Monday, 31 March 2008

Crazy ,hectic end to my day

The photos are part of the secret crochet that I did earlier in the month but could not post on my blog until the recipient had seen them first. These are made for Anna, our gorgeous Knitty Noras baby who attends almost every meeting and entertains us with her giggles and laughs. She is such a patient baby and we rarely hear her cry. I did these as a present for her not knowing that it is her birthday next month so she got an early one. I will post the rest of the photos tomorrow.

I had the idea for the sun dress from an old Lister's pattern but everything else is winged by me. The dress can be worn over a sweater or a T to make it suitable for our summers and as it is crocheted it will "grow" with Anna.

I felt so much better that this afternoon I decided to bottom the lounge. For those people unfamiliar with that term it does not mean that I butt scoot around with a duster taped to my nether regions. It's a Lancashire term for moving and cleaning under all the furniture, ornaments and mirrors, taking all the cushions off the sofa and chairs and cleaning under them, giving them all a good hoovering and then swapping them about to even up the wear (from chairs to sofa etc). Giving it a good do is another Lancy term. I had just finished up in a heap of sweat and wet hair ( I will try those remedies Ailsa) when my niece arrived with the missing wool. Great I thought. Shower. Night in front of the TV, Get Kath's jacket finished.

Not so. My friend arrived at 4.30pm announcing that not only had she come to dye my hair (roots) she had come to prepare the lounge for painting it in the morrow. Arghhh! This event has been planned on a "pencilled in " basis for quite a while now and whilst I am very grateful I just wished she had told me earlier before my frenzied cleaning. First words from her mouth - Gosh it's cold in here is the heating on? I bit my tongue from offering my body as a radiator. Her day will come. Miss cold blue hands will get her own central heating one day. As she is only in her thirties I hope I live long enough to mock her! She did my hair. Stripped the torn up piece of wallpaper in the corner that was my legacy from my darling cat Ollie before he passed away in October. She then had to leave for home but has left me with the task of moving as much stuff from the lounge as I can before she arrives mid morning.

I should explain that I can't bear to throw away any of my mother's units, occasional tables and ornaments so my lounge is rather cluttered. I have got used to the over furnished look but it's a pain at decorating time. In order to make the units light enough to move so that they can get painted behind I have to move my treasured ( but rarely played) collection of LP's, my mother's 60's tea set, her crystal and normal glassware plus my collection of knit and crochet books that I moved there only this afternoon!

It is now 9.30pm and I am at the move one thing then sit down for 5 mins stage. I think the lounge will get emptied tomorrow. Sometime as well as all of this I have to find time to walk Buster, find all the dust sheets from the loft, buy some white emulsion for the ceiling and sugar soap the gloss paint down. This would have been a breeze for me before my back problems but I am finding it hard today. I think I need a lie down now.

I know that Caroline means well. She wants me to have a nice clean lounge to sit in whilst I am recuperating from my operation so I don't have to worry about painting it whilst I sit looking at it. The only trouble is that it makes me want new scatter cushions etc and I am on a no buy regime at the moment. Hmm I wonder if there are any of my old size 22 tent dresses stashed in the loft that could be remodelled into cushion covers? I seem to remember that I used to have a passion for floral flowing things ( My Hyacinth Bouquet frocks as my son used to call them!)

Well back to the emptying. Wish me luck with the painting and I hope most of it gets on the walls and not on the carpet! I will be the one painting whilst seated on the low plastic gardening/kneeling stool.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

No More Blah

I woke up this morning and several times during the night wringing wet through. Not because of incontinence thankfully but with sweat. Whatever it was that I had seems to have vanished with the sweat. I carried on being hot all of today though, even the waitress at Waterstones put my water in a glass of ice, but I think that was as much to do with hot flushes more than my lurgy.

I had to stop taking my HRT ready for the operation. Risks of thrombosis apparently and as I have been taking them for quite a while I had quite forgotten the reasons that they put me on them in the first place. I must ask if there is an equivalent herbal remedy that I am allowed to take before the operation. I am worried in case the sudden rises in temperature that I used to suffer from return once again. They used to cause me to go bright red in the face, get a booming headache, sweat and if I didn't get to cold air fast enough - faint. Aren't we women lucky enduring all these lovely menopausal symptoms. I should, of course, at my age be well past all of that but I suppose I have been kept artificially oestrogenised (if there is such a word) for years with the aid of pills.

I really enjoyed the Knit Out today such a good turn out. I feel lucky to have found so many friends with similar interests in knitting. It's nice to get out and about and meet people as I spend a lot of time on my own. I keep myself focused that once the operation is a success (positive thinking here) that I will be once again able to resume a larger social life.

The shawl on today's blog is for Vicky. Sweet Pea from Stitch and Bitch The Happy Hooker book. Something that I made in a small appreciation for all the help that Vicky has given me over the last months. The lifts here and there make all the difference in the world to me and I would not be taking such lovely photos but for her. She gave me some lovely stitch markers in my favourite shade of lilacs and purples today which I will photograph another day. The shawl is not quite finished but I wanted to give it to Vicky today. The Blah meant that I didn't feel in the mood for blocking it or fringing it but she probably had a lucky escape as my fringing looks like a raggy old cat. About as good as my moth eaten pom poms. It's the finishing touches that always let me down! The shawl will look far nicer with a neat orderly fringe which it will no doubt have under Vicky's scissors.

I gave Linda the secret items I have been making for baby Anna. They will be posted on here on another day. Those and the shawl were made when my blog went a bit quiet photo wise as to post photos or describe what I was doing would have ruined the surprise for them.
My niece Vicky texted to say that she can't bring the other ball of wool needed to finish crocheting Kath's cardie today as she isn't feeling well due to having the lurgy. The last time we were together was Good Friday so I doubt if we got it at the same time! I will continue trying to make sense of the US terms and confusing instructions for Vicky's top down crochet top. The Everyday Crochet book by Doris Chan has some lovely designs in it but I must admit it is not the easiest pattern to follow - well not to my tired old eyes. I am though I must confess not full charge of all of my senses as yet. I find, in general, that the US crochet books are not as easy to follow as the UK books that I have from the past. This book goes all around the houses to explain things and jumps you about from page to page following so many rows from one size and then so many rows from another size on yet another page. To start the jumper in the first place it referred me several pages back to another top altogether! Not the most user friendly book that I have used. I am usually OK once I get the pattern set in my head though. I love so many of the patterns in the book so I do hope that the rest are easier to follow.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

I have been feeling rather Blah!

