Wednesday, 30 January 2008

It's my baby's birthday today !

Well 39 years ago today I was there heaving and thrutching (as they say in Oldham) trying my hardest to give birth. He was, unfortunately, a breech baby and I swear he was hanging on to my ribcage saying no no I don't want to be born. These days it would have been straight down the theatre and no messing with a firstborn breech but in those days it was a case of hang on the bed head and get on with it.

Eventually he and I parted company at 2.30pm with the help of God knows what drugs, forceps, many doctors and a lot of swearing. Because of his traumatic birth I then didn't see him for 48 hrs as they rushed him off to intensive care and there was none of the care for me that the mothers have today. They just roughly embroidered my bits together with twine and a darning needle and dumped me on the mat ward and left me baby less. Two days later, after many enquires from me as to the whereabouts of my baby, I was presented with this strange unwashed bundle and told it was mine and they wondered why we didn't instantly bond! Thank God birth is a more enjoyable event these days and a family affair. I had no visitors allowed during labour and definitely no one allowed to be present at the birth. It was primitive in those days girls. Positively Dickensian in 1969. No epidurals or scans for us. No knowing what sex the baby was before birth. I wanted to breast feed but Ian was born in the days where I was considered to be a big nuisance for even wanting to try, instead of help I got given a bottle and told to give him that instead. Things have changed for the better.

In spite of all of this he turned out to be a great guy. Even with 4 months of screaming colic we did thankfully eventually bond. After a few months of baldness he turned out to have gorgeous blond curls but unfortunately he soon reverted back to the state of baldness again in his late 20's. Good job it's fashionable to have a shaven head.

Happy birthday to my son and heir (of what?) my one and only fruit of my loins. Have a good day,

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

New books, oh how I love new books

Today I went to my new seated exercise class at Bury Castle leisure centre. BEATS decided that as I didn't like the gym they would introduce me to a more light hearted approach to exercise. Today was our first class. God bless us. We were arranged seated in a semi circle and issued with a very long piece of red rubber. The results were hilarious as some of the older ladies and a gentleman in a wheelchair could not keep their rubber band trapped under their foot with the result that many twangs and near misses occurred. It was great fun. It was very easy exercise but I could tell that some of the ladies in had never exercised anything other than their jaws in a very long time! Let's wait for next week and see how many drop outs there are!

Whilst I was in Bury my lovely crochet books arrived from Amazon. I have yet to peruse them thoroughly so can't tell you if the patterns in them are great, moderate or just plain boring. I am going to soak my exercised back in the bath and drool over them in detail in just a few moments. I love the feeling of ripping open the cardboard wrapping and revealing the books beneath. My friend thinks I am completely barking mad to get so excited but only a true crafter can know that feeling of undiscovered treasure lurking in the pages of a good book. Oh to have another pair of hands. My eyes are definitely bigger than my fingers. I have a list a mile long of would be projects.

My hats are progressing slowly. I have got 3 out of 4 parts knitted for the two hats but nothing stitched up or embroidered as yet. I have been out for most of the day so will have to knuckle down after my bath and dinner if I can just get my eyes out of these books long enough to pick up the needles. My crochet finger is itching to put down the knitting but I have to finish off first. One of my New Year;s resolutions was not to have too much on the go at once as I get so sidetracked I forget where I am up to with patterns and finish up unravelling a lot of the time. That is wasted energies so no more. I will only have 3 projects on the hook and needle at once!

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Knit Out Day in Bolton

I managed to get to the monthly knit out of the Knitty Noras today. Anyone passing by the Cafe Nero in Bolton might have wondered who were all these women knitting (in my case crocheting) in public. It was a good turn out today and as I hadn't managed to get to the last couple of meetings I enjoyed it a lot. We get a chance to chin wag with fellow crafters. Swop ideas and look at who is knitting what and with what wool etc. We take new books and magazines that we have bought so we can have a good look at what is on offer. My latest 3 crochet books hadn't arrived so they will be for the next Knit Out. I did take my 2 latest books and the sock book I got for my birthday.

At the Knit Out I worked on a crochet beanie hat and slim scarf for my niece Kath to match the crochet cardigan I had made her for Christmas but I forgot to take a photo of it before I gave it to my other niece to pass on to her. I was quite pleased with the way it turned out and will probably make another one for myself sometime. The scarf was loosely based on one from the Happy Hooker book and the beanie was made using the stitch from another hat with my own version of crown shaping. The photo today is from the Sunday Mirror magazine. If you look closely you will see a few knitteds on the Ski fashion theme. The hat is from Malboro Classic and is priced at £45! Wow - can I knit for them at that price please, please, please. I am trying to decide if it is double thickness like my hats are. If it is then mine are far thicker and warmer than theirs. I wore mine to walk the dog and had to take it off half way around as my head got too hot.

