Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Knitmaster or mistress?

I have reflected on my knitting machine and decided that as I think of it as female it should be re-named Knitmistress. I wonder how come it was named Knitmaster in the first place? I am not saying that men cannot use a knitting machine just that in general it is the ladies who have the patience to coax these machines into co-operation. My day has been a little hectic today so I decided that I will give the mistress a miss today. Thanks Susan for the comment on my last post. I will indeed look at the sponge bar. (I could say is that where Sponge Bob drinks but that would just be too silly!)

I have also discovered small spots of possibly rust on some of the needles so think I should give them a little rub with a fine emery sandpaper as that also could be contributing to the problem causing them to stick a little on their journey up and down as the carriage passes by. Methinks the mistress is demanding a little TLC before she agrees to co-operate.

I went back to knitting by hand last night. Kevin's suit of armour (sorry Kevin's aran sweater) is progressing slowly. I have reached the armhole shaping and as you can see from the pattern it is a raglan sleeve so hopefully I should finish the back tonight. The eagle eyed will have noticed that the pattern is a cardigan but I am adapting it into a V neck sweater. I will have to do a bit of math for the neck shaping. The pattern book is very well loved and full of Sellotape. I would say I have had very good value from Patons paying two and six (25p) for it originally. Over the years I have made about 6 of the designs from it.

I am also making a shorty cream aran cardigan for my friend Caroline (sister of Kevin) and have so far just knitted one of the fronts . The pattern has bobbles on it but I have missed them off. Last time I made this cardigan, with bobbles, 2 of them were positioned inappropriately in the bosom area and I spent half the time when I wore it adjusting the fronts of the cardigan to move them off the spot so to speak! I didn't want to inflict this problem onto Caroline so this time have omitted the offending bobbles altogether.

I got my tax disc for the demolition derby car so I will be able to drive it from tomorrow. I haven't been able to drive it since I got it as I won't use it unless I am totally street legal. I haven't even been around the block ( well I have been around the block more times than I care to mention but the car hasn't!) so tomorrow I will be testing it out.

My niece got a call from the police in Bolton. They have got her purse. She had it stolen from her bag on Sunday whilst shopping. She had driven me up to the Knit Out in the Cafe Nero as my car wasn't legal so I feel really bad about it. I don't know any more details as yet. Whether her credit cards were still there or where they found it. She has to go and pick it up.

I would have liked to go to the Halloween Spooktacula in the local park tonight but no-one locally is going and I don't fancy going on my own. I will stay home and comfort the dog as he goes crazy when kids knock on the door trick or treating. I have bought a bag of toffee lollipops just in case the kids do call although a lot of them are wary of my big barking dog.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

My machine is a Diva

My knitting machine is having a strop. It is being a total diva and a Prima Donna. I had forgotten over the years that my machine has a personality of it's own. I can almost hear it's words.

"How dare she ignore me, shut me up in the loft wrapped in cloths and plastic for over 15yrs and then expect me to work with just a clean and a spray of WD 40. Ha! I will teach her. To add insult to injury she expects me to knit scrappy bits of donated yarn when she KNOWS I only like the very best yarn running through my needles. I will let her cast on and then bunch up all the yarn on the stitches and spit them off. If I really don't like the yarn I will stop in the middle of a row and refuse to budge. She thinks that waxing the yarn will work. Wrong. Excuse me but I want quality and until she gives in and feeds me with what I want I will continue to strop! Cat blankets indeed !. I am meant for fine delicate lace work and Rolls Royce yarn"

I have spent the morning battling with this Diva and have come to the conclusion that it just doesn't want to knit the bits up for cat and dog blankets. Now it is up and running (when it feels like it) I will probably give in and try knitting something better quality. I have some acrylic 4ply and whilst it is not of premier quality by any stretch of the imagination it feels soft and silky enough to fool the Diva! I am going to try to make a plain sweater with it to start me off on the right road again. I have put the photos up on here showing the bunched up portions. I did unravel most of the bunches but these got left.

I spent all of yesterday morning looking for my spare passport photos as apparently they are changing the bus pass system in April 2008. (Yes folks I really AM that old). It sounds a much better scheme as I will now be able to get free off peak travel on ALL local buses anywhere in England. I don't go to many places but it's nice to know that if I do then I can still use my bus pass to get about. This morning I awoke and knew exactly where I had put the photos! My short term memory is very patchy at times which is probably why I couldn't remember where they were yesterday. Now if I could just remember where that spare million pound is !!!!!!

Monday, 29 October 2007

Sad end to a really nice day

Today I managed to get to the Knit Out of the Knitting Noras. I took my bag of premature baby clothes up. Vicky has promised to get them to Lisa who in turn will take them to Ann the landlady who had requested them for Bolton Premature baby unit. My niece had kindly offered to drive me to Bolton as my car will not be taxed until Nov 1st. I had a very enjoyable afternoon crocheting away and chatting.

My niece had told me she had to be home by 3pm so I was getting a little worried when she didn't arrive at the cafe to take me home. I tried to phone and text without success. Eventually I managed to get hold of her and she said she was looking for her purse as she had lost it. When we eventually met up and discussed this she said when she got into one of the shops she thought it was funny that her bag was unzipped. I said to her that my opinion was that she hadn't lost her purse but that she had been robbed. She now has the trauma of cancelling her bank and credit cards. Whoever took the purse didn't get much money. People are very crafty as she wears her bag almost underneath her armpit, as I do, when shopping so they must be very experienced to manage to extricate her purse from it.

