Thursday, March 29, 2007

eep

most unexpectedly...
i have a new job!!
& not just any job - a job here....


28mar07


yes, that's right - a knitting shop!!!!!
i only found out on monday that kathleen (the lovely shop owner) was looking for a temporary part-timer to help cover her upcoming maternity leave, so of course i immediately phoned up & arranged to go in & see her yesterday afternoon. & after what was probably the best job interview i've ever had (think coffee, knitting, & chatting) i was offered the job! i'm now in shock... it happened far too quickly for me to take in properly, and i may be wandering about for the next couple of days asking people to pinch me, just to make sure i'm not dreaming.
it seems as though it will be perfect for me. it's part time, so i'll still have time to do the other things that i enjoy (like the handspun) but it means that i'll have more money coming in (which will be a nice change!). & after the training period, i'll mostly be working in the shop on my own, which i'll love - no busy offices for me! the only slightly worrying thing is that it means my little pup will be on his own all day for the days that i'm working, so i may have to arrange for someone to come in & visit him on those days. he can manage on his own for up to seven hours (mostly he just sleeps - probably on the couch!) but with travel time i'd be out of the house for just over eight hours, so that might be pushing it. i'm in for the full day on tuesday with kathleen to start learning about the shop, so that will be the pup's test run as well - i'll see how he manages on his own for the day & then decide. i'm hoping that if i take him for a nice big walk just before i leave, and then have everything ready at the front door to whisk him straight out again for another big walk when i get back, that he'll be fine - a little grumpy, perhaps, but he'll adjust, & it'll only be a couple of days a week. fingers crossed....
& in other exciting news, i'm picking my car up tomorrow - this week just gets better & better!!

Monday, March 26, 2007

welcome to the asylum

along with the bits & pieces of work still to be done as i finish closing down my business comes something requiring a bit more physical labour than the tax paperwork - re-converting what was previously a spare bedroom, & then my workshop, back into a guest room & spinning/knitting/yarn storage room. the big job will be putting a new floor down (it's just old, wrecked, bare floorboards at the moment) & we're going to hire someone to do that, but before that can happen, the room needs repainted. & although my response is always the same when it comes to this question, the RSA still feels the need to ask me what paint colour i want to choose.
white.
it's always white.
(not that we redecorate all that often, but still, i want white.)
i'm not a huge fan of colour on walls. maybe it's because i'm too changeable in my moods; if i chose a colour one day, i might not like it the next, but if the walls are just plain white i could put up pictures & take them down, bring in flowers & coloured vases & cushions & generally amuse my every whim without any huge painting hassles. maybe it's that i find the rest of the world too bright & jarring, and to have plain white walls means i have a calm home to retreat to. maybe i just like white.
but it's never as simple as that, is it? although i was of the opinion that white is white & that's all there is to it, nobody seems to have told the paint manufacturers. no, i have to choose which colour white i want.
& all i want is white!!!
finally, we managed to find a big tub of paint that was just called "white", & off we went with the painting - the RSA, who is only fractionally taller than me but has much longer arms (& what a pain in the bum that's been, i can tell you, when it came to knitting the first sweater sleeve) did the ceiling, & then i tackled as much of the walls as i could get to today while she was at work (which is about half the room, since the other half is taken up by the stuff in the room, which will be moved over to the painted side tomorrow so i can do the rest of the walls. it's complicated.).

26mar07


here it is so far, with the skirting boards still to be painted. it's looking very... um... bright. & maybe as though it's intended to be a bit too soothing, if you know what i mean....
yes, i am creating my very own asylum - you can join me if you like. i'll be the one rocking back & forth in the corner, knitting a second, seemlingly endless, sweater sleeve for someone with orangutan arms... (or, for an orangutan, depending on how delusional i become after another day of paint fumes).

