Monday 31 December 2012

Old Year's Night Randomness

Animalis Arcanum Tarot

I have used this beautiful card from the Animalis Arcanum tarot deck created by m'amie française Oephebia to illustrate this post written on Old Year's Night.

Time seems to have whizzed by again, without me even noticing: I have been dealing with what (for me) has been a  major personal issue for most of the year, which has affected nearly everything in my life, and there seems to have been only a little improvement - but next year I am hoping that it will simply lift and go away; I find that warm sunny weather always helps too, which is hard to remember in the very depths of winter dark and cold. I have not gardened or made any soap at all during 2012, which just tells you how bad it's been.

But I am grateful for my family, and of course the Good and Eviller Twins who mark out my path and thus without whom I would be lost, no doubt in the Fire Swamp amongst the R.O.U.Ss.

Thursday 27 December 2012

Xmas in the Garden of Good And Evil

Spiral Tarot

Yes, I have made it through to the other side of the first half of the festive season - and in one piece. More importantly, so have my nearest and dearest. Mini Diva and Destructo Boy have been totally, thoroughly and overwhelmingly spoiled rotten by their Uncles and Aunties - to whom I offer my heartfelt gratitude; I was very touched by their generosity.

And my Twins have sent me lovely creative things wot they have made speshully for me - Alison sent me a Lenormand Eclectique, which not only makes me right on trend in the tarot world, but it is a collaborative deck in which she was responsible for the design of card 12, Birds:

I had to laugh when I looked up the meaning online and found it means '' verbal communication, phone calls, negotiations, twins, siblings, hectic times, an older couple. The Lenormand Birds are about conversation and chatter. Think of how birds are always chattering and you’ll get a good idea of what this card means. It’s about a lot of conversations, speeches, meetings, interviews, gatherings, high energy, and hecticness while flitting to and from thing to thing, place to place.'' (with thanks to this site) as this is so totally appropriate for both Alison the Good Twin and Ania my Eviller Twin. Really, you needed to ask if I was the quiet one ?

And the lovely gift from Ania my Eviller Twin contains a vein of evil in it that made me snigger: look carefully at the detail of the fabric of this beautiful crochet hook roll that she made for me:

Do you see the cat amongst the pigeons ? This is in the way of another layer on a very longstanding joke on my screen-name ...

And as you can see she has left me lots of space to add to my collection of hooks: oh what a tragedy. 

I would just like to point out, as it is rarer than rocking horse poo for me to have the moral high ground, and for the purpose of being so amazingly pious and holier-than-them, that I am the only Twin who made is through Xmas without a hangover ...

Friday 21 December 2012

FO Friday 117: Apocalyptic Hat

Victorian Romantic Tarot

The steamroller that is me has knitted that darned hat - no, not sewing darned, going-to-hell darned - into submission. I even stayed up late to finish it, wash, block and dry it enough to post off yesterday. Coincidentally (if you believe in such fictions as coincidence) this was also the last day to post with Royal Mail to guarantee delivery by Christmas.

I got DH to model it for me in spite of his protests that it would ruin his hair:


 I do like Stylecraft yarns: as usual, this was good value, an interesting color - heathery blue - and soft to work with. I hope the recipient likes it ...

I have my last deadlined knit on the needles now, another hat, but it will have to take a little rest while I sweep up some more dog hair from the stinky allergic dog - while I do that, why not check out all  the other lovely things at Tami's Amis ?

Wednesday 19 December 2012

WIP Wednesday 123: Grinchiness

Tarot of the Magical Forest

So I found what I thought would be a fairly simple hat pattern that would be quick and easy to knit yet would have enough 'wow' factor for the non-knitting recipient. I found a yarn I thought they would like, easy care Stylecraft Life DK in 'Blue Haze'.

I cast on (woohoo me and the long-tail cast on) and got knitting (woohoo me and Magic Loop). I knitted about 4 inches of double ribbing which felt like it took forever, and started the pattern proper. And within 4 rows had made such a mess of it I had to rip it all back and start again.

I have done 3 pattern repeats and am 6 rows away from starting the decreases. This attempt has taken me from Sunday til now to get that far because Real Life keeps intruding into my knitting time - and it kind of really needed to be in the post today. This hat never seems to want to end, and it has made me feel like this:

And it's my own darned fault and I brought it on myself. Luckily the Evil and Good Twins are happy with the concept of a New Year's present (even though they have been organized enough to make sure my gifts from them are already under my tree) which leaves me with only one more gift to knit: be sure it won't be this ill-fated one again.

There is far more seasonal cheer over at Tami's Amis ....

Monday 17 December 2012

Monday Moan

Tarot of Durer

Well, it must be Monday because here I am moaning again. Not whinging, as that would be a Wednesday, right ? And the Universe must have me tagged as a soft sap for lame ducks. Meanwhile, I have me tagged for being psychic: I foresee another trip to the vet in this holiday period.

