Saturday, 28 July 2012

The plug has been pulled

I did it.  I have handed my notice in at my job.  There, I've said it 'out loud' which feels a bit weird as I have been keeping it as a deep dark secret all week in my actual workplace.  I am not big on goodbyes and speeches so I expressed my preference to my manager to keep it low key and quiet and I won't actually be telling everyone until a few weeks before I go in August. Leaving feels like the right thing to do, there is nowhere to go there and now I will have more motivation, and more time, to find something else.

Meanwhile, the Olympics are upon us and I get to work from home over the next two weeks, apart from two days, so it almost feels like my reward for leaving is a two week holiday! Although I am sure that's not how our employers see it  :)  Last night I stayed up to see the strangely disjointed Open Ceremony and once the athletes were parading I started frogging my Noro Matsuri Cardigan UFO for the Ravellenics.  I was close to finishing so I even kept going through the caterwauling of the World's Oldest Beatle (although I did mute the television) and wound the last skein as the BBC announcers signed off at 1am.  So today I am feeling a bit sleep deprived.

We did indeed have a heat wave over the last week, which finally broke yesterday, so I was finally able to wear a couple of the Five Minute Skirts that I made in the previous heat wave. They've been languishing in my closet during all the cold rainy weeks. Our new-build house has pulled its usual trick of being really hot every night in the bedrooms, which has made sleeping a bit difficult a few nights, so I was grateful for the cool night last night.

Speaking of houses, I have been feeling this week like Someone Up There has been taunting me.  Do you remember we went to look at the enormous house nearby a few months ago, the one which would be ideal for craft studios and which crystallised our decision to move somewhere bigger?  At the time we couldn't afford it and it needed too much work and our house is nowhere near ready to go on the market, so I sadly abandoned the idea.  So there I am on Monday morning, on my way to work to hand in my notice for my job, when I spot the same house in the paper now up for auction at a considerably reduced price (but still too much for us when we haven't sold our house). The auction was two days later so there was no way we could have got all the legal and financial stuff done in time, so I growled a bit and gritted my teeth.  So Thursday, the day after the auction and four days after handing in my notice, I check the auction site to find the house didn't even sell (that's how ugly it is folks) and is now at an even more reduced price!  Gaaah!  It's like a carrot dangling from a stick that I just can't quite reach.  If I thought our house would sell quickly, and if I had a job so we could get a small mortgage to make up the difference...  and if I had just won the lottery Friday night...  Bleah.

Commuter knitting this week (when it wasn't too hot to touch wool) has been the Garter Stitch Shawl.  I had previously blogged that this yarn was a Zauberball, but realised when I went to post it on Ravelry that it is in fact a Lang Yarns Jawoll Magic Dégradé yarn.  This picture is taken while I'm in the middle of a row, sorry.

Much as I am loving the colours of this, I am beginning to wonder if I will ever wear this in public. It's a bit like a bumblebee that has been feasting on too many tropical flowers.

Also this week I have tackled one of my oldest quilting projects.  Over two decades ago, and I think it was actually on my honeymoon, I bought a panel of medieval 'Book of Hours' scenes from an indoor market in the southwest of England. It was probably intended for cushions but I thought I would make a quilt from it.  I've never known what to do with it, but hung onto it all these years and moved it from house to house.  Then recently I found the brilliant book 'Great Sets' by Sharyn Craig, subtitled "7 roadmaps to spectacular quilts".  This was one of my £2 finds at the bargain bookshop in London across from the British library.  There are answers in here to so many block conundrums that I am sure I will use this book again and again.

I decided to set my medieval blocks using Sharyn's modified Garden Maze setting, and I am already pleased with how it is looking.  I cut small cornerstones from the border pattern which shows miniature versions of the blocks.  I have the rows completed for the middle but not sewn together yet.  This will be around lap size I think.

