Monday, 30 July 2012

That book

Yep.  Read it.  Kinda had to really.  I'd heard so many bad things about it that I wanted to see what it was all about.  Fifty Sheds was so funny, I was intrigued enough to read the 'original'.  My conclusion?  Far too many oh mys and murmurings, the writing is a little crude, and it seems like she had a copy of a thesaurus on her desk and was attempting to use every word in it, but to be honest it wasn't as bad as I was expecting.  Then again, I'll read most stuff.  I can understand why a large amount of people don't like it.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and nobody has to read the book if they don't want to.  Me?  I'm part way through the second book now ;-)  Hey, don't judge me!  Maybe you secretly like it too and just don't want to admit it...

Soooo... the Olympics are in full swing, and I'm thoroughly enjoying watching as much of it as I can (on the one free-to-view channel available - I'm not paying for Sky TV plus Sport for a year just to get five channels of a sporting event that runs for two and a half weeks!).  I've seen a total of 4 1/2 hours of artistic gymnastics so far, both mens and womens.  My favourite event by far.  Saw a little synchronised diving this morning - my second favourite.  Caught a few events with kiwi competitors - rowing, swimming, equestrian, hockey - so good to watch.  The womens Black Sticks had a great game against Aussie - let's hope they continue to do well.  Unfortunately their male counterparts didn't do so well in their first game.  Oh well...

Did you see the opening ceremony?  I loved that J K Rowling did a reading, and that Voldemort had a part to play, but I have to say my favourite parts were Mr Bean and James Bond.  They were awesome.  And the Olympic Flame cauldron?  Awesome, beautiful, brilliant. 

And of course there is knitting to be done while for the Ravellenics while the Olympics are underway - I've cast on one of the two projects I have planned - the Bellevue sweater.  So far, I've knit the back:

A front, two sleeves, and a collar to go, not to mention the sewing up...  This sweater is being knit with the large amount of yarn left over from the aran afghan I knit last year.  I think I bought it for $2.30 a ball.  I've gotten pretty good mileage out of this yarn, pretty happy with that.

I need more sweaters and cardigans.  I went to put on my simplicity cardigan the other day, and discovered this hole:

Gutted!  It can be fixed of course, but I wasn't terribly happy to find it.  I'm not sure if it's been caught on something, or if it's been moth eaten.  My money's on the former.  I couldn't find any evidence of moths anywhere, so I really hope I just caught it on something and didn't realise.  No idea when I'll get around to fixing it...

I managed to get another few bits and pieces out of the way before settling in for the Ravellenics - a pair of mitts for my nephew:

Expertly modelled by X ;-)  Knit with sport weight yarn left over from the hat I knit for the school caretaker, using the same pattern I used for my niece's mitts, minus the frilly cuffs.  And I sewed up a bunch of ponytail scarves (found on Sew Mama Sew) for my niece, so she didn't miss out on a wee parcel.

Now that she's received them, I can post pics of the fingerless mitts I knit my mum for her birthday:

Terrible photo I know, but it's near-impossible to take a decent photo of your own hand, and even more difficult trying to take a photo of both!!  You get the general idea though.  This pattern is based on the hat design, which is based on the hat worn my Hermione in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (although I knit two hats much the same using this pattern in 2009.  Not that it matters).

I used some MadTosh Pashmina left over from the Christchurch shawl I knit last year.

The other pair I knit were these:

Here's what they look like when you're not wearing them:

Weird and skinny :-)  These were knit with Cascade Heritage Silk Handpaints - I purchased it in the US, and used some for the Roosimine socks I knit and gave to mum for Mother's Day.  So now they match ;-)

You see what I'm doing here?  Using up stash!  Feeling pretty good about that.  Or rather, it makes me feel better about the other yarn I've bought recently...

Ice skating tomorrow, yay!  Have a good week :-)

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Another challenge finished, on to the next

The Tour de Fleece finished over the weekend.  As expected, I didn't get much done.  However, I got even less done than planned, so this year's Tour was doubly sucky.  A grand total of 150g spun for me, not the best effort...

The blue is a punta wool/bamboo/tencel blend yarn, spun from two batts I won from Nerd Girl Yarns during the Harry Potter Knit & Crochet House Cup many moons ago, I believe for a spinning project.  The colourway is called Resurrection Stone, and was spun into a rather loosely plyed (although it hasn't been washed and whacked yet, maybe it'll bloom and fill out a bit) light fingering to sport-ish weight (I think) two ply, about 100g, 324 metres aroundabout.  Ah, who needs to be precise? ;-)  I could weigh it, and I could measure it, and I could check the wpi, but really, who cares?  It'll just piss me off when I go to knit with it later, and have no idea what I've got :-)

The other skein is a whopping 50g of alpaca/silk, which I think I already blogged, so won't go into detail here.