My niece bought me a Neoprene wrist support from Boots chemist and I am going to try it out tonight. My wrist has been aching a lot whilst I am knitting in the round. I think it's arthritis rather than my carpal tunnel operation site. I am hoping to finish off the second piece of one of the doubled hats tonight. I didn't do much knitting last night because of the wrist ache. The embroidery bit is the worse bit for me. I am not much good at wielding a needle these days. In my youth one of my aunts taught me to embroider tablecloths and I still have a couple that I made when aged around 8yrs. Unfortunately for me my aunt who was a brilliant tailoress would not teach me to sew like her as she didn't want me going into the garment slave trade as she described it. Here I am 50yrs later trying to get into the knitting/crochet slave trade! Full circle. She never thought she got paid a fair wage for her sewing and I still think the same applies today. Anything hand made has to be priced per garment and not per hour so it is never a basic wage no matter how prolific the crafter is.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Fitted Knits

My second book came today. My niece had ordered me a second book as a present for knitting the black sweater for her. I had no idea which book was arriving so greeted the postman with great excitement this morning. I doubt if he was equally as excited to see me in my shapeless pj's with my bed head hair holding back a snarling dog ( he really hates my postman). Well it was after 9am and I wasn't dressed so you can't blame him!

Anyway back to the book. It was the Fitted Knits book by Stephanie Japel

and I am really looking forward to making some of the items in it. I have never worked a top down raglan sweater before. I have made a couple of chunky boleros from a free pattern from the net

that are worked top down but never made anything finer that method. I haven't worn the boleros since I made them as I didn't think they flattered my ample bosom as the photo shows plus the short sleeves are too cold in this weather. Quite why I made the second one I don't know. Perhaps I was hoping a change of stitch would improve it.

I am looking forward to stopping looking like a fat bag lady in my knitted sweaters as being a somewhat busty lady by the time I have the fit right at the bust I could fit another person (OK a very slim other person) in around the waist. I think that is one reason why I rarely wear a hand knitted cardigan or sweater even though I have a wardrobe full of them. I am really impressed with the Fitted Knits book and am trying hard to finish off my ordered hats to start something from one of my 2 new books. I have also ordered 3 more crochet books today from Amazon as I had a £10 voucher burning a hole in my pocket since before Christmas. The trouble is that I not only spent the £10 voucher I spent another £22 as well, So much for my economising this month! I do LOVE my books though and hopefully I can make good use of them in the months to come.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

What a difference a day makes

Yesterday I was depressed, moody at the end of my tether. The house was untidy and I didn't care. I got up late and I didn't care. The ironing wasn't done and I didn't care. Today I got up and the SUN was shining. No warmth in it of course but that didn't matter it was there up in the sky bright and yellow and shining. I felt alive once again. Ready to conquer the world (well the hoovering anyway) The downside was the sun showed up my dirty windows. Ah well there is always a snag to anything good.

Today I went to water aerobics and our group had arranged for this little bluff. I would pretend it was my retirement party in February and issue invitations. We told everyone on the quiet (or thought we had!) that it was really the instructor's mother who is also in our class and is 60 in February. I pretended to give out the invites with instructions to open them later. Her daughter had even printed up different ones for her mother and aunt so that they too would get an invite. Then one dozy old bat opened hers and said in a loud voice who is this on here. Of course the person whose surprise it was supposed to be said "Hey that's me why I am I on your invite" Her daughter was so upset and annoyed. She had gone to all the trouble to try to keep it all a secret and this dozy bat let the cat out of the bag so it's all been spoiled now. I said to her did you not hear what we said "Don't open it until later?" She said Oh I thought you said there was a voucher in there. How can you make what we said into that. I think she needs her ears testing and a check for senility!

The photos of Kath's sweater didn't come out all that well as it was an extremely dull day when I took them. Hard to photograph black in the gloom. I should have re-done them today when the sun was shining but I have been out most of the day. I was right about the raglan shaping. I tried my hardest to match the ribbing up but am not really satisfied with the way it has turned out. It's no-where near as neat as I would have liked it to be, seems a little lumpy in parts. Next time I will work decreases within a plain stitch at the raglan edge to make it neater and easier to stitch together.

I have knitted one side and half of the other side of an adult sized version of the doubled sided ear flap hat that I made for the babies. Hopefully I will finish it off tonight although I am pretty rubbish at embroidery and she wants it putting on the hat. Thankfully the other hat is for a male and he doesn't want embroidery on his.

I found out today that my niece ordered 2 books for me and that one was out of stock and will arrive later so I am looking forward to seeing what the post will bring for me. I thought I was only getting the one that I got a couple of days ago so it's a nice surprise. My wish list on Amazon has both knit and crochet books on it and a couple of sock books so it will be a surprise to see what arrives. I also have a voucher for £10 to spend with them but will wait until the other book arrives to spend it. I don't want to duplicate a book. I love craft books. I take them to bed and have a good read as when they first arrive I tend to just look at the photos and ohh and ahh but never actually read the "how to" instructions. I like to browse the patterns through before I buy yarn and then find there is an instruction I am not familiar with or it's on circular needles which I cannot get to grips with due to my inability to knit without one needle firmly secured under my armpit. My sets of 5 needles are sock sized so would be useless for a garment.

The sun must have shone on my washer as well. I decided to try it out with a load today and thought that if it didn't spin the wet out at least I could peg it out for a drip on the line. The washer behaved perfectly and the washing was clean and spun. All I can think of is that my washer doesn't like being told to perform part of a task ( I just asked it to spin a hand washed sweater) and will only work a full cycle. Either way I am relieved it is working as I really didn't relish another expense when I have 2 birthday presents to buy before the end of the month.