TV knitting this week has been the Union Jack bag from Simply Knitting magazine.  I finished the flag but had a kazillion ends on the back from the intarsia.  As I am going to be lining the bag, in the end I just knotted a lot of them together with small reef knots.  I am currently knitting the other side of the bag - I deviated from the pattern which is just two simple squares sewn together.  I picked up stitches along the bottom of the flag and knit a garter stitch 'bottom' and then cast on more stitches to create side gussets before knitting upwards for the back piece. I think this will be a knitting bag, although I suppose I could flaunt it next time we have a patriotic event.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Home again

It's been really great to be home with all my things, and especially my own comfortable bed, but we did have a lovely holiday.  Orkney was so atmospheric and picturesque, with such stunning views and incredible ancient monuments.

On the final day, we drove to the top of Wideford Hill and walked over a mile down through fields to visit the Wideford Cairn on the hillside.  On the way is a derelict gate to nowhere, in the middle of nowhere, and darn if it didn't have yarn bombing on it.  There are obviously some very active yarn bombers on Orkney!. This installation included a little doll, possibly a Viking, with a little flask, as well as strips of knitting tied onto the gate.

By the time we landed in Heathrow I had almost finished my Piper's Journey Shawl, despite breaking a needle on the last day and having to finish the lace border knitting with a broken stub on the plane.  I finished it yesterday and blocked it today.  There seems to be differing opinions on Ravelry as to whether it blocks as a long crescent or as a croissant shape, mine seemed to want to be a croissant shape.  This is Quince & Co Chickadee, which was lovely and springy to knit with.  It seems to have relaxed somewhat alarmingly now that it is wet, but I will wait until it's dry before I reach a verdict.

Today was my monthly sewing club, where I taught the third and final instalment in the Machine Quilting course.  One person had done a lot of practicing and was getting on really well, which makes it feel worthwhile. Most of the others had at least had a go at it, and some intend to do more.  In the afternoon, I made up the panel of four placemats that I bought from Keepsake Quilting - straight stitching on the sides and meandering in the central part. They're cute, and we used them for supper tonight.

I actually had to water the garden today, which feels odd after the weeks of rain we've had.  Apparently we are now going to have a heat wave up to 30 degrees, just in time for the Olympics starting next week.  Bizarre weather.  I'm hoping that my journey to work isn't going to be too bad with all the Olympic crowds, but I'm looking forward to being able to work from home for four days each of the two weeks of the main games. Hopefully it's going to  mean lots more crafting time, as right away I will save three hours of commuting time each day.

Job hunting update:  my telephone interview for the scary job led to a face-to-face interview, which went fine but not brilliantly.  I did not embarrass myself but I know I waffled too much and I got the feeling that I'm not what they are looking for.  However, I have subsequently had a telephone interview for a different and possibly even scarier job which went extremely well, so I will wait to hear if I am invited for a face to face interview for that one. I'm not too sure about that job as it would involve travel to locations up north every few weeks, which would not be fun although it would mean lots of knitting time on the train - one must think about these things when one is a multi-crafter!

Friday, 20 July 2012

A suggested itinerary for a week in Orkney

We're now back from our very enjoyable holiday on the Orkney islands.  Before I went, I put in a lot of internet research to put together an itinerary that took in all of the major monuments and sights.  It worked well and we saw everything while still coming away feeling relaxed and like we've had a holiday.  So I thought it would be worth capturing the learning in a post, in case anyone Googles for a similar itinerary.

Getting there:  We flew with British Airways from Heathrow to Kirkwall, via Aberdeen, because we couldn't face the long drive.  It cost a bit more, but was so much easier and left more time for the holiday.  We had a two hour layover in Aberdeen each way, and the timing meant this was a supper break - tip: exit the departure lounge for a meal as there are more food choices in the terminal. Going up, we arrived in the evening; and coming back, we left Kirkwall airport at 17:20h and were back in Heathrow for 10pm.

Getting Around: We hired a car from Drive Orkney, who met us at Kirkwall airport and took us into Kirkwall to fill out the paperwork.  We had a Renault Clio which was fine for buzzing around all week, and we didn't even get through a full tank of petrol. We dropped it at the airport when we left, so it was very convenient.  There are public buses but it would be hard to visit everywhere worth seeing just on public transport.  There are also organised coaches, and we saw those people trooping on and off the bus at some of the main monuments, but we prefer to be able to get around on our own schedule. Driving was very easy as there were few cars on the roads except in Kirkwall and Stenness. Locals drive extremely fast, so be prepared to be overtaken, and to watch in amazement as they overtake laden tractors on blind corners and other feats of derring do.

