Thursday, 31 December 2009

Goodbye Old Year!

One more post before the year's out I think! I haven't exactly done much since my last post. Everyone here is taking full advantage of the lull between Christmas and New Year, and doing nothing at all really! It's nice to be able to do that and not feel guilty about it, although I am looking forward to life getting back to normal soon.

We've had yet more snow (though sadly not on Christmas day!), with freezing temperatures in-between. My van was so frozen up for a couple of days I couldn't even get into it. The battery's still flat, but I've bought a charger for it so hopefully it will be up and running again soon (as long as the engine hasn't seized up, it's been a while!).

I have made a start on the interior though. There's so much to do before I can begin putting a new interior in. First step was to rip the old one out!


And now...

Seeing it like that is a little bit daunting, but it has to get worse before it gets better, and I'm actually relishing the challenge. I can picture the finished product, parked next to some empty west-coast beach, in an orange sunset-glow... yep, we'll get there!

I'm really looking forward to this year, I'm quite optimistic that it will be a happy one!

So have a good evening people, and best wishes for a Brilliant 2010!! xx

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Ready to Relax!

Well that's it, everything's done, I'm ready for Christmas! I haven't posted in a little while, so here's a quick update...

We've had snow... ...that hasn't gone away! There's more forecast for tomorrow, so we might be in for a white Christmas!

The tree went up...

I turned 26... :( Despite the fact that I definitely get happier the older I get, for some reason I always feel sad and regretful around my birthday. I haven't achieved as much as I should in 26 years, and while I'm now a pretty happy person, I can't help feeling I could be happier if I could just be braver. A lot of wonderful opportunities have passed me by, it's quite right that I should regret them. The more I regret, the more pushed I'll feel the next time I have an opportunity I'd like to run away from, and that's a good thing.
That's pretty gloomy reading it back, but I think I'll let it stand. I'm always a little sad and reflective at this time of year, but I'm sure most people are! Thankfully though it's always mingled with the usual happy, snuggly sense of excitement that I hope I'll never lose. The day itself was good really - I got some lovely prezzies, and mum baked me a cake this year which was completely delish!

Borders has closed. That's the bookshop I was working in that went into administration. It was only a temporary job, but it was also one of my favourite shops. That's where I meet my friends for coffee, and it's the best place for having a good proper browse for new books. In just three weeks the place was transformed from a happy, calm, relaxing and lovely place to work and shop, into a frenzied, tacky, pound-shop of a place, that somehow managed to attract the very worst behaved people I've ever seen. Signs like 'Total Stock Liquidation', 'Everything Must Go' and 'Last Few Days' seem designed to make people oblivious to everything except getting a bargain, and being rude and impatient, even to the point where they will throw a book on the floor rather than go back and put it on the shelf, seems to some people like an acceptable way to behave.
Electronic Gift Cards (EGCs) have been a horrible nightmare, with us at the tills having to tell people that their card can only be redeemed if they spend double the amount of its value. It was bad for the customers to hear, but it was no easier for us to tell them. We've been shouted at, sworn at, one guy even threatened to smash in the front window, so I can absolutely say, without any hesitation, that I'm glad the place is finally closed and out of its misery. It's a shame, but every member of staff can do without that kind of stress.
On the bright side, at least none of us has to work over Christmas!

Grandad's ripple blanket was finished this morning, just in time! It ended up at 40x35in, which I think is big enough. I'm going to miss working on this, it was a nice simple pattern, with not too many fiddly colour changes (a good TV project!). It's become my nightly ritual - a bit of Kiefer watching on 24 and a bit of crochet! I'll probably make another one for myself before long. I'll need lots of lovely handmade things to go in this...

Yes indeedie! Isn't he beautiful? I've wanted a camper van for years, and last week I saw this in the paper and couldn't resist him at all! My mind is bursting with ideas for the interior (there's going to be a ton of work involved!), and I'm thinking green might be a good colour for the bodywork? Ooh I'm so excited! It's so cold out at the minute that I've hardly gotten near him, but oh when I do...! For the moment he's locked in ice, and the battery's gone flat...

