Friday, 2 January 2009

Happy new year!

This year we did something exciting for new year. Instead of just sitting at home watching it all on the tv, we travelled up to London to be part of the crowds and to watch the fireworks for ourselves. I booked a budget hotel room near Euston, and we checked in and had supper there, then travelled down to the city centre. We passed through Trafalgar Square about 8 pm, when it was just starting to fill up and went down to Victoria Embankment to where they had closed off streets to create a firework viewing area. We bagged a prime spot directly opposite the London Eye and set up camp on a curb about 8:30 p.m. [This is someone else's photo, we were much closer to the river bank and more directly in front of the London Eye ferris wheel.]

I had been worried about whether waiting 3.5 hours for 15 minutes of fireworks would be worth it, but it was so much fun. The enclosure gradually filled up until it was very crowded, and everyone was in a party mood. BBC Radio 1 was blasting great songs out and everyone was dancing and singing along, there were people of all ages, impromptu dance displays going on, lots of drinking of course but I didn't see any bad behaviour. It is probably the closest I will get to being at a rave, lol. We were under streetlights so it was well lit, so I could knit, and I finished off Swooze's second sock while we were waiting. We had books to read and refreshments and a blanket to sit on, but the last hour it was really crowded and we were all watching the laser projections on the building across the river and waiting for the countdown. When the fireworks came, they were absolutely spectacular and all directly opposite us so we got the full effect, as everyone chanted down the 'bong's of Big Ben the matching fireworks were exploding right in front of us. At one point the sky was so filled with fireworks it looked like golden rain. The finale was deafening as dozens of fireworks went off together, the flashing was so vivid I had to close my eyes for a respite. Once they were over, the thousands of people all started streaming for the exit. We waited for a while until the crush had died down a bit, but still got stuck in a few jostling bottlenecks as we worked our way back up to Trafalgar Square. Transport was free on New Year's Eve, but having seen the size of the crowds we just walked back to our hotel, and finally got to bed about 2 am.

Thursday morning we woke up about 10, tucked into the all you can eat breakfast, then went back into London to see the New Year's Day parade. This was a huge thing going on for three hours, we only watched the first hour because we didn't have very good places and it was hard to see. Lots of American school marching bands, some of them about 60 strong, must have been a heck of a lot of fundraising going on to fly all those kids over here. Not many floats which was disappointing to me, parades in Canada when I was growing up always had lots of floats. By the time we got home Thursday afternoon, we felt like we had been away for days, and that the new year had well and truly started.

Meanwhile, I finished Bianca's Jacket, washed and blocked it. I am pretty pleased with it. The sleeves are slightly long on me but it is really comfortable and surprisingly warm, despite being fairly light. The Rowan Summer Tweed is 70% silk, 30% cotton. I will probably wear it to work when I have to back on Monday.

I also made a little christmas decoration from some sock yarn leftovers, using the mini-sock-keyring pattern that I bought at Alexander Palace a while ago. We will probably take our tree down this weekend, I am already gradually taking down the decorations throughout the rest of the house.

Here is a picture of the tie I am knitting for DH, using a pattern from Fons & Porter knitting magazine and Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn. I had to restart as the original was coming out too wide, I also switched to smaller needles to get a denser fabric. He is non-committal on whether he is actually going to wear it or not, I think he is withholding judgement until he sees the finished article, but he likes the colours. Did I blog that DH crumbled and bought more yarn and knit another scarf? Noro Silk Garden again, and longer and wider this time. He still says he isn't a knitter though, that he just wanted another scarf. Hmmmm, we shall see...

I finished the second quilt on my frame yesterday, and took it off and washed it. Hopefully I will get the binding on this weekend so I can take it into work next week. It didn't go too badly, although there are several bumps on the back where I paused too long in one place. The tension is fairly reasonable, and I learned a lot about using and positioning a panto. For example, if you forget that your top is pinned onto the canvas leader at the bottom, and try to stitch right to the bottom edge, then you will stitch your top to the canvas leader! I wouldn't want a quilter to come within 100 yards of this learning quilt, but the girl I am giving it to doesn't sew, so she will hopefully be happy with it.

Happy New Year to you all, hope 2009 brings you success, happiness and health, and lots of crafting achievement.

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