Pretty uninspiring, huh?  Next year, I'll aim higher.

So, another 'competition' over, and next up, starting this weekend, is the Ravellenics.  Not so much a competition as a personal challenge (much like the TdF) - run for the duration of the Olympic Games, the idea is to set yourself a project or projects designed to challenge your skills or limits.  For example, this year (my first year of the Ravellenics, formerly known as the Ravelympics until the USOC packed a howlie and stamped their feet) I have signed up to two teams - a Harry Potter fan group team, and the Sock Madness team.  I have to knit a project for each team (since one project cannot be submitted for more than one team) - I am going to attempt (note the word attempt) to knit this sweater (for Team HP Crafters) and these socks (for Team Mad Minnows with Fearless Humming Needles that Could be from Sockinavia, aka Team SockMadness.  It's a long story...).  Now I know if I put my mind to it, I can knit a sweater in 17 days.  This is a construction I haven't tried before though, and it's an all-over pattern - therein lies the challenge.  As for the socks, well, socks aren't a challenge in and of themselves, but they are constructed using a technique called twined knitting, which takes a bit of getting used to, or so I'm told by the others in Sock Madness that have attempted it (and mostly succeeded).  I haven't tried it yet, I've been saving it for the Ravellenics (read: I haven't got around to it because other projects keep grabbing my attention).  It is also (so I've been told) quite a slow technique, and to knit this pair of socks within the time frame whilst also knitting an adult sweater... well, you get the point.

Plus, of course, I will have to continue my studies, and various other essential-to-household-harmony duties.  But, studies are going well.  I have finished the first module of my current paper - Archives Management, fascinating stuff - and will be starting the second shortly (housework first, I think).  And official results are in - I scored a B+ for my first tertiary level paper!!  Hurrah!!  I think that's a fairly good effort.  I know my second assignment dragged the mark down a little (For the three assignments I got A-, B, A- respectively) but I'm generally pretty happy with how it went.  I've learned quite a bit from the experience, and hope to continue improving.  My aim is to get a B or better for all my assignments and papers.

Exercise is picking up again too now, with ice skating lessons going relatively well.  Two lessons under my belt, and I haven't hit the deck yet.  Ooh, hope I haven't jinxed it...  I was hoping to go snowboarding this week at Snowplanet, but the boys are finishing school early tomorrow for Student Led Conferences so there won't be time, and Friday's booked for other things.  Maybe next week...  I had a go at Kinect Adventures the other day with X - quite a fun way to get some exercise and play with your kids at the same time.  Gets them off the couch and moving too - an added bonus!

I'm hoping to start fitting in a few short runs next week as well - I haven't been for a run since March I think.  Too long.  Time to get back into it again, for sure.  Hope you're having a good week, wherever you are. 


Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Sometimes I do things just because

Like this:

My iPhone was cold...

Knit the cover using this pattern, and leftover Wollmeise (blue) and Patons Patonyle sock yarns.  Cute, huh?  Had to make a few mods so it would fit (the original pattern is for an iPod), but I think it worked out quite well.  Would've preferred to knit the words in rather than embroider them on afterwards, but it wouldn't have fit.  Oh well, it's still cool.  This gave me something small to do while the kids were at ice skating.  I had my first lesson yesterday too, it was really fun!  I know how to stop without hitting the wall now!!!  And go backwards (although not well, and I probably look like a deformed, senile duck).

Deane has been informed that his sweater will not be ready until next winter.  I'm sorry to say that the black stockinette is incredibly uninspiring, and it's difficult to shape the armholes when he isn't here to try it on 90% of the time.  I think he's okay with that.  Which leaves two other projects on the needles.  Perhaps, rather than sitting here fluffing about on Twitter (which, alas, I have signed up to.  Only so I could follow 50 Sheds of Grey mind you) and waffling on here, I could be watching something interesting and knitting.  Pfft.

What's that you say?  I should be studying?  Well, I've done a grand total of three hours study so far this week, and have nearly finished the first module - the assessment for which cannot be done until mid-August.  You see my dilemma?  I'm going to have to start module two and hang about until the assessment can be completed.  Which means I'll get the second assignment finished, then have to wait a month and a half to get my results, during which I will finish module three, the assignment for which is not due until 26th October.  And on it goes.  Could've sat two papers this trimester after all.  Oh well, too late now.  Seriously considering going to the local library and offering my services as a reshelver for several hours a week.

