Thursday, May 25, 2023

Objects of desire

Sorry for the prolonged quietness here. There hasn't been much to report craft-wise, and I'm sure nobody needs to read the minutiae of my boring life here! I did a bit of tunisian crochet, based on a blanket pattern - I charted it because it was written longhand, an Annie's Crochet baby blanket book I picked up last year. I can confirm, going up two hook sizes makes for much less curly crochet, though the reverse stitch edges are a bit wavy for my liking. However, this has since been unravelled, and is becoming a simple crochet scarf because I was going to run out of yarn. So the photo is for posterity more than anything else...


In other news, I traded in two lenses to MPB which I was never going to use - a 60mm macro lens and a 400mm zoom lens that was so heavy, it's visited many a hotel room and never left. I swapped it for my first-ever non-Canon lens, a Tamron 18-400mm (!) travel zoom that is half the weight. I can't wait to get out there and use it! The trade in process was very easy and I'd use it again in a heartbeat. Of course I've already fitted UV filters on my new lenses, after I nearly smashed a lens at an AGM. It's not worth a heart attack!


Finally, the temperatures are climbing here. It's been a very chilly spring, and I'm glad to see the sun more. I finally got some HRT gel and it made a marked difference to my sleep pattern straight away, I have had several movie-length dreams. Miracle gel! Who knew, it was my hormones all along? Hopefully I can get some more when this one runs low, I gather supply issues have been sticky lately.

Current mood: happy

Thursday, April 06, 2023

Pictures from the rabbit hole

I told you I'd been busy! Apologies for the rotten pictures, best I could do at 10pm at night







PXL_20230404_203156665 A little bit of peyote and a bracelet made from some old beads of Mum's - I think I already made it into a bracelet once but it fell apart.






Life's been upside down here and it's been hard to see the positives. The Cog's dad's been poorly and in hospital so the Cog's been gone every night for evening visiting. K is in a bad way and barely communicating; though he's home, no care package is in place so I am not sure how mum and son will cope. To put the tin hat on the icing, a certain big UK DIY brand that has flashy adverts (begins with W) are refusing to fix our leaking kitchen for spurious reasons - sealant doesn't perish within a year but is apparently not covered in their workmanship "guarantee" (quotes deliberate because clearly it's worthless). I despair of ever getting a major job done on this house to a decent standard. We had a cowboy left us with a misplumbed shower about eight years ago, and the company that came to swap the pipes from the other side (hot for cold) damaged the bath in the process by dropping something sharp into it. Nobody has any pride in their workmanship any more, nor any decency nor honesty when it goes wrong. For shame. I despair of humanity when it's all about the money and no quality control. I have never felt less Easter, in spite of the long weekend. Ugh.

Current mood: angry

Thursday, March 30, 2023

A new rabbit hole and computer woes...

First the mini rant - you'd think buying a new whizzbang Windows 11 laptop would be a joyous thing, wouldn't you? Well, I finally managed to "attend" the virtual Radiohead exhibit that my previous laptop's graphics card could not cope with. No more falling through holes into space, forever stuck and having to hit EXIT just to go back to the front door to try again. It was an amazing piece of work and the ONLY "game" I intend to install on the new laptop. No - the IT bods, in their wisdom, have hidden the ports under W11. This is a problem because a perfectly functional DAK cable, that works fine with W10 (it makes my work laptop go "bing bong" if you want to get technical), can no longer be "seen" as viable - it says there's a fault with the USB cable, the fault being that W11 is ignorant. So I cannot get DAK to talk to the Passap E6000. I discovered this quite late at night and gave up in disgust after a fruitless hour trying updates etc. Nothing about it in the Softbyte manual, W11 has yet to be invented there. I am in dangerous waters here because I only want to add ports, I don't want to become admin and end up getting hacked. So tonight's possible job is to try and get to the bottom of that mess. Thanks for nothing, Microsoft! Ironically the Silverlink box works just fine, I suspect because the SK840, being "brainless", needs a seperately powered box with RAM, and even W11 can't ignore actual electricity! Not impressed, Microsoft! Way to annoy anyone with older kit they need to run. 

