Wednesday 31 December 2014

Old Year's Night 2014

Labyrinth Tarot

Wildwood Tarot
Taslimur Tarot

Well, I am glad to see the back of this year; my sister Halcyon dying in July, my Uncle in November, and so many of my favorite famous people too, it has just seemed like a year of death. And of course the Yule holiday season never passes without at least one disaster, and this year we have more than one: the loss of the AirAsia plane, the Italian ferry disaster, and some smaller scale events that are just as tragic - the Australian children, the Edmonton family.

Quite frankly, I am sick of it.

I passionately hope your year has been better than mine, and that we all have a much better year next year.

Sunday 28 December 2014

The Interim Lull

Whimsical Tarot

Well, have we snoozed for long enough ? Or shall I tuck you back in under a snuggly blankey and we'll roll over and snore some more ? Winter, cold temperatures and having the family all home just exacerbate my hermit tendencies, I'm afraid. And because Titch has been home, I am using him as the excuse for not posting - I can ignore the kids with no problems, but he takes up too much space for that.

We had an organized (read: calm and peaceful) Christmas: the kids got what they'd asked for, we visited both my sister's family and Titch's family, we hosted Belo and Uber Cool Brother for Xmas lunch. We have played charades and Scrabble (which Destructo Boy doesn't like as ''I'm so crap at this even Dad is beating me'').

My Twins seem to have a Christmas during which much cookerly experimentation was successful - I am happy to reassure you that the Eviller Twin was far less Blumenthal this year, but the Good Twin continues to espouse Ottolenghi and the consequent need for bathroom extractor fans - and they liked their gifts (always a bonus). 

Hello Kitty Tarot

 I can't tell you how much of a warm support and embracing retreat they have been for me this year, always there to provide emotional and mental support, on top of everything else. I did call them and try to tell them, but I didn't haz no words to convey my gratitude.

It's OK, don't run away, come back - that's it for the overly gushy warm and fuzzy emotional ick for now, I promise.
Whimsical Tarot

Over the next few days I shall be pondering my goals for next year - some seem to be rising to the top of the queue - for example, conquering the rigid and sweaty anxiety attacks caused being in any car doing more than 20 mph. But then again, how badly to I need to get anywhere that's far enough away to require a car trip ? Online grocery shopping has never been so welcome. 

Hudes Tarot
However, I'm not sure I'm ready yet to drop the reclusive hermit-ness I have been practicing in RL - I am still burned out on people, generally speaking. I have one big main Plan for crafting/knitting next year, which I will, of course, be telling you all about at a later date. Do you feel enticed ? 

I am even feeling like I must pull out all the Stash and sort it out properly - it has got a bit mixed up what with sneaky additions and hiding Xmas presents, but I think that must wait til Titch has gone back to work - he already doesn't believe me when I say I want to make X, or Y, but that I haven't got the right yarn for it and so must buy more. If he saw what was actually there, I would have no chance at all ....

Have you got Plans for next year, knitting and/or personal ?

Wednesday 10 December 2014

SAL Wednesday : Intervention

Tarot of the Magical Forest

I have been absent because I have been feeling very low and dejected, owing to a combination of circumstances - not least of which was completing Mini Diva's Wilde cardigan and being quite unhappy with the result. I might be brave (or resigned) enough to post about it on Friday.

My MIL is our Secret Santa recipient this year, and I determined to make her a gorgeous cardigan. After overcoming such obstacles as picking the color (I took advice from two of my SILs, so I have others to blame if it is wrong) and measurements (again, a devious SIL achieved this - you may admire and envy my foresight, see previous brackets), spending hours searching for exactly the right yarn in terms of weight, color etc to find it and then discover JUST before I clicked the 'buy' button - thank the gods - that it was handwash only .... as I say, all this was overcome, and I selected 9 balls of Sirdar Wool Rich Aran in 'Powder Blue' at what I thought was a really reasonable cost of £43.