It's corned beef hash with dumplings and red cabbage tonight for dinner. I haven't made that for such a long time and so am really looking forward to it, I find it so hard to diet when the weather is cold. I can't seem to drum up any enthusiasm for a salad until the weather gets a bit warmer.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

My reversible hat - one side knitted one side crocheted

I finished off my reversible hat. I knitted one side with a fair isle pattern but decided to practise my tapestry crochet skills for the second side. I had made a waistcoat in tapestry crochet many years ago and seen many things on Flikr using the technique so decided it was time to see if I remembered what to do. Success. It is a little tricky to remember to cover the thread of the carried colour so I think it was a good idea to practise using thick wool. I think I must have a small head though as it sits on my head rather like a centurion helmet if I was flattering my work or an upturned bucket if I am being honest. Every time I make a hat it finishes up falling over my eyes. Perhaps I should try making a large child's sized hat next time. Obviously I don't have a lot of grey matter in there to make it an adult size head.

Yesterday was Blue Monday according to the TV. Officially was is the day when people were most likely to feel depressed. I thought it was Blue Everyday when it's raining, dark and miserable or is that just me. I cannot get my act together these days. I am awake half the night as I can't get to sleep and then I don't wake up until 9 - 10am. I had just nodded off when the lass who lives across the road started scraping the ice off her windscreen. Where was she going at 4am? Strange time to start work. My poor dog's routine has all gone to pot and he is very unhappy about it all. He hasn't had his daily 2 walks for over a week. Last week it was hospital appointments that messed up our routine. This week it's me. Please, please can the sun shine soon. Please let me wake up to the sun on my face. It's all so depressing. How many more weeks is it until Spring?

My washer has decided to have a funny turn. Whatever will go wrong next? I rinsed Kath's finished rib sweater through to try to rid it of the clinging dog hair and put it into the washer for a spin. When it came out it was just as sopping wet as it had gone in so I put it in again thinking I had turned it to the wrong setting. The washer drum is going around slowly but never changes gear to go into the spin cycle. It's only a couple of years old so I hope it's nothing major. I bought a Bosch thinking it would last me for a while but apparently I am the kiss of death to anything mechanical or electrical. I am sure I took out extended warranty on it but I can't remember where I put the paperwork and bill to check. I put things safely away and then can't find them.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Fun hat

A photo of the fun hat in case the link didn't work $600 in case you are interested! She describes it as a rag doll hat.

New crochet book arrived today

I have almost finished the black K2 P2 ribbed polo neck sweater. Just got 10 rows on the neck and then I am done. It's all stitched up as well. All I need now is to rinse it through and try to de- dog hair it. The first photo will explain to you to the problems I have on a daily basis. That lump of hair is just from one brushing. No wonder it is all over anything I make. If I had a spinning wheel I am sure that by the end of the year I would have a bag of the year I would have enough to spin something. Instead I just throw it in the bin.

My reward for knitting the sweater for my niece was a lovely crochet book called Sensual Crochet by Amy Swenson (I have posted a couple of photos). I had put quite a few books on my wish list for Amazon and so just asked her to choose something and this arrived this morning. They are very prompt at Amazon as I am sure it was only ordered on Friday.
My hook is itching to start something but I have my orders to fulfil first.

My son came today and brought a new car battery for me. Just when I thought I was economising this month. These things can never been for seen unfortunately. I had sent a link as a joke to him of a fun hat I saw on Etsy and guess what - my daughter in law loved it. I think I know the principle of how she made it so I will have my own version shortly if I can find all the jazzy colours.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Hat Orders

My son called around on Thursday and picked up the hats for the babies. A little while later I got a phone call. Could I make two of the doubled Peruvian styled helmets but adult sized. One in the same colour way plus embroidery and the other in a man's colour on one side but wacky on the other. I started one side of the man's hat last night and decided to make it fair isle patterned. However on looking at it in daylight I decided it was a little too feminine looking and also that I rather liked it as well. I will put it on one side for now and finish it off at a later date for myself.

I went up to Bury market to get some more of the gorgeous chunky wool I had used for one side of the babies helmets and found out unfortunately it had been a job lot and they had no more. I really liked that colour as well and would have liked a hat myself. I think I have enough to make the ordered helmet but bought some more balls in 3 different colourways as I know they won't have any left next time I go to Bury. I did wonder why it was such a great bargain. I just hope they get something equally as nice in case I get more orders. I am not sure if any of the colours could be classed as wacky (as ordered) so am toying with the idea of brightly coloured stripes for one side. I just can't pay a lot for the wool as people are not prepared to pay too much for hats even though it is 2 hats in one as it is completely reversible. You could never get paid per hour for knitting. it truly is a labour of love.

I am on the second sleeve of Kath's ribbed black sweater. My only fear is that the raglans won't match up rib wise when I come to stitch it together. Had I thought about this beforehand I could have changed the decreases and put them inside a K2 border so they would have matched up better. This would make a noticeable raglan but better than if the ribs won't match up as that will drive me mad. I tried to magnify the pattern to see if they had managed to match the ribs but I couldn't see. Wish me luck when I stitch. I may knit the polo on 5 needles and so eliminate the seaming as I think it looks so ugly when a neckband is not stitched very neatly.

Tomorrow I am picking up the knitted squares and yarn I am getting from Freecycle so that will be more stitching for me to do. Not my favourite part. I will knit and crochet but feel that sometimes my stitching up leaves a lot to be desired.