Accommodation: We prefer self-catering, and there is a lot of that on offer on the mainland (main Orkney island). We stayed with Atlantis Lodges in Finstown, in an apartment that looked directly onto the sea and a lovely view (the sea was lapping under our living room window). It was immaculately clean and well kitted out.  Finstown is a small village with a post office, pub and general store which is centrally located for travelling all over the island.  Kirkwall is less than 10 minutes away where there is a Tesco and a Lidl for groceries.  We generally ate breakfast and supper at home, and had lunch out while we were sightseeing.  We did have one deluxe dinner out at the Merkister Hotel - the food was pretty good but also fairly expensive and we weren't that impressed with the service.  I noticed a lot of self catering cottages are located in Stromness, but that's not quite as central plus when we visited we found the main narrow street could get very congested with traffic which would be a pain on a daily basis.

Day One:  Travel to Orkney, collect hire car, check into accommodation, buy groceries.  In the evening, why not visit one of the 24 hour access monuments such as the Cuween Cairn on the hillside above Finstown?  Much more private than the bigger monuments, and there is a torch outside the entrance so you can crawl in and explore the chambered tomb for yourself.

Day Two: Hit all the UNESCO monuments for a great start to the holiday.  Visit Tormiston Mill to get your place on the timed visits to Maeshowe - aim for the 3pm slot say.  Then drive past the Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar and head for Skara Brae.  ** major moneysaving tip:  if you are English Heritage members, this gets you in free to all Historic Scotland monuments, saving you £14 for example on two entries to Skara Brae. When you get your Skara Brae ticket, ask for the tide times for the Brough of Birsay so you can check access for your visit later in the week.  Visit Skara Brae and Skail House, then have lunch in the excellent Skara Brae cafe (there are not that many cafes on the island, so bird in the hand...) Head back to the Ring of Brodgar in time for the 1pm guided tour by a Historic Scotland guide, very good and takes about one hour, setting the context for all the monuments in the area including the Ness of Brodgar dig.  Stop at the Stones of Stenness, and walk down the left side to reach the neolithic Barnhouse Village on the shores of the loch (or you can do these after your Maeshowe tour, depending on how you are doing for time).  Pop back to Tormiston Mill to go on the 3pm timed ticket tour of Maeshowe. Be amazed.  If you are still up for archaeology, drive back to the Ness of Brodgar dig (only open for six weeks in the summer) - there are guided tours at 11, 1pm and 3pm but you can also just wander in at other times and stand outside the perimeter rope to watch the diggers, plus there is a small souvenir shop there.

Day three: Explore the south mainland.  Visit the Rennibister Earth House (9:30-6pm daily) and then head south to the Churchill barriers and the Italian Chapel.  We went all the way south to see the Tomb of the Eagles, which had interesting talks about artefacts but the tombs themselves look very careworn from excessive visitors. St. Margaret's Hope is worth a walk around as well. On your way back, visit Mine Howe (11-5pm).  Then if it's nice, we recommend the Mull head nature reserve on Deerness, where there is the impressive Gloup (collapsed sea cave) and a variety of shorter and longer walks where you will see lots of birds.  If you are going to travel to Rousay tomorrow, then you need to book a place for your car on the ferry today.  We drove to Tingwall and booked directly with the ticket office there, but I expect you can do it over the phone as well.

