Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Will I ever learn?

X, bless the little horror, has found a new way of irking me. He is one of those willful children, and he learned from a very early age how to 'press my buttons'.

One weekend morning several weeks ago, he was getting changed in his room, and was throwing his washing around. One of his socks happened to land on the wall light fitting. It stayed there for a while, until I asked him to get it for me, as I couldn't reach. The light fitting just happens to be about midway along the side of the bunk bed, and my arm is too short to reach without me climbing onto the top bunk. He thought this was quite hilarious, and proceeded the next day to hang his dirty socks on the light fitting for a bit of a joke. It went on for a few days until I told him to stop it because it was getting to be a little annoying.

It hadn't happened again, so I naturally assumed that he had forgotten about it. Silly me.

We had a bit of a disagreement this morning before heading off to school. I've just now walked into their room to make the beds, and guess what I found:

Socks, literally jammed into the side of the light fitting, quite out of my reach. You really have to laugh sometimes, don't you?

Monday, 30 May 2011

7km is the new 5km

Yep, still doing it. You thought I'd given up, didn't you? Go on, be honest...

I decided recently that since I was only getting to the gym once or twice a week, I needed to make the visits worthwhile. A 5km run had become 'easy', in that I could complete a run without any problem, and felt that I could have done more. So, I upped the kilometres, and have now run two lots of 7km, and I have a feeling its going to become 'easy' fairly soon. Perhaps I will increase the distance every now and then, building up to 10km. Yeah, 10km sounds like a nice round figure, doesn't it?

Its funny really - if somebody told me two years ago that I would be able to run 10km, I would've laughed in their face. Now? I think I may just be able to do it! Onwards and upwards!!

So I went to the beginner spinning class on the weekend, and had a lot of fun! And yes, I did learn some stuff ;-) I learned a completely new method of spinning. The way I was spinning before wasn't necessarily 'wrong', and I will continue using that method, but I was shown a more efficient way of spinning, which makes it easier to keep track of things - eg: number of revolutions per length, which is good to know when you go to ply later. I won't get into too much detail because I'll just bore all the non-spinners who read this blog to death and back, but rest assured I did not waste my time going. I will be learning even more in a few weeks when I go to the second class! Looking forward to it :-)

I also managed to finish off the bobbin of gradient dyed fibre I was working on, and navajo-plied it today while watching Doctor Who. Its a nice 75g skein of fingering weight yarn, totalling 186m. Which is great, because that's plenty for one sock! My plan for this fibre is coming together nicely :-) I just have to spin the other half of the braid now...

I finished my double knit bookscarf (Rav link):

Took me a little while to get the hang of double knitting, but I picked it up eventually. This was a slow project for such a small thing, but I'm happy with it all the same :-)

I also finished the Argus Panoptes socks (Rav link):

I've been wearing them today, and they're pretty comfy. Mind you, I say that about all my hand knit socks...

I'm back to having only three WIPs now, which is nice. I'm itching to cast on the Round 7 (Rav link) socks though - they're gorgeous! I have a good reason for avoiding casting on (aside from having other stuff to finish of course) - I have a little injury on the index finger of my left hand. A recurring knitting injury that I get when knitting too many socks ;-) A little split, that stings a lot when accidentally stabbed with a needle. So for now, it will have to be a small-scale project I've got on the needles which is a surprise for a friend, and my cardigan, which I really want to get done anyway. Alas, the socks will have to wait :-(

The tiny little mini surprise project had its big reveal the other day, so I can show you what it was now. I told you a little while ago about the unofficial song for Sock Madness, the llama llama duck song. And about the lady that posted a you tube video of it every time the word llama was mentioned in the treehouse. She's having a rough year, so to show our support for her, a whole bunch of Sock Madness members each knit a mini sock with two llamas and a duck on it, and all posted a pic of them on Ravelry in a special thread. We will all be posting our mini socks to the lady as well, so she will have a lasting reminder of how much we all appreciate her.