On a more positive note, I spent a happy morning at Amanda's Glass Academy making a flower ornament using bullseye glass and mille fiori with a fellow WI member and a few of her relatives. Again my only problem was not putting too much on there! I've not got it back yet as they take a while to get fired. The following day (Mother's day in the UK) was also the last day of "Sewing for Pleasure" at the NEC, which also encompassed the "Creative Craft" and "Fashion and Embroidery" shows for the same price. Four of us (Mum was one, seemed churlish not to invite her when I realised what day it was!) went there in the Cog's car and had a great day, though we all ended up splitting up ultimately. Every crafter has their own private passions! J wanted to check out the high tech overlockers, Mum wanted some scrapbooking things, W was looking out for books (not many alas) and I just wanted to feast my eyes and did my usual, very OCD, up and down, so as not to miss anything. My haul? Some beading supplies plus a goody bag which contained three kits and quite a lot of other nice beady things from The Bead Selection, a rainbow necklace and bracelet kit from The Spellbound Bead Company, a fantastic tweed jacket from Manteaux that perfectly matches my current handbag (luckily for me, the last one in my size in their van), a cat and a heart wooden block and three new paints for my block printing kit. I resisted the yarn - there was one where the yarns were pettable, and one selling off the big plastic multipacks. I also managed to resist yet more fat quarters, though I did spend a good ten minutes teasing myself. Knitting-wise it was quite slim pickings, though Rachel Johns of the big needles was there. There weren't as many exhibition pieces as I'd expected, more workshop areas, and the "scrapbooking end" (Creative Craft Show) did seem a bit smaller, but perhaps that was just my imagination. I suspect the hall is the same size but the stands are further apart. One benefit of COVID, I always felt it was a fire safety nightmare in the pre-pandemic days because a lot of folks need mobility scooters and lots of folks take shopping trolleys! So it was a lovely creative weekend. I've made quite a few necklaces and some somewhat successful earrings, I made all of the kits up within a few days. Alas no pictures yet, I will work on that. Life has become even lonelier of an evening as the Cog's dad has gone into hospital in a confused state and the Cog and his brother V who lives over the road get the "night shift" of 6 to 8pm visiting. So I am rattling around the house, beading things, wondering if I really need more costume jewellery, tidying things, watching rubbish telly and getting annoyed whilst wondering why I cannot find any half-decent books on beading that explain actual techniques rather than just projects I don't particularly like! 

The Cog did me a lovely breakfast in bed for my birthday last week and had booked us tickets to the Abba show in London, which was amazing. What wasn't so much fun was being stuck on the M1 for nearly an hour because some idiot with a Bentley (and presumably another car; that was gone by the time we got to the straight section where the accident occurred) had had a nasty collision. We literally made it to the Abba venue with enough time for a comfort break but no lunch. Good job the fast 800 diet means we're fasting pros now, as there was no interval and we'd have had to climb over about 20 people twice in the dark. Not ideal! The show was great, and after a quick l'dunch, dlinner? at the shopping centre we'd parked at, we were back on the road so G could put in another night shift. This weekend we've a theatre show to go to. Dinner was also booked but is looking unlikely with all the ferrying about. My inner five year old wants to scream. Three COVID spoilt birthdays and a fourth with yet another cancelled family event - I really wish the Cog had kept it quiet so it hadn't hung over us all week. My sister is too busy to see me and caught COVID just to seal the deal. Boo and poo! As for London? Never drive, always train it. Though I was surprised that it was £6.50 each just for a return ticket for one stop on the DLR. Wow. Even our local bus is cheaper than that! The Cog did say he'd looked at hotels but it was very expensive. At least it was a sunday afternoon showing, so not too bad and as it turned out, ideal for the Cog and getting to his "night shift" 

Oh well. I am in a very dark mood because despite the change to BST my body still has no idea what timezone it's in yet. I did not manage to drop off 'til 4am after actually having a dream that wasn't a nightmare the previous night (there's always a downside). Career and work stuff upsetting me as usual.  Ugh. Pictures etc when I cheer up and take some. 