Day Four: - Outing to the island of Rousay.  After the excitement of reversing onto the ferry (the only way to board), drive off at the other end and head to the left to visit the 'Great Ship of Death', the Midhowe Cairn.  This is a long clamber down from the road - not so bad going down, extremely breathless to come back up.  Well worth it though and next to the Cairn is the Midhowe Broch which unlike many brochs is not just a covered mound but an actual ruin you can walk into.  Head back towards the ferry and visit the Taversoe Tuick Cairn, which is near the road.  If you aren't too exhausted, the Blackhammer Cairn is also accessed from the same road, but is much more of a hike up the hill.  We got the 10:20 ferry and were done in time to come back on the 2:20pm ferry, including circumnavigating the island and eating our picnic lunch looking over to Egilsay, but there is a 3:20 sailing which would give you more comfort zone. We only saw one cafe which is by the ferry. Keep an eye out on the water, we saw about 20 seals sunning themselves on a reef. Once back in Tingwall, head north to visit the impressive Broch of Gurness, from which you have good views across to Rousay and to the Midhowe Broch.  If you still have time and energy, drive over to the Corrigall Farm Museum (open until 5pm) to see what it was like inside a farm house in the 19th C.  You can drive over the moor to get there (great views), and visit the Click Mill on the way.

Day five: Explore the north mainland today.  Drive towards Birsay, visiting the Kirbuster Farm Museum on the way.  Time your visit to coincide with the low tide times you looked up earlier at Skara Brae.  We had time to visit the Earl's Palace in Birsay as well as the Barony Mill, before low tide at late morning.  Walk across the newly revealed causeway to the Brough of Birsay to see the Pictish and Norse ruins (there was a very interesting talk by the custodian at 1pm, including replica artefacts to handle).  Head up the island to the top right hand cliffs where we saw nesting puffins, so cute.  The energetic can go and visit the lighthouse.  We had a late lunch in the tea room in Birsay - drive through the village, past the toilets, and keep going until you see greenhouses and the tea room is just the other side.

Day Six:  You could do a visit to the island of Hoy today (book your ferry in advance) and visit the Martello Tower, Dwarfie Staine, the museum and the Old Man of Hoy.  By this point, we were so relaxed that we decided not to do Hoy.  Instead we went into Kirkwall and ended up spending the whole day there.  There is a grey leaflet available with a heritage walk around town, which we followed and found very interesting, and includes the Earl's Palace and Bishop's palace.  There are several gift shops and knitwear shops worth visiting, and we had lunch at the St Magnus cafe in the Town Hall.  The Tankerness Museum is well worth a visit and had a good exhibition on the Ness of Brodgar excavations, which set us up well for our visit the following day. When we visited St Magnus Cathedral, we noticed a tour available of the upper spaces of the cathedral.  You have to pre-book as they only take six people at a time - go to the Custodian's office which is in the South transept to book. It was well worth it, we went up spiral staircases in the walls to look down on the nave, saw the private museum of artefacts, the clock mechanism, the bells, and went right up to the top of the tower (not good if you have a fear of heights!) which had spectacular views.  You can visit the Ortak jewellery showroom and visitor centre to the left of the harbour as well.

Day seven: Today we visited the Ness of Brodgar excavations and had the honour of listening to the Director of the Dig himself, as he had decided to host the first tour of the season.  Very interesting. In the afternoon we  headed down to Orphir and visited the Earl's Bu and watched the video presentation on the Orkneyinga Saga in the Saga Centre next to the Bu (free). We bought a picnic lunch from Tesco and ate it looking over Scapa Flow from the big beachfront near Kirkwall. Then we drove down to visit a display of dollshouses in Littlequoy and on the way back went into Kirkwall to visit the Earth House cairn in the industrial park (key available from Ortak Jewellery) and have another wander around some shops.  I hadn't planned too much for today and tomorrow, because if we had been unlucky with the weather on another day then we would have had these days in reserve.  But as it turned out, it was drier in Orkney than it was down in London.

Day eight:  This was our last day, but we didn't need to be at the airport until 4:30pm.  We started out with a testing walk down to the Wideford Cairn, which is about a mile downhill from the parking at the top of Wideford Hill which had stunning views over Kirkwall and towards Skapa Flow and Finstown. We decided to head back to the Ness of Brodgar dig to see how they had gotten on since yesterday (noticeable progress), and then re-visited Skara Brae to view it with new eyes after a week of visiting neolithic ruins (and free as we are English Heritage members).  We had lunch there again, and pottered around a bit before dropping the car at the airport in time to check in for our flight.