Perhaps the Ravellenics will slow me down - the Olympics start in ten days (woohoo!) and I'm aiming to get this sweater and these socks knit during the games.  Doubt I can manage both, but it's good to challenge yourself, right?

Right, better go do something useful.  Like vacuuming...

Monday, 16 July 2012

Napier. For the time of your life.

At least that's what the ad used to proclaim.  With a little more enthusiasm I suspect.  We spent the second week of the school holidays fluffing around in my home town.  Visiting the cousins, tiki-touring, eating lots of food - both good and bad...

I got very little knitting done, and even less spinning.  So much for the Tour de Fleece, this year was a bust.  Oh well, there's always next year.  This trip to Napier wasn't about the spinning and knitting.  That's next month!  Instead I did things like go see Snow White and the Huntsman (okay, but slightly underwhelming.  Bella with a bad British accent, anyone?), check out Birdwoods Gallery (or their sweet shop at least), visit Silky Oak Chocolates, watch my nephew play rugby, etc etc.  Blocked my mum's now-giant shawl on my new blocking wires courtesy of dad (TIG welding wire.  Hurray for engineering!  Who needs to pay $30, when you can get some for free?  Or pretty close to it?)

Speedy, not-very-good modelling shot on the swing dad built in the back yard.  I was in a hurry.
Yvaine shawl, knit with three 120g skeins of Knitsch 'Terry's Treat' sock yarn.  Finished dimensions: freakin' huge!  But in all seriousness, they are in fact 210cm across by 105cm deep.  No way it's not going to fit now!!  Mwaaahahahahaha!!

My bff and I sampled the Pumpkin Juice (not bad) and Chocolate Frog (cheap nasty stuff, left a greasy feeling in the mouth) I brought back from Universal Orlando, and we sampled all the Every Flavour Beans.  My summary of them is as follows:

Earwax: Not too nice, but edible.
Grass: Surprisingly palatable.
Black Pepper: Tastes just like pepper (surprise!)
Booger: Dirt-like flavour.
Vomit: Disgustingly vomit-flavoured.  My most hated of all of them.
Sausage: Meaty ;-)
Cinnamon: Very accurate.  A little too strong for my liking.
Cherry: Not very flavourful.  I don't particularly enjoy artificial cherry anyway.
Marshmallow: Sweet and yummy.
Tutti Frutti: Quite nice, and very fruity flavoured.
Blueberry: Not very berryish, but yummy all the same.
Green Apple: Tart, and quite nice.
Sherbet Lemon: My absolute favourite, without a doubt.
Soap: Very... soapy.
Banana: Ever had banana-flavoured medicine as a child?  That's what it tasted like.
Watermelon: ...confusing.  Not very watermelony, and not all that nice.
Candyfloss: OMG yum!
Rotten Egg: Gross, but not as bad as vomit.  I was expecting worse.

We didn't get any Dirt or Earthworm flavoured beans, so I can't say what those were like.  We felt a little ill by the end of the taste-testing, which I guess is to be expected.

All in all, it was a pretty good week.  We moseyed on home on Saturday afternoon.  Traffic wasn't bad, and it only took us 4 1/2 hours to drive back.  The kids got a little antsy toward the end, but I suppose that's to be expected.  And T kindly waited until we were home and inside before expelling green puke all over the lounge carpet.  I would have preferred he'd thrown up on the wooden floors, but you can't have everything, right?  At least he didn't vomit in the car...

PS: If you're wondering why I'm reading so many Janet Evanovich books lately it's because I have them all on audio :-)  And they're funny.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Not how I'd choose to spend my weekend...

We had a rather unpleasant incident at the kreachr household on Saturday. I noticed a strange gurgling noise emanating from the drain outside the downstairs bathroom window after my shower. I went out the front to investigate, and discovered that we had waste water overflowing from the drain, spilling across the carport and into the garage area. Yuck! Deane promptly phoned the landlord, who got his best plumber 'on the case'. We had to close all the windows on the front side of the house to avoid the smell wafting indoors. I had a quilt guild meeting to attend so escaped out the back and disappeared for several hours.
I was disappointed to discover upon my return (via the back door of course) that things were not much improved. As it transpired, the blockage was not one of our making, but a mains blockage caused by tree roots, some 25 metres from the property border. The local council had allegedly sent a representative to investigate, who determined that it was 'a private issue', and nothing to do with them. Which is odd, because he supposedly arrived at 2pm, but Deane and the plumbers had been out the front since 1.30pm and had seen no such person.