What we did on the weekend
On Saturday, we took a trip out to Mission Bay for lunch, then on to Kelly Tarlton's, which wasn't nearly as sucky as I was led to believe. The penguins were awesome, and the wide variety of fish were fascinating. Not much difference in the variety of species to the Napier Aquarium, but they're always so beautiful, I could watch them swim for hours. They do have a live octopus at the moment, something the Napier aquarium is currently lacking (their octopus died a little while ago, for unknown reasons). And their sting-rays are HUGE!! Horrifically expensive unfortunately, but worth the trip I guess, if you're only going once in a while. The penguins were definitely something I enjoyed, and not something you see every day!

The boys had fun, and it got them out of the house and away from the XBox for a good chunk of the day - a definite bonus ;-) They spent a large part of the rest of the weekend turning their room into a giant tip, so they weren't allowed back on today until the room was tidy. Not kid tidy, my tidy. Surprisingly, they managed it fairly well (or X did at least, T is not the best at tidying. Still plenty of time to work on that though).

All in all a busy weekend, but lots achieved - just the kind of weekend I like :-)

Thursday, 26 May 2011

I just did the dumbest thing ever...

Proof of lack of sleep - I've been cooking lamb shanks in the crock pot all day. The final step was to strain the liquid and remove all the bits and pieces from it (cloves, cinnamon stick, star anise etc etc), discard the crap, then return the liquid to the pot and thicken it for sauce to go with the shanks.

What did I just do??

I strained it alright, through the sieve, and into a COLANDER!!!! Thereby tipping all the 'sauce' down the sink! Stupid woman...

Guess I'd better go make some gravy or something :-/

Looking forward to the weekend...

I've signed up for a beginner spinning class. Yes. A Beginner class. I only know how to spin one way, and I'm hoping to learn quite a bit. Got myself organised already! The requirements list:

Own lunch - I'm sure I can manage that
Spinning wheel - check
2 or 3 bobbins - check
Lazy Kate - check
Flick carder - ::digging around, digging around... aha!:: check
Pen and note pad - check
Apron - ... uuuummmm... hmm...

::scrape, plod, click, zzzzip, wwwiiirrr, ssshhhh, ouch!, wwwiiirrr, ssshhhh:: Ta daaaaa!! Apron!! And its got a pocket ;-)

Yes, it is sellotaped to the wall for the express purpose of taking this picture.
(fyi, those are my really cool sound effects up there, designed to represent the placement of the sewing machine, the cutting of the fabric, the sewing and the ironing. And yes, I stabbed myself with a pin. Okay? Okay.)

I used a neat, very easy to follow tutorial I found on a pretty blog. Ah, the internet is a wonderful thing... So anyway, there are two spinning classes - one this weekend, and another on the 19th June. Presumably there's a gap in between to allow you to get a bit of spinning done. They're being run by the Auckland Handweavers and Spinners Guild - should be a lot of fun! It goes all day though so it will mean missing out on knitting group again :-( Oh well, there's always next week!

::We interrupt your regular programming to bring you breaking news::

I'm a little all over the place today, due to broken sleep last night. A couple of drunk girls followed a car into one of the carpark levels in our building last night, then couldn't get out (Duh. Secure building.) So they decided to damage a car and set off the fire alarm, which meant a midnight traipse out into the rain for everyone in the building, until being given the go-ahead by the Fire Department to go back to bed. Stupid drunk people :-/

::And now, back to the scheduled program::

Sock Madness is officially over for me - Round Six started on Monday morning, just after midnight NZ time, and was done about mid morning on Tuesday. One person from each team made it through to Round Seven, which is due to start Friday morning, about 4am NZ time. I'm still knitting my 'elimination round' socks, because they're really cool, but I'm in absolutely no hurry to finish them. I am really looking forward to seeing the last pattern though - I'll knit it, but probably not right now. I have a cardigan to get on with!!

Meanwhile, a progress pic of the Round Six socks:

Here's my attempt at a close-up of the stitch pattern:

Argus Panoptes (Rav link) by Rachel Brown, knit in Fibre Alive Merino Mania, colourway 'Lunar' from JOY of Yarn. I really like the stitch pattern, but I'm finding it a little slow to knit. I think that's just me though, considering how fast Round Six went! Or it could have something to do with my now-distorted (thanks to Sock Madness) view of how long it takes me to knit a pair of socks. I've been busy with several projects, including a fair bit of spinning - I'm nearly at the end of the first single for my gradient-dyed sock yarn that I started back in March:

Looking good, huh? Still need to chain-ply it. Then spin the whole other single. Then ply that one. Then knit them into socks. Might be a while...