If you do go, have a lovely time and enjoy. We hope to go back again.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Yarn shopping in Kirkwall, Orkney

Today we spent the day in Kirkwall, the capital of Orkney. I had previously looked up yarn shops that might be found there, so in between sightseeing I managed to visit all of them. Just in case somebody Googles this post because they are also holidaying in Orkney, here are the shops I found. They are all on the long shopping street which changes name four times.

Orcadian Crafts, 8 Bridge Street. Knitwear, some of the North Ronaldsay Undyed yarn, some yarn on cones, and general gifts.

J&J Smith, 59 Albert Street. A general haberdashery store, some x-stitch, general craft supplies.

Wool and Wine, 11 Broad Street in a courtyard. A wine shop that also sells the Tait and Style slubby yarn, hand knits, and a range of buttons including these wooden ones which I bought for 20p each.

I bought the Fair Isle mug in a gift shop, there were three different designs. And we visited a display of Orcadian handicrafts where DH bought this runic fair isle hat in pure wool.

10-12 Victoria Street - knitwear, also a range of the New Lanark yarns in balls or on cones, hand dyed skeins by local artist, and knitting patterns by Liz Lovick. Also the North Ronaldsay yarn.

Simply Wool, 35 Victoria street. Beregere de France yarns, Sirdar, baby yarn, only a few local skeins but this was the only pure knitting shop.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Orkney update, and yarn

I bought some yarn! It was from The Woolshed, a craft business in Costa, Evie, to the northeast of the main island, operating out of a traditional stone barn. It is Aran weight, 100% Shetland wool from sheep on the island of Hoy, and hand dyed in Orkney. It came with a pattern for a cabled beanie hat which I would like to start right away, but I dont have the right needles with me. The yarn is the colours of Orkney, blues of the sea, and the greys of the rocks.

The weather has been fabulous today, another day of sunshine which is a wlcome change after all the rain back home. This morning we drove to the Brough of Birsay, a small deserted island that is only accessible at low tide. We walked up to the cliffs and saw some puffins which were adorable. We were walking along a rocky defile at the top of the empty island, and found some yarn bombing. I couldn't believe it. There were several pieces of stockinet tied onto rocks with i-cord, and a lace 'tam' of ribbon yarn adorning a round rock, in the middle of nowhere. Then when we were back down at the Viking ruins for the talk, which I was happily knitting to, the guide mentioned the yarn bombing and asked if I were responsible! I laughed my way out of that one but then some baffled visitors were asking me what this 'yarn bombing' was.

Towards the end of the day we went into the town of Stromness, which had a judged handicraft show on. Lots of different crafts, including several knitted categories. All the knitting seemed to be a competition between two ladies from the same village, maybe some rivalry there? There was this lovely lace doiley which I think had won first prize.

I've been working on an ancient cross stitch UFO, and on day 10 of the Advent calendar lace scarce, and the end is sight for the knitted border on my Pipers Journey shawl.

Friday, 13 July 2012

In the Orkneys

I'm posting this from our holiday flat looking over the bay at Finstown in the Orkney Islands north of Scotland. We're on holiday for a week, visiting some of the Neolithic monuments and taking in the scenery. Im using the Blogger app on an Ipad, which seems to append photos rather randomly but hopefully you will be able to put the correct photo to the right text. Today we visited the UNESCO World Heritage site of Skara Brae.

I've brought several knitting projects and even some cross stitch. I started a new garter stitch shawl using a Zauberball, it's good for knitting on while we are out and about, like tonight while we were queuing for an outdoor fish and chip van.

Today when we popped into Stromness for some tea and cake, I found two shops selling yarn. The first one had no name but had a selection of Noro, Colinette, Patons, and some local yarn of North Ronaldsay which was surprisingly soft. They also had some locally dyed small skeins but pricey at £9.95. They also had some gorgeous buttons in an antique drawer cabinet, and needles.

The second, called Quernstone, was basically a gift shop but at the back had a lot of baby yarn and some Patons in heavier thicknesses.

BeFore we came away, I got the borders on to the red and white quilt.