I hope that the weather will improve soon. I am getting really fed up of wet muddy dog walks. Roll on Spring! Let's see a bit of sunshine to cheer us all up.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

The ducts are still too small

Today's hospital trip didn't fare much better than yesterday. I had a lovely doctor with a wonderful bedside manner and loads of patience. I had a trip up and down on a scan type machine, some yukky lemon drink to increase the production of saliva (it didn't) but still to no avail. After a half hour of massaging under my chin and trying with the thinnest cannula my saliva duct would not open for him. He even tried the one on the other side and no dice there either.

I finished up with an ultra sound examination which although is not the best way to show what the lump is it was the best anyone could do today. The injected dye would have shown up exactly what the problem was. The doctor said he thought that either the saliva duct was completely blocked or it had never been open in the first place. he struggled to find any trace of it on the scan. The ultra sound showed a large swelling on the right duct and a small one on the left but no sign of a stone and he said it didn't appear to be anything nasty but it was definitely swollen and puffy. He said the specialist would be the one to analyse the results properly. I have an appointment on the 31st so lets hope he can deduce something from the scan results. I am not relishing the idea of needing anything surgical but I am a little concerned about the lump especially if there is no exit route for any inflammation.

Same model - new photos

I think I am in love. With my new camera! I have never taken a camera out with me on a walk before so these are just a few taken on this morning's walk. I obviously have a long way to go before I will ever be a David Bailey! Notice whose little face always manages to get in the shot if he can. If you look at the first photo you can just see him peeping out on the left hand side.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Learning Curve, small ducts and marital bliss

I had a visit from my dear friend Vicky today and was overjoyed to receive a present of a camera. I am coming to grips with it. It is far far easier than my other camera but I am still learning which button does which thing. I never was much good at technology. I think I have cracked it now although once I had uploaded the photos to the pc I found they were too big to use on e mails etc. A quick phone call to my son (he was in a good mood thankfully) and a "how to" walk through and the problem was solved. I had never used Windows Photo Gallery before as my old pc used a different programme to edit and change images. Buster was my model but he was very reluctant and kept turning his head away, refused to smile for the birdie. This photo is the best one I managed to take.

I went to the hospital today for my saliva duct X ray and even though I had rung yesterday to explain the problem that they had with me last time, the technician could not find my saliva duct to put the cannula in so they could inject the dye. I did warn her yesterday that they would need the size of cannula they use on premature babies. I now have to go back tomorrow when the specialist is available and he will try with the aid of a camera to find the duct. My duct is pretty sore with the poking and prodding it has had today and we won't even mention the horrible lemon mouthwash they used 3 times! Well at least I know that one thing on my body is tiny even if it is only my saliva ducts. A bonus for a fat lass! Having something smaller than normal!

No knitting or crochet done today so far but I did manage to knit the front of Kath's ribbed sweater past the raglan armhole shaping last night so hopefully it will be finished tonight.

Lots of people I know are experiencing marital or relationship difficulties lately. Every time a friend phones me it's with some domestic problem or another. Maybe it's the time of year who knows. Lack of money after Christmas causes a lot of strain. They do say January is the number one month for starting a divorce. Perhaps it's just as well that my Mr Right is still in hiding somewhere. I was chatting to Vicky today and saying that my choice of men has never been good and I always seem to pick the takers in life, so it's probably all for the good that he remains elusive. I can honestly say that I have never had one boyfriend (or my husband) who treated me well. Sad admission to make at the age of 62. Friend's say I try to hard to please and they end up walking all over me. I just think I treat them in the way I would like to get treated (but never do)

I hold my parent's marriage up as a yardstick. Maybe they weren't really always as happy as they appeared but if that was the case they hid it very well. They eloped because they married across religion, a thing Catholics frowned on in the 1930's, and my parental grandparents never spoke to them for 2 yrs because my father did not marry in a Catholic Church but they melted when my brother was born. My mother just seemed to crumple and lose interest after my father's death and followed him within a couple of years. She missed him so much. I used to get phone calls when she used to cry and say how can I live without him, I miss him so much. Hard phone calls for me also as I was a daddy's girl and I missed him and still miss him so much even after all this time has passed. They not only were married to each other for almost 60yrs they worked together every day for about 30 yrs in the wool shop.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

My PC is working normally again

The lads who live across the road from me came across this morning to see if they could solve my PC problems and lo and behold they did. It turns out that it was the Yahoo Toolbar that was the thing causing all of my problems. They un-installed everything on my PC one by one and re-installed them one by one. From that it was found to be the Yahoo Toolbar and once that was un-installed the PC was up and running OK again. I sort of knew it was nothing major but just didn't know where to start solving the puzzle. My Norton Anti Virus is back on again, up and running with no problems so all is well in my world.

I finished off Emily's hat in record time. It is barely smaller than Kacey's but seemed to knit up far faster even though there was only an 8 stitch width and half inch length difference. One photo shows both hats and the other shows the 5 of the 7 hats I have made since Christmas

I was yearning for a bit of crochet. I have knitted far too many things lately one after the other and as a crocheter at heart I was having withdrawal symptoms. I started a multi coloured hat for one of the babies but was unhappy with my colour choices so ripped that back. I have started another crochet jacket with the brown flecked super chunky from Lidl left over from my niece's Christmas present jacket. My friend Caroline is super slim but I think this time I will have to make the jacket without the big collar as I have slightly less wool this time. The collar, as per pattern, is rather huge and I doubt if anyone could put a coat over it anyway. Caroline would never fit her slim jacket over it if she wanted to wear it for work. Caroline is useful for using up stash where the colour is wrong for the babies but not enough wool for my size. 200 grams makes her a short sleeved crochet top or bolero. She never showed much interest in my work, thought knit and crochet was old fashioned, until I made her a few jackets and tops. Now she is a convert always hinting about what she would like next.