Current mood: exhausted

Monday, March 13, 2023

FO: 2.5 pairs of socks and a Sunday walk


Tube socks in Drops Delight


Tube socks in Spin Sisters yarn


Heeled sock with the fairisle polk dots worked using holding position, after a demo last weekend. Quite a few dropped stitches and a few mistakes, and 20 rounds rib / 40 ankle isn't quite enough in wear, I will make the next pair longer. Not seen, the hot mess of ends inside and the slight mess I've made of grafting the toe whilst also splitting the yarn. This will be fixed later, not sure when its mate will appear. I love that the dots (just 2x2 stitches) look a bit like love hearts from a distance. This yarn is neon pink in real life, it's Opal solids.

There's been some discussion on my Needles of Steel MKC Whatsapp group about how many machines we all have. My out of use ones are stored like this, for want of a better option. The machine under the sheet is the SK840/SRP60N, and just seen by the blue yarn/white leg is the CSM. The workshop machine lives in the garage, along with another ribber. Out of shot to the right is the Passap E6000. 


On Sunday sweetie planned a short walk around the canals just at the back of Elliott's Field retail park in Rugby. The Oxford Canal, Rivers Avon and Swift all snake around this area - it took us a while to figure out how to get down onto the canal as it's in a steep cutting here. The canal was originally a contour canal that was later straightened, so there's lots of "lost" bits in the area. As luck would have it, we even got a bit of sunshine, the weather turned nasty later on. After the walk we browsed in Dunelm and had a look at bathroom ideas, as our ensuite is in need of replacement. Very middle-aged but somewhat productive, I just wish they'd show more space-saving solutions. We can't all have bathrooms the size of main bedroooms, surely?!

Complete with ghost sign from Rugby Wharf advertising calor gas (I think the wharf still exists, but much smaller and not in this shot). The white bridge had smooth gouges in the railing nearest the sign, almost as if worn down by ropes constantly running across it. 

The mural is under a bridge near the Harvester, I wonder how many commuters even know it's there as they drive over it?

Current mood: curious

Thursday, March 09, 2023

Going Round in Circles 2023

I was delighted to be invited to this annual event again, and this year I decided I wanted to be a student and not a teacher. Nothing against teaching of course, just that I've done it quite a few times now and as I've not really gone much out of my own comfort zone, I'm not sure what I could teach that most haven't already seen! 

I picked up my friend P and we got there without incident. We're only 50 minutes away from the venue, so were somewhat early. We couldn't get into the conference rooms to unload because the hotel was hosting cabin crew examinations (which we were warned about). So we spent what felt like ages in the bar chatting, surrounded by some very noisy twenty-somethings doing the same! I seemed to be in the same room as last year, but luckily the lock had been replaced so that it actually locked and unlocked consistantly. I only seemed to have the one bedside lamp with a bulb, so I swiftly swapped it to my preferred side of the bed!

In the end I ate an instant noodle I'd brought with me, because time was getting on and I need to take medication at certain times of the day. Whilst P had her dinner I unloaded our gear from the car and parked up again, and she came and we got set up and somewhat organised for the morrow.  The hotel wifi was down all weekend (and I was a long way from reception) so I used up my free credit. Glad I didn't bother taking my laptop now! 