I've got some names of shops selling yarn in the capital of Kirkwall so there may be more yarn in my future. I did find a mini Neolithic pot in a gift shop which I can use as a dollshouse flower pot.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

The Olympics are coming

Here in London there is a feeling of holding our collective breath because we all know something REALLY BIG is coming closer and closer.  Every day I go into work, I notice more preparations: new signs on the Underground pointing to events, new branding banners advertising sponsors inside the station, more people handing out brochures about how to cope with the travel chaos, new road signs going up, Olympic rings hanging off Tower Bridge etc.  For us poor commuters, particularly the ones like me that aren't particularly interested in sport, there is a feeling of being herded closer and closer to a tall cliff that we are all going to have no choice about jumping off.  The travel chaos is predicted to be gargantuan, with up to 3 million additional journeys being made by public transport per DAY.

So I was rather pleased to see the rebels fighting back against the Empire when the whole 'The-event-formerly-known-as-the-Ravel-***pics' hit the fan -  and the national American papers, and the Twittersphere, and the podcasts, and so on and so on.  The USOC should have known better than to take on the fibreverse.  To show solidarity, I have decided to take part for the first time in the newly-rechristened Ravellenics.  I am entering my sad Noro cardi in the Frogging Trampoline, and I am going to try yet AGAIN to knit my machine knit jumper as part of the Rhythmic Machinistics event.  But in order to show that I am not excited by the whole cliff-jumping experience, I have joined Team Apathy which seemed to have the right attitude (motto: "We don't care if we finish anything").

I have carried out some stash augmentation this week.  Thursday and Friday we were in Cambridge, touring DS around the university open days.  I found some time late on Thursday to walk out to The Sheep Shop at 72 Beche Road, which was about a 1.5 mile walk on a very hot day.  But the owner was lovely when I got there and fetched me a glass of water (she probably didn't want this red-faced arrival to pass out on her floor).  It's a nice shop, and there were several yarns there I hadn't seen before, and I came away with some lace yarn that I had seen before but not bought:  Drops lace yarn in a lovely grey blue, and two skeins of Malabrigo Lace in a bright painter blue.

Today I got the bus over to the Middlesex Machine Knitters 'Knit and Natter' in Hampton, which isn't too far from me.  I had formed the impression that you could in fact knit and natter, but it turned out to be a very small machine knitting fair, and only limited sitting space in the refreshments room.  After browsing the interesting exhibitions and falling for a cone of Yeoman Tibet (silk and wool, gorgeous, 450 grams for £14.40), I did sit and knit for a while with a cup of tea, but began to feel that I was hogging one of the limited seats as ladies began to arrive to eat their packed lunch.  So I didn't stay for the talk by Iris Bishop, because it wasn't going to start until 1:30pm and there wasn't anywhere to wait nor anyone else knitting that I could natter to.

I was knitting on the Piper's Journey Shawl.  I have tried to memorise the lace border to free myself from having to read the chart.  Even though it is simple lace, I am only achieving a 50% success rate, so having to rip back 3" for every 6" that I knit.  I have now learned to count my 18 stitches on every return row, to make sure they haven't gone up or down.  You can see my short row tip in the second photo.

Sofa knitting this week has been yet again on the Eyelet Jumper, I am almost up to the armhole on the front now.

We are going on holiday towards the end of next week, leaving the grandparents in charge of DS (much to his annoyance).  We are heading up to the Orkney Islands off the northern tip of Scotland for a week of touring around archaeological sites which DH is interested in.  I have to decide what knitting projects to take.  Probably Piper's Journey and the Japanese Stitch Sock, and perhaps the Advent Calendar 2010 scarf if I download the charts before I go.  I am feeling the lack of a plain knitting project suitable for car journeys and  cinema visits - I may have to start another pair of vanilla socks.  Or perhaps find another garter stitch shawl pattern.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Isn't machine knitting fun.... not.

Before I blog, I just have to show you a picture of my nifty new Ipad stand.  All knitters should have one.

This was the end result of a protracted battle between myself and the cat as to whether  my lap was going to be occupied by my Ipad showing my knitting pattern, or by the cat.  She is asleep in the photo and seemed fairly happy with the compromise.

This post started out as a quick blog on Sunday as I was heading over to Needlemum's so my DS could talk to her DS about colleges.  As a thank you, I made her a little project bag from sewing-themed fabric.