I feel very bad as I had asked her to take me to Bolton and so feel a little responsible for her missing purse. She is very philosophical about it all. She is more annoyed about the inconvenience of cancelling her cards as she has a dental appointment on Tuesday and has no way of getting into the bank to get some cash out. A sad sobering end to what was otherwise really good day for me.

I got the bunny slippers back again. I had given the pieces to my niece to stitch up and embroider the face on but she was unsure on how to work the edging around the slippers so gave them back to me. I have finished them off and posted a photo on here. The pattern is from the Happy Hooker Stitch n Bitch book. I crocheted one strand of Jazz and one of double knit together. The work was quite firm to work with but although it is difficult to crochet with the Jazz it makes an attractive finish for the slippers.

Kevin's aran sweater is progressing very slowly. It is working up very firmly and so is hard going on the hands. I can only work a pattern (16rows) without taking a break. It seems to be having a soporific effect on me as I keep falling asleep mid row! I hope it will get finished in time for Christmas.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Not much crochet or knitting done today

This is the reason for my lack of knitting or crocheting today. I have been setting up my Knitting machine. A Knitmaster 360 bought in the 80's. It has brought back a lot of memories whilst cleaning the dirt of many years off it. I just wish it would bring back the memories of what all the attachments are for and how to cast on! I have all the manuals tucked away somewhere so I am hoping with a little mental prodding it will all come back to me rather like riding a bike. It's a tribute to Japanese workmanship that even though it has been wrapped in cloths and bin bags and stored in the loft for the last 15 - 20yrs and was very dirty there is not one spot of rust on it. I am sure with a little WD40 or machine oil it will be up and running like clockwork soon. If only I could remember what to do!

I have decided to postpone any actual knitting on it until next week when hopefully I will fully understand what I am doing. This weekend's light reading will be the Knitmaster manuals.

I am out on Sunday afternoon to the Knit Out of the Knitting Noras in Bolton's Cafe Nero. I haven't managed to attend one for quite a long time so it will be nice to meet up with some of the ladies again. I believe this weekend we will also have one gentleman (husband of one of the members) who wants some assistance with his crochet. When I had my shop I used to have one or two men who knitted and online there are several guys in the US who crochet and knit but as yet it doesn't seem to have caught on in the UK. I don't see why it should be considered to be mainly a female craft.

I remember my father telling me that during the war there was a guy in his unit who used to sit on his bed knitting very fine intricate baby shawls. He always had a ready market for the finished articles as new fathers bought them for gifts to send home to the wife. My dad said that apart from a bit of light hearted joking no-one considered it at all strange. I had a cousin who was a biker and he used to turn out the most fabulous embroidered denim jackets. All heavy metal music influenced designs. He was in great demand at the bike club for his art work. In these days of equality women do woodwork and mechanics so why can't more men do craft?

My poor dog has still got his water infection so it was a case of flex the credit card once again today for another course of antibiotics. I will in the poor house if he doesn't recover soon. He is booked for his castration operation for Friday of next week but that is dependant on his recovery first. The vet is of the opinion that this will help as she suspects he has prostate trouble which is causing these recurrent infections.

I think I will relax tonight with a few rows of aran although I have got back the stitched up crochet bunny slippers I had made for my niece. She wants me to finish them off with a row or two of crochet so a finished photo may be on view tomorrow. She has embroidered the features so at least this pair don't look squinty eyed as my pair did.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Firm textured aran - 2nd attempt

These are a couple of photos of the still very rigid aran I am making for my friend's brother. The second attempt is working out well size wise but it is still very heavy going on my hands so I am going to limit myself to a pattern (16 rows) at a time. I think it will soften and loosen up with it's first wash. It's funny how dye can affect yarn in different ways. The cream aran (same brand) I used last was a lot softer in texture and easier to work with. This colour has a tendency to split so I often have to retrace my stitches to sort out a dropped strand. Since my right hand carpal tunnel operation last December I can't work too long on large or heavily patterned garments as it makes my hand and wrist ache. I try to alternate between knit and crochet in the course of the evening so have many projects on the go as a result.

My niece is coming around tonight to help me lift my knitting machine down from the loft. I have not used it for many years so it will be interesting to see if I can still remember how to use it and more importantly how to set it all up with it's ribber and lace carriage. Luckily I still have all the instruction books stored in my under bed storage drawers. I guess not a lot of knitting or crochet will be done this evening as I will be cleaning the machine and setting it up ready for use.

I don't have any projects in mind for my machine but I am sure it will come in useful if only for using up the smaller amounts of yarn. I was donated a lot of dark colours when I asked on Freecycle for any yarn suitable for premature baby blankets. I can always knit striped dog and cat blankets for the local rescue centre on the machine. I will just put a crochet edging on them to finish them off and so reduce the stash of odd balls I have accumulated. I was looking at the stash of oddments the other day and thinking it was getting a bit overwhelming. I would have to crochet for months to get rid of it so the machine will help with the plain projects and the animals will benefit.

Crocheted novelty pillow

I found this wonderful picture whilst browsing on Flikr. The creator's name is Mel Ancholy and she calls these SchmusenBusen (for obvious reasons I think). Just the thing for Christmas for the man who has everything? He would be happy sleeping nestled between these pert boobs. She has a web site (link printed under the photo) selling these and I am sure she has many purchasers.