I am off to walk the dog now. He has recovered from his sickness. He suffers from colitis and although I monitor his food (he is allergic to anything containing beef) my son said this happens from time to time. Maybe some beef slips into a tin or maybe fungus from a stick in the wood Ian said it is just something that happens to him every now and again and not to worry.

I am so relieved that my PC troubles have been sorted, I can start to get used to this machine now. I was so scared of making things worse that I haven't really been using it since I got it.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

These may or may not work

As anyone who knows me is aware that I am having PC problems and now cannot get into any of my stored files.
I promised web pages with similar hats to the Upside Down daisy hat so here is hoping that these links work as I have no way of checking if they do!

They do! I can open them in here! I just wish I could open them via the normal route. My son is away on a motorbike rally this weekend so no hope of any help there, and my friendly neighbour knowledgeable PC guy seems to have not been home since Christmas ( I don't think it was anything I said as he did mention selling the house last time we spoke)

We must all be hip knit artists

This article appeared in the Manchester Evening News last night about Karl-Christian Gelett who is described as a knitting artist whose knitteds are created from vast balls of wire wool. (What is he knitting on the photo? A giant wire wool blanket?) It says the show is stirring nostaligic memories of childhood. (Excuse me but there are an army of us still doing it!) It says the show's heart is learning, family and traditions passed down through the generations. Ret og Vrang (which translates as knit and purl) is at Stockport Art Gallery, Wellington Road South from Saturday (today?) until February 16th, and Wider Picture on February 9th Anyone wanting to know more about dates and opening times is to phone 0161 474 4453 or look online at
It appears to be a free exhibition run by the Textile Art Group and says it also has a set of striking sculptures created with unusual knitted materials. The article does say knitting is currently one of the hippest ways to spend downtime and that Julia Roberts, Uma Therman, Madonna, Cameron Diaz, David Arquette and even Kate Moss are all at it. Hey didn't know I was a hippy once again!
I think I will stick to my garment knitting. I think soft double knit is more my taste than giant balls of wire wool but I thought I would pass on the info in case anyone was interested in taking a look at the exhibition.

Friday, 11 January 2008

My poorly dog

I think Buster has picked up a tummy bug. Either that or he has eaten something that hasn't agreed with him. The first signs were very early this morning when he wanted to go out. As it was cold and dark I didn't linger around to see what was happening out there in the garden so didn't think too much about it. We went for our usual morning walk but he was extremely grumpy snapping and growling at two of his best doggie friends. He came back and refused his breakfast. When we went out for his second walk he had the trots (as my son calls them) all around the woodland but still managed to chase his stick. When we came back however he was sick everywhere - yes you guessed it all over my newly cleaned carpet but luckily I still have the Vax so it was easily cleaned up again. He is now curled up in a ball whinging and feeling very sorry for himself. Let's hope he feels better in the morning.

I have finished Kacey's Upside Down Daisy hat from the Itty Bitty Hat Book by Susan B Anderson. I still have Emily's to start tonight. I made it in lilac at the request of my daughter in law as their new coats are lilac. I have found some similar free patterns from the net if anyone likes the hat as the book only really caters for babies up to the age of about 3 yrs. I will try to post the links another day when my Internet Explorer decides it will open my saved web pages. I have taken off the Norton Anti Virus but it still will not open so I was wrongly blaming that and now I don't know what to try next.

The other photo is of the finished back of Kath's sweater. It looks very long and narrow but that is because it is K2 P2 rib and so it very stretchy. I have knitted about 5" on the front now but am finding it a bit tedious all that ribbing, especially in black wool, and as most of my knitting is done in artificial light so hard not to get a stitch wrong here and there.

I watched a programme last night about the additives in ready prepared meals. Like any older person living alone I do sometimes use convenience microwaveable food especially on a bad back pain day but I will be more reluctant to use them after seeing how much fat, salt and sugar are in some of the meals. It's hard to know what is safe to eat. Reading food labels is very confusing and even when I think I am OK sticking to making my own meals I often wonder just what is in the meat, chicken and fish and what additives have been sprayed on my fruit and veg. I know the answer is to buy organic but it is so expensive for anyone on a budget. My friend Vicky has told me of the Farmer's Market in Ramsbottom and so I am hoping to get there this Sunday and hopefully buy some fresh food a little cheaper.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Kaffe Fassett Book

