Sunday, 22 December 2013
We have broadband!
Happy Christmas and best wishes for much crafting in the new year!
I am publishing this on my brand new shiny broadband, which was finally connected yesterday morning. Just in time as DS was threatening to decamp to Grandma's where they at least had the internet. Although I wasn't too upset at not having TV for two weeks, not having WiFi was surprisingly troublesome and I shudder to think what my 3G bill is going to be like this month. It was nice however to catch up on a few of our TV shows yesterday, especially guilty pleasures like Glee.
Things are starting to settle into a routine at the new Too-Many-Hobbies HQ. I’ve done the commute to work several times now, and it’s going well apart from the night I got lost in St Pancras Underground station on the way home from my incredibly tedious office Christmas party. (and no, I hadn’t been drinking that much)
I’m now finished work for the year and have a few days to relax before our Christmas house guest arrives for three nights. I’m a bit worried as we rarely have house guests at all, and we generally spend Christmas lolling around in our pyjamas eating sweets and chocolate, watching TV, crafting, and reading/playing video games depending on our generation. I don’t know whether to stick to tradition, which might bore the guest silly, or fake that we actually get dressed and leave the house to do things.
The saga of the gas hob continues. We had to do without cooking apart from microwave meals from Thursday until Tuesday, due to a comedy of errors with the gas engineer chosen by the landlord. Eventually the letting agent sent their own workmen to install the hob on Tuesday. It took three of them an hour (one was supervising the other two while taking calls about other jobs) and then they announced that the hob was faulty. They can’t fix it, it needs to be serviced by the manufacturers. So the landlord is supposedly setting up a service visit (no word so far) and meanwhile I only had two usable burners and the oven. Since then another burner has proved reluctant to turn on so I am terrified about having no means of cooking over Christmas. The complicated chain of semaphore signals via the letting agent to the landlord has produced a promise that the service visit will happen tomorrow, and I'm really hoping they don't suck their teeth and announce that some part needs to be ordered with a two week delay. And I thought all the stress would be over once we moved...
This week I finished the Baby Surprise Jacket. I crocheted the sleeve seams for a neat finish and added the modification of a hood with i-cord ties. I won’t put buttons on until I know if it is a boy or a girl – Elizabeth Zimmerman’s pattern has you put button holes on both sides, then you just sew buttons over the unwanted holes once you know. This is knit in Patons Fairytale Dreamtime DK Pure Wool, which I got on sale at Hobbycraft. I think it was on sale because the colour is a bit bleah, obviously an attempt at a gender neutral baby yarn with its mixture of lemon, pink, blue and white. It was fine to knit with although it feels a bit like acrylic.
I don’t think I blogged that I finished another square for the Great American Aran Afghan (GAAA) before we moved. This is the Dagmara Berztiss square and was surprisingly easy as you are generally only moving one set of stitches at a time and it is pretty obvious which way to move them. This is my seventh square so I am still a long way off of the goal of 20 squares. Also, all my squares are coming out at quite different sizes so fingers crossed that blocking will save me.
I blocked the Harvest Moon aran cardigan the week we moved. It took forever to dry. Generally I knit in pieces and block before seaming. The double layers of the fully knit cardigan really held the water despite blotting with towels. As I had read on Ravelry that this yarn really grows with washing, I was trying to be ultra careful not to put any strain on the stitches. The body of the cardigan is still fine but the sleeves are now too long even though I was careful to knit them shorter. I will have to unpick the i-cord bind off and pull them back a little. The edges are still curling so I will try steaming them. It's darker than it looks in this photo, I think the camera was confused by the pink carpet.
DH drove me up to another ‘local’ quilting shop: ‘The Bramble Patch’ near Daventry, to visit their annual Christmas exhibition of work by students and teachers. The shop is quite large by UK standards, and reminded me of as American quilting shop. They also have two Gammill Long Arm quilting machines for quilting shop samples and quilts for customers but I don’t think you can rent time on them like you can in American shops. I didn’t buy anything for myself as I feel very disengaged from quilting at the moment with everything in storage, but I did pick up a birthday present for a quilting friend. I have to say that I feel very out of step with the modern fabric prints. I think they have their place, but an entire shop of brightly coloured trendy retro and large-motif prints seemed a bit samey. I don't dislike that type of print, but I also want to see all the other 'families' of fabric print that I am used to using - I suspect I am now hopelessly old fashioned as a quilter. My stash would probably look like a museum to a young Modern Quilter!
On another day, we stopped into Kettering where the ‘Bee Inspired’ haberdashery shop was sadly closing down. All their stock was 20% off so I seized the opportunity stock up on thread as they had Gutermann cotton thread. I bought about 20 spools in different colours to augment my thread stash for future sewing projects.
My commuter knitting the last few weeks has been my Vanilla Socks two at a time. I'm still not getting the flying saucer effect this yarn is supposed to produce, although the stripes are getting a bit wider. The line of white yarn is for an Afterthought Heel.
I had a rather amusing encounter on the train. It's an unwritten rule, at least on trains in the London area, that you don't talk to the other commuters. Everyone exists in their own little bubble of privacy no matter how squashed together we are. But a portly man in his 50s facing me across the train table finally leaned over on the trip home and said he had to ask me what I was doing as it was so intricate and fascinating. I hadn't really been paying attention to him but after explaining what I was doing, I then had to endure his unnerving stare for another 15 minutes until he got off in Bedford, punctuated by him chuckling at intervals "Socks! Amazing!". He wasn't a knitter himself (I asked). Perhaps a bit too much Christmas cheer? He seemed quite nice.
I've also done more on my Winterland Mittens. I'm having my usual problem with uneven tension and a bit of peek-through but wet blocking usually improves that. They do seem a bit big even for my big hand but I'm going to push on. I'm almost at the point where I will knit a line of waste yarn across the palm to pave the way for making it a Convertible Mitten. These are in Jamieson & Smith 2ply jumper weight.
Another useful store that is relatively local to me is the The Dolls House Store in Kettering which is a bit exciting as I haven't lived near to a dollshouse store for quite a while (all our local ones shut down at the old house). They have a huge stock, mostly the usual imports and Dolls House Emporium stuff, but some unique stuff of their own. I was able to buy a cute little 1/12 iPad (can't take a picture because it got packed in the move and I don't know where) and some more resin figures to be customers in my quilt shop.
We're pretty much settled into the rented house now. It's got a lot of idiosyncracies, like no mirrors, no towel racks, no hooks for tea towels etc. when at the same time we aren't allowed to make any holes in the wall. I've got round that with some sticky-backed hooks for the kitchen and some freestanding towel rails, but getting the ethernet cable up the stairs from the router in the living room was more of a challenge. In the end I have draped it across doorframes (held behind a panel nail), across the hall ceiling, vertically upwards to a hoop nailed into the attic hatch, across the upstairs hall ceiling, over a few more door frames until it drops down to my computer in the upstairs study. Looks like heck and we will have to hide it if the landlady wants to visit, but it's working.
The closet in the picture is also where all my remaining craft stuff is hiding. I'm tempted to make a sign, something like "Sharon's closet of happy times" but the landlady might get the wrong impression :)
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