I am still in the unripping mode. I started knitting an aran sweater for my friend's brother. I was making the same pattern as before using the same brand of aran so I thought hmm no need to swatch. I did think that the yarn felt a little thicker running through my fingers but pressed on regardless. After a few inches I realised that the sweater was more a fit for the incredible hulk than Kevin plus it could stand on it's own in the corner. Unravel, unravel. I must love sitting with a pile of wool around my ankles. I knit from the centre of the ball so it is impossible to stuff it back in again. I started again with a different pattern and larger needles and whilst it is still somewhat rigid I am hoping it will soften when washed. I did quite a bit of cussing whilst I was re-knitting the spaghetti mess the yarn had tangled itself into. I read somewhere an article that said any yarn that is left loose will knot itself up. To think someone had spent huge amounts of money on this survey when they could just have asked any knitter or crocheter and got that information for free.

I read in the Manchester Evening News that the council is suing the makers of B of the Bang sculpture for 2 million as it is an unsafe structure. Why anyone paid so much for a rusting spiky creation amazes me. I think they should sue whoever agreed to buy it in the first place. They could have got any college to rustle something better up in metalwork class for free. Any fool in the street could see the dangers of it right from the start so how come the members of the public who criticised it in the beginning got shot down in flames for their opinions.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Crochet and knitted hats - no laughing please!

I am on my "2007" quest for a knitted or crochet hat that doesn't look too ridiculous atop my noggin. The contenders so far are pictured above. The multi coloured one was called Kilim Cap by Sacha Kagan from the book Crocheted Hats on the Go by Vogue Knitting. I had to adapt mine by changing hooks and doing more rows as although the pattern called for Rowan 4ply mine turned out doll sized in UK 4ply. I am not a swatcher of hats, more of a knit/crochet it and see kind of girl which means I do a lot of trying on, usually a lot of laughing, and a lot of unravelling or frogging as the US blogs call it. Why frogging? What has a frog to do with unravelling or am I missing the point somewhere? I have worn it several times so far so I must deem it to be wearable.

The Jade green hat was from a free (I love the word free) pattern from for a hat called Foliage. As usual I was watching tv and glancing at the pattern and so completely overlooked that there were 2 versions of the hat on the pattern in 2 thicknesses so mine is a sort of botch of the 2 as I merrily knitted the crown as for the finer version before I realised and it looked so pretty I didn't want to unrip it so consequently I have more stitches on my chunky version than I should have. It looks OK and it feels OK but I have a feeling that if I get caught in the rain or when I wash it then it will fit me like a bucket or a fireman's helmet.

Undeterred I have started hat number 3 which will be revealed at a later date. Another free pattern in some lovely yarn I bought for next to nothing from the market stall in Bury.

I have just finished crocheting the pieces for a lemon pair of Bunny Slippers from the Happy Hooker stitch n bitch book. I made my niece a pair last year in pink. This pair will probably not be photographed in their finished form as I am giving her the pieces to stitch up and embroider eyes, nose and whiskers on this time. The pink pair finished up with rather squinty eyes and lob sided noses as embroidery is not one of my finer points.

I never made it to the Pumpkin carving on Sunday as my car broke down. I have now swopped cars with my son and finished up with something that looks rather like the loser in a demolition derby but I am assured that although it is not pretty it is reliable. Who cares if it has no wheel trims. radio or aerial and the doors only open from one side? I am kind of partial to elephant grey with dents and scratches anyway! As my father used to say you can't see what the outside looks like when you are sitting in it anyway. I might have to get a radio though as I tend to sing otherwise and scare people at traffic lights etc.

Friday, 19 October 2007

White baby blanket finished

I finished one of the two baby blankets that I had planned to add to my stash to take to the pumpkin carving on Sunday. I decided to go to Tesco tonight and get my shopping and purchase my pumpkin and my car went to the top of my street and stopped. It refused to start again so I had to phone a friend to push the car into a side street. (I am not allowed to do that because of my bad back) I didn't feel like walking up to the store in the dark so I abandoned the idea and the car. A little while later I went back to the car and the *#+$!* thing started first time. I didn't want to risk going to Tesco so I just took the offending thing home and parked it in the driveway. 2 mechanics have looked at it in the past and can't find the problem. One guy kept it at his house and drove it for a week and it never happened to him. One guess is an intermittent electrical fault.

I am now very unsure about going to the pumpkin carving on Sunday as my son is away in Scotland so would not be able to rescue me from Bolton if I should break down again. I guess the baby items will have to wait for another week or so to get to the hospital. At least I will have more time to finish the second blanket. Perhaps I will write to Santa and ask him to stop his sleigh on my drive and maybe he can deliver them for me.

The cold weather has made me realise that I need some new hats. I crocheted some from Afya Ibomu Hip Hats and Cool Caps but when I tried them on I realised that most of them don't cover my ears. I have found 2 nice knitted hats (Foliage) on so I may nip up to the market to get some chunky yarn to give these a trial. Every year I knit about 6 hats before I find one I am sort of happy with. I just don't have a hat face. I was trying on several hats one year in a large department store and one lady had a fit of the giggles. She apologised and said I hope you weren't think of buying any of those cos I am sorry I have to tell you that none of them suit you! Some people can jam a tea cosy on their heads and look super cool. I just look like Benny from Crossroads for those of you old enough to remember him. (The daft and rather gormless look)

I need to go to Tesco tomorrow and collect my lottery winnings. Don't get excited I only got 4 numbers and they are only paying out the princely sum of £39 for that privilege. I am not exactly going to go mad with that am I. By the time I have put the lottery on again and done a bit of shopping my winnings will be all gone!