Sunday, March 25, 2007

a few small things

firstly, the "creme egg" handspun is finished & has been added to the old maiden aunt site. it's a wonderfully soft 70% merino & 30% silk, & at 100 grams & 225 yards, it's a slightly thicker spun version of the first creme egg handspun, and although it's the same colourway it's in slightly deeper shades. delicious!

creme egg 2


secondly, although i'm still officially knitting from my stash, i did receive a yarn "purchase" in the mail recently. i'm not 100% sure if this counts as falling off the wagon, as i "bought" it with a free shop credit from hipknits, which i had earned by winding sock yarn into huge long skeins so they could be dyed as self-striping yarn. it's 100% cashmere laceweight, and is (i believe) from a different supplier than they normally get their cashmere, so it was only being sold in limited quantities on the sale page (& as of today they still have some left in a turquoise colourway, & if you like cashmere - is there anyone who doesn't? - definitely don't pass it up!!).


i'm not sure i can adequately describe exactly how gorgeous this yarn is; suffice it to say that when i unwrapped it from its packaging & touched it, i actually said (out loud, but thankfully nobody was there to hear me)... "oooohhhh, BABY". now, i'm not normally given to being that expressive about yarn, but it's indescribably soft, and the colours are beautiful. there's enough yardage to make a good-sized shawl or wrap from each colour - now i just have to find a pattern that's good enough for such precious yarn! (i'm thinking of the "obstacles shawl" from anne at knitspot for the purple, and possibly ella from knitty for the blue, although i may have to rework ella as the pattern isn't written for laceweight yarn).
& lastly (but definitely not least[ly?]) - i may have accidentally purchased a car yesterday. it all happened so fast, so i was a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing... i'm going in to test drive it next saturday (& all being well, also take it home!) so i can still back out if i want, which is the only thing that's preventing a total freak-out. i definitely want a car - i love having the freedom that a car can give me - but since i've only ever purchased one car in my life, and it was a £600 million-year-old banger, the prospect of getting a loan & buying a car that's only 3 years old & is still shiny & new is a bit scary. what if i break it? i haven't driven since august - what if i've forgotten how? eek....

24mar07


thank goodness i was taken to the pub after the whole car-buying experience - it definitely helped! & despite the dealership name, it's not a honda - it's a little red clio, & is very cute!
how was your weekend?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

little piles of sunshine

the only thing more soothing than knitting a stockinette sleeve? (which has now grown to near-mammoth proportions - guess i needed more soothing than i thought!)...


getting back on my lovely ashford spinning wheel & giving it a whirl.
i haven't been spinning for all that long; i had one afternoon of lessons from india just under a year ago now, and loved it so much that i immediately went searching for a wheel (no drop spindles for me, no sir - if i'm going to do something, i like to jump in feet first!). since i'm on a pretty limited budget, i was keeping an eye out for a used wheel, and last summer finally found a woman from the spinning guild on arran who was selling her old ashford traditional. & since i tend to dive into anything i take up with great enthusiasm (also known to non-fibre-enthusiasts as "obsession") it wasn't long before i threw caution to the winds & started buying undyed fibre to experiment with.
one such experiment was the "creme egg" merino/silk blend that i dyed up ages ago. the lighter bundle was spun up almost immediately & sent off to k1 yarns for sale, while the slightly darker bundle languished, forgotten in the recent rush of activity & distractions from various fronts.
but really... how could i have let it sit for so long??


a little pile of sunshine, waiting to be spun... beautiful. i've now spun up 100 grams of singles, and intend to ply it tomorrow or monday, so i'll keep you posted! & not only that, but it's been sunny not just today, but yesterday & the day before as well...
maybe the universe likes me this week after all?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