No photos today. I am just about recovered from two days of feeling very blah! That feeling when you don't feel sick but shivery one minute and then boiling hot the next. My body especially my hands and feet ached and it even hurt to brush my hair The good thing about it is that I haven't felt like eating at all so that should do the diet some good.

Yesterday I tottered the dog on one walk and then came back and promptly fell asleep on the sofa. I rarely sleep during the day but if I am not well the one thing guaranteed to make me feel better is sleep. I was in bed quite early and had to put my crochet down in the evening as I wasn't in the mood for doing anything. Yet another sign that I am blah. Today I managed to do some washing but no cleaning so I hope anyone who visits over the weekend shuts their eyes. The poor dog had only one walk again today so is sulking. He needs his daily walks otherwise he puts on weight (rather like me in that respect)

I have crocheted the back, fronts, bands, one sleeve and 3/4 of the other sleeve of Kath's jacket but am now awaiting another ball to finish it off. I will start my other niece's jumper tonight if I get the crocheting urge. Black again! Just the thing that I need when I am not feeling on top form!

I am going to have a nice relaxing bath and another early night. I have to be fit for the Knit Out with the Noras tomorrow. I don't want to miss it as I enjoy my meets. It is a great treat for me to go out. I must remember to alter my clock tonight otherwise I will still be sitting in my pj's when Vicky comes to collect me tomorrow.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Watch out, there's a thief about!

The thief I refer to is, of course , unknown and living in Camden. No disrespect to the people of Camden as I am sure they only have the same percentage of thieves as we do in Manchester. It's just the place my soon to be "birthday girl " niece Kath was visiting at the time when some lovely person decided to steal her handbag. It isn't the possessions that were in it. It's the inconvenience and expense of replacing her phone, purse and of course cancelling her bank cards etc. Sorry you are having such a lousy run up to your birthday Kath.
Speaking of Kath the first photo is the lump of crochet that will hopefully one day soon be Kath's cardigan. The second photo shows that I did buy a red exercise book with the sole purpose of writing down my many adaptations of patterns. I started off OK and wrote cryptic "only I can understand" notes about the back and then I unravelled (re-designed) the front so many times that I lost the will to write. I then remembered that the front should have had a shaped bolero style curve at its front edge but guess what Kath - your second one doesn't have that as I have started the second front now and I don't feel inclined to unravel (re-design) once again. I will just tell her that I wanted the second jacket to look different to the first. Crocheters licence?
I will need another ball of the yarn so I am hoping that my other niece Vic ( otherwise known as yarn slave according to Kath ) will visit Ramsbottom and get me a ball (or maybe two) I also need some nice wool for my sister in law as she has hinted how much she liked the black crochet shawl that I made for her at Christmas and it is her birthday later in April so I thought it would be nice to make her another. I hope that maybe she will like a lighter colour this time. I love my family but 3 Birthdays in the same month it's like Christmas for a second time.
Perched on my red book is my new purchase. A pair of rather snazzy glasses in a sparkly red case. I went wild and bought them even though they stretched the budget by a whopping £3.99. I got them from the chemist and they will be a boon for the teeny writing that has suddenly appeared on all of my patterns and the newspaper. Yes I know I should visit the opticians but let me get my credit card bill back to a reasonable level first.
I got my letter from the hospital outlining the procedure for my back operation. I already knew what they planned but it just seems more scary seeing it written down in black and white especially the bit that says "this is expected to be a long procedure". Aarghh! There is also a bit that says I have agreed to lose more weight before the operation, Oops, so I did. I had better sew up my mouth quickly and stop snacking forthwith.
The last photo is of course Buster who is totally uninpressed with all of this photo taking and blogging and wants to know why we have not gone out for a walk yet. Sorry B but it's Loose Women on the tv in a few minutes so maybe after that?
I almost forgot. I got a message on Ravelry from someone who's blog I have been reading for ages and is on my favourite list. Thanks The Knitting Mama. I feel like royalty from the US has visited my site. I avidly read US blogs every day but rarely de-lurk (as they say in the US) to leave comments. I suppose I should as I am so thrilled when people leave comments on mine (Except for the ones I have to remove who leave links to bugs and trojans of course) Anything that says click here or there please don't do it before I have a chance to remove them.
To my blog friends in the UK who regularly leave me comments. Thanks so much. They make my day!

Monday, 24 March 2008

Winging it once again

The snow is falling again but not sticking. I am crocheting so all is well in my world apart from a nagging headache that won't go away. I think it is coming from a crick in my neck rather than tension. Years ago I had whiplash and it troubles me from time to time. I probably slept with my neck at a funny angle or something. I will try some Ibuprofen Gel on it.