Weekend is here so that means it's just me and the dog for 2 days. My son is away so I will have an explanation for his non appearance this weekend, other weeks I have to guess why he doesn't come around. I have an invite to my step great grand daughter's 2nd birthday soon so I guess I might see him then. I see my niece far more than I ever see my son. My friend Caroline came last week so that means I won't see her for another month or so. Since I retired from work with a bad back I seem to have faded from the social scene. I can't walk far and my car is unreliable so invitations rarely come my way anymore. Plus everyone I know is in a relationship and I am the solo gooseberry when I do go out anywhere. I think it makes people feel awkward. They are never quite sure that I won't make a play for their husbands which I find quite flattering in a way. The fact that they think I am capable of enticing anyone is a bit of a boost.
I got told I had exceeded my quota for uploading on Flikr so I had to delete quite a few of my older photos. I still haven't put anything more on Ravelry as I haven't had the large amount of spare time that it will take to update it. I think it is a site you can easily get sucked into and spend hours just browsing. I need the time to knit and crochet my Christmas projects and my new hats first.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Not enough crochet and too much chatter

Yesterday I had the pleasure of the company of Vicky as she was wanting to learn how to make a crochet granny square. I think we did a lot of chatting (mostly me doing the chattering) and not much tuition. Despite this she did manage to grasp how to make a square. It is such an exciting event for me to get a visitor so I do tend to gab on quite a bit.

She has some lovely kid mohair that she wants to turn into a stole but it is very fine and fluffy and I think it probably will look better in the knitting pattern that she had as a standby. Mohair is quite difficult to crochet with for the less experienced as any wrong moves result in great difficulties with unpicking and bald yarn as a result. I have resorted to scissors on many an occasion when the mohair superglues itself together as it tends to do when crocheted.

I am racing to finish 2 crochet premature baby shawls before Sunday as I want to take them to the Pumpkin carving. I have been making tiny hats as well out of scraps of yarn. They look very small to me but one site did recommend that I aimed for something the size of a tennis ball. They are quite stretchy so I hope they come in useful for the hospital.

I made a knitted top for my friend Caroline's birthday and when she wore it to work a colleague admired it and asked who knitted it. She then said she had some yarn at home as she used to knit and would donate it to me when she heard I was making things for the prem babies. I guess I will be starting knitting and crocheting for them again once this yarn arrives.

Vicky and I got to chatting about knitting machines and I have 2 languishing in my loft that I haven't used in many a year. I have all the attachments - lace carriage, ribber etc so I now have the urge to get one of them down and set it up in the spare bedroom and see if I can remember how to use it. Hopefully it is like riding a bike and it will all come back to me. I have a feeling that it will take me quite a while to clean it before I can actually use it. I am going to resist for a week or so as I have crochet and hand knit things planned for Christmas gifts which will get sidelined if I get the machine down.

My poor dog has another water infection and is on antibiotics once again. He is scheduled to be castrated next week in an attempt to stop these recurrent infections. I am not looking forward to this as he will be very fretful about being left at the vet's. He was originally a rescued dog and panics if he gets put in a cage or left anywhere strange. I wish I could spare him this but I have to think of his health as he gets older.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Victorian Crochet

Today's blog is a series of photos from a book I bought a long time ago. It may be still available. it is called Victorian Crochet by Weldon and Company. Originally published in 1895 my book was bought in 1974 and circulated by Constable and Company from London or Dover Publications in New York.

I stand in awe of the attention to detail and patience the Victorian crocheting ladies had. Some of the patterns would not be out of place in today's world. I can well imagine the chemise trimmings atop a lovely pure silk night gown. An asset to any ladies boudoir. I would also love to make the edgings for the curtain blinds. Much nicer than the ones available today. They were apparently crocheted around purchased shapes to make the size uniform and I presume weight them down for the edge of the blind.

Victorian ladies I salute you.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Scratchy crochet shawl on it's way to Ireland

I finished the scratchy shawl and washed it so it was a bit softer. I still did not like the finished shawl as I had run out of the cream and had to use some light brown to finish it off. My friend came to bleach my hair roots ( I refuse to grow old and grey gracefully I am going out as a blonde! ) and fell in love with it and said it would be perfect for her mother who lives in Ireland. So I gave it to her but forgot the photograph it first so you are spared the sight of the offending article. I have posted the picture of the pattern so you can see how nice the shawl would be made in better quality yarn. I made one in cream and one in black as gifts a few years ago. The pattern is in a Studley crochet book from the 80's.

Today I went down to the haberdashery warehouse I used to go to when I had the wool shops and surprise surprise they actually remembered me so embarrassment was spared. I had taken my niece to introduce her as she is a teacher and the school she works at could use the warehouse for a lot of their craft supplies. She was totally amazed by the Aladdin's cave of treasures that were behind the warehouse doors. She is a convert and will return with the arts and crafts teacher as the prices there were far below what they have been paying in the past so the children will benefit from more materials for the budget that school has to work with. I was very restrained and only bought a pack of white dishcloth cotton and some large yellow headed pins that will be useful when I am stitching up garments. I could have gone mad in there but I am supposed to be on a stash busting project and not a buying one!

I am trying to push on and finish off crocheting a couple more blankets for the premature baby unit so that I can take them to the Pumpkin carving next week. I really need to do more crocheting and less web and blog gazing. I still haven't done any more on my Ravelry site. I put my finished articles (apart from the scratchy shawl) on Flikr so doing Ravelry as well is just too time consuming. When I am not in a rush and can dedicate a few hours to it I will update my space on there and have a look around. I don't want to get sucked into it just now and waste even more crocheting time.
I have a whining dog to walk and then I am going to settle down to a bit of crochet. Rats - I just remembered that I have the ironing to do first. Ah well, ironing first and crochet second I suppose but then again I could hide the ironing in the cupboard and just do the crocheting instead!

