Saturday, 9 November 2013

NaNo NO Wri

It started out so well. Got the first bis of my story down. And then some more. Hey, I was heading towards 3000 words and still going strong. 500 more and it was climbing. My story was going places. Yes, I would be a winner. Yes, this was going to be a-maz-ing. Yes, I was a writer.

But then No happened. I opened up my novel and it just looked back. "Where you going on this one?" if seemed to say. "Thought you had something important, something profound" I felt a twinge of shame. Yes, I thought that I had something insightful to impart. That I could write a soul wrenching love story that didn't rely on shagging, that was all about those untold emotions that course through us when we have love in our lives and when old lovers return.

No kept happening. Day after day. Inspiration alluded me and I was beginning to think that this task was too great for me. That I am a talker not a writer; that I don't have the words.

However, the muse strikes from the oddest directions. Part of my novel had been formulated when I was working on North Uist in 2006. The landscape is astonishing. Low hills, lots of water, bogs and peat banks, small townships scattered across and brown and green and brown. It was so different to any place I had spent previously. I found the photos I had taken all those years ago and it suddenly struck me where my story should be going.

Yes, there was a lot to explain about the history of these islands but I am writing a love story and I love these islands so isn't not going to be difficult and I will do it.

Friday, 1 November 2013

NO in November

NO alcohol. If I go out with friends then this one might get postponed

NO sitting on my arse for the night unless I have done some form of exercise

NO eating rubbish foods. Trying to eat less carbs 'cause it worked last time round

NO complaining about my job. If I don't like it, I need to get another one or at least look for another

NO faffing with NaNoWriMo. I will sit and write at least 2000 a day even if it makes no sense at the time (or afterwards)

NO living like a slob. I will get things sorted out and more streamlined

NO using might. It's either WILL or nothing

There you have it my November pledges

Thursday, 31 October 2013

NaNoWriMo is coming

In just under 3 hours it's NaNoWriMo time again and I am going to be doing it.

I tried in 2008 but got nowhere, well a few thousand words but nothing that really made sense. But this time I'm doing it again. I still haven't decided if I'm going to resurrect the 2008 story or go for something completely different. A few nights ago I had thought and characters and ideas but no plot just coming at me so perhaps I should go with that.

It'll probably come down to me just sitting and writing and seeing what comes out.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Uh Oh! It's a Boyfriend Sweater

Every knitters knows the "Sweater Curse". For those that are unaware it's the breakup that occurs when a knitter makes, then gives a hand made sweater to a significant other (usually a boy/girl friend). Sometimes the gentle click of the casting on is enough to start the knell of the relationship, othersflounder after the sweater is received.

I met Mr Glam in February 2005 and in February 2006 I went away to work for a month on North Uist in the Western Isles. He asked me to knit him a sweater, full of cables and aran and lovely and everything marvellous and I thought that this time apart would be the perfect time to make the start. I bought the best wool from ebay - 10 skeins of wonderfully soft Bluefaced Leicester. It was delivered to the house in Scotland we were staying and I didn't make a start. The wool came back down with me and went through two house moves staying in the bag it came in.

Fast forward to October 2013. That's it seven years later. I had decided to make a serious attempt to sort my stash and came across the lovely BFL at the bottom of a bin bag. Mr Glam, who knows about the Sweater Curse, wondered if I was ever going to knit him the sweater. My reasons for not are not at all connected to the worry that it will end our relationship. It's mostly because I'm lazy and easily distracted and am not great at finishing things. Starting comes easy but finishing is a completely different matter.

But started I have. It's a cabled, seamless, scoop necked sweater knit called Olwen by AndreSue Knits. Mr Glam isn't keen on things being close round his neck so I think that this is going to work. I'm going for the largest size but have also upped the needles size to 5mm for the ribbing and 5.5mm for the main part. And boy is it a fast knit. This is it after 4 days.
Yes, I know there is a mistake on the cable. Or rather there was a mistake on the cable, I just dropped down the stitches and it now flows as it's meant to.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Daily updates

Okay, I have realised that doing a daily update of my exercise and food during my May Challenge is a bit dull.