Anyway, for now I'm ready to snuggle down and enjoy the holidays!
Merry Christmas!!!
Carrie xx

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Busy for Christmas

I haven't finished any projects this last little while, becuase I've been putting all my time into a spontaneous, last-minute christmas present - a ripple lap-blanket for my grandad:
I don't want it to be too big or heavy (his house is always roasting!), so I should have it finished in time, hopefully. Yarn used is Rowan Pure Wool DK in Kiss, Indigo, Honey, Port, and Emerald (hopefully a christmassy combination!).

Here are some other little bits and pieces I've been doing in-between crochet and work...

Updating some garden planters from dead summer plants to shiny new winter ones:
(Little red bells from Paperchase)

Little crochet flowers:

Sitting in my lovely warm car listening to Newton Faulkner while my brother braves a freezing cold howling gale to get a few photographs (it was a lot colder than it looks in the photo!):

And trying to stop Truffs from walking all over my other crochet blanket while I'm trying to block some squares (she's starting to look a bit protective of it!):

Not much else to report this time around. The bookshop I'm working in has gone into administration though, so come the new year it looks as though I'm going to have all the time in the world to finish off all the little projects I have lying around the place!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

A New Technique!

I've been doing a little bit more spinning since my last post, though of course not as much as I should. I want to work my way through the rest of my Wildcraft stash, before I order any more! First up was this Shetland top called 'Seaglass'.

It's a little softer than the English Wool blend, though still a bit coarse for navajo ply I think, so it's another 2 ply.

Again I had a problem getting the colours to match up, and ended up with about the same amount left on one bobbin as before. I can't quite work out how that's happening! I've also found out that my plying technique has been all wrong. I usually separate the 2 threads and control the twist with my right hand, leaving the left hand completely free for tea drinking! I realise now that I should have been controlling the twist, and feeding the yarn onto the bobbin with my left hand. I should have realised it wouldn't be that easy! I got a pretty good mileage out of it though, 228 yds at 10wpi.

I've had some plain pink merino sitting on a bobbin for quite a while, so I used that to have another shot at navajo ply.

It actually worked quite well this time! Well, the yarn snapped at one point, and I had to tie a knot in it to continue. I was surprised how quickly it came together though, once I got into the rhythm of it.

It gave me some confidence to try it out for real on some of this delicious Wildcraft Organic Merino (colourway 'Violets').

I'm stupidly pleased with the way this has turned out! It's not flawless, the yarn snapped a few times at the start, so I had to cut off a fair chunk of it to get rid of all the knots, and I think it's a little over-twisted at some points, but I don't think it's too noticeable. I love the way the colours have come together though, hopefully it will make for some decent colour repeats when it's knitted up. Actually I haven't decided what to do with it, or any of my handspun, yet. I'd like to try weaving some of it, but I'm reluctant to waste it all (my little bits of weaving leave much to be desired!). This one's 150 yds at 10wpi.

On another subject, I got my last harvest out of the garden before the winter...

Jerusalem Artichokes! Not exactly pretty, are they? I actually cut the plants back ages ago, and forgot all about them. I found them the other day when I was tidying the garden. They seem to have coped though, and were still nice and fresh looking when I dug them up. This is the first year I've ever tried them, and I still have no idea what I'm going to do with them. Apparently you can cook them like tatties, or make them into chips. We'll see!

Friday, 6 November 2009

Walking and Spinning

On Wednesday we had a farily decent day up here, for the first time in a good couple of weeks. So I went for a walk around a little loch not far from here, to try and get some final pics of the very last of the autumn colour, before it's gone for another year. It was a crisp, frosty sort of morning, that turned to bright, clear sunshine!

I had a lot of fun trying out the newly-discovered close-up function on my five year old camera!

