Sunday, 30 November 2008

Christmas in November

Yesterday was the last meeting of my Saturday sewing club for the year, so we celebrated an early Christmas and it was really nice. I wore my knitted christmas waistcoat and christmas earrings, and collected all the Secret Santa gifts in a big Santa bag. We had a christmas tablecloth for our potluck lunch and I gave wrapped gifts to my two helpers who make it all possible every month. The group surprised me with a lovely thank you present they had all chipped in for, which was a pack of snowflake themed blue FQs, a book on hand knitting and some cash. My Secret Santa gift was a great printed panel Advent Calendar, which I really like, but I don't think I am going to make it up in time for tomorrow!

I snapped a photo of my Noro gloves with the pink finger, but this weekend I have cut off the pink finger (not with my hand inside) and reknit a blue finger so it looks a lot more like a matching pair of gloves. Now I just need to sew in the loose ends and they will be done. You can see in this picture how much the colour repeat varied. The gloves are virtually identical up to where the dark blue starts just above the thumb, then the first glove immediately went into a lot of brighter colours, while the second glove stayed dark blue for almost all the fingers.

Meanwhile the sock I took on the TBH has become my Portable Project. I took it along to a knitting evening on Thursday and got several more inches knit, and this weekend when we went down to visit the Christmas market in Bath, I turned the heel. I actually turned the heel twice, because the first time I had an odd number of stitches left over and realised that I had counted wrong on the first row. This is what happens when you try to turn a heel while simultaneously reading a magazine, watching the hotel tv and talking to your family. This is in Regia sock yarn and I am trying their generic sock pattern on the free leaflet. It is actually quite relaxing to just knit, without having to stop for thumbs and fingers like on the gloves. If Swooze likes the colours then perhaps she would like to have this pair when it's done :) . I tried a new-to- me cast on for these socks which I really like. You take a really long tail, do a long tail cast on around two needles held next to each other, then knit the first row with both strands of yarn. The result is a very stretchy, and yet nicely firm, edge to the top of the ribbing.

I finished stitching down the very wide binding on my xmas tree skirt. I purposely made it wide so that it acts as a final border, but it is now waving a bit as it isn't very stable. I may stitch all the way around 1/4 inch from the edge to stabilise the outer edge more. I took it to Show and Tell on Saturday and people quite liked it.

Friday night I took part in an online workshop with Jane Harrop, organised by the Stay at Home Miniaturists Group to make this leather armchair and side table. The instructions were excellent as always and I am hoping this will look good in my Rik Pierce house. The leather was really fine and soft and quite good to work with. This is 1/12th scale. You could also make a box of xmas decorations but I didn't buy that kit as it wouldn't fit in my RP house.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Back to normal...

I've just enjoyed a wonderful three days at home (I worked at home on Friday). Thursday night when I got home, I was so exhausted from the ordeal that I fell into bed at 9 p.m. Friday morning I wasn't really much better, and didn't really get going until about 10:30 a.m. But we've had a lovely weekend - the weather has been terrible with driving sleet and rain, so we have snuggled indoors all weekend and I've done lots of sewing. Today I even baked, something I rarely do: I made three different types of cookie and a coffee cake - once I had everything out, it just seemed easy to keep going. My family is thrilled, needless to say.

I finished this kit, called the Seamstress' Companion by Lisa's Little Things, which has gone into my quilting shop as a decorative display. It was rather fiddly as there are a lot of components, but I am really pleased with how it has turned out. I started it last Sunday when I had the house to myself, and finished it this weekend.

I've almost finished my xmas tree skirt. Here are some closeups of the Santa and reindeer, you can see the reins that link all the reindeer together, and the deer now have antlers, eyes, buttons on their harness etc. At the moment I am sewing down the binding, will take another pic when it is all done.

I've finished my Noro gloves but the second glove came out a different colour in the fingers than the first glove, which means the colourway in Noro Kureyon does not repeat exactly. The cuffs and palms are the same, but the first glove changed to several bright colours for the fingers whereas the second glove did not. So I think I might undo one of the first glove's fingers and re-knit it, because it is a bright pink and looks odd, like I dipped that finger in paint.

My Saturday sewing club is this coming weekend, so I made two more sample BOM blocks. We're almost finished now, just one more block to do in January. One lady is doing the whole top in just black and white, it looks fantastic.