Every day it's did this and ate that so from now on I'm going to do one at the end of the week and even then I think it might become a tad repeatative.

To keep you interested here's a picture of my new shoes

Friday, 3 May 2013

Marvellous May Day 3

Just a quicky today.

Running - C25K Week 7 Day 1. 20 minutes of running following by 3 miutes of walking then another 5 minutes of running
The first block of 20 went really well. It was a bit windy and being on the top of a hill means that no matter where I go I feel it but it was good but boy was I glad when the 3 minute walk kicked in. Oddly enough it was the final 5 minute block that was harder but I pushed through and did it so am very, very pleased with myself.

The weights I did yesterday have made my shoulders and chest muscles ache and I'm a bit worried about doing them again tomorrow but I shall see what that brings

Breakfast - Fritatta with bacon and green pepper
Lunch - Chicken with bacon and mushrooms (was meant to have salad as well but it had turned)
Dinner - Sausages with tomatoes and cucumber and radished
Snack - Salmon rolls

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Marvellous May Day 2

This is that I look like at the moment. It's difficult to explain that I am not bothered by the way I look overall. I certainly don't obsess about things but there are times when I would like to be slimmer so that I can wear the clothes I find interesting.  I have always been in awe of those beautiful larger women that carry themselves with grace as I never felt entirely comfortable in my skin but it now realise that it's a state of mind. I have to be more accepting that I am who I am.

It took me a long time to realise that I am not pretty pretty. I never hated myself but I know I have a long face and straight hair and a largish nose and my features just kind of sit there. When I was a teenager, I wasn't bothered about how I looked. Not that I was skanky but I didn't wear make-up and I suppose that I never learned how to. My mum wasn't bothered and rarely dressed up, most of my friends were boys so I didn't get the grounding in how to be feminine. And as I grew older it didn't seem to matter but now I would like to be a bit more elegant.

My May challenge is not just about getting healthy and eating better, but it's also my chance to become the woman I want to be.

So here's the intimate details.
I weigh 207.6 lbs or 14.8st or 94kg. I'm not worried about weight but the scales I have also give things like water, fat and muscle and they stand at 23.8% fat and 35.9% muscle. In reality I'm not sure what these mean but I would like the former to go down and the latter to go up.
Full bust - 46 inches
Under bust - 38 inches
Waist - 39 inches
Hips - 46.5inches
So it's an hourglass that just needs a bit more definition and that for me is the most important part. Strong, healthy and fit

My dumbbells are adjustable so I have made them to be 10lbs each. I don't know if this is too heavy but I wanted to challenge myself and see what I could do.
I did 3 sets of 10 reps each of Single Arm Extensions, Upright Row, Shoulder Press, Pullover, Incline Chest Fly and Chest Press as well as 1 set of 10 reps of lateral raises but my shoulder kept clicking which was a tad off putting. I was also planning on digging over a bit more of the garden but my aching arms put paid to that - it'll get done tomorrow.
I also did a variety of 100 crunches - straights, obliques, reverse (they are the worse) and sides.

Breakfast - Eggs and an avocado (which is probably my favouritest thing in the whole world) ((apart from gin))
Lunch - Spicy prawns with crunchy salad
Dinner - Roast chicken with cabbage, cucumber and mango salad
Snack - Some beef jerky, a stick of celery and a palm of raisins

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Marvellous May Day 1

C25K Week 6 Day 3.  5 minutes of walking then 15 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking then 10 minutes of running ending with a 5 minute cool down.

Distance: 2.99 miles (although I think that my GPS could have been kinder and topped it up to 3).

The run went well for the first block but I did have to walk for 2 lots of 50 paces in the second block. No big deal but it's weird that I can run (slowly) for 15 minutes but then have problems. I suppose that it's all to do with stamina but also because I get a bit bored. Might have to start listening to music to keep focussed.

Breakfast - Eggs. Thrown in a pan and mash. Kind of like an omelette but with far less finesse
Lunch - Slices of ham and some beef jerky
Dinner - Sausages with fruit to follow

Not the best of days but now I have a fridge of lovely food and a plan.