I started Kath's cardigan last night and as you can see I am winging it with the pattern stitch. She liked the openwork cardigan style that I made her for Christmas but as her office is rather cold requested another in a closer stitch. The pattern has decreases for the waistline and increases for the bust line done row by row on the pattern so it's all very much a crochet it and see kind of improvisation as I am unable to follow the decreases as set out on the pattern rows. I like a challenge and so far no unraveling but it is early days yet! The problem is that I think I shall run out of wool with the amount that was bought but my niece has said she will nip up to Clarks Crafts next weekend and get me a couple more balls if needed. If the dye lot is different then I can use it for the shawl collar and pockets.
The colourful photo is of my little pom pom maker that I bought when we visited the store on Friday. After the fiasco with the raggy poms on my pixie slippers I decided to invest in one. It will only make small pom poms in 3 different sizes (it's a clever little gadget the rings snap inside each other) but I am sure they will suffice for any poms I need to make in the near future. I will save some cardboard to make bigger ones next time I order from Amazon books. Hey that's a good excuse to buy new books. No it's not a good idea Jan think of your credit card bill and desist.
I am still paying off from all the vet bills I added to it before Christmas so adding to it is not good. I don't like using my credit card unless I can afford to pay it off every month but it was the only way at the time as the dog needed treatment and then an operation. I will not let my dog suffer no matter what the consequences are to my pocket. I did get told that I could have taken him to the RSPCA but the last time I visited that place it was so crowded and full of barking dogs that I couldn't face going there again. Buster gets very anxious in places like that and I could forsee a huge fight developing in the waiting room.
I have bought an exercise book in an attempt to write down all of my crochet (and knit) improvisations. I make things up as I go along and then if I want to make another one at a later date and have no idea how I made it. Crochet Diva asked me for the pattern for the khaki socks that I crocheted and I would like to make another pair for myself so this time I will try to write it down. The trouble is I write patterns in my own shorthand that only I could follow so if probably won't be of help to anyone else.
The snow has stopped and the sun is trying to shine. Buster is awaiting his second walk of the day so I will have a coffee and then take him. Hope everyone is having a Good Easter. Ailsa you can tuck into those eggs now that Lent is over!

Saturday, 22 March 2008

I love my purple socks

My purple socks are finally grafted (or kitchenered) together. I am a klutz at the technique but with the aid of total silence and how to graft guide I managed to concentrate long enough to get my knit, knit, purl , purl rhythm going. The socks are beautifully soft made from Rowan Kid Classic and the joy of it all is that I only had to use the second 50 gram ball for the toe so if I shorten the legs I can make a second pair. Yeah! I like it - two for one! have some lovely patterns up on their Spring 2008 site. They have probably been there for a while but I only noticed them today whilst browsing for the Grafting instructions
I just love the Spirogyra hand warmers and Emma's unmentionables.
The black pair of socks in the last photo is a much loved many times washed pair of Monkey socks. They were the first pair of socks that I ever made on 5 needles. No stocking stitch for me for a first attempt. Straight in the deep end with a lace pattern. They were so interesting to knit and still one of my favourite patterns and the best bit is that they are from a free web pattern.
Yeah for Knitty. I also love the Jaywalker socks from them. They work up so well with striped random yarn.
I will probably start one of the black crochet projects tonight but I do have some bits and pieces that need finishing off so maybe tomorrow night.
A strange thing happened to me whilst cooking breakfast this morning. I decided to fry an egg to go with the grilled bacon and the egg spat at me from the pan and then flipped itself right over! I swear I was no where near the pan as I had instictively ducked back when the fat spat at me. The chicken strikes back? Well it is Easter after all!
Hope everyone is having a great Easter.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Flying fingers for April

We finally got to the Clarks Craft Wool shop in Ramsbottom today but not without incident. When my niece went to the car this morning she had a flat tyre. That made us an hour late setting off for the shop. It must be the curse of the family as I have a slow puncture and have to keep pumping the tyre up until my son can get here to change the tyre for me. I must say that today I was disappointed with the shop. We had very little to choose from in the amounts that we wanted. My niece was going to buy some Sirdar Blur but they didn't have enough in any colour. I was looking for some more of the Elle 4ply that I had made the khaki crochet socks with and they didn't have any of it anywhere. The only wool they had that was sockish was some Regia but I didn't like any of the 3 colours that they had so decided to leave it. Last time we went up they had a few balls of Opal sock wool but this time none to be found. I wish there was another decent wool shop without having to travel miles to find it.
Both of my niece's have chosen black. I have posted photos of the wool with the intended projects. My Niece Kath who lives in London is having the jacket but this time with a closer crochet stitch . She liked the jacket from Fabulous Flirty Crochet by Katherine Lee that I made for her at Christmas (exact to the pattern) but as her office is rather cold she would like one a bit more substantial this time. The yarn is Patons Diploma DK the same yarn that I used for her ribbed sweater 100% acrylic but good quality. It is lovely to work with. My Niece Vic arrived with a knitted cardigan pattern but decided to change her mind once she saw the crochet sweater in the Doris Chan Everyday Crochet book. She has chosen Sirdar Click DK for hers 70% acrylic 30% wool. She doesn't want the contrast trim though. I have kept the magazine as it also has a pair of socks with individual toes that she would like but she will have to order some 4ply for those when she orders the Blur online. I will probably make her the knitted cardigan if she gets some wool later although it has a thick wide tie at the waist that I will ammend as we both agreed it looked a little clumsy for the lacy cardigan. I will be taking it easy for a few weeks after my operation so I imagine I will be doing a fair bit of knit and crochet then.
Linda found a wonderful site ( see a couple of posts ago) for some very reasonably priced wool from Lanarkshire but unfortunately they don't do 4ply. When I go to the next Bolton Knit Out I will get the balls of wool for Anna's new soakers.
My socks have progressed. I had hoped to have them finished today but I started on housework when I came back from Ramsbottom. I also walked the dog twice so it didn't leave much time for my knitting. Last night I hand wrote out the 3 pattern rows and after that I raced along with hopefully no more mistakes. There was something about the way they were written on the pattern that I kept reading wrong. I am still on the first ball of wool so will get another pair out of the wool if Imake the legs a wee bit shorter. I will find another lacy pattern for the second pair that will fit in with the stitches otherwise I will be muddling up which socks are a pair.
I have just had an e mail from Rose (My new Life in Romania) saying she is planning a visit to the UK in May. I hope I will be able to meet up with her for a coffee as she will be staying about 8 miles from me but it all depends on the date for my operation. If she arrives before it then I can meet her but if she arrives after then I won't be able to drive unless she can travel to nearer to me for a meet.
I will try to put in an hour or so with the socks as I want to finish them off before starting the girl's crochet. I am resisting starting another project before I at least finish one pair of socks. Sorry brown random socks (or Tiger socks as my friend christened them) but you are on the back burner of WIP once again! Maybe when I have my op and am looking for new projects the Tiger socks will get finished.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

