Sunday, 24 November 2013

Still here

This has been one of the most stressful weeks of my post-education life.  I won't go on and on about it as I am sure everyone is sick to the teeth of this stupid move - I know I am.  Suffice it to say that we STILL haven't exchanged contracts and have now missed the deadline to book a remover for the end of the month.  As of Friday night it's unclear whether the chain is still intact, I'm getting confusing stories from different people.  The buyers' solicitors have kept us waiting the last two weeks, so I've spent every day fruitlessly watching my phone and email for news - usually they either haven't done anything or they've gone off on yet another timewasting tangent. The latest one is that they want us to sign a statutory declaration in front of a solicitor (so has to be a week day so we both have to take more time off work) which they haven't even provided to us yet, so more delays. DH's boss is getting rather shirty about the uncertainty and changes in dates, luckily mine is more flexible.

When we still thought we were moving next week, I booked viewings on all the suitable rental properties on the market (not many at this time of year).  We kept those appointments and drove up to view a fairly lacklustre assortment but weren't able to complete any paperwork since we don't have a move date.  DH is so stressed by it all that he just wants to call off the whole thing.  I've been trying really hard to keep everyone communicating and keep the chain moving but even I have now lost hope.I'm pretty sure it's all going to collapse and the buyer at the bottom of the chain will rightfully give up in disgust and go somewhere else and I don't blame him.  I wish we could.  I've given our buyer a deadline of next Friday to exchange contracts for a move the following week, otherwise we are going back onto the market at the end of the month. We've been waiting three months for them and have lost all faith in both them and their solicitors.

Meanwhile I've been having to go back to our remover every couple of days to ask for different quotes depending on whether I thought we were going into rented, or into a hotel etc.  I decided to just go ahead and get them to take the stuff going into long-term storage this coming week.  We don't need most of it to dress the house for viewings, and it will get one big messy dirty job over and done with which will make it easier when we finally move out.  Plus we already had the time booked off work thinking we were going to move.

So this weekend we brought down everything from the attic and stacked it up in my bedroom - we had to dissassemble my bed and there's just room for my mattress on the floor in the corner.  The stack goes almost to the ceiling, including 17 boxes of fabric stash.  Today I went around the house and boxed up everything else that we won't take to rented accommodation, which includes the yarn stash I have managed to accumulate over the past six months.   It's going to be a busy week as the removers will come mid-week to collect all of that, and all the stuff in my knitting shed, and all the stuff in our self-store unit.  Then we've got a few nights to put the house to rights and clean it all back up to market standard so that hopefully we will be ready for viewers next weekend.  Meanwhile I will have to get the agent geared up to re-market us, plus I will bring in a second agent this time to help attract more viewings.  It's the wrong time of year to be marketing a house but maybe we will be lucky and attract someone who is hopefully chain free, and then move early in the new year.  Who knows.

It's not all bad, I suppose.  It will mean one more Christmas in this house, and DS will be happier because he will still have fast broadband and familiar surroundings when he comes home from university.  It will certainly make life easier when it comes to Christmas shopping and sending Christmas cards, which was all going to get lost in the shuffle otherwise.

I've been thankful this week to have some no-brainer knitting on my Harvest Moon Cardigan, although my never-very-consistent tension has been up and down like a yo-yo with all the stress.  I've now finished the knitting, which means the cardi is finished as it is top down.  I've left the sleeves slightly short and I'm not darning the ends in, just in case it all stretches when I wash it.  At the moment it still looks like a curling, wavy rag but hopefully once it's blocked then it will all flatten out.  I found a matching button at the haberdashery store when we were looking at rented houses (we were on a lunch break).  I can't block it yet because it will probably take a few days to dry and I don't want the removers walking on it.

I also made a start on the Winterland Mittens by Wendy Roald, which have a lovely snowy scene on the back of the hand, and a geometric pattern on the palm.  I'm knitting these in Jamieson & Smith 2 ply jumper weight in blue and white.  I'm going to try modifying the pattern to make these into convertible mittens.  This picture shows the corrugated ribbing and the start of the thumb gusset.

When I got a bit sick of knitting (!)  I did a bit more stitching on my Hawaiian applique quilt, and hooked a few rows on the Baltimore Album hooked rug kit which is now over halfway.

The only other crafty thing I did this week was to re-block my Holden Shawl. Of all my shawls, it's the one I wear most often as it is an attractive yet neutral colour, and in soft-to-the-skin Malabrigo sock yarn.  It's a couple of years old and I had washed it before, but the blocking had all vanished and the lace had contracted into a sort of raggy edge.  So I gave it a good soaking and re-pinned it out to shape - suddenly it's much bigger!