Thursday eve

A very dear friend of mine called today (a truly gorgeous man and if his wife ever doesn't want him I will be in there like a shot drooling!) and brought me a book he had seen in a second hand shop and thought of me. It is originally from 1985 but still very wearable designs. The sweater is great but I think I would have to take the top of the cardigan sleeves off and knit them fitted although I have seen in fashion magazines that those leg o mutton sleeves are back in. The coat is just so gorgeous but such a lot of work and unfortunately wouldn't really fit in with my life style of dog walking and trips to Tesco. I saw Kaffe at a trade show many years ago but unfortunately didn't get the chance to speak to him. His designs are like painting with wool. The book is filled with wonderfully colourful designs under the headings of Diamonds, Stripes, Zigzags, Stars, Circles and Flowers.
It brings back memories of the picture sweaters I knitted many years ago. My son used to walk around with Goofy, Donald Duck etc emblazoned on his chest. ( he was in his late teens but as he was 6' tall and over 18 stones no one dared to smirk at his jumpers) I still have a lemon sweater of his with Pluto on it (although it is rather felted with age) that I have been known to still wear. I still have a large collection of children's knitting patterns with cartoon figures on the front plus a book where they are all teddy bear fronted sweaters (with wobbling eyes) in various disguises such as ballerinas and gymnasts.
I managed to rise from my bed at a reasonable hour today and go to water aerobics. I feel much better for it. Not so lethargic, but that could be partly from my raging hormones when my friend called (down girl, put your tongue away and stop drooling!) I called in Dunelm after the Leisure Centre and bought a plastic 4 drawer unit that was on Sale to put some of my craft (messy) corner projects in to make some attempt to stay tidy. Trust me to have fly away shower hair, casual gym sweats, wool and patterns scattered around when the first gorgeous man to cross my threshold in a long time comes to visit. Life is so unfair. Being a well trained married man he said I looked just as beautiful as ever. Sigh- so untrue but what a lovely man. My ex husband was never that tactful. He would have said - you look scruffy go and do something with your hair and change. Probably one of the reasons he is a ex husband.
Not much knitting done today. I am now on the front of Kath's black ribbed sweater and have almost finished the main part of Kacey's Upside Down Daisy hat. I need to knit the stalk and make 6 petals so maybe tomorrow it will get finished. I always make the bigger girl's first so the second one knits up faster.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Memories of my wool shop

Yesterday I mentioned my wool shop and so today I share the few photos I have left of the last shop I had. The first two show approx one tenth of the size of the huge unit I had on a modern precinct in Royton. The last one shows my dearly loved late father along with my niece Victoria (wearing a crochet cardigan I made for her) in the smaller wool shop, still in Royton, that we re-located to about 5 yrs before it's eventual closure.
I am the one on the right in the first photo and on the left in the second.
Unfortunately 2 of my staff pictured in the photos are sadly no longer with us. My cousin (in glasses on the left of the top photo) died from lung cancer after many years of being a heavy smoker and Ann (wearing black and red) died very young at 32yrs old from breast cancer.
As you can see from the photos we were all avid knitters and are modelling our knitteds both personally and the sample garments for sale in the last photo.
I wish I could find a shop one tenth as well stocked as mine used to be. Those were the days. I doubt if anyone could fund a stock that size these days. Ours was built up over 40yrs of dedication to the craft. Sirdar, Hayfield, Patons, Phildar, Twilleys and Studley were amongst the names we used to stock. Our monthly invoices for Sirdar and Hayfield used to regularly be over a thousand pounds each and that was over 15 yrs ago when wool was a lot cheaper than it is today.
Yesterday I borrowed a Vax from my friend to give my carpets the once over. I had always thought I had a fairly good hoover and try my hardest to win the constant daily battle with dog hair on the carpets. I have only cleaned the bedroom carpets so far and I was shamed when I saw not only the colour of the dirty water but the amount of pet hair that came out of the carpet. The dog (and my late cat) had limited access to those rooms so I was amazed that so much could be hidden in the carpets. I could have spun and knitted a mitt with it. I am dreading what the living and dining room carpets reveal later today as the dog has free rein through those rooms. Kim and Aggie would be tut tutting at mine for sure! I am not the queen of clean, as I think a house should be lived in, but I always thought of myself as being untidy but basically clean. Oh the shame of it all! Maybe I should think of investing in a Vax and cleaning the carpets more often.
I am just off to walk the dog again before I clean the carpets. I wish the builder would come and put a new roof and garage doors on my garage and then I can come back from muddy walks via the garage and so be able to clean paws in the garage or kitchen before Buster rushes into the house on wet days. The garage doors are rotten and so if I attempt to open them at the moment they fall off the hinges. I missed my slot with the builder as my son had a jeep in the garage that he could not work around and so now I have to wait until it is my turn again. Unfortunately he has taken a couple of big jobs so I don't know when he will arrive now. Probably in the summer when all the bad weather has gone! I am not a lover of laminated floors but I can see the advantage with a dog. Buster has found my stress ball that I was given whilst at work and refuses to be parted from it. He sleeps with it clenched in his jaw. He must like the squashy feel of it. I just hope I don't feel stressed and have the need of it.
I am still sleeping late. Today I had my breakfast whilst watching Loose Women after our walk. I had heard the alarm at 7.30am and Buster looked at me when it rang and went back to sleep and I thought "Good Idea" and did as well. I must stop losing half the day like this. It is making me very lethargic all this sleeping. I usually make do with 4 - 6 hrs and am full of life. Sleeping for 8 hrs+ is having a bad effect on me! I just wish the days would brighten up. Roll on summer.
Well off for a walk and then to Vax (and get horrified) the carpets.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Where has my routine gone to?

