, nor their yarn ball bands O.o
Needles: 2.5mm - I finally got to use the 2.5mm ChiaoGoo RED circular needle I received as a prize in Sock Madness. They are fantastic!!! Love love love them! Want more! Don't think anyone stocks them in this country though :-(

I knit the entire pair in Continental (almost - I picked up the heel stitches using English). They were a remarkably fast knit given the size of them (10" feet, 72 stitches around). I'm really getting the hang of this speed-knitting thing I think. I'm very happy in the knowledge that I can now easily change between the two styles without any problems (unless its a difficult pattern, in which I will always revert to English).

I was aware before starting these socks that the cable pattern on the side would not show well due to the dark colour and the variegation in the yarn, but I've had this yarn in my stash for a few years now (it was part of a Harry Potter group swap in 2009 I think) and I've been wanting to use it for ages. Plus, I don't think dad will be showing off the patterning to his buddies ;-) I didn't continue the cabling down the feet, mainly because I'd worked 24-odd rows before realising I should have cabled right after picking up the heel stitches and continuing in the round, but it was optional anyway, and like I said, I don't think dad will care.

I got Deane to put these socks on for a pic, but he is such an appallingly atrocious casual sock model, I decided it was best to just leave them on their own. Trust me, you'd have agreed ;-)

I have also managed to knit two more blanket squares for the Ron Weasley blanket swap, and popped in to The Little Craft Store today to purchase some yummy Vintage yarn for the other squares. I love the Vintage colour range, it is quite delightful. I'm looking forward to working with it!

Alas, time has flown by rather quickly today, and I have to go cook food lest my family starve. After which, I shall be knitting some handspun mittens. Not that I need them right now, but its a project I've had on my 'to-do' list for an age, and there's a class in the HPKCHC they will fit into perfectly, so why not? Enjoy the rest of your week!!