Marvellous May

Today is the start of my Marvellous May Challenge.

After a great January, I have kind of allowed things to slip somewhat and have become quite lax with my exercising (except for the running) and what I eat. I haven't put on weight but I'm not toning up and losing weight either and I want to do something about it.

Everyday I am going to exercise. I shall keep up with the running but am now on Week 6 Day 2 on C25K and once I have reached the end of week 9 I am going to start at the beginning again. This time though, I'm going to give barefoot running a go. I've read about the good and bad points of barefoot and am intrigued so thought this way would be a good way to see if it suits me.
This is my main running 'track' so I think that it would work well while I'm in the beginner stages of my barefoot running and if it turns out to suit me then I can always find other places to run. I might ever get a pair of barefoot shoes (an oxymoron if ever there was one) when I start to run across more challenging terrain but for now I'll jog on to the field and just take off my shoes and see how it goes.

On the days when I am not running I am going to do a weights workout and focus on toning so crunches and core strengthening. I might even do the crunches on the running days too as they only take 15 minutes.

On top of all this I am also going to try and eat a diet free of dairy, processed sugar, grains, legumes and (sob) alcohol for the whole of May. I have a shopping list and am going out after work to fill up the fridge with lovely things to eat and will be pulling recipes from the Everyday Paleo book I have on my kindle as well as using some web based Paleo recipe sites. If it's not on those, it's not being eaten.

I hope at the end of the month to be a little more fit, a little more healthy and hopefully a little more tone.

Monday, 29 April 2013

CraftBomb is a Go!

A couple of weeks ago I posted that I would love to be involved with the first National CraftBomb being organised by Voluntary Arts Week and even had a location in mind. I thought the Upper Chapel Yard in the centre of Sheffield would be ideal so duly wrote to them. They got back and although they loved the idea, the Chapel was being used for weddings and having knitted bits on the statutes might not be what the parties would want.

I hadn't even thought that the yard would be used for other things (doh) so went on the hunt for another place. After wandering round the centre I found a great site just outside of where I work. There is an 'interesting' statue in the centre of the carpark at the Sheffield Technology Park that could do with cheering up so I approached them to ask if some of the Sheffield Knitters could have a go at giving it a going over.

And they said YES!!

So now I am frantically knitting strips of colours and making pompoms using up the acrylic scraps scattered across the house. I'm not sure how many people will be involved so if you'd like to help out, either by making some strips (knit or crochet are equally appreciated) or by helping decorate then get in touch and we can arrange something.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Heel issues

A few weeks ago I was knitting my bus socks and it was coming along in leaps and bounds and I reached the heel turn. It's a short row heel which I don't have a lot of experience with so I followed the instructions in the pattern and although it turns a perfectly good heel I wasn't happy with the results.

I am more used to the top-down heel flap and those socks I have done toe up have tended to have a gusset but not this one. I like a good heel, something that has a nice tight fabric and not holes and I pride myself on not getting holes where the leg and heel join but this heel looked great from the left
But from the right it was just too holey and loose for my taste. (I've slipped it off the needles for the pictures and I know that I am going to re-do it)
So I had a hunt round at work to see if there was a way of doing the same heel without the loose holes - which I fully admit is probably more to do with my technique that the heel itself (and certainly not the pattern) and found this: Cat's Sweet Tomato Heel. It's amazing and I loves it.
 The wedges make a great heel and you can add another if you have mega huge heels but most people seem to be able to get away with doing 3 - like I have. Cat Bhordi is an amazing knitter and to have devised a heel that works so well is fabulous.
It is officially my favourite heel (with the possible exception of a truly amazing gusset and flap)

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Wednesday Work

So this week has been a bit of a slow one and instead of my usual three (or more projects) I have only been working on two.

 First is my Wingspank. It is now up to seven triangle and I think that I will stop at nine so I finish on a garter stitch block.
I've been playing with the idea to add some button holes to the final triangle (just simple yarn overs) to help it stay on but can't quite make up my mind.
I like the way the stripes have turned out and this yarn suits the pattern well. I was a bit worried that it wouldn't get worn this spring but it's taken a cold step this week so I might get some use from it before the summer.