So, given the (reasonable yet expensive-for-me) cost of the yarn and for whom it is destined, I spared no effort, and did this:

No, it's OK, I'll wait while you pick your jaw up from the floor.

Yes, it's another swatch. The third in as many months, at least. 

Is it a sign that I am irrevocably doomed to a sensible and unexciting future of being an Engineer rather than an Artiste ? 

Might there be hope for me yet to go back to those freewheeling days of yore when I cared not a snap of my fingers for gauge, where I revelled in the thrill of living right on the Raggedy Edge, when we did not know if something would fit until it was actually Put On.

Oh yes - the swatch results: I got 19 st x 24 rows on 4.5mm needles when the pattern requires 18 st x 28 rows.

What do you mean, did I do another one on different size needles ? 

Are you CRAZY ? 

I'm too busy swigging gin and waiting for you to do an Intervention.

Pop over to Gracey's, to see what else is going on in the mad dash to Christmas .....

Friday 28 November 2014

Friday Finishes 4: Underwater Cables

Fantastic Menagerie Tarot

Well, I've been twiddling my thumbs a bit aimlessly this week - I've completed Mini Diva's Wilde, except for the buttons - I couldn't find any I liked in the right size, so I blew caution (and cash) to the wind and have ordered a custom set.

I couldn't start the next item on my Xmas gift list as I was waiting for the yarn to be delivered.

So I was really looking for something that was quick and simple to occupy myself in the inbetween times. But I didn't have anything that fitted the bill in my Queue - apart from some fingerless mitts, and I just didn't want to make them: I can knit magic loop, but I don't enjoy it, especially the start.

So I took some yarn my sister had decluttered to me, and a new hot water bottle, and 2 days later we have this:

I'm not entirely sure what the yarn is - it arrived as something that had been knitted in the round but at some point had got unintentionally Moebiussed; during her most recent visit, my MIL had ravelled it all back into a ball for me, so it was once again usable. Anyway. I think it is James C.Brett Marble Chunky MC8 - my sister rarely used anything lighter in weight than a chunky.  

I surfed the stitch patterns over at the marvellous resource that is the Knitting Fool until I found one I liked, cast on using 5.5mm needles ....and hey presto - a completed Xmas gift. Now, while you go check out other lovely things at Chris Knits, I need to go get started on my MIL's Xmas gift, a cabled cardigan - which as you can see means I have no more time to fritter away with you here, much as you know I love you.

Friday 21 November 2014

FF 3: Christmas Santa Tea Cosy

Prairie Tarot

So remember my recent paranoia ? Well, no need for it any more - the project is completed, and thanks to my Eviller Twin has been turned into a PDF and watermarked and fingerprinted and biometriced and all kinds of things. Well, OK, not biometriced and probably not fingerprinted  ... but you get the idea.

Over in my Folksy shop you will find two marvellous seasonal tea cosies if you want to buy one ready-made - if they are sold out, commission me to make you one. 

Also the pattern is there, if you want to make one yourself and of course is available through my Ravelry store as well. 

Yes, see it and weep with gratitude - that is TWO types of novelty yarn, snowflake and eyelash, so this pattern will help you to use up those odds and ends in the Stash-That-Must-Not-Be-Mentioned ie. the stuff we bought when we were tripping drunk knitting noobs uninfected with yarn snobbery.

I'm proud of this idea and how I turned it into actuality, but I have to tell you that being a slave to tea cosy creation is no walk in the park - already I have 2 more ideas bouncing around which will most likely wait til after Xmas now ....

While I recover from the exhaustion gulping air like a drowning frog, pop over to Chrisknits for more Friday Finishes .....

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Wednesday's Child ....

Ansata Tarot

.... is full of woe. And I mean overflowing with rageful woe.

I was all prepared to give you a little contented chuntery post today, but instead my whole day has been completely derailed, as in, a complete train-wreck, by this:

It switches on, but the touchscreen is of course obviously useless. 