Friday, 12 October 2007

Golden Oldie crochet patterns

Hands up any of you who have these patterns in your collection. Not many I bet and even fewer who actually made them and wore them. I can wave my hands in the air on both counts but I must confess it was the 60's when I made and wore them and I was considerably slimmer in those days! Fortunately there is no documented references to them in any of my archived photos so you cannot see my principal boy legs as my mother used to call them. I think it was a polite way of saying I had a quite substantial pair of pins. A legacy from my ballet dancing youth. For the doubting amongst you I can produce a photo or two of me in a tutu so be very afraid it may appear one day on my blog!

For those who don't recognise the lovelies in the patterns the lady in the shorts is Shakira Khan who married Michael Caine ( to pinch the words of Michael - not a lot of people know that) and the lovely Twiggy in her white suit who is now gracing our TV screens advertising Marks and Spencer. I bet she could still fit in that suit which is more than I could had I kept mine. For the technically minded I did line the suit and the shorts for modesty's sake. It might have been the swinging 60's but you I did have my mother to deal with. I often left the house wearing something different with the offending short outfit smuggled out in a bag to be changed into at the dance. Skirts that short did teach me how to walk, bend and sit in a ladylike way. One false move and my tonsils were on display for the world to see. I lived a large portion of my life surrounded by a halo of hairspray holding my beehive in place. We had never heard of the ozone layer in those days. Every mirror in the house was sticky with hair spray it used to drive my mother mad.

I went for my X ray today. I got a phone call at 8.45am from the hospital - can you be here by 9am. You have to be kidding - right? Rush hour traffic and the hospital half an hour away in light traffic. The car park is 10 mins walk from the hospital these days, plus the hospital is a rabbit warren of corridors. We compromised on 1pm and so I arrived crochet in my bag ready for a long wait only to be whisked in and X rayed in a blink of an eye with barely time for a starting chain. Now I have to wait for the results to find out if I am having an operation on my back - or not.

I finished the scratchy shawl and it is ready for a wash in an attempt to soften the yarn up so it can at least turn into something wearable. Not the best thing I have ever crocheted but at least it is some yarn out of the stash and into a garment even if it never gets worn. I need to crochet 2 more premature baby blankets before the 21st as Lisa from Knitting Noras has volunteered to take the outfits and blankets that I have already made to Ann who will take them to the hospital prem baby unit. I will try to fit in a couple of jackets and hats if time permits and then take a break from them until after Christmas.

Not enough hours in the day for crochet. I wonder how long it would take me to train my toes to knit and crochet? Would it be like patting your head and rubbing your tummy trying to use both feet and hands to craft with?

Time for a rum and coke. It is Friday and the sun has gone over the yard arm so it is allowed. More wiggly crochet if I have more than one glass?

Crochet shawl is finished

The crochet shawl pictured in my last post is now finished. It was a joy to crochet. UK terms. Not one mistake or typo on the pattern. 1974 was a very good year for patterns! I can remember when I had a wool shop that the pattern distributors were horrified if they ever found one mistake on a pattern and rapidly recalled and re-printed the offender. Now we pay 10 times more for a book or pattern and accept it as the norm that we have to go and find the errata pages on the net before we start to crochet or knit. Personally I think it's ridiculous. We don't pay full price for a sweater only to find half the cuff unstitched so why should we accept second rate patterns? On the subject of patterns - has anyone managed to decifer the charts on the DROPPS patterns? I have tried with 3 different patterns and given up. I call myself to be an experienced knitter/crocheter but I have met my match with their patterns. It's a good job they are free is my opinion. It's a pity because they have such nice patterns and the yarn looks nice in the photos on the net but I don't feel inclined to order it when I can't make head nor tail of the pattern charts.

I have now almost made a shawl out of a beige hanked oddment I found in my stash. The yarn is rather scratchy so I hope it will soften up when washed. It weighed the same as my finished shawl but I had no idea as to it's yardage which has turned out to be very poor so I had to introduce some brown into it. It will be useful as a shoulder warmer for the winter evenings even though it hasn't turned out as pretty as I would have hoped - it's a strangely striped triangle at the moment. I hope it looks marginally better when it's finished.

I went for my MRI scan last night and was highly relieved to find out it was with the main machine so my claustrophobia was allieviated as I could see the ceiling out of the corner of my eye whilst in the machine. The last time I was scanned it was in a van with a small scanner and I kept running the scenes from 2 episodes of CSI through my head where Nick was buried alive in a small box. Quentin Tarrantino directed those episodes so they were so good they really stuck in my mind. My brother and my cousin ( 9yrs older) took great delight when I was a small child to lock me in the fitted wardrobe or shut me in the coal cellar. They would put pillows on my face or sit on me and almost smother me. My brother denies all knowledge of this but things like that stay in a child's mind forever. I KNOW they happened! I still panic if I get stuck in a sweater or a dress. You know the feeling when it is almost over your head and it's a bit tight and you can't get your arms and head out. I have literally torn garments in my panic to get out of them. Perhaps that is why I now dress "comfy". It could be that I am too lazy to wear fitted things but I like to blame it on my fear of getting stuck. Whatever happened to dresses with back zips? I loved those. Step into them and zip them up. Plus they used to be darted for the waist and bust so they actually flattered the shape I had. If I get back into sewing (and high heels) I will try to remake the Jackie Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn classic style of dress. Fashionable they may not be but flattering they certainly are to anyone with a bit of a waistline and a reasonable pair of boobs.