I have also been working on my Sugar Cube Sock design. This is a double knit sock to make it nice and quick. I was planning for it to be a toe up beginners sock with a simple purl/knit motif but have realised that I need a bit more experience at toe up socks.
The foot went well and I worked out how far to go before starting the heel turn but then it got a bit messy and didn't quite work. Also the original design had a moving block across the top of the foot but unless it matched my foot size the block wouldn't have been in the correct place to take the slipped stitch up the front of the sock.
Now I have redesigned it to be a cuff down sock and think that it's working out much better.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

CraftBomb, Craftbomb. I wanna Craftbomb

"What is this?" I hear you say.

It's being organised by Voluntary Arts Weeks and is a showcase for creativity in the arts and crafts. This year they are planning on launching the week with an explosion of colour with the National CraftBomb.
And I want to be part of it. A group of Sheffield knitters are up for it and we are currently looking for a venue. A place that we'd really love to decorate is the amazing bronze statues in the Upper Chapel Yard.

 How about this lovely, but chilly, looking lady wearing a warm scarf and gloves? Or even a multicoloured coat?

Or a bright dress for this beauty?

She wears a lovely scarf and hat, but how about giving her a warm woolly?

I'm going to ask the Upper Chapel and see what they say and if you want to get involved with the Sheffield knitters and our CraftBomb project drop me a line and I can send you the details or alternatively if you'd like to hold an event in your own town why not download the pack from the link above.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Gardening Fun

Well when I say fun I do mean it in the loosest possible way.

I have a great garden. It has grass and trees and a tall hedge that holds the neighbours back and the sun gets there (sometimes). I have planned for ages to grow vegetables but every year things seem to happen all at once I lose the window of opportunity. A few years ago I turned a bookcase into a raised bed and that was great but a combination of squirrels, birds and my laziness meant that only the potatoes did well.

This is what it looks like. Along one side of the garden is a tall privet hedge that has a line of old concrete slabs to give you a place to stand to cut the hedge and then next to that is a much over grown, grassed over bed with astonishingly old roses in but little else. The grass grows freely or should I say, it did.

As the weather was so lovely this weekend I decided to take the garden by the scruff of it's neck and give it a little shake. Starting closet to the house and next to the slabs, I measured out a 1 metre by 1 metre square and started to mattock off the turf and weeds. Then I dug over the soil with a fork, breaking up the bit lumps and picking out as many roots as I could. Gone went the rose. Then I extended the bed up by another metre and then another and another and by the end of the weekend I had a vegetable bed 1 metre wide by 5 metre.

I ended the weekend having cut back a rather rampant honeysuckle, tidying the raised bed, clearing the rubbish and throwing things away that were too badly broken to be re-used. The compost heap has grown quite significantly and is now covered with a manky tarpaulin to help give it some heat. Along the tree side of the garden I dug out some of the ferns and I 'found' my very sad and neglected rhubarb plant.

Now I just have to wait for the soil to warm up and I shall start my planting.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Wednesday Wonders

Like many knitters I'm never satisfied with having just one project on the needles at a single point in time. There have been times when I got rampant cases of cast-on-itus. No wool was safe and it was caught and made into something. Well I say caught and made into something but in reality I would work on if for a few days then bury it and forget about it. Nothing really got finished and now I am beginning to find the corpses of long forgotten projects as I start to tidy my house.

To help me stay motivated and to keep those things I am working on in the forefront of my mind, I thought that it would be fun to show what I'm working on and if I can manage it, I'm going to try and update this every Wednesday. I also managed to pick up a great 1950s vintage side table that sits next to me and holds my current projects and the bits and bobs that every knitter needs

To start with: these are my bus project - something to keep me amused on the way too and fro to work or if I'm stuck in a queue and am bored. The pattern is Ash Socks by Jenny Blackburn and are available as a free download through Ravelry. I've already done the partner and am just onto the final bit of the foot and then the toe.

They are a good mindless knit with little sections of ribbing along the leg. At the moment they look a bit innie and outie but I think they will fit very well.