Yes, you're right, it isn't as bad as ... say  ... losing your internet. But I am in no mood for your words of comfort and mitigation, I am the mardiest thing that was ever mardy.

Friday 14 November 2014

Friday Finishes 2: Sweet Dreams

Shadowscapes Tarot

I am afraid this is only a little post today - TABI's AGM is coming up soon (I am currently co-Chair), and we are discussing the future path of our Ezine, as well as all the other reports from the various areas of the organization; added to this, I am collecting three 9-year old boys from school, herding them home, feeding them, and making sure they are ready to go to their school disco on time. After the disco, I predict late-night mayhem, as Destructo Boy's friends are also staying for a sleepover.

What's that ? 

Have a little nip of gin ? 

Two, you say ?

Why, yes, yes, I believe I will, thank you.

Meanwhile, this is Sweet Dreams, a Boo Knits pattern; made with Artesano 4ply Alpaca in the colorway 'Sweetpea' and using lots and lots of size 6/0 rainbow translucent beads. 

The pattern is fairly straight-forward as long as you remember to check things like if the stitch-markers move, or else you will have to tink back. Oh yes, that's how I know.

If you squint for a while, you can see the beads. Whatever I did, I could not get a photo that really showed them up.

To see things that do not require squinting, head over to my friend Chris' blog, where she is hosting 'Friday Finishes' which is replacing the old 'FO Friday' ....

Wednesday 12 November 2014

WIP Wednesday: In the Grip of The Muse

Victorian Romantic Tarot

I know, I know - you've been grateful for the moment's silence, but too much of a good thing is bad for you, right ? So I'm back. I was quiet because Mini Diva has been far less Mini and far more Diva recently, and my mental equilibrium - always a bit wobbly and teetering on the edge at the best of times - took a bit of a knock.  

Add that to my recent travails with Melpomene, merciless muse of Tragedy, and I didn't have much to write that wasn't as dreary as a sober politician telling the truth.

Fortunately - I hope - her sister Thalia, muse of Comedy, came along, and thus I am immured once more in the creative process. I will never look at a tea cosy in the same way again - and neither will you, if I have my way, and you keep coming back to read.

I sepiad (yes, it is a word now) the photo because I am paranoid - don't you know that people are desperate to steal my amazeballs ideas and with them, conquer the world of novelty tea cosies ? Well, no, probably they are not. It'd be like clowns fighting. But I did say 'paranoid'.

Anyway, you can see that Thalia and I are pretty good pals, and I must go listen to what she has to say. She's one of those high-maintenance friends where it's all about her, but you put up with it because you love the flavor of the dip she brings to the party.

Wednesday 5 November 2014

WIP Wednesday: An Old Dog

Spiral Tarot

I thought talking about an old dog learning new tricks might be a bit less threatening than talking about Armageddon or the End of the World being nigh, as in, right now this minute.

Because I made a swatch:

I made a swatch because I want to make Wilde for Mini Diva's Xmas present. Instead of the Malabrigo Rasta at a cost of nearly £100/approx.$158 and aftercare involving washing it by hand in filtered unicorn pee and drying it with the breath of fairies (but only orange ones) in a south-facing rose garden at dawn, I've substituted King Cole Big Value Chunky for about £25/approx.$39 which can be bunged in the machine and will survive the Zombie Apocalypse along with the cockroaches. Let's set this out as simply as possible:

Malabrigo Rasta recommended gauge:  10st x 18 rows in a 4'' square on 9 - 12mm needles

Pattern gauge:   6st x 9 rows on 15mm needles

King Cole Chunky gauge: 10st x 14 rows on 10mm needles

So from that heap of confusion, you can see the logical thing to do was to knit a swatch and actually do, like, you know, measuring-type things. So feeling very grown-up and sensible and responsible and more of those really unattractively boring qualities, my first swatch on 12mm needles came in at 7.5st x 11 rows. Which means that the item would come out way too small (by about 20% according to the help I got from Ravelry).