Saturday, 16 November 2013

I think I'm getting an ulcer

We STILL haven't exchanged contracts, didn't even hear from the solicitor on Thursday or Friday, and she often takes Mondays off so my stomach is just in knots and I'm not sleeping very well.  At this rate (assuming we move at all) we could end up homeless because the odds are low that we can both find somewhere satisfactory to rent and get through all the credit checks etc in time.

I've been knitting on my Harvest Moon cardigan.  I had trouble figuring out the pocket instructions but got there in the end.  I went ahead and seamed the pockets and then knitted the garter rib edgings and sewed them on.  My i-cord cast off on the body is curling terribly, hopefully this is all going to block out.  I was looking online and discovered a lot of comments saying Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran yarn grows terribly when it gets wet which doesn't bode well as this cardi is coming out a bit roomy on me as it stands.

I've knit a bit more on my Schoppenwolle socks but I'm still not getting the pattern I'm meant to.  I'll knit a few more inches and then I will have to think about pulling them out and starting again on different needles if the dyed design still isn't showing up.

Now that it is properly cold I've been wearing lots of hand knit hats, gloves, fingerless gloves, mittens, cowls, and even a few jumpers and cardigans to work.  Although our office gets too warm so I can't wear anything too heavy.  Since coming out as a knitter on the business trip to Nottingham, I am now knitting on my lunch hours after I've finished eating, sitting in the chairs provided near the kitchen.  It's attracted a few amused looks and polite conversational enquiries, but nobody seems that interested and no other knitters have popped out of the woodwork. I think my team views it as one of my quirks which is acceptable since I am as old as most of their parents.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

I've done all I can

[ for those readers sick to the teeth of hearing about our house move, skip to the third paragraph now ]   This week we scrubbed up the house almost back to show standards because the buyers were coming over today for one last look at it.  Or at least for what I hope is their last look.  We are now at the point where we either exchange contracts in the next week or so, for a move date at the end of the month, or it all falls apart again.  I've done all I can, I've obtained every bit of paper asked for, I've negotiated with removal firms, I've packed almost everything non-essential, we are running down our tinned goods and frozen food, I've got holiday saved up to take from work, and we're keeping our weekends free for rental-house-hunting.  It's now in the lap of the gods and I am trying hard not to be completely stressed out by it all.  Hollow laugh when I look back to June when I thought we would be all moved and settled in to our new place by September.

I've been boxing up my fabric stash (which is so big that I've run out of boxes) as I've decided it's all going into storage, along with my two main sewing machines.  I'll keep out my Singer Featherweight and a few bagged up projects, and my thread cabinet, iron, rotary cutter etc.  Everything else will go away for six months as I just don't think we are going to have room in a rental house.  My yarn stash is less of an issue, it's much easier to buy more yarn.  I will keep out my immediate projects, my needles and tools, and perhaps a few 'kits' I've got bagged up.  If I run out I will just have to buy more  :)

Having finished the Morticia shawl knit-along, I needed another commuting project.  So I've started a pair of vanilla socks using the Schoppel-Wolle Flying Saucer sock yarn I bought recently.  The yarn is dyed specifically to make a sort of Op-Art pattern when knitted up, and to make two identical socks.  Therefore it is wound as a double strand into a reel.  You are supposed to wind it off into two balls before you knit it.  I decided life is too short plus that wouldn't be as portable, so I decided to have a try at knitting two socks at once on one circular needle.  I had tried this once before from a book but found the instructions ridiculously complicated.  This time I just decided to wing it, and with a little fumbling managed to transfer my Twisted German cast-on from a dpn onto a circular and get knitting.  I was having problems with ladders between needles to begin with but it's going alright now.
The only thing is that I'm not sure yet if I'm going to get the flying saucer pattern at my gauge.  I have belatedly discovered teeny-tiny instructions on the inside of the label for knitting socks at an optimum gauge for the pattern to emerge, not sure if mine is going to work or not.  We'll see.

This week I had another finish which was at long last my Featherduster Shawl in Debbie Bliss Angel Print.  This was actually my second go at it - the first try achieved five repeats then I fell for a sad story from a work colleague about her friend with cancer so that one went off to the friend.  I started again and achieved six repeats which was supposed to be the finished size.  I even blocked it but when I tried it on it just seemed too short and didn't cover my arms.  I still had some yarn left from an extra skein I had bought so I unpicked the cast-off and put it back on the needles.  I managed to knit another repeat and a half so it's a better size now.  The new yarn, although the same colourway, had more white 'fuzz' in it so looks lighter.  This time when I cast off, I added some of the blue beads I had left over from the Hobbit shawl I knit a while ago.  They look nice and give some welcome weight to this very wispy shawl.  The end result is very glossy and soft and surprisingly warm.  I wore it to work on Friday over a dark purple knit top and it looked nice.