unemployable

as you may or may not know, i'm officially classed as a "disabled" person. (a discussion of that term is a whole other story, so i won't get into that just now!). over the past eight months or so i had been having some health issues which meant i was signed off from work, which along with some other factors means that i have taken the decision to close down my small business. i'm ok with this decision - i think it was definitely the right thing to do.
however....
i'm now unemployed.
& unfortunately, along with unemployment comes applying for jobseeker's allowance (the UK equivalent of welfare/unemployment benefit). in theory, i should be entitled to claim it, considering that i have faithfully paid my national insurance contributions throughout my self-employment & all previous employment. in reality, i'm still waiting (almost a month after making my application) to hear whether or not i'm going to get any money. & although i haven't received anything yet, i'm still required to attend various interviews & sessions at the local jobcentre at which i get repeatedly interrogated as to why i'm unemployed.
it's my own fault, really - i present as being an articulate & intelligent (albeit slightly odd) person, & compared with some of the folk i've seen at the jobcentre.... well, i'll let you imagine. scary stuff. but, & if you will permit me to rant a little, this is where having an "invisible disability" is a huge hindrance (& not, it would appear, something that the jobcentre staff have any experience with). although it's recorded in my computer file at the jobcentre that i have a "disability" & therefore have some restrictions on the kind of work i can do, the staff seem to be unable to match up what they're reading with the person sitting opposite them. & since seeing is believing, since they can't see anything "wrong" with me, then i must be fine. & they continue to pressure me to apply for jobs that simply aren't suitable (& which would probably cause me to have some kind of nervous breakdown after about a week, & then i'd be unemployed again! & also crazy! hooray!!).
i'm not unemployable - i'm smart, hardworking, and (mostly) reliable. but equally, there are some things that i just can't do. i don't define myself by the things i can't do, but i know my limitations. & after another session at the jobcentre this afternoon, i'm exhausted.
for the rest of the day i will mostly be watching "harry potter", & knitting a sleeve:


it's the first sleeve for the "seamless hybrid" sweater from "knitting without tears" (elizabeth zimmerman, of course!) done, as the body was, with a contrasting hem facing (that's the green bit in the picture - it's still to be turned). brainless & soothing knitting to calm the nerves.
& as a reward for those of you who made it through the rant, here's a very happy dog on the beach (finally, a sunny day!).

Friday, March 16, 2007

go away gray!

it's been so gray here - spring is coming, but not quickly enough for me!

16mar07


the gray skies & dreary days have been getting to me - i've always found the winters here particularly hard & this year has been no exception. in an attempt to cheer myself up, i've been continuing the "spring colours" dyeing experiments. the latest?

nothing but blue skies


more superwash bluefaced leicester sock yarn for the old maiden aunt shop, another 100 gram & 380 yard skein, colourway "nothing but blue skies" - some bright, spring-sky blues interspersed with darker blues & even a little purple. & a closeup:

nothing but blue skies - closeup


& i've finally finished spinning & plying the bluefaced leicester & silk blend fibre, which is still a bit disappointingly muted compared to the bright jewel tones of the dyed roving, but pretty nonetheless:

little fish


both skeins have been added to the shop so if you want them, go & get them!!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

ahem...

ok, so i don't say this often. but...

i was wrong.

ahem.
after a quick reskein to juggle up the patches of colour & get a better idea of how it will look knitted up - i love it. definitely hinting at spring - yellow daffodils, a little spring mud, & green, green grass...

the grass is greener


(above left, before reskeining; right, after reskeining. wow!)
new to the old maiden aunt shop - 100% bluefaced leicester superwash sock yarn, 380 yards & 100 grams per skein, colourway "the grass is greener". only 2 skeins available, so get it now & put some spring in your step! (sorry. i have an illness when it comes to bad puns, & there seems to be no cure.)
& a gratuitous closeup, just for fun:

the grass is greener - closeup

Monday, March 12, 2007

some small progress

finally, i've managed to do some work that isn't related to the bathroom. i'm feeling a bit rusty though as i haven't done anything fibre-related for over a week (apart from the most essential stress knitting) & alas, i think the results show how out of practice i am.
first, remember this?

11feb07


it's the bluefaced leicester & silk blend roving that was dyed, oh, over a month ago! it's been languishing in the spinning storage box waiting to be spun up, & i finally found some time to spend with it today. i've worked on it for most of the afternoon & have spun all 100g of it into fairly fine singles; here's a shot halfway through the process.

sadly, it's not quite what i had pictured; somehow my spinning technique has diluted the colours & made them less vibrant than the dyed roving. i'm trying not to judge it until i've got it plied, but i'm not 100% happy with the result.
& then another dyeing experiment, this time with a couple of skeins of the new superwash bluefaced leicester sock yarn. unlike with the spinning, this time i was actually aiming for a slightly muddy colour, something to reflect the creeping in of spring that's happening at the moment, but i may have made it a bit too muddy! (on the left, the yarn dyeing in the roasting pan, and on the right, the yarn hanging to dry.)


it does still hint to me of muted daffodils & muddy spring grass, but again, i'm not overly impressed with myself. once it's dry & reskeined, i may change my mind, but i'm not holding my breath.
that said, even though the results weren't great, it made me feel so much better just to be doing something! & i suppose some small progress is better than none at all.

