Saturday, 23 March 2013

Jobless shopping guilt

I cashed in one my Christmas vouchers ("I promise to take Sharon to...") from DH and he drove me up to Miniatura at the NEC in Birmingham today.  The weather was not promising, blowing snowflakes even at our end, and getting worse the further north we went.  By the time we got near Birmingham, we were driving past appropriately Christmas-card scenes of white fields and white trees.  We passed various accidents but only got held up once, and the road stayed fairly clear.  At the NEC, we donned our snow boots to wade along the paths to get inside the building, then I switched back to normal shoes and checked my various layers into the cloakroom.

I had a good time, despite feeling a) guilty about spending money while jobless, and b) frustrated at seeing things I would like to buy/make for dollshouses that are now packed and sealed in bubble wrap.

I did get two more resin dolls to be customers for my quilting shop in the Willowcrest, a knitted baby romper and knitted basket for the knitting shop in the Willowcrest, a 1/24th scale knitting bag kit to make up for the Fisherman's Tea Room and a second one which I may make up for the Fairfield, and two adorable pink wicker chairs which were the steal of the century at only £8 each (and a matching table).  And one of the new 1:144 kits from Petite Properties, the Rosebud cottage.  I enjoyed looking around, although I thought there would be more 60th anniversary stuff on sale/display, which there wasn't really.

Saturday is the preview day, you pay extra to go in on limited admission to get first grabs at things.  Usually it is pretty crowded, but due to the weather it was half empty so I was able to get round the entire show in about 2.5 hours instead of the 4+ it would usually take me.

On the way back, my very supportive DH even stopped at Hobbycraft in Staines to check out the yarn sale I had read about on Ravelry.  They have several yarns at 50% off or otherwise discounted, so I came home with some Regia sock yarn in two colourways and some Patons Fairytale Dreamtime DK pure wool which I might use for a baby surprise jacket.

I did a bit of knitting on my second quilt sampler mitten on the way back, but my thumb is inflamed again and a bit sore, due to the endless stitching of Clue 6 in the Unexpected Journey KAL shawl.  I thought we must be getting near the end but I've now found out that the finished shawl blocks at 72" by 36" which is just insane.  I don't know if mine is going to get that big. I expect the dimensions were stated somewhere in the instructions at the beginning but I never read things very carefully before I make them.

TV knitting this week has been the second block of the GAA Afghan, Clue 6 of the KAL, and playing a bit with the Sirdar Salsa! scarf yarn that I bought at Texere.  No commuter knitting due to being jobless.

In between packing for the move, I have done more machine knitting on the Alice Starmore Marina slipover, and am now halfway up the shoulders.  There was a nasty incident about 5 inches into it, when I absentmindedly threaded both yarns into one feeder and dropped half my stitches.  I thought I had picked them all up, but evidently not as there is now a 10p sized hole to one side.  By the time I noticed it, I was about halfway through (as a machine just forms new stitches on the empty needles) so I kept going and will be doing my best bodge-fixing swiss darning to hopefully make the hole disappear.  I want to get the machine knitting finished so that I can start packing up my machine shed as well.

I've now packed all my sewing stuff up - I can't believe how much I had crammed into my closet.  Several plastic crates of fabric have gone into the attic protected by clear rubbish sacks, and I have kept out the notions and tools that I think I might need.  I've kept out several project bags to work on, some of which I don't know if I am being overly optimistic about (hello, doublesize Hawaiian applique quilt) but it's hard to know how long the house is going to be on the market for.  If it's only a couple of months, then I've kept out too much.  If it's six months, then I probably hit it about right.

With regard to the knitting stash, I spent a couple of hours on Ravelry trying to put together a list of projects for about six months of knitting, using only stuff from my stash.  Very hard.  I've a tentative list, which I then worked from to pack up all of my knitting books that won't be required.  I've also packed up the rest of the sock and lace stash that was in the house. I'm keeping out all of my needles and tools, and most of the knitting bags.

The house now looks like a box factory exploded inside of it, and it is very hard to pick our way amongst the boxes for our daily lives.  But we've hired a van for a day over the Easter weekend and it's all going into self-storage including some larger pieces of flat-pack furniture that I've been taking apart.  After that it should get easier as there will be more room, and we can finish clearing rooms to start redecorating.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Househunting and yarny delights

I missed blogging last weekend due to a househunting trip, and I'm late this week due to attending a knitters' weekend.  Bad blogger.