My mother was a great grafter

When I get to this stage of a sock I wish I had my mum here for tuition. When I said she was a great grafter I meant it in both senses of the word. She made the money to buy our first wool shop through knitting day and night on her industrial knitting machine and her sock machine that she bought second hand from Henshaws Blind workshop. I wish I had that machine now. I used to watch her making sock after sock - even re-footing socks that she had made for people previously. I wish I had taken more note of her grafting the toes (or kitchening as they call it these days) I struggle with it every time. I get out my instruction paper and start chanting knit, knit, purl, purl. Half way along the row I lose the plot and put the needle in knit wise when it should be purl wise and the whole thing goes pear shaped.
My mother was a grafter in another sense of the word as was my maternal grandma (the second photo). My mum was one of the eldest of Gran's 16 children so spent most of her childhood knitting socks and baby vests for her younger siblings so I was born into a family of knitters. My gran knitted socks for me when I was a child. Unfortunately she used rayon silky yarn that came from the local spinning mill so they looked lovely but after a few washes slouched down my feet as they had zero elasticity. My mum on the other hand knitted pure wool knee socks for me and as I have eczema on my ankles I spent most of my childhood in an itching frenzy.
My mother worked so hard all through her life, as did my Gran. Two remarkably strong women. My gran had no luxuries like washing machines or even tap water. She drew all her water from a pump from a well. She only had a bathroom installed when I was a small girl. Before that she had an outside toilet that was emptied by the night soil men (that is what she called them) once a week. I was scared to death of this toilet and not only lived in fear of falling in but also there was a loose board at the back of the toilet and a field full of nosey cows behind. These cows had a habit of coming up the the loose board and either sticking their nose through it or moo-ing right behind me and scaring me half to death. Cows with a sense of humour obviously.
My earliest memories are falling asleep to the hypnotic Zzz Zzz of the machine as it swished back and forth far into the night. We lived in a small two up two down house and had this huge industrial machine in the kitchen. My mother had to stand to use this machine so it's no wonder she was troubled with varicose veins all her life. When she wasn't at the machine she worked evening shift at Meredith and Drew's biscuit works and sometimes at the local cotton mill. I am humbled by the amount of work she got through in one day. In my grans (both of them) latter days she cooked, washed and cleaned for them as well as all the knitting and part time work.
When I used to hear people say Oh your mother is so lucky when my parents had 3 wool shops and were able in their later years to go on cruises etc I used to feel so annoyed as my mother earned every penny with hard graft. It's no wonder that the specialist said that she had literally worn the bones in her back away. My friend who is in her thirties used to say to me (before the last 2yrs of pain stopped me in my tracks) that I never stopped working but I was a slow poke compared to my mum and my gran. I come from a line of strong hard working women. My aunts were all the same. Grafters every one of them. I salute them all. The sad thing is that most of them died without any money to show for all of their hard work. They lived before the days of equal fair pay for women and had no savings. Some dying from the side effects of years in cotton mills.
The pattern for the socks was easy to do but despite that I went wrong half way down the leg and again near the toe as the eagle eyed can see but as they are only for me I am not unpicking it. I have quite a lot of the ball left after this first sock so I may get another pair of socks out of the 2 balls if I make the leg shorter on the second pair. The sock is lovely and soft to wear but I think I will keep the socks as house socks as I don't think they will be hard wearing due to the looseness of the stitch. I altered the pattern and made the toes in stocking stitch as I thought my toes would poke through the holes if I continued in lace pattern as instructed.
Second sock to be cast on this evening. Then I will brace myself for a bit of grafting!

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Pixie slippers with raggy poms

As you can see from the photos I make a lousy pom pom. I used to have plastic circles with a split in them but I can't find them anywhere so I must make a new set someday. I decided to make them by winding yarn around a ruler (not very sucessfully as you can see) and have the distinct feeling that they will disintigrate at the very first wash! Ah well they will be weareable pom pom less. You can see the elastic indentations on my ankles from wearing a pair of bought socks are the reason why I need to knit or crochet more socks.
.Theslippers came from a free crochet pattern for the Garnstudio DROPS site. They have oodles of free patterns on there for knit and crochet and you can choose which terminology you want UK or US.

and the wool I used was a 2 x 50 gram oddment from Bury Market Mardi Gras by Stylecraft.

Last night I started knitting a pair of socks in Rowan Kid Classic (yes Vicky I am finally using the purple wool and pattern) and raced along as it is on 4mm needles. This morning in daylight I discovered that one of my lacey holes on the leg was in the wrong place but as I have turned the heel and am part way down the foot then I will learn to live with it - I am not unpicking it. The pattern says 100 grams for the pair of socks but I am still only half way through the first 50 grams ball so will have oodles left over. I shall have to look around for another ball even if it is a different colour to make another pair.
I still cannot get to grips with the brown and orange random socks that I started forever ago but the needles are minute and it takes ages to even grow a half inch. I think I will designate those socks to my knitting club knitting then at least they will grow marginally with each visit. I don't usually like having WIP on the needles so long but I must confess to having a crochet cardigan that I started so many years ago that I fear it will be way too large if I ever finish it. It is quite an intricate pattern and I have done the back so am loathe to unravel it. I found it when I was sorting out my stash a while ago and have stuffed it in a drawer. Maybe one day!