So I made the Earth positively rock on its axis by knitting ANOTHER SWATCH.

I know, you'll need more than a moment to recover. I'm not sure if I have even now. Do they even make smelling salts any more ?

This gave me 7st x 9 rows on 15mm needles; but you can see in the photo that the fabric is too holey and loose - it'll sag and let the cold in.

So after all that, and with advised caution, I shall attempt using 12mm needles and make the Large size hoping to achieve a Small in the end. 

You may indeed wish me luck - I am surely going to need it all.

Monday 3 November 2014

Mystery Monday #1

Whimsical Tarot

Well, the SusannaIC Autumn MKAL is finished, and the next MKAL I'm taking part in doesn't start until the New Year - but I still have a Mystery Monday for you, a mystery that perhaps you can solve for me since I am stumped.

Last week my MIL generously frogged and rewound the Oslo Walk Shawl for me, ready to be turned into something beady and sparkly but with way less opportunities for error, which ruled out the Golden Orchids Shawl for the time being.

Shuffling through my queue, favorites and library on Ravelry, to try and find a pattern that I already own for which I also have enough of the frogged Artesano Alpaca 4ply in 'Sweetpea', I came up with Sweet Dreams by BooKnits.

No, the mystery today isn't how or why I made more errors (I haven't made any - yet) but rather, why is the pattern in the state it is ? I've been through my projects, and searched this blog, but I cannot find any record of having made this pattern before - so why does it look like this: 

Yeah, I need practice using my mouse to write with in Paint. 

But you get the idea. Most important for our mystery is (A) which clearly shows that the lines of the pattern have been marked off as each row has been completed. (B) is most likely a tea-stain, since I'm not a huge coffee drinker. (C) is a water stain, and D is some other kind of drink stain.

That's a lot of scars and detritus for a pattern which I haven't made, don't you think ?

So what happened ?

Friday 31 October 2014

FO Friday: A Tragedy of Errors

Halloween Tarot

It's actually really lucky that I am not a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist, or else this week we'd be talking about unintentional lobotomies and rocket wreckage (this had nothing to do with me, I promise).

It started with the completion of the Oslo Walk Shawl - mine was 77 inches long not fully blocked, and had more of a scarf shape than a crescent:

Fortunately my MIL was visiting this week and frogged the whole thing for me, in spite of the additional challenge presented by the alpaca halo and ton of beads. 

And having completed the Autumn MKAL, and commented on the unexpected shape, it turns out the instructions were not as straightforward and clear as I had thought - and followed; so, mine should not have been a 'U' shape but a normal crescent. As it's washed and blocked already, it'll languish in a corner while I struggle with my depression about it.

And if that were not enough, the Heartskull Hat turned out great - if you like the inverted color scheme, which resulted from the pattern chart having the main color in white, and the contrasting color shaded, meaning the skull is colored and the sockets are white; I know, cock-eyed; but the other people who have made this seem to have managed fine. I know, also, you'd think I would have noticed - something was niggling me, but of course it wasn't until I uploaded it to Ravelry and compared it to the other projects that I finally figured out what was wrong.

No problem, I had enough yarn left over to make another one:

Except this time I forgot to upsize the needles after the ribbing to make the body - so the hat is much smaller. It will still fit the intended recipient, but that's not really the point.

I had been planning to make the Golden Orchids Shawl, but as it's rated medium-difficult, I may have to restrict myself to a garter-stitch washcloth or scarf .... except I'd rather poke my eyes out than make those.

Monday 27 October 2014

MKAL Monday 7: Autumn Has Fallen

Halloween Tarot

Just in time for the clocks to go back from British Summer Time to miserable old Greenwich Mean Time, I've completed the final clue of the SusannaIC Autumn 2014 MKAL6 .... and soaked it and blocked it.