The yarn is Regia Design Line Kaffe Fassett and although I don't really like the colours, they are just socks.

Then we have my test knit project for Remily Knits. This is Mezair Beaded Lace Shawlette and it's fun to work on but I've had to keep my wits about me. It a crescent shaped shawlette with a lovely beaded edge and a fish like motif in the border.

The yarn is Regia Creativ and I'm not entirely sure that the colour works but it's difficult to know for sure until it's finished and blocked.

Finally I have my Wingspan which has been incredibly popular on Ravelry and it's no surprise why. This is adaptable to any weight of wool and can be as long as you like, you just keep adding triangles.

Mine is being done as the KAL with the Sheffield Knitters group on Ravelryand several people have already finished theirs (and they look wonderful). I've been sitting on this and haven't really done that much but with my other 2 project so close to being completed, I'll probably pick it up in a day or two and carry on.
This is made from Rowan Tapestry and I am alternating the triangles from garter stitch to stocking stitch.

 And that's it, for the moment. Oh, I know that I have other things dotted about the house: 2 blankets that seem to be endless WIP but they will get tinkered with over the next few months or year so I won;t forget completely about them

Monday, 1 April 2013

Quick to Knit Cardigan

At the beginning of the year I joined in with the All Things Vintage group on Ralvery for a Knit Along (KAL). We had a choice of several categories and within that several items as not everyone wanted to knit the same sweater or cardigan.

The choices for the clothing category was either a striped sweater from 1955 or a cardigan from the early 1950s. I went for the cardigan partly because I had yarn in my stash and partly because I thought that it would be easier to up-size it from a 38" bust to a 42". The tension came up slightly larger than recommended so I figured that it would work. It was meant to be 6 stitches to 1" and I got 5.

I used Sirdar Bonus Aran in a lovely lavender colour - well I think that it was bonus aran as I bought it unbanded in two 400g balls for the grand total of £4.99. Whatever it was, it worked really well producing a nice fabric that was not rigid and is just perfect for that awkward time between winter and spring.

It knits up very quickly and I really enjoyed making it despite stalling on the top of the second sleeve for near on a month. And this was the first project that I have actually had to sew up in a long time. I dreaded it but again it didn't take long and looks grand.

I chose some lovely red buttons which contrasts nicely with the purple and makes it look a bit more vintage (I think) and it's great to wear.

It might look a bit short but the style of sweaters in the early 1950s is for garments that showed off the waist so this fits perfectly into that genre of garments. I did notice that the upper art of the sleeves came out a little large but I think that was entirely from knitting it in aran weight wool rather than double knit and I'm not going to be frogging them so it is now a design feature.

It's now inspired me to knit more vintage patterns and I know that I am larger than many of them are designed for but this has given me an insight into what to watch out for net time round and I also know that I have experience of many vintage knitters should I get into a pickle.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

My First Proper Pattern

Yes! I have finally done it and released my first ever pattern all fresh from being test knitted and ready for downloading from Ravelry or you can also get it from the Patterns tab above

I've been playing around with ideas for easy to knit items aimed both at beginners who would like to try little bits of lace or cables and those who have more experience but want something quick and satisfying so I give to you the Ambient Cave Cowl.

The pattern is both charted and written out in full and uses a super chunky yarn - the grey one is Hayfield Chunky with wool held double and the blue one is Wendy Serenity Super Chunky which is knitted on 9mm (US13) needles. It takes less than 3 hours to knit so could be done in a evening while the wind blows and the snow falls.

This cowl was inspired by my love of caves, well more archaeological caves but you catch my drift. Caves in the UK have an ambient temperature of 11 degrees Celsius or 52 Fahrenheit. This means that within the body of the entrance cave and from about a metre of the mouth, the temperature is fairly constant no matter what's happening outside. If it has water running through the cave mouth it drops a few degrees but most archaeological caves do not have a waterway.

So 11 and 52, 52 and 11. This cowl was designed to utilise those numbers. The pattern is an 11 stitch repeat and is cast on over 52 stitches. The main design is also 11 stitches high. Also the reverse stocking stitch at the top and bottom of the cowl is 6 rows and 3 rows which is 5 + 1 and 1 + 2 (although I didn't realise this until I had finished the pattern).