I am just reading the judge's decisions on the Sir Paul McCartney divorce and all I can say is - I'm free Sir Paul if you are. Plus I am much cheaper than Heather. Just buy me a few balls of decent wool and some Brittany Birch needles now and again and leave me in one of your houses. I have no desire for mansions and private jets! I would be cheap to run and not seek publicity - well apart from a quick brag on my blog of course. I have to make my move soon after all single attractive men in my age group are rarer than hen's teeth. Anyone know his e mail addy? Hey you can't blame a girl for trying.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

I now have a matching pair of socks

Yeah! I did it. I managed to make a second sock a reasonable facsimile of the first. Too bad I haven't written anything down as I really enjoyed crocheting this pair and want to make another pair soon. Next time I will write it down. Buster as per usual got into the act. Well what does he expect if he will sleep in the best bit of sunlight in the room. The last photo was supposed to be a close up of the stitch but turned out fuzzy (note to Vicky I need instructions on non wobble close ups!)
Speaking of Vicky she has a very informative blog about her day course dyeing with Debbie Tomkies (see Vicky's blog in my list of favourite blogs) with some lovely photos. Sounds as though she had a really good day out there. I can see her donning her plastic pinny and wellies and dyeing with gusto any day soon.
I went out to the Kings Arms knitting club last night. There was a notice up in the pub that it is closed today from 12 - 3 for filming. Apparently they are filming a scene for Blue Murder with Caroline Quentin in there. It's a really old fashioned "mens" type of pub where nothing has been changed for years. It's so nice to go into a pub with genuine dark wood bar and leather upholstery. The girls were as entertaining as usual. The knitted chandelier has still not made much progress. I shall try to buy one of those knitting dollys and make a bit of i cord for my contribution one day. I did have one years ago but I think I gave it away to a child when my son grew out of it.
One of the Knitters Arms ladies is also a crocheter so I am not alone wielding my hook in there. Charlie is making knitted snow boarding masks for her nephew and friends and is worried in case they get mistaken for someone from Crimewatch whilst wearing them! One of the other ladies was knitting a recycled shopping bag from strips of Tesco and Asda plastic bags and another was crocheting a shrug from quite a nice crocheting book that I haven't yet bought (No Janet - you have enough books - no no no) I enjoy my trips out to both of my knitting clubs for a housebound (apart from dog walks) type of person its a great excitement in my life having knitty chats. We had a laugh yesterday as some of the ladies have a thing about Christopher Eccleston who lives near by one of them and they are now considering starting a Ravelry group of Christopher Eccleston admirers. Well if Dolores the sheep (see Panopticon blog) can have her own Ravelry admirers club then why not?
I have started a pair of chunky crocheted pixie boots from a free pattern from DROPS. I will post a photo of them hopefully finished tomorrow.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

One sock finished but can I make a second?

My first design of crochet sock is finished. The test will be can I make a second sock identical to the first? Will it be a lonely only sock? As you can see from the photos my prototype sock required a lot of trying on as it progressed. I didn't write anything down as per usual so my second sock will require even more concentration and trying on plus a lot of stitch counting. Wish me luck as I start it tonight. Buster wasn't too impressed with modelling the sock on his back but he was sleeping under the window in the best light.
Apart from noticing that I desperately need a pedicure did you notice our family trait? One short toe. A couple of cousins have it on toes (only the girls have it) and another cousin has her ring fingers and little fingers the same size. She had to have her wedding and engagement rings made especially for her as her ring finger was too small for conventional ones. Her hands got her into trouble once when she worked in a grocery store in her youth. They used to weigh out the flour into bags from big hoppers for the customers (just after the war everything was sold loose) and for a prank dipped her hand in flour and put it on her boss's suit jacket. He knew it was her of course from the short finger on the hand print so she got found out! My mother used my short toe as a tracker to find me if I ever disappeared on a beach. She looked for the footprints with only 4 toes (my short toe doesn't leave a toe print) on the right foot in the sand. It is on my father's side of the family and the trait only appeared in my generation. Of course it could have occurred in my ancestors and not been noted. There are no instances in my fathers siblings nor grandma and grandpa.
My short toe kept me from being accepted into RADA ballet school when I was training for ballet as a child. I went down for an interview with them and their doctor said I could not train with them as they were concerned that my short toe would not support me in point work. I had X rays taken and the joint that links my toe to my foot is missing. I was allowed to take (and pass with honours) the exams but I lost interest when I found out I could not be a professional ballerina. It was Sadlers Wells or nothing in my childhood imagination. Plus I badly injured my right knee at the age of 12 and had 12 months out of dancing because of that. I probably would have never made it as a ballerina because of this knee injury as it has never been right since and I now have a right knee,calf and thigh which is 2 -3" larger than the left. When I tell people about my dancing years I think they find it hard to believe as these days I am built more like a baby elephant than a graceful swan these days. I do have a couple of photos and exam certificates somewhere to prove it. I sometimes wonder if my arthritis and joint problems stem from the punishing regime of ballet.
My niece did not get her car back from the garage today so no trip to Ramsbottom for wool. I will concentrate on my socks this week as we now plan to go on Friday (if the shop is open) I decided to do my weekly shopping at Tesco and discovered when I came out that I must have either a slow puncture on my front tyre or a leaky valve . The air machine is still broken. I have written last week to Head Office to complain that it has been out of action for months now. They are quick to take money for groceries and petrol but slow to provide basic services like air. I have blown it up a little with a foot pump but I am unable to do it for long as my back complains bitterly. I will try again tomorrow. Tesco said they have forwarded my complaint to the store manager so let's see how long it takes him to get it repaired or to reply to me! Strange thing - today I had an overflowing trolley and spent £40. Some days I can have just 3 carrier bags and spend more. I can't work that one out.
I am off to chain for my second sock. Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye!

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Getting adventurous with crochet socks

I started a couple of socks from my Crochet sock book and wasn't happy with either of them so after a lot of unravelling (or frogging if you prefer) I decided to wing it and design my own. The testing time will of course be the second sock as I haven't written anything down! The wool is Elle Pure Wool for socks that I bought from Clark Crafts in Ramsbottom but unlike the other sock yarn I have used in the past it splits badly when I am crocheting it hence my unhappiness with my first couple of tries from the Sock Book. I am using a shell pattern of 3 trebles alternating with a double crochet. I had a few hairy moments when I was decreasing after the heel and was improvising like mad. I have this awful feeling that I might struggle to make 2 matching socks. The stitch is slightly openwork but feels soft and comfy when I tried the sock on for size. I have made a shortish leg as I tend to roll the socks down because I had thick calves and a lot of sock patterns are too slim. I have found an old pattern for mens knitted socks in stocking stitch that have shaped calves so I may try it out one day so I can have a pair of long boot socks.