The vast majority of this was spun last week - at the monthly spinners and knitters get-together, and at the Guild Open Day on Saturday. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Open Day was very popular, and we were really busy with lots of visitors. One of which was my friend Jane from Wellington (although she now lives up north, which is awesome!) - I got to hand over a completed quilt to her and her daughter:

And I got to meet Jane's mum, who was visiting from Canada :-)

I sold a knit item (yay me!!) which the person was very happy with, and it allowed me to buy some yummy new fibre:

100g merino from Fibre 2 Go, which is actually a really nice red, not the garish pink it looks like in the photo. And:

I know this doesn't look terribly exciting, but its 20g of hand dyed silk hankies from Tui Gardens Wool (who don't appear to have a website - bummer). Not sure what I'm going to do with these yet, but I'll have fun daydreaming about it ;-)

Straight after the Open Day, the family headed down to Napier for a birthday lunch on Sunday, and to pass on a couple of pairs of handknit socks to the 'sock vultures' (ahaha) my mum and my sister. They each got to pick a pair from the Sock Madness stash (after I'd narrowed it down for them), and I said goodbye to my (Can)tab. Madness (Rav link):

Which now belong to my sister, and my Maddeningly Dangerous Turns (Rav link):

Snagged by mum. Goodbye pretty socks, I'll miss you... Ahhh, sharing the sock love :-)

kreachr - keeping family feet warm since 2009 ;-)

Friday, 20 May 2011

A week of small triumphs

Just a few little things that brightened my week:

1. I got X to wear his knitted sweater to school this morning. Even better, he was still wearing it when I picked him up this afternoon!! Score one for the nerdy knitting mum!

2. I got the hang of this double knitting palaver:

This is one side of a double sided (hence double knitting) book scarf (Rav link) - I've actually knit more since these pictures were taken. The other side is reverse, and looks like this:

3. I finally finished the quilt I was making for my friend Jane's new baby. No pics yet (because I'm still sewing down the binding - shh! Okay, so it's nearly finished...) but I'll get some tomorrow when I hand it over. She's popping in to the Auckland Handweavers & Spinners Guild Open Day, where I'll be doing a bit of a spinning demonstration (just to show those who are interested that spinners aren't all grannies with decrepit old spinning wheels!)

4. I also managed to start my handspun cardigan, and so far its going okay. The yarn is quite soft and nice to work with (except for the occasional bit of VM) - I'm hoping this will be a really nice, plain cardigan that will get a lot of wear (and fingers crossed it doesn't fall apart!!)

My gauge is off, but I think I can make it work. I'm using 3.25mm needles, although the pattern calls for 3.5mm. I don't have 3.5mm and can't be bothered getting any and starting again, so I'll adjust the pattern as I go. Hopefully it'll work out okay (famous last words!)

5. I had the opportunity to knit a bookscarf that I had once knit before, but gave away. It was for Quidditch in the HPKCHC:

Now I have one of my very own, and I love it!

6. I finished my Diamonds in the Fluff socks (Rav link):

This project was a little bittersweet - I love the socks, and love the colour, but it was one of the last few skeins of Needle Food yarn I have left :-( And then there were two...

7. Cecil(ia) was a hit with my niece - she loves it! Now both my niece and nephew have a special squishy toy to love :-) Its quite fun going to visit every now and then, and being able to walk into their bedrooms and see all the stuff I've made them. They each have a quilt, a cushion, and a soft toy. My nephew has a stripey knit teddy bear to match his crochet blanket I made when he was a baby, and my niece has a wee picture on her wall of her name, that I drew several years back for her birthday. They each got a pair of socks at one point, but I don't think those were quite as popular. Oh well, you can't win all the time, right?