The plumbers did their best and cleared the blockage, informing us that the waste was not only ours, but also belonged to other households in the street, and was escaping from our drain because it was the lowest point. Well yay for us! They were not equipped to clean up the bio-hazard, so Deane had to speak to the council again and convince them it was their responsibility to send out a clean up crew. Which they did, thankfully. Rep #2 was horrified and peeved that Rep #1 considered it our responsibility. So some vindication there, but not overly satisfying considering the day we had.

I disappeared to the supermarket just as the clean up crew arrived, and was glad to see they'd finished and left before I got back. So I managed to escape the worst of it, but Deane and the boys were home most if the day. Not terribly fun.

Thankfully, Sunday was better. No horrible, odorous brown substances oozing out of drains. I went to knitting, then the family met up in town, did a spot of nerd-shopping (Magic: The Gathering game cards), then went to see Brave. Odd story-line, but thoroughly entertaining all the same. Lots of laughs, which was what I was hoping for.

It's now the second week of the school holidays. Monday was spent driving to Napier, and settling in to Nanny and Poppy's place. Today is full of cousins, toys, trampolines and noise. Lots and lots of noise. And Choco-ades :-)

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Ever looked at your washing pile and just wanted to cry?

This is what I faced yesterday:

Four giant rubbish bags full of dirty laundry. I made a total of ten trips across the road to the laundromat and back, half of them in the middle of a torrential downpour. It got so wet, we ended up with a mini mud-river out the back:

After washing and drying it all, and getting completely soaked in the process (good thing I'd washed a load of towels!), I then had this to look forward to:

Folding the giant pile of laundry! About an hour or so later, it looked a little better:

(Apologies for the giant gap.  Couldn't seem to get rid of it!)
It pretty much stayed like that. I took the bed linen up to remake the beds, but that's it. The boys had
to hunt through the piles this morning to find clothes to wear - they were completely out of clean pants!  Oops...

That, to be honest, is what made me finally get around to doing the washing. They needed warm clothes to wear to their ice skating lessons. Which, by the way, are going very well. They're enjoying themselves so much, I think I'll sign them up for after school lessons next term too. Maybe I've got some future ice hockey players on my hands. Deane would be pleased (^_^)  Seriously considering taking adult lessons myself - it just looks like so much fun!  They have adult coffee group classes on Tuesday mornings from 10am, with a 'free' coffee afterwards.  Sounds perfect!  After four lessons, I'm sure to be a pro ;-P

The Tour de Fleece is underway for 2012 - I'm not going all-out this year though. Just a few bits and pieces:

Alpaca (chocolate brown), alpaca/silk (black/red), BFL/silk on Eric (my spindle), and a couple of punta wool/tencel/bamboo batts. So far all I've managed is the alpaca/silk:

50g total, spun to about a DK weight, although I forgot to take note of the yardage. And yesterday I cracked into one of the batts, but didn't get very far:

I've spent most of the time at home this week giving the house a complete cleaning overhaul. Study starts up after school holidays (well, technically on the 9th, but there's no way I'll be studying in Napier) and I'd like to have the place spic-and-span before I get stuck in. I have my study materials and have ordered my text book, which is now on its way from Australia. Still waiting for the final results of my last assignment though. I hate when people get extensions and hold everything up :-/

UPDATE:  Results are in!!!  I got an A- for my third assignment!!!  Yay me!!!  Wonder what my total overall mark is...?

Either way, I can enjoy the rest of the school holidays, knowing I did okay for my first tertiary-level paper.  I'm looking forward to getting stuck in to the next one!  The first assignment is an RTA (Real Time Assessment) consisting of multiple choice questions.  The benefit of that is that you get your results as soon as you've finished - no waiting around!  The down side is that there is only a one week window to do it in.  This means I can't jump ahead.  Probably a good thing, because it means I won't get the second assignment done super early and have to wait forever for the results.  There's pros and cons to everything I guess.

Well, better get moving and do something.  Like put away all the clean washing...  I think I'll take a break from all the housework stuff, and do some spinning and knitting today.  I've earned it, right?  I need to get Deane's sweater to a point where I can just knit and not have to worry about fitting it - I'm doing the armhole shaping at the moment, which is a crucial point fit-wise - and I have a couple of other things I really should finish off and get out of the way.  Plus, I need to get stuck into the TdF spinning.  Cup of tea first though, I think.  Ooh, and it's lunch time.  Mmm, food...

Hope you're staying warm and dry, wherever you are.  Enjoy the rest of your week!!