However, when I tried to upload my photos, I was informed that I had exceeded my storage space for Blogger.  I suppose it had to happen some day, I've been uploading lots of  large images to three blogs for up to five years now.  So this week I have been investigating options which seem to consist of a) delete past sections of the blog, b) spend hours reducing the size of old images, c) introduce a third party by hosting my images on an alternate free photo site, or d) coughing up the money.  I've decided to go with (d) as I want to preserve my history, I'm too lazy/busy to downsize images (and for dollshouse photos you really need them to be big), and it seems to be introducing more risk to start using another photo site.

Yesterday was my monthly sewing group, and I managed to get together the blocks for my Red and White quilt.  The rows aren't pressed in this picture, nor are the sides trimmed up, but you get the idea. It's a bit busy which makes the stars a bit hard to see, but I was thinking that I could use quilting to emphasise the outlines more.  There will be a narrow red border added.

Yesterday was lesson two in my three-lesson free motion quilting tutorial for the group.  In lesson one, I showed them how to do meandering and asked them all to practice so they would be ready to tackle continuous curve stitching and echo quilting in the next lesson.  Everyone was very enthusiastic.

So were they prepared to move on when the next lesson came along a month later?  We have eight members plus myself:
  • three people couldn't make it for various good reasons
  • one person hadn't practiced at all, and couldn't find her quilting foot for the first 45 minutes.
  • two people had practiced a little, but forgot to bring their extension tables so were having severe difficulties trying to sew smooth curves with no support for their block
  • one person showed up giggling unconcernedly that she had forgotten her machine.  When I suggested she go get it, she said she didn't have any fabric sandwiches to practice on (so not only had she not practiced, she had ignored the comprehensive supply list handout).  She did eventually go home and fetch her machine, but discovered on her return that she had forgotten her foot pedal.
  • The final person is in ill health so hadn't brought any equipment, so she couldn't practice either, but she did at least show a lot of close attention and was going to practice when she got home.
So as you can imagine I was really asking myself why I bother, as I had put a lot of work into lesson planning, demo pieces, hauling extra kit in etc.  For free as well, I might add.  I am trying to view it as community outreach to pensioners.

I have joined a beginner's Pilates class to try to do something about the ever increasing middle-aged bulge, and I needed a yoga mat carry bag.  I put one together after looking at a few ideas on the internet.  It has a handy pocket for sundries, and a cotton webbing strap.

Commuter knitting this week has been the Piper's Journey Shawl - I finished the garter stitch body and started the knitted on lace border.  I knit about 6 inches of the border but decided I didn't like how it was pulling in the tip of the shawl so that the crescent had a blunt tip.  I unravelled and am experimented with short-rowing to create a triangle at the tip that swings around 90 degrees to where I could start the lace border.  Looks good so far.

Home knitting has been some work on the Eyelet Lace Jumper and on the Union Jack bag in intarsia.

If you are wondering about the title to this post, let me show you the current state of my set-in sleeve machine knitted jumper.  I had all the pieces knit, blocked, pressed, and seamed together except joining the sleeves to the body.  Here you are:

Yes, I frogged it.  Because when I tacked the sleeves to the body and tried it on, it looked AWFUL.  Although the knitted pieces were the right size for the Ann Budd pattern in the Handy Book of Sweater Patterns, it turns out that pattern doesn't fit me at all.  Way too baggy in the arms, armhole much too deep, and not at all the fitted jumper I was picturing in my mind.  I toyed with the idea of cut and sewing it all smaller, but the too-deep armholes would have made it all very difficult so in the end I just frogged it.  I didn't even do a very good job on frogging - I unwound everything into a giant skein around a big notepad, but when I took it off of the notepad, it instantly transformed from a fat but neat skein into something that looked like a football made out of a 70s Afro wig.  I had no choice but to dampen it to relax the kinks, which then took forever to dry, and when I gave in and rewound it over the backs of some chairs so that it would dry properly, it took hours to untangle all the knots.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Now I have to come up with a new plan.  I might just use the charting device on the machine and knit without a pattern, but at the moment I'm not even sure I like the colour any more.  Bleah.