Jewel the rescue cat is in a cone of shame to prevent her from licking, scratching and biting herself - she has an allergy to flea bites, and even though she is treated regularly with the one vet prescribed product that works for her, every now and then she breaks out into a self-mutilating frenzy.

In addition to that, suddenly over the weekend Sebastian has been scratching and licking himself to pieces: usually we see this in spring and summer as he is allergic to grass. But it is winter and there are no flowering grasses right now. He also is treated regularly with vet prescribed anti-flea product, and has no fleas: I have checked him over exhaustively.

He does have some rather large hot spots which I totally sympathize with him must be horribly itchy. 

So he and I have had a shower this morning in his very expensive anti-bacterial dog shampoo. I guess I won't have any bacteria either now. I sure smell medicinally sulphurous, even after a shower on my own to wash and rinse it away.

He now has one of DH's shirts on to prevent scratching and licking while I wait for his steroid prescription to be ready for collection from the vet:

He is still cute and gorgeous if a bit grumbly. Also cute and gorgeous is Mini Diva (who is very grumbly), and who has been sneezing like some really sneezy thing, and also shares the allergy sensitivities - again, not hayfever season and she has no bug bites. So there is definitely something going on.

The only thing that is new or different is that last week we had some building work done, and an internal plaster and lathe wall dating from the Victorian era when this house was built was removed and replaced: the dust was unbelievable, and went everywhere.

On top of this, Sebastian's insurance renewal has come through for next year, and it is now just about the same amount as the Wilhelmina the 2.4l Volvo V70 estate; and if we switch insurers, although it would be tons cheaper, anything connected to his pre-existing condition ie. allergy, will not be covered. Wilhelmina has developed an electrical fault which drains the battery as soon as you look at it, so she will be visiting the garage very shortly.


The thing is, the dog is mine and the car is DH's. And you can't cuddle a car.

Friday 14 December 2012

FO Friday 117: Four Calling Birds

Fairytale Tarot (Hunt)

No, not a post about birds (which I'm not overkeen on) and not yet the 4th day of Christmas, but 4 more completed gifts ready to go forth and engage in deadly dalliance with the dangers of hot machine washes and dastardly tumble dryers.

Yes, I like alliteration - why do you ask ?

Down to business, as I still have at least 2 hats to make by the end of the weekend so can't waste my time here chinwagging with you all ...

Here are Susie Rogers' Reading Mitts in James C.Brett Aria, pale powder blue with sparkly sequins; the hint of mohair is just enough to give a nice halo effect without any of the itchiness that can come with mohair:

I had to put this pose in, as Mini Diva liked it:

And here is the first Penselwood Hat, from the lovely Jennifer Arnall-Culliford, also made from the James C.Brett Aria:

The pattern was so good I made it again straightaway:

This time I used Stylecraft Vision DK in the 'Lagoon' colorway; it has long color changes that give a nice fat stripey effect. The colors are much brighter than in my photos ....

These mitts are the Easy Peasy Fingerless Mitts. And they were, too. The ribbed twisted stitches give them enough stretch to fit an adult hand, firmly and snugly, but if I made them another time I would most likely make them just a smidge bigger by casting on extra stitches at the beginning.

I am finding it impossible to ignore the siren call of those 2 hats that I must make, so why don't you go over and check out more beautiful things at Tami's Amis ...

Wednesday 12 December 2012

WIP Wednesday 122: Just the One

Crystal Visions Tarot

A week and a half left to go, and I am just beginning to allow myself to contemplate the idea that all the last-minute Xmas knitting might just maybe possibly get done in time for the last mail. Unless I sit here tempting Providence again by even permitting the germ of that thought to enter my head.

I am being very disciplined, and really truly have only 1 WIP on my needles - Susie Rogers' Reading Mitts:

As you can see, I am well on my way to not just mastering, but thoroughly trouncing the Magic Loop technique for small diameter knitting; and I am still loving the James C.Brett Aria yarn.

No, I am not listening. I cannot see you gesticulating. I refuse to hear your sneaky whispers of sock passion.

I will confess instead that to make the above mitts, I need a pair of 3.75mm circular needles; I found the empty packet, so I knew they must be lying around somewhere. The somewhere turned out to be in another long-term WIP, Lily's Slice of Pi Shawl, which I started on the 6th March this year (oh the shame) and has been hibernating for a while. So I signed the 'fession and admit to us both that this will not get made, in this yarn anyway, and pulled the needles out to use for the mitts.

I can almost see a New Year's resolution taking shape as I type ....

Pop on over to Tami's Amis to see how everyone else is faring ...

Friday 7 December 2012

FO Friday 116: I'll Sing You Five-Oh

Tarot of 78 Doors

    ... and Green Grow the Rushes Oh !

Yes, it's random but now you have the earworm too. No need to thank me so effusively.

I actually have 7 Finished Objects, but photos of only 5: Mini Diva and I chickened out of a modelling session this morning, as for some reason we found the notion of posing around under dark skies while heavy sleet was falling somewhat unappealing. Still, that means I'll definitely have something to post next Friday ! (cue apocalyptic downpours from now until then - that's what you get for calling Providence out).