Caroline came today and managed to fit together the red meccano that is now 2 garage storage units. I have tidied away all the cleaning materials. Instead of being all over the garage on the floor in boxes they are on the shelves in order. I found out that I have 5 bottles of furniture scratch cover and 4 tins of black shoe polish now that I can see them easily! Plus I won't have to buy any Stardrops, Fabreze or disinfectant for quite a while.

My niece Vicky sent a text to say that she may not have her car back from the garage so probably no visit to Ramsbottom tomorrow. My nieces will have to get their birthday cardigans after their birthdays as I probably won't be able to get the wool until next weekend if the shop is open over the holidays.

I got all domesticated tonight and made some scones and a fruit cake. That's my diet out of the window for another few days then! At least they are all pure ingredients and no additives. Dieting always begins tomorrow anyway!

My council tax bill came today. They have reduced my payments by £10 a month as I found out that they had calculated my savings (what savings?) wrong last year. I would be that amount better off except that my gas direct debit has gone up £20 a month and the electric and water too so even with my £4 a week pension rise I am still worse off. The budget is giving me £50 a year more on my heating allowance but it still doesn't cover winter fuel bills. I am lucky in that I am still active enough to do without heating most of the day. I do light the calor gas fire for a short time on really cold days. I feel sorry for people who cannot move about and so have to burn fuel all day long. I think it's so wrong that very ill people can't claim any heating allowance. It isn't just the elderly that feel the cold. Anyone who is confined to a wheelchair feels it more than anyone.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Do I have the right name?

What Janet Means

You are fair, honest, and logical. You are a natural leader, and people respect you.

You never give up, and you will succeed... even if it takes you a hundred tries.

You are rational enough to see every part of a problem. You are great at giving other people advice.

You are usually the best at everything ... you strive for perfection.

You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive.

You have the classic "Type A" personality.

You are very intuitive and wise. You understand the world better than most people.

You also have a very active imagination. You often get carried away with your thoughts.

You are prone to a little paranoia and jealousy. You sometimes go overboard in interpreting signals.

You are friendly, charming, and warm. You get along with almost everyone.

You work hard not to rock the boat. Your easy going attitude brings people together.

At times, you can be a little flaky and irresponsible. But for the important things, you pull it together.

You are a seeker. You often find yourself restless - and you have a lot of questions about life.

You tend to travel often, to fairly random locations. You're most comfortable when you're far away from home.

You are quite passionate and easily tempted. Your impulses sometimes get you into trouble.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Anna's soakers finished

The second pair of soakers for Anna got finished tonight, It's funny but I was running out of wool and knitting faster and faster the smaller the ball got! Have you ever done that? It's like I am trying to race the end of the yarn. Silly really. I decided to put a heart on the back of the trousers and started to knit it in fair Isle and then realised that I was knitting in the round and the end of the yarn would always be at the wrong end for the next row Duh! I abandoned that idea and finished up swiss darning the heart. It hs worked out a bit thick really but maybe it will have extra soaking abilities in that area. I finished up with less than a metre of both colours left. That is what I call cutting it fine. I put a crochet edging on this pair to try to make it girly.

Anna's mum sent me the link to this web site The New Lanark online shop
The pure wool is very reasonably priced and she has ordered some wool for Anna's soakers so I will let you know what the quality is like. It looks very nice on the photos.

I went to water aerobics today but I was a bit late and so missed having my photo taken for the local newspaper. We were all wearing our red socks in aid of Sports Aid. The instructor said she wanted me to be on the photo as I am on the poster and leaflets advertising BEATS. I said well I was on a photo in the paper with the Mayoress of Bolton a couple of weeks ago so I can't hog all the limelight can I? ;)

I enjoyed the aerobics much more now that I have given up the other exercise class. My back is back to it's normal pain level so I am a happy bunny once more.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Yesterday I wore my lunch

Anyone who has problems with manual dexterity will fully understand my blog title today. I decided to have some "home made" style soup from the supermarket which was wonderfully packaged in a tall plastic tub. I was defeated from the start by the flip up opener thingie so had to get a knife to prise the said opener off. The top was still firmly welded to the tub so I eased my knife under the rim. Hah - big mistake. I was allegedly holding the tub with one hand and the knife with the other when my hand decided to let go of the tub at the same time the lid chose that moment to unweld itself from the tub. The result was that the soup was a quarter down me, a quarter down the kitchen unit and the rug. I did manage to salvage about a half of it in the tub! It's amazing how far half a tub of vegetable soup can fly. I am still finding bits of it stuck to the units. To add insult to injury I placed the tub in the microwave whilst I cleaned up and the vegetables exploded all over the microwave despite being covered by a loose lid and a paper towel so I had to prise glued on soup from inside the microwave. I think today I will give the second tub of soup a miss and have a sandwich instead!

I managed to sort out where I was up to with the soakers that I hadn't worked on for a week. I have sussed out where the gusset (what a wonderful word) goes so this pair will have one. This gusset has made the legs a bit slimmer on this pair but I don't think that will matter.

I also found my purple crochet cardigan WIP that I started a couple of weeks ago and forgot all about so I will try to do a bit more on that as well.

Yesterday I was almost assaulted by a young man zipping past me around the woodland on a mini motorbike. He was having a great time trial riding up through the mud up and down all the hills and paths and I don't think he fully understands the dangers involved of him not wearing a helmet for one and diving in and out of dog walkers and mums with toddlers and prams. There have been big articles in the local paper stating that the police will (and have)confiscate and crush any illegal uninsured bikes ridden in the woodland so he should know better than to ride it in there.