In case you haven't guessed yet, I love making stuff ;-)

8. I managed to finish reading Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes. That book felt like it took f o r e v e r!!! It was an okay read, if a little over-descriptive. I've now moved on to Moab is My Washpot by Stephen Fry. Been looking forward to reading this one for a while :-) Next on the list is The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Steig Larsson.

9. It is now officially less than two months until Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two hits the cinemas. Oh-Em-Gee!!! CAN'T WAIT!!!

10. It is also now (unofficially) the weekend. Yay!!

How was your week?

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Yay for wet weather!!

I love rainy weather, there's just something about it that makes me smile. I think Autumn is my favourite season. The trees look absolutely gorgeous with their myriad of colours, you get the occasional foggy morning, rain is something I rather like (although not so much when I have to go out in it all the time). Its the perfect excuse to stay in and knit, and have a big ol' pot of soup simmering away on the stove. Oh, how I love soup!!

Today was especially wet, with thunder and lightning thrown in for good measure. So I decided to have my favourite soup - one I grew up with. Many New Zealanders will be familiar with it, and here's my hashed-together recipe (eg: what I made today).

Throw a bunch of bacon bones into a pot with a cup of soup mix (you know the stuff - lentils, split peas, barley, alphabet noodles etc) and a whole heap of water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours. Grate a stack of vegetables (today I used a carrot, a potato, a kumara, a small swede, a small chunk of crown pumpkin and a parsnip) and stir into the soup, adding more water if required). Simmer for another hour or so. If you're not a fan of picking bones out as you eat, fish out the bacon bones now and strip off the meat, returning it to the soup and discarding the bones. Taste, and if required season with a teaspoon of salt.

Really easy to make and oh so good!!! And there's always plenty of leftovers to either freeze for another day, or have for lunch/dinner tomorrow :-)

While the soup was simmering away, I finished Cecil(ia) for my niece:

Love it!! So cute :-)

Pressie will be sent on time! Hurrah! Now I can get back to work on my optional socks for SM5. Looks like there will be plenty of time before the Round 6 pattern is released - the illusion socks are creating havoc for a lot of the competitors. Not that I'm complaining...

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Slowing down the crazy train

I poured my heart into the Round 5 socks for Sock Madness, and made it into Round 6 - I took the second-to-last spot on the team (there were only six spots). It took a mammoth effort to get these socks knit - 80 stitches around, knit on 2mm needles. Over 39,000 stitches! Let Me Count the Ways, by Jenny Lee. Its an illusion knit - when you look straight at them, they just look like a weird bunch of stripes that may possibly be something more:

But when you look at them from the right angle, the 'picture' becomes apparent. These socks have lots of little mini socks all around them:

They look great on, too:

These were knit in Patons Patonyle 4ply sock yarn (black), and some more of my Kool Aid dyed yarn. To give you an idea of just how epic this project was, here's a little run down of how it went:

Bedtime Friday night: 8.30pm (although I didn't fall asleep until somewhere around 11ish)
Pattern Release: 12am Friday/Saturday, which is when I got up and started knitting
Nap: 6.30am - 8am, then back to knitting (1.5 hours)
First Sock Complete: 12am-ish Saturday/Sunday
Sleep: 12.30am - 7am, back to knitting again (6.5 hours)
Next sleep: 3am - 7am, even more knitting! (4 hours)
Second Sock Complete: around 7.20pm Monday evening

Aside from doing some washing, dishes, taking bathroom and meal breaks, the occasional rest to check on other team members' progress, walking to and from knitting group on Sunday and picking the boys up from school on Monday, my entire weekend was consumed by knitting. Amazingly, my hands felt fine at the end of it, and could have quite happily picked up another WIP if I wasn't so tired. It basically took me the entire first 24 hours of the round to knit just one sock. I took more breaks and had more sleep during the knitting of the second sock. But I made it through to the next round, which was my goal (obviously). Now that I have achieved this goal, and far surpassed my first goal set before the competition of reaching the third or fourth round, I can happily knit the Round 6 socks at my leisure. I haven't lost all my sanity, and am perfectly well aware that it would be physically impossible for me to beat the other competitors left in my team. Only one person goes through Round 6, and it certainly won't be me. I'm okay with that.