Since Christmas my daily routine has all gone to pot. I am getting up later and my breakfast is becoming my lunch. I wake up at the usual time but then turn over and stay in bed for another hour. I blame the dark, wetness of the days. In the summer I want to get up and out and seem to have loads of energy. In the winter I just want to curl up and snuggle under the duvet. Consequently my morning dog walk has got later and later and so has my breakfast and so therefore my painkiller pills are irregularly spaced. This has caused more pain with my back and so I want to lie down again and so it goes on. I always say "tomorrow will be different" but I suspect that until the sun starts to shine I will stay a sloth.
Perhaps I suffer from S.A.D. I noticed the other day someone on Freecycle was asking for a light box for S.A.D. My mother once toyed with buying one as she was far worse than I am. She practically hibernated every winter. I often wonder how much worse I would be if I didn't have the dog. I have to force myself to go out and walk him twice a day. When I was working I was forced to get up early but even then I didn't start to get any energy until after lunch.
I have just been offered a lawn mower and am off to pick that up this afternoon, if the car starts. I think I need a new battery (The car as well as me!). That's the trouble with old bangers there is always something they need. I have a lawn mower that someone else kindly gave me a couple of years ago but it tends to chew the grass rather than cut it.
Right I am off to watch Loose Women on the TV and do a bit more of the K2 P2 rib on Kath's jumper. I have reached the decreases for the raglan on the back now.

Monday, 7 January 2008

PC problems are driving me mad

Since I had this new PC I have had lots of problems opening Internet Browser mostly starting from when I installed Norton Anti Virus. I have just read in horror today the readers comments on Amazon about the Norton 2007 and they have experienced the similar difficulties to me after they installed the product. Looks like I am going to get it taken off and buy something else or carry on struggling on a daily basis to get into my e mails and programmes. Once I manage to get Internet browser to open by some means I dare not shut it down again or the fiasco begins again. So annoying.

I started Kacey's Upside Down Daisy hat but decided to start Kath's ribbed sweater as well. I don't think I can stick K2 P2 rib night after night so I need to have 2 projects on the go. The penalties if having a light coloured moulting dog and black wool can clearly be seen on one of the photos. I have my lint roller permanently at my side but still his hairs get everywhere.

The pattern I am using brought back memories, It is from the late 60's or early 70's. If you can read the rubber stamp on the pattern it shows J & L Buckley, 311 Moston Lane Manchester. That was the shop bought for me by my parents and we ran it (along with 2 others) until we downsized to one shop on my parents retirement and I wrongly chose to keep the newer shop in Royton. Even though we downsized that shop from a huge rental unit in a large precinct to our own smaller premises on the main road it turned out to be the one shop that made the least profit and so eventually had to be sold. Sad days! Knitting had gone into a slump and as I was going through a divorce and had to support myself and buy my ex out of the house so I needed a steady reliable income to enable me to get a mortgage.

Whenever I am trying to find wool and needles nowadays I feel so sad that shops like mine were forced to close. If only I had know more about the Internet in those days I could have set up my own shop online but 15yrs ago I didn't own a PC and knew nothing about them. I doubt if E Bay was in existence in those days anyway. Not that I know much more these days about PC's but I could have given it a try. The wool shop in Bury is closing down so that will be another one gone. I know I can buy online but I am a hands on kind of buyer. I like to feel the yarn through my fingers and see the colours up close.

I must try to get to Fibre and Clay one day and also find out if the wool shop in Shaw - The Yarn Barn - is still open. It was run by Susan a friend of mine when I had the shop in Royton but I haven't been in that area for several years and as she is a similar age to me perhaps she has retired and closed the shop by now. Hmm a look through Yellow Pages and a phone call perhaps. I remember she didn't stock any crochet patterns though as she never learned to crochet and so felt she couldn't offer any advice to anyone who got stuck on a pattern.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Whew - Chris's hat is finished at last

I have finally finished the doubled hat meant for Chris for Christmas. I have never taken so long to finish a hat. It is completely reversible, fits great and is wonderfully warm but it would take a lot more than a few double rum and cokes for me to ever attempt another one. It wasn't hard to make it was, for me, just very slow. If anyone wants to make one this is where I got the free pattern from

Most of my problems stem from the fact that I knit so slow on 5 needles anyway and having to knit 2 rows for every one (If you read the pattern you will understand) and watching tv tends to let my mind stray and I kept finding odd stitches of the wrong colour on the wrong side and so I was doing a lot of un-picking stitch by stitch. I turned the bottom up slightly on one photo so that the darker underside can be seen.

My niece came today with some black Double Knit intended for Kath's ribbed jumper but I think I will make the babies replacement Upside Down Daisy Hats first as with all this cold weather I think they need warm hats.

I am now looking forward to starting the daisy hats even though they are on 5 needles. They are small and plain and I can watch tv and knit away. I need a little brain rest before I start another large project.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Reversible Hats for the babies

Thursday evening

I finished off the second hat tonight. The pattern in Itty Bitty Hat book by Susan. B Anderson called for the hat to be lined with fabric but I thought that I would make the hat reversible by knitting two hats and joining them together so that they can wear them either colour way. For the photos I turned the hats to different sides as you can see by looking at the photo with the folded back ear flaps where the other colour shows through. I am not that good at embroidery so don't look at my dog eared lazy daisies and my dodgy snowflakes too closely! I didn't make the hats with a pointed top or put on a pom pom on as that would have stopped me turning them into reversible hats.

My friend Caroline came around today so I almost started on one of my New Year's resolutions to file my patterns but she decided that my dark roots were showing so it turned into a girly afternoon with the blonde hair dye. We did put the Christmas decorations back into the loft so it was a good afternoon despite no filing. My resolution to lose weight hasn't started yet as we called into the chippy on the way to her house and of course I thought Hmm good idea I had nothing really planned for my tea either so it didn't take much persuasion for me to accompany her into the lure of the chip shop. Of course I will swear that she forced me into it!

