Sunday, 1 December 2013

Fingers crossed, we're moving!

While it is not out of the realm of possibility that it could still go wrong, we finally exchanged contracts on Friday to move next Friday 6 December.  So I probably won't be blogging next weekend because I am unlikely to have broadband.  In fact, at the moment, there is still a possibility I may not even have an address.

We were kept waiting right up until almost the last minute, but finally just after 4pm on Friday my solicitor called with the welcome news that we had exchanged contracts. We were pretty exhausted from all the stress but had a quiet celebration that evening with a bottle of sparkling wine.  Saturday we shot off up to Northamptonshire again to inspect the extremely limited  number (4) of rental properties still available at this time of year where we want to live.  Property number one was a tiny but very well kept estate house, which would have been quite a squeeze for us.  Two and three were bigger Victorian terrace houses but in bad shape, threadbare rugs, repellant bathrooms, and number two even had fleas as I found one biting my leg immediately after we left.

Property four was in a different town from the one where we want to buy, but it was the best of the lot so we've gone for that one.  By which I mean, we filled out the preliminary paperwork to commence the checks on our credit history and employment.  We will find out hopefully on Monday if the landlord is willing to consider us, then we have to pay a non-refundable £200 charge for the checks to be carried out.  That takes five working days so we may not actually know by moving day if we've got the flat or not.  So I've re-booked the hotel again as a Plan B.

The flat doesn't have a garden and is partly furnished, so more of our stuff will have to go into storage as there won't be room for it.  So over the next few days I have to pack everything up into two groups:  storage and rented.  There may be a third group called 'hotel' if we don't get into the flat right away.  To add to the complication, DS is coming back from Uni on Saturday, so I've had to book him a hotel room as well.

Meanwhile this past week we spent a full day with a removal crew moving all the excess stuff into long-term storage (at that point, I still didn't know if we were moving or going back on the market).  They were really good.  I had been quite worried about my dollshouses in our self-store unit, but I was hugely impressed at the care they took in packaging them.  They basically built a custom box around the bigger houses, with plenty of reinforcement and tape.  Luckily they had apparently moved another woman earlier in the year with even more dollshouses, so the concept was familiar.  They similarly boxed up my Pfaff sewing machine because I bought it secondhand so it didn't have a box of its own. They were a bit boggled by the amount of yarn and fabric emerging - one of them asked if I was running a business.
Bye bye yarn stash

Bye bye knitting machines

So all that's gone away for six months.  I am left with my Singer Featherweight sewing machine and around four bagged up quilt projects, my thread stash and most of my quilting tools; my Hawaiian applique quilt; my 'Grandmother's Last quilt' hand applique quilt; my hooked rug kit; a couple of small cross-stitch kits; a petit-point bell pull for the dollshouse to work on; yarn stash for about six small projects; and my ongoing knitting WIPs including a hibernating Haapsalu lace shawl, my GAA Afghan, my Winterland mittens, and my Opium cardigan which just needs buttonholes.  I don't know if that is going to be enough for six months in a small rented flat or not.  I had a bit of last minute panic Tuesday night and went box-diving in the pile to pull out another ball of Aran wool/acrylic yarn for the GAAA in case I suddenly put on a burst of speed, and another sweater project.

My oldest knitting UFO

The sweater project I found was my oldest UFO which dates back to around 1992 or 1993. I bought this pattern from the Readicut mail-order company, and took it along to a big London store (I’m thinking Selfridges or Harrods) to buy yarn. I spent what seemed like a fortune to me on enough Jaeger Sport Yarn for my size. This Aran sampler was way beyond my skill level at the time so I had huge problems with it. This was before the internet (!) and long before Ravelry, so I had to feel my way with the help of library books. The instructions are all written out, no charts, so were very confusing. Progress was painfully slow, and I eventually gave up about a third of the way up the front. I could never bring myself to discard the UFO after paying so much money for the yarn and I’m not a quitter, so I hung on to the project bag for years.

My skill level is now such that I can tackle this, even though my self-awareness has matured to the point where I can see that this is not going to be a flattering jumper on my figure type! I was pleased to see that the part that I had painstakingly knitted didn’t look too bad and was actually the right size. However, it had yellowed over the years and was a darker colour than the un-used yarn (probably from the sweat and tears that went into it). So I’ve pulled it all out, skeined it and given it a wash. My tension will have completely changed since then anyway.

 The first step after washing the used yarn was to sit down with the pattern and chart out the instructions for each pattern panel. I used this free online chartmaker which worked really well: 

As I completed each chart, I used the Snipping tool to capture it as an image on my PC and pasted it into a word document where I could add further explanation as to repeats etc. At the end, I saved the Word document as a PDF and emailed it to myself so that I could open it in GoodReader on my iPad to knit from. In GoodReader I can have a separate progress bar for each chart to keep track of where I am.  The charts are actually quite straightforward, not the baffling mystery that the instructions seemed twenty years ago.  Since then I've knitted a tension swatch to see what needles to use.

Sweater surgery

Another thing I tackled this week was the neckline of my Topdown Icelandic sweater which I knit from a Craftsy class.  The pattern yields a very small tight neckline which many have complained about.  I kept thinking it would be alright because  the cardigan was open at the front, but it wasn't. The tops of the bands, made even stiffer by the crochet steek method from the class, poked unpleasantly into my neck so I never wanted to wear it.  

So this week I sat down with some scissors and some circular needles and cut off/undid about one inch of the neckline.  I had hoped to unravel it and reknit it, but as it was knit top down, the knitting really didn't want to cooperate so in the end I had to cut it away.  I picked up the stitches and reknit the band, then re-blocked it.  The result is much more wearable although the ribbing doesn't transition into the fair isle as well as it used to.  I still need to stitch down the grosgrain ribbon inside to hide the remaining steek ends, but I think it is a big improvement in wearability.

BEFORE (although here the neck looks worse than it was as the cardigan is riding up too high)

AFTER - much better


Mairead Hardy said...

Having just recently altered the neckband of a top-down sweater, I can empathise with you. Your cardigan looks much better now you have altered it.

Good luck with your move - and I hope you find somewhere nice to live in Northamptonshire. I noticed you are Skipping North again next year - I look forward to hearing all about the house hunting!

Daisy said...

Keeping everything crossed for completion this week! Sounds like a nightmare - half my stash on Rav is still labelled "Lincoln" or "Slough" from when I moved and had to put half of it into storage! And I'm appalled by those two rental places you looked round - what were the owners thinking?!?!? FLEAS?!?!?!

swooze said...

Sounds promising on the move. Wishing you the best on finding a new place. Patience will pay off in the end!

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