I am hoping to set up my tabletop quilting frame in December and tackle my mound of tops. I got them all out and piled them up for this pic, then went through them. Some of them are too big for my frame, which only takes a single, but I think there are six that I can quilt on the frame. So I started pulling stash for the backs, this is going to use up a lot of stash in one swell foop. I also have the FQs that I pieced together several months ago when I had that big clearout, so I will make two backs out of those, and the rest of the backs are large pieces that I had in my stash. I bought a handlebar speed control so I won't have to improvise with my foot pedal tied to the handles anymore, which should be a big improvement. I haven't used the frame since last Christmas, so hopefully I will be able to get back up to speed on it.

Back to work tomorrow, sigh... I need to buy more lottery tickets.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

TBH Day 3: I survived, no handcuffs

I'm now waiting for a taxi which is coming in an hour to take a colleague to the airport, and I am sharing her cab as I live near the airport. WE'VE FINISHED!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a complete waste of three days of my life. However, I am proud to say I did not kill anyone, I am not leaving in handcuffs, I did not even lose my temper. I can't say that I distinguished myself professionally in any way, but I did not disgrace myself with any unseemly behaviour and was even able to be civil to our RAP (really annoying person). So I have done slightly better than our secretary, whose frustration began to vent onto the person of the facilitator, to the point where the secretary had to leave the room in the last half hour when the facilitator was trying to 'shush' the secretary as she took flipcharts down off the wall. Otherwise I think there might have been some bloodshed. The facilitator is rather annoying. She tried to sneak up on me when I was writing a letter to a friend during the morning's presentation because I am pretty sure she suspected me of not paying attention and wanted to expose me. It was a bit like a science fiction film, to begin with she was about 8 feet behind me, then next time I looked she was sitting at the end of my table, then I happened to glance up and she had moved her chair right up behind mine. I casually put down my agenda on top of my letter, leaving her frustrated I'm sure. Then later when she was distracted I put my letter in my purse.

Today was even more of a waste of time as most people had lost energy and were just sleepwalking through the day. Today was supposed to be all about planning our activities for the coming year. Not only was it a bad move to schedule this for day 3 when we are all zombies, but the time being given for the task was ludicrously short. Our breakout groups were supposed to come up with a year's plan in only one hour for each topic. Plus it became blatantly obvious that our ineffectual team leader has her own agenda as she kept popping into our syndicate rooms to give us strong steers in her preferred direction. Which is even more demotivating because you don't feel your output will go anywhere. Her favourite habit is to say, with warm sincerity: "that's a really good idea" and beam at you. I used to feel good about this response when I first joined, until I realised that it is her way of ignoring the idea. In fact, I was keeping count for a while today of the number of times she used the expression without writing down the idea or recording it in any way. Then I got into double figures and got bored. Perhaps she has a photographic memory but based on my observances, I would say not. It comes down to this in the end, that it doesn't matter how much brainstorming we do on being more efficient, higher performing, blah blah blah - if the leadership is not changing, then nothing changes. In fact, about my only takeaway from the endurance fest of the last three days is to discover that a few other (more senior) team members aren't too happy either with how our team operates. However, they are much more professional than me at playing the game.

So, dear readers, I apologise for putting you through TBH with me the last few days, but it has really helped me cope to know that you were here with me in spirit (or at least laughing at what I was going through) - thank you for your emails and comments of support.

Update on TBH Day 2: the dinner

Some of you may be wondering if I am making all this up, just to be funny. Sadly I am not.

Last night we congregated in the lobby , with much straggling, and fit into three taxis plus one person following in their car, to go out to a nearby pub for our second team dinner. It seemed a longer drive that I was expecting, and as my taxi (the second) drove away, the occupants of the first taxi came rushing back out of the pub calling to it to wait. (it didn't) Apparently the taxis were delivering us to The Swan pub in the wrong village. (Swan is a common pub name).