On Saturday morning, I spent the morning chatting with P and E and catching up with other familiar friends, whilst attempting to make what I thought would be one of my fairly straightforward tube socks. Oh dear! The yarn kept not knitting (I knit my socks pretty tight on the 72 cylinder). It's not a yarn I've used before (I don't think those sellers turned up this year) - it looked thinner but was perhaps more tightly spun. The Wool Wagon arrived and I accidentally bought more yarn from both them and H (aka The Sock Doc). I learned an ingenious way to park the ribber needles whilst working a heel on a ribbed sock, which will enable me to see where I'm hanging the heel fork. It's soo clever and obvious, I wish I'd thought of it myself. Meanwhile, P had lots of help knitting a ribbed sock from another friend. I also attended an interesting talk on calf shaping, where the ribber is set to 1/3 or 2/3 pitch so that extra needles are added at the start - ie, 4x1 for the front half of the cylinder - and how to do that without getting holes, and then to return them to 3x1 to make different calf shapings. Fascinating and not something I'd ever come across before. It is mostly fully fashioned shaping, as done on flat bed domestic knitting machines - but not something I've ever considered attempting on my CSM for some reason! By the end of the day I'd managed a pair of the tube socks in the misbehaving yarn, and most of one sock in Drops Delight, which I understand is discontinued?! Ugh, another lovely yarn I won't be able to get soon. Rats.

I had a quick walk before dinner just because I needed some fresh air, then came back and glammed up for the evening meal. The food was great but the conversation turned to deaths of pets so I made my excuses and got a drink, because the following day was annniversary of the day we had Thomas euthanised and I needed to not think about that too much! I got a very nice white wine spritzer, with hibiscus blossom and star anise in the top, and caught up with the lady who runs the ex-Metropolitan correspondance courses and Eric of the amazing 3D printed CSM items. 

I awoke too early on Sunday, after a nightmare where everyone was persecuting me. No idea what that was about, just that my sweetie wasn't on my side either, which was the only thing that really upset me! On and off I supervised P in making a 2nd sock to match her first one. We got into a few pickles, but nothing that couldn't be fixed. I watched the jacquard patterning Reader CSM, which uses a flying saucer shaped patterning attachment containing little metal jacks, set at an angle, to automatically knit two coloured socks. It took the convention organisers quite some time to figure out how to program it - the disc has a different number of pins to the CSM itself, enabling you to knit 12 row repeated patterns. Initially a colour is "tucked" ie it floats in front, but then it gets flipped over to the inside as for fairisle so becomes a slip. Ingenious! I also attended a talk on russian joins and scrappy socks (probably more fun to knit socks from scraps than use them for granny squares as is my current wont), and another on manual tuck techniques and using holding position to knit in different colours. 

A lady was trying to auction off some CSMs - I thought the asking price was a little high compared to last year, but then I have a machine so my interest is always academic (and I stay well off ebay normally). I think she sold three in the end. There were some lovely competition entries. Nope, the socks in the last post didn't win - I didn't realise, but one sock being longer is dead obvious when it includes zigzag lace transfers, whoops! The winners were all worthy and I've already enjoyed wearing my lacey socks anyway. 

All in all a good weekend - if I had any complaints, it's that two days is never long enough! Five would be less rushed, we could all alternate between learning and putting it into practice. As the event is all in aid of Ruddington Museum it's all in a good cause, and we're lucky we have anything to attend of course. COVID and financial considerations killed off the remaining MK shows, and there weren't many left before the pandemic as it was! 

I will add some pictures when I get them off my mobile phone - there were some amazing 3D printed CSMs there, but I don't think the technology is quite there yet as regards ribbing!


The reader CSM


Pretty printed cylinders - one of them is a rainbow if you look closely!


A winning sock entry - tuck, why didn't I think of that?

Current mood: enthralled

Sunday, March 05, 2023

Some FOs

I'm post dating this entry because the last photo is a competition entry and I don't want anyone favouring me (or not) because they've seen my socks online (though, it is a TERRIBLE photo!)

Yes, dear reader, I am not dead. Just dead tired - flipping stupid hormones, lack thereof. I long for a night where I sleep through instead of waking at stupid o'clock basted in my own juices. It is a forlorn hope.  I am grumpy, find almost everything irritating, and am liable to go off on one at the drop of a hat. My mood is not good - bleak is probably the best word for it. I feel as if I am just existing, clock watching every day that doesn't start with an S. 

