Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Summer Readalong

If I ever go into a 'real' bookshop I'm hopeless at choosing new books, I almost always read Crime Novels and I have my favourite Authors plugged in to Amazon anyway so that I can keep up with the new releases. In order to introduce a little variety I decided that I would 'Read Along with Richard & Judy' and for the last two years have been reading their chosen book selections.
Overall it's a really good experience as I've read books by authors I'd never heard of and books with subject matter that I wouldn't normally touch with a barge pole. I think it's good for the soul as well as the mind to try new things.
The Summer Reading List for 2007 (Starts Wed 4th July) has just been released and the books are:-
The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
Relentless by Simon Kernick
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday
Getting Rid of Matthew by Jane Fallon
The Savage Garden by Mark Mills
How To Talk To A Widower by Jonathan Tropper
The Other Side of the Bridge by Mary Lawson

I have a few self-imposed rules for the ReadAlong:-
1. Books may be read in any order - the point here is to expand your reading horizons not keep up with the Joneses.
2. Books may be read at any speed - I have 3 children, do Richard & Judy really think I've got time to read a book a week, even on holiday?
3. You must read at least the first chapter of each book. If it's so awful that you can't bear to continue then you may give up but please recycle the book! This has only happened to me once with a book set in the Deep South of the US at the time of the Civil War and I'm sorry but despite the fact that Richard raved about it - it was deadly dull and it had to go.
4.Books should be obtained from a) the shelf of the library (cost-nil) b) Library Reservations (cost - 80p per book) c) (cost - 2nd class postage) d) Charity Shops e) ebay or for a SECONDHAND COPY and finally you are allowed to buy a new copy if all other options have been exhausted.

So I'm starting with Relentless because it's a thriller and so ought to be an easy first read. I found it on the shelf of the village library so I grabbed it before Richard and Judy start talking about it - once they mention a book it goes out of my library for months on end.....

Want to Join In?

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Bill Gates You Should Be ASHAMED.....

....taking my money, making your products almost indispensable and then fobbing me off when I have a problem. Well actually it's not just me, there are hundreds if not thousands of other people around the globe with exactly the same problem as me and Microsoft can't be bothered to fix it.

I'll start at the beginning. I have a Dell Desktop - over 4 years old now and a real workhorse, not the fastest machine and no fancy sound or graphics but it has worked all day every day for the past 4 years and I don't think you can ask more than that. But recently my USB ports have only worked intermittently - some days I can upload photos from the Camera and some days I can't, the Memory Stick sometimes works in the ports on the front of the machine and other days it will only work in the ones on the rear. Some days the Scanner won't start, some days the Colour Printer and on some glorious days NOTHING WORKS AT ALL.

I have tried every possible combination of equipment and ports and every combination of having things plugged in at Boot Up and plugged in after Booting up - the result? never the same on two consecutive days. I Googled to see if anyone else had the same problem....
Ooh look, lots of people have the same problem!! What did they do to fix it?

Tried tweaking the Registry, Un-installing and Re-installing Drivers etc etc and nothing worked. So I went to the Microsoft site and looked for their answer.
Guess what they say? Along the lines of 'We are aware that Users are experiencing intermittent problems with USB ports' BUT as the problem is intermittent and it doesn't affect everybody's machine in the whole wide world and because we're unlikely to get sued by anybody - WE'RE GOING TO DO NOTHING ABOUT IT.

I've bought a new laptop so I've got backup now but that brings it's own problems - it runs Vista and I didn't want to swap over and some of my favourite free utilities - AVG, ZoneAlarm etc are rumoured not to work properly under Vista. I will also have to look at a Wireless Network for the house as we only have one phone line. No time to knit this week - too busy cursing Bill.....

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

It's Been a Good Week for......

.....Fiesta Feet Socks (Pattern by Lucy Neatby) The heel flap is in a honeycomb stitch which looks great - my only complaint is that one side has a stocking stitch edge to it which makes picking up the stitches easy and neat, the other side of the flap is all slip stitches and by comparison looks a mess. The pattern on the sole is lovely - will do a close-up when I have some better daylight but if I'm honest I don't like the 'jog' in the pattern at the end of each round - I think it needs to be moved a couple of stitches over. Still, I'm now on the long slog up (or should that be down?) the foot towards the toe.