After a bit of finger pointing (I'm still not sure who gave the taxi firm the wrong address, whether it was our hapless secretary, the inefficient hotel, or our facilitator), our token male member phoned the taxi firm to explain the mistake. Now, this is the same grumpy taxi firm that we suffered with the first night. He got an ear full of abuse, saying it was our fault for giving them the wrong address, and they hung up on him without actually committing to sending a new taxi. Meanwhile the third taxi arrived, and having had the problem explained to them, drove off just as I pointed out that a fourth person could have gone into that taxi. So we all stood around in the cold for a while, I went into the pub to get warm and to call my husband to share the joke. The poor secretary hadn't brought the phone number of the pub we were supposed to be going to (I think she has learned a few hard lessons about organising an away day) so she felt really bad. After about 15 minutes, a cab did arrive, and we managed to cram into that and into the car of the woman who was driving herself. We finally arrived at the right pub about a half hour late, and starving. Dinner itself was fine (I am eating far too much these few days) then we called a cab to get back to the hotel. Again it was the grumpy taxi firm (they must run the only taxi firm in the area, and therefore get away with being as rude as they like) and when we asked the driver to pause briefly so that the woman colleague driving herself and others, could get her doors closed and pull out to follow us back to the hotel, we got a surly reply to the effect that he had other calls to go to that night, didn't he. He refused to stop, and only grudgingly pulled in to the side of the road after we were all protesting loudly, then he sulked all the way back to the hotel. Charming behaviour.

One last day to get through, and then I'm FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!! (until Monday anyway,...)

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

TBH Day two

Things to do to pass the time in meetings, meanwhile maintaining an expression of rapt attention

  • mental review of all current craft projects, with much mental fondling
  • pelvic floor exercises
  • try not to worry about DVT because of sitting too long with legs crossed
  • time the sunbeam as it tracks from one carpet square to the next, calculate how many carpet squares to traverse before the lunch break
  • mental knitting: amazingly satisfying, accompany with subtle finger twitching
  • experiment with eyes-open meditation: success if you can manage to miss at least two Powerpoint slides without losing expression of intent professional interest
  • inspect shoes and surreptiously remove dirt
  • inspect fingernails, ditto
  • check if team secretary is still awake
  • spin quietly back and forth on swivel chair
  • ever so casually adjust watch on wrist, so that later you can glance down to check time
  • regularly check agenda just in case it has miraculously shrunk and lunchtime is closer than you realised
  • occasionally nod as if the speaker is really profound
  • look longingly through narrow glass window in door, at the real world where lucky people have freedom of movement and don't have to look at Powerpoint slides
  • inspect colleagues and try to guess if their expressions of intent interest are in fact sincere
  • feel guilty and amazed at how much money you are earning to sit here on your butt accomplishing precisely zero, compared to people who have real jobs and work really hard, like teachers and police officers.
  • catch the media relations manager taking a long sniff of an uncapped marker pen. Begin to wonder about substance abuse. Resolve to check manager's nose over lunch as it looks like she has accidentally painted her nose with a fluorescent pink dry wipe marker
  • wonder at the lack of self awareness in people, who put points on flipcharts like "stop wasting time in team meetings" when they are the worst offenders

We got off to a 'great' start this morning [irony]. After a session where we were all supposed to call out what we got out of yesterday's session (luckily nobody asked me what I thought of it), we were then asked to each label a flipchart with our name (no anonymity) and put down what we hoped to give over the next few days, and what we hoped to take away. Since my answers would be 'nothing' and 'my sanity', I was a bit stumped, but it was all too much for our poor secretary who burst into tears and fled the room. I felt really bad for her, she is even more bored than I am and it is even less relevant for her, plus she doesnt have my years of experience at pretending to be paying attention during long presentations. She was coaxed back in with much expression of inclusiveness and team spirit, but I don't see that this was an improvement for her as then she had to sit through the rest of the day. She should have kept running...