I got rung this morning from the X Ray dept at 8.45am. Apparently the card I had from the specialist that I handed in last night at the scan has asked also for X Rays of my spine so could I get to the hospital before 9am ! The hospital is a good half hour drive away even after the rush hour traffic to Manchester has calmed down, and the new car park is a 10 minute walk from the hospital, so I said there was no way I could get there for another hour or so. I will try later and just have to wait it out with the fracture clinic patients. I will take my crochet and maybe two balls instead of one and prepare for a long wait.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Gym ? Sorry I would rather be crocheting

Today was supposed to be my Gym day with the BEATS exercise programme but I got up late and tired and had no motivation at all. I am sorry to any gym nuts who might be reading my blog and are addicts but I would rather do some thrilling exercise than pedalling a bike looking at a wall. I could choose the bike with the view of 4 TV screens all with different channels and the sound turned down but I keep thinking any moment a pianist will come in and play as in the silent movies. Now that could be marginally more exciting! I look around and see the concentration on the faces of the others and then realise they are mostly plugged into IPods but as an IPod isn't high on my wish list I am one of the outcasts.

My idea of exercise is something that involves fun. I used to love my belly dancing until my back forced me to give that up. Horizontal dancing would be nice if I could find the right partner. I do get offers of the sexual kind but as the guys seem to think that because I have been without a partner for a long time that I am therefore gagging for it and they are doing me an enormous favour by asking. I am old fashioned. I want a bit of romance guys, someone who will ask me out for a drive, a picnic (well when it's warmer), the theatre etc. What I don't want is the furtive offers from other women's husbands for a roll in the hay when she isn't looking! As my father used to say "You don't look at the mantlepiece when you are poking the fire". I have no illusions that it is my beauty (ha ha) that draws them to me like moths to a flame it is more the fact they perceive me as being available at any time and they think they don't even have to pay for a room as I live alone! I am not flattered by this attention. I said to one guy "Please don't insult me by asking me and he actually did look shamefaced and admitted that was all he wanted from me - no relationship - nothing - just straight sex"

There must be some women who accept this kind of attention. I used to have a friend who had lots of different guys all the time and thought like a man. She called me a prude but I don't think I am. I just value myself a lot higher than that. I did try saying yes for a while thinking these encounters would lead to dating etc but I got very disillusioned. I even tried the Internet dating and got a wide selection of other women's husbands on that offering to come around to my house on first contact. One actually said "Why put an advert on a dating site if you don't want casual sex?" Needless to say I cancelled my subscription to that shortly afterwards.

Whoa - back to the crocheting topic that I am supposed to be writing about on here. I started another shawl, different pattern, last night. This one is crocheted from the narrow part upwards. I found it in a 1974 crochet/knit magazine (60p) when crocheting patterns were written simply and had no charts and no squiggly diagrams. Most of all, Bliss oh bliss, UK CROCHET TERMS. Yeah! Plus the added bonus of the fact it is a UK pattern so therefore no Mistakes or Typos. Hands up all the crafters out there who are sick of all the mistakes in the modern patterns. I wonder who proof reads these US crochet books I pay £12 plus for? Obviously no one who crochets that's for sure. The photos show my WIP, the finished shawl, and the front cover of the magazine.

Today I am going to try my hand at a pair of crocheted fingerless mitts as I gave up completely on the pair in the Stitch n Bitch Happy Hooker book. I am sure there must be a way of making a pattern with less ambiguous rows and a better fit. I could have crocheted 2 pairs in the time it took me to read and then re- read every pattern row. My poor yarn was almost threadbare with all the frogging I did even then. Other people have crocheted them with no trouble, I think I have trouble with her style of writing crochet patterns out plus having to always convert every line to UK terminology is annoying.

Oh by the way any guys reading this I have lost touch with my nympho friend so am unable to supply a phone number for her!

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Crochet cotton from Lidl - I couldn't resist

I broke my promise to myself not buy any more yarn for a while until I had whittled down my stash. (As if that was going to last anyway - I only lasted 3 days !) I went into Lidl as they had sent me a newsletter saying they had cotton knitting/crochet yarn for £1.39p for a pack of 3 x 50 gram balls. Well a bargain loving person like me just had to go in to satisfy my curiosity. Surely it would be rubbish and I wouldn't like the colours so I would be safe just taking a quick peek. Wrong! It looks really good value and the colours are nice as well so at that price I just had to buy it. I did limit myself to just 3 colours though. The only problem was I wanted 12 balls of each colour and they only seemed to have 9 balls in each colour of the same dye. I bought 3 balls of each in the different dyes so I will have to juggle if what I decide to make takes more than 9 balls. I can always do the edgings different, They do look very slightly different in daylight so I must remember to keep the odd balls separate. The photo on here doesn't do the colours justice. They are far nicer than they seem on here. It gives a recommended needle size of 3 - 4 mm, 100 metres per 50 gram ball, so I think it's a fine double knit/thick 4ply. Tension swatching on different hooks will be a must before I decide on a suitable pattern.

I have finished off the Sweet Pea shawl from the Happy Hooker Stitch n Bitch in record time. I started it at 2pm yesterday and finished the main part before I went to bed. It has only taken 200 grams of black DK acrylic so it has turned out to be a very cheap shawl. I didn't fancy a fringe on the edge so I edged it with a 7 treble shell and double crochet pattern. I had bought 4 balls so I am starting another shawl tonight but a different pattern as I will probably give these shawls as gifts and don't want them to look alike. I like to give something handmade to go with any family and friends presents that I buy for Christmas. Last year the ladies all had chunky long ribbed scarves and matching hats.