Now I just have to finish the 'optional' socks, and my 'elimination' socks (once the pattern is released) and the competition will be officially over for me. Its been a fun ride, and absolutely, completely mad, but oh so fun! I wonder if Deane will get upset if I decide to do it again next year? Maybe he'll have forgotten by then...

Round 8 of the Ron Weasley blanket swap is over now too - all the squares have been sent to their new homes, and are due to arrive within the next week or so (depending on the destination). I laid out all my squares the other day:

Pretty cool huh? I've decided to do just one more round, so I can add another column of squares down the side to make it just that little bit wider. I won't be running the next round, since this round turned out to be pretty expensive (international shipping is not cheap!!) but there's plenty of keen swappers ready to volunteer, so the next round will begin soon, I'm sure. Should have a finished blanket by the end of the year. Although that will require me sewing all the squares together - something I'm not looking forward to...

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Today is better :-)

The city was shrouded in fog this morning. I love fog. Maybe not the densely thick fog that you can't drive through, but the lovely light misty fog is really pretty. You don't really get dense fog in the city anyway.

I had the fun of looking at this cool new table decoration while eating breakfast:

I've been wanting to do this for a while, but couldn't be bothered hand winding all the yarn. Yesterday I was avoiding monster knitting, so pulled out all the leftover bits of sock yarn and got to it. Cool, huh? And the poor cake plate doesn't get used very often - nobody seems to want to eat baking in my house - I think I overdid the baking when I got the cake plate. I decided it had to be full of yummy goodies and sitting on the bench. Deane complained after a while and said it wasn't good for his diet. The kids, although they eat baked goods, seem to prefer commercial crap. Who am I to argue? At least this way, the plate gets put to good use :-)

The courier arrived before 9.30 this morning, bringing yarny goodness:

'Hathi' by Vintage Purls, which will eventually become socks for Deane. I bought this yarn, so I could also buy:

'Tilia', also by Vintage Purls. See, if you ask permission to buy something for the man, you don't necessarily need to mention that you're buying something for yourself as well. When the goods arrive, they make no comment ;-) Its a little trick I learned along the way...

Some more recent arrivals are:

'Dorian' by Knitsch - it was the 'surprise' instalment of the Flights of Fancy yarn club. Not only did it arrive unexpected, its also a new yarn base - 60% alpaca!! Yummy! Perfect timing too, since I'd just knit the Baudelaires with alpaca/merino yarn and decided I just had to have some for myself. However, Dorian will be knit into fingerless mitts. The pattern came with the yarn and I quite like it. Sorry I can't put in a link for you, it hasn't been uploaded yet :-( You'll get to see them eventually though, when I get around to knitting them :-)

Also, something I've wanted for a while now:

Know what that is? That, my dear friends, is M a l a b r i g o S o c k Y a r n. Oh. My. God. The softness, the colour, the squidginess... I think I may faint... Courtesy of Little Country Wools (bless that woman, she has the best yarns). This was my little reward to myself for getting to Round 5 of Sock Madness. At least that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!! Now, what to reward myself with if I get to Round Six... just kidding ;-)

One more lovely parcel arrived recently - my goodies from the New Zealand Fibre Swap:

This was so much fun to open - there's the most beautiful merino fibre in an awesomely rich, dark purple that looks super soft from Fibre Optic Yarns. That floofy looking stuff next to it is some gorgeous espresso coloured alpaca fibre from a little guy called Montezuma at Southern Alpacas Stud. The tea is perfect, the chocolate is my favourite, and that tea cup and saucer? How freakin' awesome is that?!?!? Loooove it!! This is definitely a swap I will participate in again - the people are great, and send the coolest stuff :-)

On to knitting now, and today I think I'll knit the legs for this little horror:

As you can see, I have the body, the arms and the weird little ears done, I just have to do the legs and sew it all together. Needs stuffing though, which will probably have to wait until next week. The yarn is from my favourite LYS - The Little Craft Store. Awesome colours, huh?