.... Finally Starting to Sell Online

I have had a website selling eco-friendly gifts for 18 months now and things have been moving VERY slowly. This week things finally started to move a bit faster and I actually had to re-order. These fairly traded baskets come from Madagascar and make GREAT summer knitting bags - they are all lined and have a drawstring or zip closure - room in there for a book and suntan lotion too. PLEASE check them out and tell your friends and there are plenty of other lovely little gifts.....

....Tidying up my life.
The downstairs rooms all all pretty clear now apart from the books which we are still trying to sell on ebay or exchange on ReadItSwapIt. That just leaves me with the mess and the clutter upstairs. I've been reading a book by Dawna Walters - the woman who started 'The Holding Company' selling all kinds of things to put your 'stuff' in. Now of course she has realised that the root of the problem is actually 'the stuff' and she advocates getting rid of it rather than buying storage for it. I can see her point but I don't think my kids are ready for it yet.
I have written myself a computer program that will match up the patterns I want to knit with the yarns I now have in my cupboard. I'm on the waiting list for Ravelry but in the meantime I need to get my house in order. The advantage of MY version of Ravelry is that I don't have to photograph my stash - after all I know perfectly well what it looks like, it's only upstairs!!

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Not Knitting Glade.....

So what's happening with Glade?? I'm sick to death of it that's what. I'm normally a 1 project person - slogging away at each thing until it's completed. But Glade just gets to me. I can't bear to frog it and forget it because I REALLY like the finished article but I just can't face it for a while. Here's the bottom edging 3.5 of 8 pattern repeats in and I still don't know if I'll have enough yarn. It's gone in a Carrier Bag for now until......Christmas??
Have cast on for Fiesta Feet Socks by Lucy Neatby instead - using Panda Wool in Ivory for the main colour and Panda Cotton for the variegated. I would have preferred to use Wool for the variegated part as well but it doesn't come in this colourway - Fruit Salad. Anyway you cast on and knit garter stitch stripes until the piece fits round your leg without stretching. Here's mine...

Then you graft the two ends together to make the cuff and pick up stitches along one edge. You then start knitting various textured stitches. Here I am having just divided for the heel.
I'm really pleased with the colours and with the level of difficulty of the pattern - it just looks enormous after the last pair of socks I knitted but it fits really well and the yarn is soft and comfy. A very welcome break from the Dreaded Glade.

Thoroughly Spoiled....

TWICE in a couple of days... First a Brown Box containing all sorts of goodies from my Angel Yarns Secret Summer Santa - Knitting Nanny. She says I was difficult to shop for but she really did a good job for me - I'm thrilled. The theme was 'The Sea' and everything came wrapped in beautiful blue and silver paper with a load of seashells to add to my collection. Inside the parcels I got... Merino Laceweight in a lovely Baby Blue and a Fiddlesticks Inky-Dinky Spider Stole pattern that I love the look of.
A paua shell bracelet, M&S Organic Chocolate with Rose, A Ball of JamiePossum DK in 'Ocean' and some iridescent beads (these last two came with the suggestion to knit Odessa from Magknits.)
Even the children got presents from KnittingNanny - what a star. It was a lovely ending to a yukky week.
On Monday I got ANOTHER parcel, this time from my SP10 pal and I still have no idea who it is although the return address said London. The box was ginormous and here's what was in it...
*With apologies for not rotating the photo before uploading it
On the bottom is a handmade needle case - the outside is a soft chenille and it's padded too. On the top of the inside flap is a Celtic Design that my Pal embroidered herself! Talented or what. Poking out of one of the pockets is a pair of Namaste Glass needles - drools......
Then there's a heart shaped box of fabulous chocolates with no nuts, a scented candle and finally two skeins of Colinette Tao Silk. What a treat - she's a great pal and I'm really itching to find out who she is.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Eco Tip - Number 1

I decided that there isn't enough 'Green' content on here so I'm going to publish ONE eco tip per week - something small and easy to do, nothing strenuous. Think about it - can you change your life one little green step at a time?