There has been little damage in my area with the high winds last night. My only casualties have been 3 blown over flower pots. I think that there are more high winds forecast so fingers crossed that they miss this area once again. I don't like the noise the wind makes when it howls around the house. I used to get very scared as a child and although I am not as worried these days I must admit it is still a bit of a phobia. High winds and thunderstorms are my bet noire.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

I was in the pub knitting

Tonight I had the pleasure of meeting up with a group of ladies who have formed a knitting group in Salford. I saw them on Ravelry (Kings Arms Knitters) and decided to have a little nosey to see what it was all about. The fact that they meet in a pub every Monday evening didn't influence me in the slightest (yeah honestly)

I spent far too long on Ravelry this morning reading a few blogs and updating some projects onto my profile. Half of the knit and crochet books that I have bought I was unable to put them in my library as they weren't on the site and you can only list what is on their site. It's far too easy to get sucked into Ravelry and lose hours of the day. I think I will make it a rule to only visit it once a week.

I have finished off my crochet project (all will be revealed at a later date) and am back to trying to remember exactly where I am with my knitting. I have the brain of a goldfish and when I put a project down and sometimes it's easier to restart it than pick up again where I left off. I need to finish the soakers off before more wool arrives from Linda and my nieces.

The garage shelves are still not put together but at least the house is marginally straighter now and a lot cleaner. The dog, of course, did his best to muddy it all up again. He thinks it's a game to try to dash past me before I can swamp him in the towel to dry those muddy feet and undercarriage. I did hosepipe him down in the garage yesterday but I will have to have a rethink as the water puddled into a channel down the centre of the garage which isn't flagged and I am worried that too much water might seep into the ground under the house if it gets wet too often. I will have to ask what I can do to fill in the channel so that the water will stay on the flags and then go into the drain.

I am not going to the seated exercise class tomorrow ( or any other day) I rang them to say I could not do all that walking and it was making my back unbearably painful for at least 2 days afterwards. A year ago I could have walked up to the tram, then from the tram to the Leisure centre and back again without too much effort but these days any distance is really testing me. My dog walking pushes me to the limits of my pain tolerance most days but I have to carry on doing it as it isn't fair on Buster to curtail his walks. It is such a relief once the second walk is over and I know I can relax until the next day.

Oops bedtime and not a stitch knitted. (I was crocheting at the pub)
I will stay away from Ravelry tomorrow and try to get on with a bit of knitting.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Rubber Hammer anyone?

I am a stage nearer to putting all the junk (sorry tools, decorating stuff, lawnmower etc) back in the garage. I mentioned my plight about no home delivery from Argos for the shelving units I had picked out for the garage and my friend Caroline kindly offered to come and be a sherpa for me. We toddled off to Manchester Fort in my trusty steed (did I mention that a visit to Asda on Thursday has left it with yet another dent this time with green paint?) and managed to get just what I wanted. 2 shelving units and a storage thingie full of little drawers for all the bits and bats of screws, nails and picture hanging hooks etc that I can never find when I want them. We had a little fun as my boot refused to open and we had to thread everything through into the boot from the back seat. yeah for hatchbacks! It was a good job that I had help as the shelving weighed a ton. There is no way I could have carried it to the car. Her son carried one box and Caroline the other. I carried the car keys!

I haven't assembled them as yet as when I read the instructions it calls for a rubber hammer or mallet. I always thought rubber hammers were a joke that you said to new mothers who had crying babies. Tap them on the head with a rubber hammer. I never knew that they actually existed ! I guess my shelves will have to be assembled with a normal hammer as I am not about to go back to buy a rubber hammer just for 2 shelving units. My sherpa friend has said she will try to come back tomorrow for an hour to help me put them together. She could not spare the time to do it today. She did drag me into George but I refused to look at any clothes. I had just spent more than what I should have at Argos so absolutely NO to new clothes for a while.

My shelving units and set of 16 little drawers are bright red (or that's what I ordered I haven't opened them to check yet) and will look quite cheerful in the garage. I still haven't heard from the electrician so I can't assemble anything in the dark as at the moment I only have a temporary cage light that I plug in when I am in the garage.

The dog came in today from his second walk absolutely covered in mud. I am looking forward to being able to bring him in via the garage on days like this. I did manage to get him to stand still whilst I hosepiped his legs and undercarriage. Not a great thing you might think but he is terrified of hose pipes usually so it was a first for him to stand still whilst I did it. I put the hose on a gentle spray setting so as not to scare him. That's the trouble with taking on a rescue dog. You never know quite all that is in their past. He doesn't like hose pipes, sweeping brushes and high visibility jackets - oh and Postmen. He is terribly insecure and is usually superglued to my side whenever possible. Again though I have made great strides with this and he will now stay downstairs whilst I shower or have a bath. For the last 2 weeks when I go to bed he has now started staying downstairs so I think it's a breakthrough that he finally feels happy and this is home. He still ,however, thinks he is a lap dog and it's a bit difficult to knit with a hulking great dog on my knee.I try to gently ease him off me without shouting at him but he manages to get back on again within a couple of minutes. I can't bring myself to shout at him as if I have to raise my voice to him he starts to shiver, slumps down and gives me the sad soulful eyes and I just can't bear it. Yes he rules the roost in this house. Luckily he is a really good dog (usually) and so does not need to be told off very often.

Friday, 7 March 2008

How did I accumulate all this junk?

All of the junk (and more that is outside at the moment)came from my garage. How did I accumulate all this junk when I emptied and tidied the garage out 12 months ago? The top photo junk is residing in a pile in my dining room at the moment, the middle photo is the lawnmower and tools pushed into the corner of the kitchen. I managed to sweep and wash out the garage floor but am really lacking in motivation today. I really need the shelving (thanks Ailsa for the link) but haven't decided on what I want and which to buy etc so I guess the junk will get put back in the garage if I don't decide soon.

As per usual not much knitting or crochet has been done and probably won't get done over the weekend. The house needs cleaning badly top to toe as having builders in the house brings dust and mud in no matter how careful everyone is. I haven't cleared up day by day I thought I would wait and have a good "do" at the weekend.