Last weekend we went up to Bedfordshire for two nights at a hotel in St Neots.  We used the time to drive around the area, visiting several towns, and then tried the Monday morning commute on for size.  DH didn't mind his, it was just longer but not any trouble.  I really didn't like mine.  I'm used to getting into London in about 40 minutes with no Tube travel.  It took an hour from Sandy to Kings Cross, then 15 minutes to fight my way through the crowds to reach the Tube, where I got to play sardines in the crowded carriage.  I don't want to be commuting two hours each way every day.  I'm beginning to think we will never find a compromise house that gives us more space and more privacy, without an overly lengthy commute. But it was still useful research which adds more information into the mix.

This weekend I headed off for a long weekend of knitting and yarny fun at Skipnorth, a knitters retreat based at Haworth Youth Hostel in Yorkshire.  It was superbly organised by Nickerjac and Lixie and is now in its ninth year so a lot of the attendees are old friends with each other.  There were about 28 of us I think.  It was really nice to spend time with so many people all interested in the same thing, and quite wonderful to see all the amazing knits people were wearing or working on.  There were also several spinners who brought their wheels, very restful to listen to them whirring away in the common room in the evening when we were all sitting around knitting.  The well-planned agenda included a swap of unwanted yarn, books, magazines and accessories.  I took a big bag of destashed yarn that I don't want to pack in the house move, vowing to come home with a much lighter suitcase.  Unfortunately the lure of 'free' stuff was too great, and I came home with this bounty - for which I will now make a suitable donation to p/hop which was the aim of the swap.

We had coach trips to Texere, where I bought some gorgeous Louisa Harding Sari Yarn, some scarf yarn and some drawstring cord for project bags.  I visited the Bronte Parsonage in Haworth and enjoyed walking down the picturesque old High Street despite the rain, especially when I found several sizes of  half price Knit Pro interchangeables at DaisyDay who are closing out their wool and needle section.  At a secondhand bookstore there, I found a book of cross stitch house designs, and in another shop in Keighley, I found a book of dollshouse Shaker Miniatures with some nice projects in it.

We also had a coach trip to Wingham Wool Works where the spinners went mad filling large bags with selected fleece and roving, and a ride on the vintage steam train from Keighley back to Haworth which was quite fun.

On Saturday morning I did a very enjoyable workshop on knitting with beads, when we prestrung beads onto perle cotton and knit an adorable miniature purse.

So a very restful weekend, lots of knitting, some very nice people, and yarny shopping.  What more can you ask for?

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Knit your own antique

I finished my silver knitted bracelet.  I'm really pleased with it, and I think it looks a bit antique.  I was caught out to find that the bracelet finished with a horizontal row of beads, because the cast on was beadless (no, I didn't read the pattern through ahead of time).  So I went back and used the cast on tail to bodge on an extra row of beads at the cast on edge.  The provided clasp was only narrow and I thought the bracelet would flop too much if I just seamed it to the clasp.  So I found two earring wires and made a loop at the other end with pliers, then seamed one of those at both ends of the bracelet to make it stiff.  Then I sewed on the clasp.  Not the tidiest result but for a first-time attempt, I think it's pretty good.

Otherwise, I've mostly been working on the Unexpected Journey Shawl KAL this week.  Clue 4 was a LOT of knitting and I'm still not finished.  Meanwhile Clue 5 came out on Friday.  Hopefully I will finish Clue 4 tonight (Sunday) and Clue 5 looks shorter.

I also finished my Cranford Mitts and just have to darn the ends in.  I still have lots of Colinette Jitterbug left so I think I may knit a second pair for m-i-l.

Last week of employment coming up. They have recruited a temporary replacement for me so I may have to sit down with the new person for part of a day of handover.  That will not be fun as my boss is determined to be there for the handover so no doubt will be earwigging the entire time and correcting whatever she doesn't agree with.  As she has limited technical knowledge, that could get a bit trying.  However, eye on the prize and Friday is my last day.  I've applied for three jobs I've spotted online this past week, so hopefully I will start to get some interviews.  I'm conscious that it would be better to be employed if we are going to be applying for a mortgage later this year.

I've decided that we will use the attic as a staging post for our hobbies while the house is on the market.  We did several hours of packing up there yesterday, and most of it is now boxed up and stashed at either end.  The empty space in the middle will be where I keep my fabric during the house sale, and DH will put his models. So we'll still have access to hobby stuff but it won't be downstairs on show.  Will be inconvenient but better than nothing.  I don't want to get fabric withdrawal.  Knitting will be trickier as I don't want to subject my yarn to the high summer temperatures in the attic.  I think I will have to pick four or five projects to keep me going and the rest will have to go into storage.

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