I have spent an hour going through my patterns and books to try to choose my next project. I got a filing cabinet through Freecycle and have asked my friend to buy me hanging files for my birthday so I can organise my patterns better instead of having to keep searching through them in storage boxes as I do at the present. She was amazed at my choice of birthday present but as I said to her that she had said "Choose something that you really want" - so I did! I want to sort out knitting patterns from the crochet ones, adults from children etc. and so cut down on my searching every time I want to start something new. Crafters must know the frustration of trying to find THAT certain pattern that you know you have and you know it's in there somewhere but you just can't find it.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Ravelry - mind boggling stuff

I have just joined Ravelry and spent an hour trying to figure out how to add things to it. Flikr is easy peasy in comparison. maybe I was just tired tonight and not in a techno mood. I am quite technophobic even on a good day. I will try again tomorrow when my little ole grey cells have had a long sleep!
The main trouble I have with it is that when they ask me to choose a yarn weight they are all in US terms ,of course, so I have no idea if UK double knit is worsted, 8ply or whatever. Why does life have to be so complicated. Why can't yarn manufacturer's world wide use a number code for ball bands. They could still use the names we know but put another code on it relevant to other countries indicating a thickness. The Internet has made patterns universal so why can't yarn manufacturers realise this and adapt to this so that US can use UK patterns and visa versa without all the tension swatching and yarn thickness guesswork we knitters and crocheters go through at the moment.
I have just finished knitting a pair of fingerless mitts from a free web pattern called Fetching by I have quite small hands so used 3.75mm set and double knitting instead of the aran that was recommended. They turned out quite well but I added another cable set before I cast off at the palm as they were rather short. If I make another pair I will finish off with 4 rows of K1 P1 rib before casting off as they curl and roll down at the moment. I must confess I didn't use the picot cast off method as described on the pattern as I thought that would make the cast off even more frilly than it already is.

I started to crochet a pair of openwork fingerless mitts from Stitch n Bitch The Happy Hooker but was not happy with either the pattern or the tension of them as you can see in the photo. They are more decorative than warm which is not what I wanted so I pulled back what I had made and will knit some instead. I saw a finished pair on Flikr and they looked far closer in tension than my mitts so maybe the 4ply I tried is too thick for the pattern or maybe I am still having a problem getting crochet tension tight enough after my carpal tunnel operation. They may have turned out OK had I continued with them but I lost patience with the pattern. I don't find Stitch n Bitch a book that I can follow easily. I have been crocheting for 40 plus years and I struggle with some of the patterns in there.

I am going to start the Sweet Pea shawl tomorrow in black from the book so I hope there are no mistakes in this pattern as I am in the mood for some easy type crochet especially as I am using black yarn.

My niece came today with her newly pregnant friend but she hasn't got the nesting urge yet so could not decide on anything she wanted knitting for baby to be. There is plenty time as baby is not due until April.
I am trying to decide whether I feel energetic enough to go to the gym on Monday morning. Walking the dog, having breakfast and then going to the gym eats into all of the morning. I don't usually get back home until after 1pm and keep missing Loose Women on TV. Plus my knit and crochet time is depleted just at a time when I am trying to get a speed up for Christmas.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

More knitting than crochet

I have been doing a bit of knitting this week as a change from the crochet. Some garments I feel are more suited to knit than to crochet. I made this baby jacket from a free pattern I found on the net. It is a great pattern as by altering the needles you can use the same pattern for all sizes of baby. The only fault I found was it gave the same sleeve and body length for all sizes although I think they recommend you make one up as is written and then adapt to fit. I was only making for premature babies so I just took 1" off all the lengths and hoped for the best. I made mine in double knit using 3.25 mm needles. It did make up very simply as it is worked all in one neck down so the only seaming is underarms. The web site has the wonderful title of Wishing I was knitting by the lake!
I am in the middle of a pair of crochet fingerless mitts from Stitch n Bitch The Happy hooker but am not too happy with them at the moment. They look rather loose and open. Perhaps they will look better when I have finished and stitched them up. I think my 4ply is thicker than the yarn used in the pattern even though I have dropped 2 hook sizes to adjust for that. That is the only problem with US books. Some of the yarn does not have UK alternatives. 3ply only comes in baby yarns unless you order from specialist on line outlets. I am too impatient for that when I am only wanting a ball or two. Plus unless you are making a largish order the postage is a king's ransom.

I am back at the gym 2 mornings a week and one morning of water aerobics. Dog walking twice a day also and this has really cut into my knitting time just when I was starting Christmas presents as well. I won't be able to post a lot of my projects on here although I doubt if any of my family reads this blog so I am probably quite safe!

I finished up covered in mud yesterday after sliding half way down a slope in the Clough. There was an owner less Staffordshire Bull terrier that decided to pick a fight with Buster and when I met up with it a second time (I managed to pry it off with the aid of my walking stick the first time and make a getaway) I did a detour off path to escape it but lost my footing and went ar** over tip on wet leaves. Mud head to foot even on my face! I found out later that the same dog had gone for 3 other dogs and bitten a lady's leg. She only got the dog off her leg with the help of local school children which doesn't bear thinking about what could have happened there! She phoned the owner (number on collar) but got no answer and the local dog warden but neither seemed particularly interested. They managed to tie the dog up to a railing and went back later and but had gone. The dog warden actually said to her " Where did you say it happened I don't know that place" It's only the largest dog walking area in the district so that says a lot for our dog warden doesn't it. I have rung him myself in the past and left a message on his answerphone but he has never got back to me. The police are not interested. I got told unless a dog bites a human then they won't get involved. I am sorry but if quite a few owners report the same dog for anti social behaviour then it is only a matter of time before this dog bites a human. Surely it is better to act first in the light of recent horrific injuries to children from dogs rather than wait until it does bite a child. I know dog's will always fight but there are one or two local dogs whose owners seem to think it's OK for their dogs to just run up and attack without provocation. if it was my dog then it would be muzzled and on a lead at all times.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Crochet , more crochet and a bit of knitting