Tips Number 1 - Get a Fly Swat (You didn't expect me to be TOO serious did you?)
It's almost summer and as the weather in the UK improves, out come all the flies - big ones, little ones, ones that buzz, ones that bite. We're really lucky in England not to have the midges that they have in Scotland and not to have anything seriously gruesome like they have in hotter countries.
But still those little buzzy things are dead annoying not to say downright unhygenic. Before you reach for that can of Fly Spray or hang those sticky traps, have you stopped to think what's in them and just how they kill the insects????
I won't go into details here, you can Google for the answers, suffice to say that the chemicals in insect killer sprays are NASTY. Nasty for you, nasty for your children, nasty for your home oh and of course nasty for the insects. Spray enough in a room and close the door and you too would choke to death.
A plain old fly swat is the cheap and fun alternative. Round here they cost 50p - £1 (that's $1 to $2) and it's a lot of fun swatting and very satisfying to despatch the insect quickly and stop it from buzzing around your head. (Apologies to any Buddhists - I promise I say a prayer for each and every one I kill and no, i don't want to come back as a Housefly.) Even my children like to swat the flies and now if they see one in the room they come running for the fly swat so they can 'have a go'.
So this week's eco tip is ' Stop using chemical insect killers on a regular basis, either learn to live with them or SWAT them!'

P.S. Don't forget to clean your fly swat regularly - no NOT with bleach - hot soapy water will be fine!!

Thursday, 7 June 2007

No More Dyeing Then.....

....sorry about the pun but I'm a big fan of Ruth Rendell and I have been doing a lot of dyeing this week. Without giving too much away as it was all for swap partners - I did two 1200 yard skeins of Laceweight BFL, one I called 'Strawberry Ripple' and the other I christened Summer Meadow because it is green. One has gone to a swap partner and the other is waiting for some other items to join it for another Swap Package.

I also dyed 250g (8oz) of British BFL Tops for yet another Swap. I was really pleased with the colours so I hope she likes it as much as I do - good job I can't spin or I might have been tempted to keep it for myself.

The fibres came from Wingham Wool Work which has a workshop that looks like this

lovely isn't it? and it's only a few miles from where my Mother lives in Yorkshire.

And otherwise my only knitting is the dreaded Glade. I have successfully knitted up two cuff edgings now - both had to have extra plain rows on each end to make them fit the bottom of the stocking stitch sleeve. Then I realised that I wasn't going to have anywhere near enough yarn to complete the edging.
Having measured the back I have realised that it is way too big and so I had no choice but to unravel it all. I've now worked out how many stitches to cast on to make the back the correct size and hopefully with the spare yarn generated by knitting it smaller, I'll have enough to finish the cuff.
I'm really sick of Glade now and wish to God that I hadn't started.

Friday, 1 June 2007

Knitters Treat Exchange

I've benn waiting for so long but it finally arrive - my Knitters Treat Exchange package. My Treater was Lucy at Zebraknits and it came by Surface Mail all the way from the US. A big big thank you to Lucy for wrapping everything so well - nothing escaped from the package or got damaged. Here's what I got....

Quilting Arts magazine - hope there'll be some inspiration in here for using up my VERY large stash of fabrics.
Food Magazine which I haven't had time to look at yet but the cover looks good.
Body Shop Coconut Body Butter - now how on earth did Lucy know that I love this stuff - I have two pots of it upstairs. I was also surprised to find out that you could get Body Shop in the US - you learn something new every day.
Body & Bath Works Coconut Bath Gel
and finally - the yarn - Knitpicks Elegance Alpaca Silk in Lilac (their colour name not mine - it's darker than any Lilac bush I ever saw).
Have spent what little free time I've had this week looking up the yarn on Knitpicks' website and seeing what I could make with it. Lucy suggested a scarf but I'm still hoping that Summer will arrive in England soon so I'm very tempted to buy some more yarn and make at least a waistcoat if not a fully fledged jumper. Only problem is Knitpicks don't ship to the UK so I will have to hunt for some on or find a compatible yarn in the UK. Someday soon I've promised myself that I'll take a day off from the chores and the tidying......

Thanks again to Lucy - this was her first exchange - Lucy, I've added your Blog to my Feed Reader so I'll be keeping an eye on your quilting and your knitting.