I got my bite guard today from the dentist.He asked me if I had heard back about whether they had found out if my saliva ducts were blocked because of Sjogrens Syndrome.I rang the hospital yesterday for the results of my blood tests as I have heard nothing from them in the last month and it looks like the curse of Jan has happened again. What blood tests? When did you have then done? Did you have them done here? Oh there is nothing in your notes I will have to look into it. Apparently they are dragging my notes up from storage in the dungeon so that they can request results for me. well not for me as apparently they can't tell me only my doctor or the dentist as he referred me to the hospital. Is it just me who gets constantly lost in the system? This is a different hospital to the one that lost me in the system last time although this hospital once lost all of my notes and files for 2yrs. I thought once everything got computerised then at least I would not get "missing in action" any more.

I am going to make a coffee and watch Rosemary and Thyme. The garage will have to wait until the weekend as I don't have a light in there at the moment and it is getting dark.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

I love a bargain book

When I was on my way back from my seated aerobics class I passed The Works book shop in Bury precinct and it had a big sign on "Closing Down" I had to nip in of course just to see if there were any knit and crochet book bargains and came away with The New Knitting Stitch Library by Lesley Stansfield for the princely sum of £2.99 marked down from £14.95 I am sure it will come in very useful in the future when I am looking for a different stitch to adapt an otherwise plain pattern.

Not much knitting done as you can see from the small amount of rows done on Anna's second pair of soakers. I haven't been entirely idle as I have been working on a crochet project but no photos just yet as it's a secret from a person who might read my blog.

My niece from London is coming up at the weekend and she says she will instruct her yarn slave (I am not sure her sister will appreciate this description) as to what yarn she would like for her long line belted cardigan. She is toying with the idea of a similar one to the one I made for her at Christmas but with a closer crochet stitch instead of the openwork of the last one. My friend Caroline came at the weekend and saw photos of what was to have been her cardigan (the one that turned out too small and finished up with the small teenager next door) and said how much she liked it and could I make it again big enough for her. I think I have enough wool left over to make another one. I guess I will be kept busy before I go into hospital. Plus I still need some socks for me.

Luckily for me I crocheted myself a bed jacket and bed cape a couple of years ago for the operation that got cancelled because they told me I was too morbidly obese (size 16 and 13st 4lbs) to be operated on . My new nightdresses, slippers and robes have all been poised for the last 2 yrs ready for action. So at least I am all prepared and have nothing to buy except a few toiletries and some bedsocks if I don't get around to making some.

I still haven't seen the neighbour who has just had a similar operation to the one planned for me but I have met up with other neighbours who have offered help with shopping etc after the op. Everyone is being very kind. I met with another neighbour who said Jean went in hospital very early Saturday morning and had the op the same day. She came home on Tuesday afternoon and is managing to climb the stairs to the bathroom and bedroom although she is in a lot of pain. Only to be expected as it is a major operation. She has apparently been told that she can't do anything for 6 weeks! I will have to check up on what they mean by "do nothing". I can understand no heavy stuff but I live alone and I can't do nothing. My family and friends will no doubt rally around but I can't expect them to do everything in the house for 6 weeks as they all have full time jobs.

The structure of the garage is finished but the electrician hasn't turned up as yet to fit a light and sockets. I am still in a mess in the house as I don't want to put anything back into the garage until it has had a thorough wash and brush out and I have got some metal storage units. Argos stock them but they are out of stock for home delivery and I can't collect them and lug them into my boot on my own. A friend has offered to help me with these but I don't think he means this weekend and I really would like to get my house back to normal asap. I need to get the garage doors painted. The builder put a coat of wood stain on it to seal it until I can paint it. I have a lot of things to do, back permitting, in the next few weeks. My bathroom is still incomplete as I never sanded down the door so as yet it is unpainted and without a door handle.Anyone who visits me and needs the bathroom has to be a good singer!

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Views from my windows

Not exactly exciting set the world ablaze photos (unless you are a Corrie fan as the church you can see is the one most used for their weddings and funerals)To me though it's a wonderful sight as the back bedroom window main pane has been "blown" for quite a long time and so I had a very misty view. I can now see the construction work on the new flats and houses and some of the church and church yard although the trees seem to have grown enormously since I last looked out. The last photo is of the clouds from my front side bay window. The side pane had gone on that window so at least I could see out of most of that window.

My garage roof is finished and they are just finishing making the doors. I am waiting for the electrician to come to put lights and power in there but that might not be for a few days. I now have to order some metal shelving so that I can have some tidyness in there when I put the stuff back in so it may not be until the weekend when my kitchen and dining room are back to normal. I don't want to put things back all over the floor as before. I am just dreading anyone calling unexpectedly and seeing boxes and tools strewn about all over the house. They might think that I have finally gone completely batty! They might,of course, be right.

Once again no knitting or crochet yesterday. I was tired and in pain. I came back from my seated excercise class in absolute pain. I think I am going to have to give it up. It isn't the exercise that does it. It's the walk from the tram station to the Leisure centre and back again plus the walk to and from the tram station and my home. I don't qualify for a badge for my car as I was told that because my condition is allegedly cureable by an operation I can't have one. I should have appealed really but I just could not be bothered. It makes me mad sometimes when I see people far more able than I am with a badge. Yes I know the majority of people with a badge deserve it but there are many who abuse it. I used to see people every day in my former life in the DWP. Some genuine but many not. Despite my problems I would like to do some work if I could but every day I used to deal with people who were playing on some minor disability for years and had no intentions of ever getting a job. People like them who abuse the system make it so hard for anyone with a genuine disability to get the monetary help and support that they deserve. I would have no objection to being submitted to a thorough medical if it meant more help for me.

I am hopefully going to get some knitting done today as my niece would like me to make her a long black cardigan for her birthday in April. I need to get a move on with the projects I have in the pipeline first so it's all hands to the needles and no more nodding off! Maybe I should put a darning needle at the end of a stick and give myself a sharp prod with it when I feel my eyes start to close! I blame all the re-runs on the TV for failing to hold my interest. Give me some new programmes to watch and then I can stay awake!