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Teambuilding Hell Day One

I'm writing this with my knees crammed up against my rickety hotel door, because that is the only location in my room where the free hotel wireless signal is strong enough (29%). Predictably, instead of being housed in the main Edwardian country house part of the hotel, we are in a sort of motel annex across two car poorly lit car parks, and my room is down so many corridors and fire doors that I was tempted to lay a trail of breadcrumbs. I survived our afternoon start session: a 3.5 hour meeting in a windowless basement room, where I amused myself by watching both the secretary who had organised the meeting, and the facilitator who had just flown back from Canada, trying to stay awake. The facilitator's alertness strategy was to frown horrendously while forcing her eyes wide open, making her look quite mad. Then there was the usual muddle of trying to get eleven people to all collect their bags, go to the bathroom, and get out of the building, where we jammed ourselves onto a subway to get to the train station,.Waiting at the station at the other end were two grumpy taxi drivers (grumpy because we were 10 minutes late) who threw our suitcases into their cars and crammed us all in somehow. Our fashion designer media affairs manager had a luxury leather designer suitcase which she didn't want to have to carry on her lap, so the driver made several attempts to get it in the back, repeatedly smashing the hatch down like it would somehow magically close, and eventually broke off her handle then didn't even apologise. At the hotel, when we found out we were being put in the motel-like annex, we stood around for another 10 minutes while our secretary objected, to no avail. So here I am - the walls are so thin that I could hear my team mate hanging up every article of clothing in her room, which doesn't bode well for watching tv later. They've all rushed off to the bar to salvage the evening before we have to meet up for a team dinner. I am planning on an hour of peace, quiet and sanity restoring knitting... In fact, by the time I had packed three lots of knitting, my little laptop for the internet, and some books, there was no room left in my suitcase for clothes so I had to snatch the next largest suitcase off my son when he got back from his school trip last night.

Update: Dinner wasn't actually too bad, some of the workaholics actually loosened up and became a little human for a while. The menu, while pedestrian, was tasty enough. Halfway through the staff announced they would move our things to new rooms if we would give them our keys. I had to say I would move myself, as I was very conscious that I had left my knitting out on my bed and i didn't want to take the chance that they might overlook a needle or something vital. So at 9:45 pm I trekked across the dark wet car parks to pack my things and trundle back to the main part of the hotel. I am now in a much bigger room with a huge bathroom. This room is far too hot (the previous one was freezing), still very noisy (luckily I brought earplugs), but has the virtue of wired internet access which I was able to stretch across to the bed so I am now typing in relative comfort. Only two more days to go... and I've started knitting the last finger of my Noro gloves.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Teambuilding Hell

I've had an orgy of crafting today, because both Ds and Dh were out of the house all day. I spent a lot of the day dollshousing, but also did some quilting on my xmas tree skirt, plus knitting in front of the tv when I felt like a break. I felt a curious sense of deja vu, and realised that this is how I used to spend my time before I had a child, when weekends were completely at my disposal to spend as I pleased. Before I turned into a catering machine, homework nag, laundry worker and events planner. When the only deadline was "when will the glue dry so I can move to the next step", rather than "I've got 35 minutes until I have to put the vegetables on..." It was rather nice to re-visit the good old days, but on the other hand the house did seem pretty quiet and by late afternoon I was feeling lonely :( .

Today was the big day, that I have been building up to for several months: I poured the resin for the 'river' in front of my Rik Pierce house. I've been dreading it, as I've never worked with resin before, and I had visions of it either draining away through some unspotted hole, to spread all over the table. Or, of it never setting, and all my hard work being mired in a lake of permanently sticky goo. I used Envirotek Lite, which is the product recommended by Rik. I don't know if you can get it in the UK, I made sure to buy some at a hobby shop in America when I was there. The directions stress how important it is that you a) mix it properly, b) have proper ventilation, and c) it has to be at least 70 degrees for it to set (which kind of contradicts point 'b'). So I got everything ready, decided to sacrifice two old drinking glasses as mixing containers, spent some time hunting for a sturdy stir stick and ended up using one of my quilting rulers (gasps of horror from all the quilters reading this, but don't worry, I wiped it clean and then wiped it again with alcohol to remove the goo). I also cranked the central heating up to 21 degrees, then opened some windows and set the kitchen timer for the 2 minutes of mixing time, then for the 20 minutes that I had to pour it.

I was so worried about getting the 'water' to flow under the dock and around the boat, that I ended up flooding the resin right out the other side when I tilted the house up to encourage the resin to flow. Lots of mopping up with paper towels, before I poured the rest of the resin onto the exposed 'river'. Luckily I had mixed lots, the whole 8 fluid oz package. The smell was pretty overpowering, and even with the windows open I was feeling a bit lightheaded by the time I was satisfied. Then came the anxious wait all day to see if it would set. I left the kitchen closed up and the heat on, so it was good and warm in there. It is now almost 9 hours later, and it does seem to be setting, it is firm now but still a bit sticky. It looks great, like real water, but I wish I had done a better job painting the floor of the river. The resin seems to magnify every little scratch or defect in the paint when you look closely.