But best of all, I think that the pattern looks like hills with little caves peaking out.

Monday, 11 March 2013

First Pattern Jitters

How is it possible to have so many jitters about a relatively simple pattern?

Self test knit 1:
Nannh! Possibly a bit too tall but just about. Maybe more a bloke’s cowl.

Self test knit 2:
Kind of but not quite and is might be too soft and collapse and not really be that functionally at keeping out the cold

Self test knit 3:
The best so far: but no quite. What does it need?
I know more rows. That’s what’s amiss

Self test knit 4 (or rather an addition to test knit 3)
Better. Got good height and width and fits and . . . is it everything I want this cowl to be
Yeah, I think it’s a pretty close 

Now to make sure I get the pattern written in a way that's understandable to the people not inside my head

Friday, 1 February 2013

End of the week round up

I've been enjoying my Ice Pond socks and it's a great bus project as the pattern is easy to remember and doesn't require any extras like cable needles or pattern to keep it going. I take the photos on the morning as I get onto the bus so really they are the day's before efforts.
Sunday cast on and a bit of tinkering

Monday morning and the pattern can be seen through the yarn
Tuesday seemed a bit of a slow knit
Wednesday was a fast bus trip so not much time but managed to add a few more rows
Thursday and it seems to have jumped up overnight
Friday and up to the heel turn but I ran into a problem . . .

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Quick to Knit Cardigan KAL

Over a the All Things Vintage group on Ravelry we are having a 3 month KAL that started on 1st Jan. There was a choice of tops - a striped jumper or a Quick to Knit Cardigan from the 1950s and I choose the cardi.

Although the original was knitted in a double knit wool, I've decided to go with an aran weight as the pattern stops at 38" and I certainly have bigger bumps than that. The tension was 6 stitches to the inch and I got 5 to the inch so think that I should be okay.

The back, both sides and one arm has been done and because I was a little concerned about it being too small but it fits
So I shall now crack on with the rest of the knitting and then I just have to sew the whole thing together (which I am not looking forward to.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Bus knitting

This is my bus knitting project for the week (and probably beyond)
I started it yesterday evening and it was at this state this morning as I got onto the bus at 8.20. I'm only going to knit it while I'm on the bus, or waiting for the bus - which is a bit tricky at the moment as it's so cold that my fingers freeze the second I take my gloves.

This is my January lunar socks for the UK Sock Knitters: each full moon through the year we're doing a different sock pattern based on different cultural associations and using 3 keywords to limit our patterns. It can be either a direct pattern name link, or the designer's name, or maybe the yarn you're using or some vague way to the word. This month it's Wolf, Ice or Rowan.

I'm going with Ice so have chosen Pond Ice Socks by Meg Croft Designs and is a free download through Ravelry. The yarn is Regia Design Line  Kaffe Fassett. I wasn't entirely sure if the yarn was okay for the pattern but it's growing on me so shall stay.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Resolution: The First

A New Year, A New You!

At the beginning of the year we are assaulted by articles, images and suggestions on how to be better, stronger, more healthy, wealthier, thinner, fitter, more attractive, taller but there seems to be an overwhelming amount of pundits who can make us all better - if only we follow their advice. So we listen to them and make resolutions that we will eat this and exercise with that and sleep for 9 hours a night and have less stress in our lives and find the ideal partner and save a third of our incomes and donate to charity and be able to fit into the size 6 dress by the weekend.

I'm not much of a resolutions type of gal: far too lazy and easily distracted to stick at something but even I am planning on trying to do things that make me a happier with the things I have and to sort out those things that are less agreeable.

My first resolution is to write more - that's it. Nice and simple. I plan to write every couple of days (so be prepared for some of my ill-informed ramblings) about what I am doing and how things that are happening in the world affect me. Yes, it is self-centred but it's a starting point and if I go on who knows what I might be able to come up with? Okay, we both know that it's likely to be mostly about knitting but I also have knitting patterns trapped in my head that want to get out, there's a story or two up there too that escapes periodically so this could be the year.