Work has continued at a snail's pace (it feels) on the Pauline cardigan - I am on the second sleeve and am playing a long game of yarn chicken now - will there be enough? The tunisian cushion cover part 2 is partially complete. I made a swatch on the SK840 in a terracotta boucle of unknown content and promptly tumble-dryed it by accident, thus wasting my effort. I picked up a block printing kit from The Arty Crafty Place at the Big Textiles show in October. Last weekend, having nothing better to do, and both of us being in a funk because of the continued cold and blah weather and the permacrisis generally, I decided to crack the kit open and print both the teatowel and bag. Yes, I probably shouldn't have swapped brown for red but I'm still not a big fan of brown as yet! Thus inspired, I rounded up all the spare fat quarters with no project in mind and made a bunch more shopping bags (from the MORSbags pattern). As you can see there's a cream one begging for more block printing. I am tempted to perhaps just do the flowers and the bee, we shall see... A quick ironing session and these are colourfast, apparently, though I've no intention of washing the shopping bag unless I have to. Now I have to fight the urge to acquire All The Colours and more blocks. They can be used for papercrafts too, of course. I do have quite a collection of rubber stamps already, but they are too shallow and not suitable for this purpose I suspect (though it's a thought!). 

Finally, the last picture is of a CSM cables and lace pattern from a Wendy Deters book. The complex sock is supposed to have six lace panels and 3 cable strips. I did start with that one but quickly went wrong and lost the will to live. They are not identical; there's a missing cable cross on the first one and the second one had a repair to a dropped stitch I couldn't catch and ended up with a few extra rounds on the foot. Never mind, at least I managed to make a competition entry. As this post goes up I will be on the way home from the annual "Going Round in Circles" CSM event in Kegworth. I doubt they will win but at least I tried! 


Block printed tote bag


Block printed teatowel

PXL_20230227_123242157 PXL_20230227_123255366

More shopping bags


CSM cable and lace socks

Current mood: exhausted and with a splitting headache

Saturday, February 11, 2023

The seamless jumper conundrum, part 2

Well, nobody commented, but never mind. 

It turns out that the jumper body is knitting first, from waste yarn, knitting sideways. When you get to the armhole, you park the main yarn to one side and knit the armhole in waste yarn,  (the rest of the body is set to hold here). Knit a row of ravel cord and then knit some more waste yarn. Re-engage the main yarn and knit the front, using decreases and increases where necessary to create a front neckline. Scrap off on waste yarn.

To knit the sleeve, it's a simple matter to pull out the single row of ravel cord and hang both halves of the armhole onto the middle of the machine. The sleeve is then knitted downwards, decreasing as required, and cast off. The other arm can be knit by picking up the same number of stitches from the relevant bits of cast on and cast off waste yarn from the body, and duplicating the first sleeve. Finally, what is left of the main yarn waste yarn parts can be mounted onto the machine, right sides together, and cast off. You have to mattress stitch the two sleeve seams (and as much of the shoulder seam as you want to - make sure it'll go over your heard) and weave in all the ends. So there you are - an apparently one-piece sweater, which is the main body knitted sideways first with sleeves knitted onto it downwards.  

I did knit a swatch of terracotta boucle yarn, intending to use it to calculate my own attempt at this, but alas it ended up getting tumble dried by mistake. I will have to knit another one and be more careful. My Passap has had the console upgraded with a new battery (and one of the springs failed as I got it off the stand, so that was repaired also). I'm still waking up at 4am every morning so not much else is happening knitting-wise, because keeping my eyes open after 6pm can be quite the challenge. However, I did have a spurt on the handknit Pauline cardigan so I've half a sleeve done. 

It's all I can do to stay upright and civil at the moment because I am bone tired - even fun things I've organised at the weekend seem a trial though I keep showing up anyway (I usually enjoy them, it just feels like such an effort to leave the house). Oh well. The light is coming back, I've seen snowdrops and daffodils and early crocuses this week. Not long now! 

Current mood: exhausted