I looked for a simple beaded cast off but couldn't find one so just made one up.  This shawl is cast off by knitting so you have two stitches on the right needle, then knitting those two stitches together through the back (like an SSK).  Every second time that I had a single stitch on the right needle, I added a bead to it using the crochet hook method.  When I came to the point of the triangle, I did three beads in a row without skipping a stitch.

I had a moment of panic this week but Ravelry solved the problem.  I've been working on the body of my Harvest Moon cardigan. I reached into my bag for another ball of yarn to join on, and discovered that was ball 9 of the 10 balls in the packet, and this without even having knit the sleeves.  I knew the yarn came from the John Lewis sale so was likely discontinued, so I was kicking myself for starting a project that I didn't have enough yarn for.  I was even about to go online to see if I could hunt down more of it, when it occurred to me to check Ravelry to see what my Stash records said.  They said I actually had 20 balls of it, which meant there was another packet of 10 (yay!) but where was it? (boo).  A bit of digging around in the knitting shed turned up the second packet which had been packed into a box.  Panic over and knitting resumes.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Forced to add to my stash... Oh the horror

Today we spent the day in Northamptonshire conducting a recce on potential places to live.  I can report that I nobly rose to the occasion and purchased stash additions in three different places primarily as an excuse to chat up the vendors for their opinions on the area.  However, DH does not seem nearly as impressed with my sacrifice and ingenuity as he should be  :)

The three yellow fabrics came from Poppy Patch, a really nice quilt shop in Great Doddington, a small village outside Wellingborough. The shop is in a barn conversion in a converted farm yard, and has a really nice vibe inside which reminded me strongly of quilt shops in America.  She had a good range of fabrics with lots of basics as well as focus fabrics.  There was an unusually large selection of yellows, always a hard colour to find, so I snapped up these three butter yellows, so much more attractive than the more common acid or harvest gold yellows. The owner was also telling me about quilting groups in the area - she herself does occasional workshops in her attractive upstairs classroom, and apparently there are groups in Highham Ferrers, Kettering, Northampton and Earls Barton.

The tape measure print fabric was a steal at £4.50 a metre on a market stall selling fabric in Wellingborough.  Although he didn't have a huge selection, there were some remarkably good quality quilting cottons on his stand at very reasonable prices.  Also in the market was an absolutely huge haberdashery stall spread over many tables of buttons, ribbons, zips, acrylic yarn, bows, buckles etc. - so unusual to see these days.  Wellingborough also has a fabric store (didn't go in), a model railway store selling useful tools and terrain for dollshousing, and a new knitting shop, JanKnits, which had a good selection of workhorse yarns in acrylic and wool, including Regia Silk, Jamieson & Smith 2ply jumper weight (I bought the four balls pictured), some nice merino wool and a small range of needles and accessories.

So it seems like there are a lot of crafts going on in Northamptonshire which is very promising.  We also managed to talk to four policepersons (two sets of two) as to what they thought of the area, several random shopkeepers and a passerby on the street.  So I feel like we've done some good research.  Their verdicts were a bit lukewarm, there was a general theme of 'buy in the villages, stay away from the towns / town problems' but we didn't hear anything that really put us off.

In the car I was knitting on the Harvest Moon cardigan - it's top down and I've made it as far as the pockets.  They are knit integrally in a way that I don't really understand yet, but I am faithfully following the instructions for knitting linings.

The big finish this week was my Morticia mystery KAL shawl in Scrumptious Lace with beading.  The objective was to have it finished and posted on the MKAL thread by Halloween which I achieved.

Although I am proud of my achievement in knitting it in a month, I don't think I'm actually going to wear it.  It's far too delicate - I prefer a shawl knit on a tighter gauge to be more robust for normal living like commuting to work.  Not really sure what I'm going to do with it, to be honest.  It drapes well because of the heavy beading along the edge.  I thought about giving it to m-i-l but DH doesn't think she would wear it either.

I'll finish with a picture of my new mice which I ordered as a birthday present for myself from DH.  They are so cute, so detailed and really giving off a Brambly Hedge vibe.  On the right is Miss Bobbin, centre is Miss Purl, and left is Dandelion.  They are handmade by Gail of 'The Mice of Rosebud Lane'  in South Africa.  I saw Miss Purl in a UK knitting magazine and really thought she was cute, then when I looked at the website I realised I could make a craft-themed vignette. Dandelion is supposedly a gardening mouse but her 'tomato' looks just like a tomato pincushion.  You can order them in different colours of felt  but I wanted my three mice to match.

Thank you for the sympathetic comments and emails I've received on our loss of Lucy earlier this week, it is much appreciated.

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