I started my Diamonds in the Fluff socks again, as I decided after having got this far:

They were just going to be too tight and not at all comfortable to wear :-( This time I'm knitting the medium size (instead of small) with a slightly looser tension. Hopefully it'll work out - I'll let you know.

Another courier just arrived, bringing the last of the blanket squares for the Ron Weasley blanket swap!! Hooray!! Now I get the fun of swapping them all around, and repackaging them to go back to their new homes, where they'll join lots of other knitted squares and become little replica Ron Weasley blankets all over the world. Yay :-) I'm getting close to done with mine, so perhaps I'll have a completed blanket in the next few months to show you - how exciting!!

The boys have had a great first week back at school - T is enjoying his newly built, bigger classroom, and X has signed up for another term of Tuesday lunchtime soccer. He's also running for cross-country every day, and seems to be enjoying it quite a bit. Perhaps he's just a late bloomer when it comes to fitness. Maybe my concerns about him becoming a lazy couch potato in later life are going to be for nothing. Who can say? I'll reserve my judgement for now...

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Well, today kinda sucked...

I stayed home today, because I was expecting a courier package from Fastway. The last time I had a Fastway courier package arrive, I wasn't home. They left a card, and I had so much trouble trying to organise having it redelivered, I decided to just go and pick it up. Unfortunately, it was all the way over in South Auckland. I got lost. Horribly, horribly lost. What was supposed to be a 20 minute trip turned into an hour and a half, with the boys in the back seat fighting and screaming, and me yelling at them. Many of the street signs were missing, or pointed in the wrong direction, and I couldn't get proper directions from Deane over the phone because he couldn't figure out where I was. By the time we got there I was a blubbering mess! I vowed never to do that again, and for weeks afterward, was scared to drive anywhere outside of the immediate vicinity of school/supermarket/home.

Today, I missed out on going to knitting group. I guess there's no real surprise in the fact that the courier has not arrived, and it is now time for me to pick the kids up from school (fingers crossed they don't call while I'm out!) The danger of me staying at home all day means I do stupid things, like instead of having lunch I eat yoghurt, corn chips and dry cereal throughout the course of the day along with umpteen-million cups of tea while watching five episodes of Gilmore Girls and knitting one and a bit arms on a toy. Bad. Very bad.

Still, there is something to be happy about - we're having roast chicken for dinner, yay!! And I got to sit on the couch and watch five episodes of Gilmore Girls!

Wow, I really hope the courier parcel arrives early tomorrow morning, I need to get out of the house...

Monday, 2 May 2011

School is back!!

The boys are out of my hair for the day, my house is clean and tidy again - all is right with my little world.

I finished the reknit of sock #1 for Round 4 of SM5, so I can now share them with you:

(Can)Tab. socks (Rav link) by Ros Clarke, knit in Grape Kool Aid dyed yarn, originally sourced from Skeinz. With the reknit, I was going to mirror the cable. But after casting on four times I decided the universe was trying to tell me something, and decided to just knit it the same as the other one. No further problems arose...

I also finished my Firenze socks, but forgot to mention them last post - so here they are now:

Look at my feet, posing on the balcony - try-hards...

Anyway, the socks were knit in Lorna's Laces Starry Night (which I believe was a special edition colourway for Yarnmarket) - the yarn was bought for me by my good yarn-mule buddy Jill in the US, prior to her trip here last year. It was gorgeous to knit with, and I have enough left for a pair of fingerless mitts I think.

I also started and finished a little mini project yesterday, but its super secret for now, and I'd hate for it to leak out and accidentally be seen by the intended recipient, so I'll have to tell you about it when we've been given the go-ahead. Its really cute though!

I finally managed to cast on the Optional Round socks for SM5 - Diamonds in the Fluff (Rav link) by Leslie Comstock, aka chewyknits. She also designed these socks, which have been in my favourites for, like, ever. I'm definitely going to knit them one day!!

Another must-finish project is this little guy here - he's being made for my niece. Her birthday is coming up soon, and I think he'll be perfect! Knit in pink of course ;-) And a yummy green.

Well, it's nearly 11am here, so I still have plenty of time to knit before I have to pick the boys up from school. Oh, how I love school!! And rainy days :-) Have a good Monday everyone!