Friday, March 09, 2007

wiped.

the last bits of plumbing, plastering, & fitting went in yesterday, and after two & a half hours of grouting this morning...


09mar07


finally, the bathroom is done (well, apart from painting & a new floor, but that's a problem for another day).
i'm officially wiped. i have a really low tolerance for upheaval, noise, & social contact, so this week has been completely exhausting for me. i've now reached a point where chocolate can't help me, and i'm even too tired to knit. luckily, i have a stash of lush bath treats & a brand new trashy magazine that i've been saving for this very moment....

if anyone needs me, i'll be in the bath.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

chocolate??


it's continuing to be stressful here, what with everything. the only answer? chocolate.
or, in this case, fleece artist merino sock yarn in "ebony" (which is doing a very good impression of a dark, bittersweet chocolate - yum). now, before i get in trouble for breaking my "knit-from-your-stash" pledge, i would like to officially state that this is a one-off purchase for a birthday present - fingerless gloves for my little sister who is currently in korea, & who has some rather specific yarn & colour requests which just don't match anything i have in my stash! & it doesn't count as buying yarn. so there. i'm just waiting for some hand measurements & then i can start knitting away - i'm excited to try the yarn as i've never knitted with it before, and even winding it into a ball was a delicious experience.
now, i'm off to eat chocolate for dinner - i'm a grownup & i can do what i want.

Monday, March 05, 2007

the little things

it's been a house of chaos here over the weekend. when we moved in to our flat over two years ago, we knew there were some things that needed fixing up - most obviously, the bathroom, with its lovely blue bathroom suite & pine panelling as far as the eye could see (nice, eh?).


03mar07


the RSA's wonderful dad (luckily for us, a plumber) has kindly been redoing our bathroom for us, but what with one problem after another it's been taking much longer than anticipated! removing the old tiles resulted in removal of part of the wall as well (whoops) which resulted in a big plastering job, and then there was some problem with the pipes, which i didn't quite understand but which added another half a day to the task. after three days (so far!) of disruption, it's become obvious that it's the little things that matter:
- finishing the endpaper mitts, which are now blocking - yay! - just in time to wear them to the next knitting meetup tomorrow & show them off to the people who will truly understand...


- starting another pair of monkey socks, this time all for me...

05mar07


- & having a working bath, sink & toilet all at the same time (& i can't even begin to tell you how exciting that is!)...


yep, it's definitely the little things that make a difference.

Friday, March 02, 2007

a week in pictures

what with one thing & another, i haven't had much luck when it comes to finding time to blog lately. to hold you over until i'm able to write a better post, here's the week in pictures:


26feb07


monday - mika in concert at the abc in glasgow. fantastic show - he's a great performer & amazing vocalist. we managed to find a little corner up in the top balcony which even had a seat for me (i'm far too old to stand up for a whole concert!).


27feb07


tuesday - the gossip in concert at the same venue. we got an even better place this time, closer to the stage but still sitting. this is more of a social life than i've had all year so far! they were incredible live - i now have a bit of a crush on beth ditto (not to mention her drummer...).


28feb07


wednesday - suffering. a stomach bug (no pictures of that, don't worry!) & lots of couch time equals knitting progress - a finished stockinette sock for the RSA (anything more challenging is beyond me today).


01mar07


thursday - a blue day. the anniversary of my dad's death, & i've been wearing his old sweatshirt & remembering him.

02mar07


& friday - a new toy, & more knitting progress. gifted to me by the incredibly generous rothane of the knitty coffeeshop, my very own ipod mini!! the bag next to it is a custom padded case made for me by alice from her etsy shop. today i will be mostly uploading songs & learning how to use my new gadget, as well as continuing my stomach bug recovery while knitting the second endpaper mitt.