I'm really happy with the yarn (Araucania Ranco Multy in colorway 351) and the beads, gold rainbow in size 6/0 from Dawn's Bead and Button Box: the colors complement each other beautifully. I made the medium size shawl, the millions of beads version; 75 grams meant I have a few left over.

I love the lace pattern, and that the shawl includes lace right from the start.

The only thing I'm not overkeen on is the overall shape - I do not like shallow crescents, a new moon crescent; I need a shawl to be more of a half-moon, semi-circle shape. So something I have learned from this is to ask for very specific shape details before I commit to or start a MKAL.

I think this is the 3rd MKAL of Susanna's that I've made, so the batting average is good - and after all, the problem here was not with the pattern or instructions (as usual, they were very clear and straightforward) but more that the shape is not to my personal taste. I'll definitely be back for another of her MKALs in the future .....

Please do add your link to your MKAL or CAL ....

Wednesday 22 October 2014

The Cooler King

Halloween Tarot

Listen to this as you read - I promise it's relevant:

So Monday started as normal - did a little blog post about the current MKAL, ran the hoover around, 3 loads of washing as the sun was out and the tail of hurricane Gonzalo was supposed to lash us on Tuesday ... yanno, the ordinary housewifey stuff that turns my brain to mush.

Sebastian keeps me company as I do my chores, although it's normally a pretty one-sided conversation, since he doesn't consider my rhetorical questions about what to do next as worthy of an answer.

As he gets older, he grows increasingly fond of patches of sunlight that are big enough for him to lie in, and if that patch is outside, so much the better. It being a lovely sunny day, he found a warm spot on the patio and stretched out while I hung out my 2nd load of washing on the line.

I shuffled back inside to continue tottering about with a duster in one hand and a gin can of polish in the other.

The next basket of wet clothes later, I shoved the conservatory door open and squished it all on the line somehow. Looking round, Sebastian was noticeable by his absence.

My shrivelled heart beat somewhat faster as I discovered he was also not in the house.

When I saw the open side gate, I went into full adrenaline mode; I checked his usual lairs when he has got out, but they were all quiet and empty, not even a pile of poop to show he'd been by.

The internetz gave me the Council Dog Warden, although it took me longer to find as it is listed under 'Lost & Stray Dogs', and fortunately he had already been picked up and transported 20 odd miles away to the kennels the Council use for strays. I remembered how to breathe. And then I remembered how to disconnect and unplug every single technological device Destructo Boy owns, as it was he who had left the gate open, he was in so much of a hurry to get back to 'Call of Minecraft: Zombie Doom' or whatever is his current gaming obsession.

Belo and I took an adventurous drive to the backend of nowhere to retrieve Sebastian yesterday - the ladies who run the kennels were lovely; I especially did not look at or think about all the other strays there who I'd brought treats for. At all. Not one bit. No pangs at all. Sebastian was overjoyed to see us, and told us ALL. ABOUT. IT for the whole journey home.

Do you think that looks repentant ?

No, me either.

Destructo Boy is in the doghouse with the dog, and is grounded for life.

Monday 20 October 2014

MKAL Monday 6: Movement

Halloween Tarot

Having got all my chores out of the way early and quickly yesterday, I could sit down and pay attention to Clue 6 of the SusannaIC Autumn 2014 MKAL ... each row seems to take ages because there are so many stitches ... or maybe it feels like it because I have started her Oslo Walk Shawl in the meantime, which begins with casting on over 300 stitches ....


Anyway, a leafy pattern seems to be emerging; and the more I see of this lovely Araucania Ranco Multi yarn, the more I am pleased with my choice of rainbow gold beads ....

But right now I am itching to finish Mini Diva's hat - she's been around all weekend, so there's been no chance to do the last 8 or so rounds ....

Do leave a link to your MKAL, KAL or CAL  ....