I came home after my walk to my lovely little stash of Wildcraft fibre, that, I'm ashamed to say, has sat in a bag for months and months on end. I'm not sure what it is about this time of year, but I'm finally getting round to doing all these things that I've barely had time to look at all summer.

I've been trying to learn how to navajo ply by reading tutorials and watching youtube videos... to no avail whatsoever. In the end I was just about ready to hurl the entire wheel out the window in frustration, and gave it up. I really would like to learn how to do it though, becuase these hand-painted tops are really lovely to spin, but I can never get the colour to match when I'm plying, and it tends to make for a 'muddy' sort of yarn.

So this time I went for this English Wool Blend, which is too wiry for navajo plying. I split it right down the middle, in two equal parts (I thought), in the hope that when it came to plying, the colours on each bobbin would match, and that I would have roughly the same amount on each one, so as little as possible would go to waste.

In the end it didn't go exactly to plan. The colours went their seperate ways pretty early on, and there was an awful lot left on one bobbin after plying.
I think it still looks ok though. It's just over 168 yards (if I've done my maths right!), and is around 11wpi. I got the lot into one continuous skein thanks to my new jumbo flyer, which I am very chuffed with!

I'm so glad my spinning-mojo is back! It's nice to be feeling creative again.

If you've read this far, I'm amazed! I'll leave you with this little poppy that I found stuck into the side of the path on my walk. I thought it was nice, and left it there.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

A Little Bit of Crochet

This week I started a new job. At this time of year work in a garden centre dries up a bit, and for the last three years I've had to find alternative employment over the autumn/winter. So this year I've ended up working in a bookshop. It's only part-time, but there are a few hours coming up at the garden centre for bare-root hedging and tree deliveries, so I should still be kept pretty busy. At the moment though I'm on part-time hours, so I've been getting stuck in to some crochet.

This is a smaller version of Attic24 Lucy's Big Blanket, to fit a single bed (sigh!) rather than a double one. I think it will probably end up being 7 rows of 4 big squares (28 in total). I had thought 6 rows might be enough, but it's starting to look like that might be a bit small. So 13 down, 15 to go!

As you can probably tell, my photography skills need some work, and, as a brand-new blogger, so do my posting skills. I'm working on it, really!

Monday, 26 October 2009

1st Christmas Knits

For the past few days I've been feeling unusually organised. I've had a big clear out, and put some things up for sale that were bought with all the best intentions in the world, but which have been sitting, completely unused, under piles of debris in numerous corners ever since. Most of the casualties have been quilting supplies. I bought a lot of quilting supplies last year, but I never found the motivation to actually learn how to quilt. There's a lot more to it than meets the eye! I just don't have the space, or the time, to dedicate to it right now. Maybe one day.

I've also gotten my butt in gear to finish a couple of Christmas knits. I left it far too late last year, and no one got anything! The gloves on the left are 'Hooray For Me' gloves by Marnie Maclean. I love this pattern, and have used it quite a few times now. Very quick and easy. The yarn is King Cole Zig Zag in Aqua. I really like the feel of this yarn, and this blue is so vibrant!

The socks are from the free Opal pattern that comes with Opal sock yarn. These socks will probably be used as work socks, and will be worn with steel toe-capped boots, so I just wanted a good, simple, reliable pattern. I always wear Opal socks to work and they're very comfy (not to mention funky!). Yarn is King Cole Zig Zag in Rhapsody.

My mitred square blanket has also been picked up again for the first time in a little while. I love having this blanket there in the background, ready to be added to whenever some new spare sock yarn becomes available. It's a proper little labour of love, I think I'm going to be working on it for quite a long time! I have enough new odds and ends to make a nice little bit of progress on it now though, so watch this space!

Friday, 23 October 2009

A New Leaf

Hello, welcome to my cozy little corner of the internet!
I've been playing with the idea of starting my own blog for a while now, as a place to keep track of my projects and gather together small inspirational things, and where I can generally ramble on about the little things that keep me happy.
I'm quite looking forward to it!