I have finished yet another wrap over crochet tie fastening premature baby jacket. This one has turned out slightly larger so it will be for a bigger baby. I am sure it will get used though as not all prem babies are really tiny. I am also knitting a matinee jacket as a change from crochet to give my hands and wrists a break. I am wary of too much repetitive work as it is only 12 months since I had my right hand carpal tunnel operated on so I try to alternate from knit to crochet in my leisure time. The photos show the work in progress and the finished article. If I am using a stitch that does not have an obviously up and down then I can make it all in one and so alleviate some of the seams that may chafe on a tiny baby's skin.

I have got my MRI scan date. October 11th at 7.20pm. It is good that it is in the evening as maybe I can get my niece to accompany me. I have a bit of a problem with claustrophobia and the MRI scan machine is rather like being threaded down the barrel of a cannon. They pipe air down the barrel but I still feel I cannot breathe whilst I am in it not to mention the horrendous knocking and banging noises that you hear even through the ear muffs they provide you with. Anyone who comes in with me has not to have any metal in their body. I had better tell my niece in case she has a belly button ring as I don't want her to be pinned to the machine by her stomach! This will be my 4th scan so I am hoping finally this time I will get some answers and maybe an operation after this one. The MRI scan machines are designed to fit people up to 19 stones. How on earth they fit in it I do not know as I feel that the sides of the tube press against me and I have to fold my hands across my chest as there is no room for my arms to be down by my side.

I watch the Trevor McDonald programme on ITV last night about people being refused surgery because they are considered to be obese when their body mass index is over 30. The hospitals are saying this isn't the case but I personally know it is as I was refused surgery 2 yrs ago because I was 13 stones. I know that is overweight but I didn't consider myself to be morbidly obese as I was described. I have a letter from the hospital giving the reasons for my delay in being operated on and in it's 4 pages my BMI of 34 is mentioned at least twice on every page! They say it isn't a cost cutting measure but I know that if I had the money to pay for an operation it would have been done 4 yrs ago. I feel as a cost cutting measure it doesn't work as I am now having to claim my pension and DLA when I would still have been at work until 65 if I had my back sorted out.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Crochet and knitted wrap overs for premature babies

I am still crocheting and knitting for the premature baby unit at the local hospital. So far I have made 4 blankets, 4 jackets, 2 hats and I have 2 more WIP crochet wrap overs almost finished. The blue crochet one pictured is one of my own designs but the pink knitted one comes from Simple Knits for Cherished Babies by Erika Knight. I used finer needles to make it smaller but I ran out of pink ( Pattern said 25 grams) so I ended with white on each front. The sleeves on the knitted one are rather short so if I make it again I will adjust when I get to that part.
I will do a few more jackets and blankets and then take a break as winter is suddenly rearing it's head and I have only got 2 pairs of warm hand knitted socks for my dog walking so I am in need of using up my 3 balls of sock yarn and making another 3 pairs asap. I have one pair on the needles but it is still at the 4" leg stage. I think I will make these next pairs with a shorter leg length anyway as I tend to roll the mid calf length ones down so no point knitting more rows than I need. I may as well stick to ankle socks with a slightly longer leg.
My knit/crochet time has diminished as I am now back at the gym on the BEATS programme a couple of mornings a week after a 6 week lay off when the doc was waiting for my X Ray results on my damaged rib cage area. I also go to water aerobics one morning as well. I will be fit and slimmer soon (wishful thinking?) as the diet alone does not seem to be working. I seem to have perfected how to stay the same weight for weeks on end but not to actually lose any more. Sigh! All these weeks of depriving myself of chocolate, cakes and biscuits has not made one pound of difference to my weight. Neither has 2 walks a day with the dog for the last 7 months. Everyone said when I got the dog " Oh the weight will come off now" Wrong ! I have changed shape and definitely feel fitter but the scales stay stubbornly at the same spot. ( I did check they aren't broken)
The gym instructor showed me 2 new exercises using a large exercise ball. Have you ever tried one? Attempts to stay ladylike failed dismally as I flayed about like a beached whale in an attempt to not only stay balanced but to do stomach crunches at the same time. No wonder it works your muscles. Sitting on it and lying back was not too bad but the lying over it was definitely dodgy. The ball wants to roll all around the gym with me on it. I now have great sympathy for those poor hamsters in those balls. It's a good job the gym ball was in a separate room as it limited damage control for the other gymnasts. The instructor did suggest I bought one for use at home. I didn't have the heart to tell him I used to have one that I used to prop my feet for months on under my PC desk until the dog decided to pop it. I did try it out once and fell off it and banged my head almost giving myself concussion thus ending my home exercise routine.
My knitting group are pumpkin carving at one member's house I think on Saturday ( I must check the date) If my dodgy car will make it past my gateposts I might try to get up there as it sounds like a fun afternoon. it says BYOP (Bring your own Pumpkin) and I presume a few cakes or buns would be a good idea as well as we can't expect her to provide snacks as well. I haven't seen any pumpkins in the shops although I must admit I wasn't exactly looking. I have a habit not seeing large displays so I could quite easily have walked past dozens of bright orange pumpkins piled high.