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

5 needles versus 2 needles

Apart from the obvious colour difference spot the difference. The multi coloured hat for Kacey was knitted on 5 needles from Itty Bitty Hat book (with lots of modifications as it had an extremely long pointed top and I thought it looked rather silly) and it took me 2 days knitting on 5 needles despite using my knitting belt. The lining I decided to knit on 2 needles and it took me 2 hours! I thought no-one would notice the back seam on the lining although I have plans to make the hat reversible so maybe they will notice it a bit. I doubt if my great grand daughters will care as long as the seam is flat enough. I am undecided whether to knit the multi part of Emily's hat on 5 needles to match Kacey's or just go for the quicker option of having a back seam. The fun bit will start when I get to the embroidery as it is not one of my strong points. I will probably finish up with lob sided uneven snowflakes - ah well it all adds to the character of home made items.
I guess I will never get my speed up on 5 needles. Socks take me absolutely ages to knit. I find it quite relaxing knitting in the round but I just get frustrated as I am so slow at it. I zip away at a rate of knots on 2 needles with one firmly jammed under my right armpit! With 5 needles I think it is a question of finding the right sitting position as I can knit quite quickly if I stand up to knit (maybe it is my post Christmas belly that is getting in the way of speed?) I got a wooden footstool gift for Christmas and whilst it is very good for my legs and back I haven't quite got the angle right when knitting.
I am still not back in my daily routine. I am staying up until the wee small hours watching tv and knitting or crocheting and then finding it so hard to get up in the mornings. My body clock is all out of sinc since Christmas. The dog is confused as his walks have become a moveable feast and he likes rigid routine and so is becoming very sulky. He wants 2 walks a day spot on time and some days this week he has only had one.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Happy New Year 2008

Happy New Year to everyone. May all your hopes and wishes come true in 2008. Wishing you Health, Happiness and Prosperity for the coming year. The photos are from New year festivities in the distant past. The first is me being Carmen Miranda with my ex husband wearing a matching frilly shirt. The 2nd is me pretending to be Nell Gwynne although I appear to have lost my basket of oranges by the time the photo was taken! The guy in the background didn't go down very well as the Village squash club had a mostly Jewish clientele and he was dressed as a Nazi! The little guy in the middle was pretending to lift both us ladies up. I think he was trying to suggest that we needed a New Year diet!

I have made my usual New Year resolutions plus a few added ones with craft in mind.

1. As always lose weight (top of a lot of people's list I presume)

2. Be more assertive with the NHS powers that be with regard to my back. Find out for sure whether there is to be an operation or not, and if not be firm about pain relief so I don't scream like a banshee and bite people on bad back days.

3. Do more exercise besides walking the dog and water aerobics (On the cards is seated exercise class using some kind of large rubber band - arranged by BEATS for the New Year sometime)

4. USE YARN FROM STASH and don't buy any more yarn (First one to be broken?)

5. Organise my craft (messy) corner in the front room so the first thing that guests see is not a pile of W.I.P heaped by the side of the chair plus jugs full of knitting needles and hooks.

6. Set up E Bay account so see if I can market any of my finished articles ( a bit of pin money would be so welcome to eke out the pennies in this pensioner's purse)

7. Get this dratted PC sorted out before I throw it through the window ! Why does my new set up hate Internet Browser so much? I would like to be able to search the net once again instead of getting the message "not responding " most times I want to read an e mail or web page.

8. Try to have no more than 2 W.I.P at any one time ( I have to knit and crochet alternately due to my carpal tunnel operation last year) and not the usual 10 things half made stuffed in bags all around the house which I finish up frogging cos I have either lost the pattern, no longer like it, or used part of the wool for something else.

9. Keep my PC desk tidy (Ha Ha fat chance where else do I dump mail and appointment cards?)

10. Organise my patterns into my new filing cabinet (Yeah for Freecycle) and label them all for easy searching ( enlist the help of my organisational whizz friend Caroline with this one)

11. Learn how to take digital camera photos ( enlist the help of my friend Vicky for this one) and find out where the ones I tried to put on my PC went to !!

12. Make some socks for me as my present wearable socks are mostly more holey than a sieve and my other bought socks stop the circulation in my fat ankles with the elastic tops.

I could list more and more but that only means more for me to break! As per usual I vow to be a good friend to friends and future friends and be a better person in general. Spread my craft knowledge, such as it is, around and convert more people into crocheters and knitters. There are a lot of people out there who are showing interest in crafting again and we should be encouraging and helping others to try. There is such a great satisfaction in making something to your own design and your own colour choice and not looking like everyone else who shops at Primark and M & S. I have always been an individual in the way I dress and would like to encourage it more in the young to not slavishly follow fashion like sheep thereby lose their individuality.

If I want to wear something weird and wonderful well hell this year I am going to do that! Be a hippy once again and wear flowers (crocheted of course) in my hair, a granny squared poncho in purple and red and weird and wonderful openwork crochet garments like the ones I see on Flikr and What not to Crochet sites.! I want to go into my old age kicking and screaming and saying "Boy that was one hell of a ride". My body may be a bit dodgy but my mind is still a rebel so there is hope for me yet.

Happy New Year everyone, let's make this the best year ever!