 But I had managed to take some photos of some of the projects while it was dry earlier in the week:


The Serene Hat, made from Cygnet DK in the 'light mauve' colorway, which was chosen by Mini Diva for her BFF's Xmas gift; it has good yardage, at 325yds/297m per 100g, so there was plenty left over for these fabulous Victoria Fingerless Mittens:

The hat looks nothing like the pattern, but it looks pretty anyway, and we liked it, so it stayed; and the mittens ...I made an error with the picot cast on, doing it every 3 stitches not every 5, so the cuffs are frillier than they should be - but again, we like it so it stayed. The ribbing gives a nice, snug fit around the wrist that will prevent any draughty breezes going sleeves-ward. 

I have yet to discover a way of making this bright red look halfway decent in a photo, so you'll have to live with this one of Sirdar 2326 made from Stylecraft Special DK in 'Matador'; and here are the lovely buttons I found to make it a proper Xmas knit:

You'll need to soothe your eyes after that, so here are the Pretty Sisters of the Misbegotten Glove:

And since James C.Brett 'Moonlight Sonata' is the magically unending ball of yarn, there was plenty left over to make the Pudorosa Neckwarmer - something a little different than a scarf, I'm sure you'll agree:

I must go and thaw out my feet - but you can go check out Tami's Amis for lots more pretty things ....

Wednesday 5 December 2012

WIP Wednesday 121: Pit Stop

Labyrinth Tarot

Talk about working your fingers to the bone ! Well, OK, I don't call what I do work - I like it too much - but I am busy, and then there is all that Xmas knitting I suddenly had inspirations for: why I couldn't have had all these ideas in June, who knows. You do know, actually - it is because it is The Law.

I bought these two balls of lovely Artesano Hummingbird Alpaca 4-ply a little while ago:

I realized I had the perfect person for this colorway, so I bought a pattern - yes, actually spent money on it - and started clicking away:

I feel terribly grumpy and cheated; this colorway looks great in the ball, and as with all Artesano alpaca, it is of a softness that the gods would drool over, but I am not at all loving how the colors are pooling in the shawl, it looks so randomly messy and unplanned that I have put it on the naughty step while I contemplate its future ie. while we sulk at each other for not meeting expectations.

As you know, a shedload of people who need to be knitted for seem to have appeared out of the gloomy darkness of my memory suddenly, so I just cracked on with other stuff - like using the James C.Brett 'Aria' that I found at my little LYS, which is mohair, wool, acrylic and polyester with SEQUINS. I know, I am all about class.

But you can see it is a lovely shade of pastel blue Brett (again) imaginatively calls 'Z3' and it is very beautifully amazingly soft and squooshy and I loves it. And at £3.50 (approx.$5.64) for 215m/235yds, it is not bad value for a hat. So there.

And I even paid for the hat pattern too - it is the Penselwood Hat by Jen Arnall-Culliford; I chose it because it is a little lacy and knitted flat: I'm in too much of a hurry now to mess around with Magic Loops and stuff. And she is approachable, friendly, and on Twitter: which made it easy to ask her about some modifications I wanted to make for a slouchier fit.

And when I am feeling like a challenge, I knit on this Seekret Project (which is deffo not for you this time Alison, I don't love you nearly enough to knit in black for you):

There is intarsia to come on this (imagine that vocalized in a portentous booming voice like that of James Earl Jones) so this won't be completed in any kind of rush, je vous assure.

And much as I love gassing with you all ? This stuff isn't going to knit itself, you know. You need to stop distracting me. While I am hard at it, pop on over to Tami's Amis to see how everyone else is doing ....

Monday 3 December 2012

More Haste

Fantastic Menagerie Tarot

Fuelled by morning drugs in the form of Prozac, coffee and sugar (delivered via jam tarts for breakfast. Yes, I know, I am a dismal role model for my kids) I thought I'd quickly whizz in here to say OMG OMG OMG I can't believe I forgot to post on FO Friday last week - even though both kids were home because of Teaching Training Days at school, and I actually did some housework too, I just can't believe I forgot I had a squillion zillion finished projects to talk about. Well, OK, really it was three, but you get the point.

And now it is like 3 weeks til Xmas and I have nothing done. But I do not panic (that's why only one 'omg', in lower case this time). Not yet, anyway. If I knit solidly from now til ... oooooh ....maybe December 24th, I will get it all done in time. And DH's birthday is this Friday, and when I checked my inspiration box ? It was empty, totally naked, I tell you. Not even a bad crumb of an idea leftover from a previous year.

And to top it off, the lovely builder man is coming tomorrow to fix some stuff (exactly what, I can't remember) and so that means I must do some more tidying up before he gets here. I know you are loving the irony of that, right ?

On the plus side, at the Parents' Evenings recently, Destructo Boy's teacher said that he has potential, he just needs to be more consistent in his efforts ie. he is lazy and has a short span of attention for things he doesn't want to do; and Mini Diva's teacher pretty much said she was perfect. Santa may yet make it to this house.