Here are the baby booties that I knit from an Erika Knight pattern published in 'Simply Knitting' magazine, using the newly launched Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK (75 extra fine merino, 20 silk, 5 cashmere). I have to be honest and admit that I did not enjoy either this pattern or this yarn. The pattern, which looks so simple, is like knitting origami, lots of stops and starts so you end up with several ends to sew in. You have to knit two mirror images, and it would have benefited hugely from a diagram to figure out what was going on. The yarn is extremely slippery, so much so that metal needles just fell right out of it, and made the knitting hard to hang on to when grasping the needles. The ball also fell apart. I switched to bamboo needles which was a big improvement but the yarn still felt almost slimy in the hands. The hat is from a pattern called "Grace's Lacy Star Hat" by Candace Bryant Janis, and was in my pattern a day knitting calendar for 2008. It is a great little knit, and apart from the slimy yarn, I really enjoyed it. I'm just finishing a pink hat, so I will have two sets for whatever gender presents itself, although I'm not convinced the hat will ever stay on a baby's head in this slippery yarn.

I was embarrassed to find, when I started quilting my xmas tree skirt, that I have gotten really 'pants' at it (to use a British expression). It has probably been months since I seriously quilted anything, and I have really lost the knack. I have done large stippling in the sky area, and squiggles-and-stars in the borders, but a lot of my stars look like they were drawn by a drunk.

I called this post 'teambuilding hell' because Tuesday I am obligated to attend a three day / two night teambuilding event at a hotel. I am dreading it, because there are several people on my new team that I don't like at all, and in fact one of them is incredibly annoying. Some of the others are alright, but there is absolutely nothing that we will possibly be doing that is going to make it worthwhile spending three whole days in their company. I will be lucky if I'm not leaving the hotel in the back of a squad car on Thursday. What a complete waste of time and money, not to mention imposing on my family and interrupting my crafting. I am taking lots of knitting, and hope to at least get some of that done, if I can get away with it. My husband has promised to come and visit me if I get absolutely desperate. So think of me, on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and wish me to have willpower and self control. And plenty of tolerance. I am going to be so booooooooooooooooooooooooooored.
One last review: I bought a new knitting magazine that I haven't seen before called "Verena knitting" from Burda, which claims to be Europe's top knit magazine. I've not seen it on the shelves before, and the subscription card invites people to become charter subscribers, so I assume it is fairly new. Despite the claim re Europe, it appears to be published and edited in the United States. I am disappointed with it. At first glance the high-fashion photographs make it look like a really cutting edge magazine. But when you actually look at the garments, most of them are either unflattering, unwearable in real life, or both, and there are no supplementary photographs with the patterns, despite the high fashion photographs covering up much of the essential construction detail with accessories or weird camera angles. There are a few patterns which aren't too bad, but there is something seriously strange going on with a lot of the sleeves, which appear to be far too tight even on the models' stick arms, with armpit hugging armholes. So that one is going in the recycling bin, not to my taste.
One of the podcasts I listen to has said that they have switched to Wordpress for their blog, because they got so fed up with Blogger's formatting problems. I always have problems when I add images, so I am tempted to go try out Wordpress. Any thoughts?

Sunday, 9 November 2008


Last night we went to a local fireworks display for Guy Fawkes. The weather was pretty uncertain, very rainy and gusts of wind all day, I thought it might get cancelled. But late in the afternoon the weather calmed down, and the display went ahead at 6 pm. Dh and Ds indulged in the provided sausages in buns, but I didn't risk it. The display lasted about 10 or 15 minutes, and there were probably 300 + people there cheering and oohing and ahhing. Nice autumn thing to do.

I got the borders onto my tree skirt, and the applique is all sewn down now. I've also pieced a backing for it. But before I quilt it, I think I will machine embroider the reindeer antlers, instead of doing them by hand afterwards like the pattern suggests. After quilting, I will cut out the hole for the tree, bind the entire edge, and sew on buttons and 'reins' connecting all the reindeer.

I also did some more work on my Rik Pierce house. I had bought some plastic greenery at Hobbycraft, so I pulled that apart and 'planted' a garden on both sides of the house, to make it look like it is nestled in natural surroundings. It was fun, like instant gardening, and really brings the house to life. The next step will be to pour the resin for the river in front of the house, something I am rather nervous about as I have never used resin before.

A strange thing happened at work. I was hiding in the bathroom for some peace and quiet and a bit of knitting (as you do), when someone else came in to another cubicle and proceeded to sob their heart out for five minutes. It was awful. I didn't know whether to make a noise and reveal myself, or just keep quiet and hope they didn't notice they weren't alone. I kept quiet in the end until they left. I think it might have been one of my team mates, whose fiance has broken up with her recently and wrecked her life. She is moving to another apartment soon, so when I got out of the bathroom I emailed her to ask her if she would like a quilt for her new place. I will take in some of my UFO tops on Monday to see if she likes any of them, then quilt it for her over Christmas. Thank god for being married and not having to date any more. Most of my team are significantly younger than me, and are still single, moving house frequently, travelling, wondering about going home for christmas to their parents, all that stuff that seems so long ago for me and I am grateful to be in a more settled period of my life. (touch wood...)

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Suddenly it's November

Suddenly it's November - how did that happen? I was out every night last week, including a tedious one night business trip to an industrial park in Rijswijk, Holland which used up two whole days but at least gave me lots of knitting time on my 2nd Noro glove (which now has a thumb and a little finger). I took two sets of wooden dpns for the glove and they went through security in both directions at the airport without comment. Friday I worked from home, so had time to put up the Halloween decorations and carve some pumpkins. I bagged up 40 bags of sweets, then suddenly worried that I wouldn't have enough so made a dash to Woolworth for a few more bags. In the end, we only had about 20 children come to the door, which is disappointing but at least they had all made an effort with their costumes and loved my decorations. That left me with a huge quantity of sweets, so I took all the bagged up sweets over to a friend's, who is going to take them to another friend who is having a charity sale to raise money for a hospice - she will use them for a Lucky Dip, so they are going to a good cause. Now we are looking forward to a good fireworks display for Guy Fawkes - there is a big commercial one next Saturday which we will likely go to.

The other thing I did on Friday was finish off the Paperclay shingles on my Rik Pierce house. I managed to do it from 1 3/4 bags of Paperclay, so didn't have to open my third and final pack. After letting them dry completely, on Sunday I gave them a dirty water wash, then a terracotta paint job (and boy were there a zillion nooks and crannies - I kept thinking I was finished then spotting more white bits), then touched up with 3 or 4 other colours, then applied flock in various sizes. We also had a trip to Hobbycraft today because I had some vouchers, and I picked up some artificial greenery to do the garden with.

I also made some bulrushes this weekend, using some plastic thin greenery I bought at Joanne's Fabrics in Indiana. I cut several tips for the leaves, then a bit of stem which I dipped in glue and then into brown flock for the rush. Then I glued them into a bundle. Once that was dry, I glued it into the 'river' in front of the house. When the glue dries I will touch up their surroundings with paint.

I've been knitting on Bianca's Jacket in Rowan Summer Tweed. Funnily enough, I was listening to a podcast where the speaker said she hated knitting with this yarn. I quite like it, it is soft and chenille like. You have to pull the stitches through a bit as it is not elastic, but I like the feel of it, and it knits up quite quickly. I am just casting off for the armholes now, after knitting the bottom part all in one piece. Next I have to do the sleeves, then all the pieces get picked up for a lace yoke which will be fun. When we were at Hobbycraft today I picked up several colours of DK weight yarn to try my hand at some more teddy bears from The Knitted Teddy Bear book. The bear I knit before was in a thin 4 ply and he looked a bit scrawny, so I want to try again.
Progress on the xmas tree skirt is slow. I have zigzagged over all the applique pieces now in invisible thread, and I have cut out most of the pieces for the scrap border but haven't sewn them yet.

I spent an hour and a half Saturday morning trying to reduce the pile of magazines which is threatening to swamp my desk and also the kitchen. I haven't had as much time to read them lately, and they build up quite quickly especially when I keep old ones thinking that I am going to look up some of the links on the internet. I am dropping my subscription to two of my American dollshouse mags because the exchange rate is so bad, but I can't feel too virtuous because of subscribing to Simply Knitting and Debbie Bliss Knitting at the Alexandra Palace show. What can I say, I am a magazine slut...

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