Monday, 24 December 2007

So I've finally recovered from having to knit with acrylic. It was horrible. I spent a lot of time knitting the horrible little things, only for them not to be picked up yesterday. I shoved them and the horrible yarn in the cupboard at the shop. Here's a photo of me two nights ago, knitting away. Notice I have a cup of tea and slice of cake nearby, plus some gorgeous Malabrigo Gruesa (with which I whipped up a quick hat for my brother in law, which my mother in law seems to be wearing).

And I've started the Harry Potter scarf. Having never watched a Harry Potter film, I had no idea the scarves are so long. The pattern calls for 86" of scarf. Needless to say, there's no way it is going to be that long. I love the yarn - Cascade 220- it's such a pleasure to knit with, but I can't wait to get my teeth into something more interesting. I've queued some interesting socks on Ravelry as a reward, a promise of things to come, and also the lovely Snowdrop Shawl by Yarn Harlot. Ravelry drives me crazy because it is so wonderful; there are so many things that I want to make, I don't know how my hands will get everything done!
So it is Christmas Eve. I'm sitting here with carols on in the background, from King's College Cambridge. All very nice, with the occassional undergraduate - all with very posh accents- doing readings. The kids are running around being noisy, the inlaws are in the kitchen chatting and Ewan is making the kids' tea. Doug and I have two minutes to ourselves, where we are not being climbed over etc. My wonderful mother in law has spent the day doing all of our laundry. A true Christmas present in itself. I can't remember the last time I saw the top of the washing machine and tumble dryer not covered in stuff waiting to be ironed! Pre-kids, I used to be incredibly house proud and was always on top of housework. The last year or so, I've given up trying to keep on top of the housework seeing as these two generally get very raucous when I try to do housework and usually mess it up again within five minutes of me cleaning it up. Plus I've got the knitting bug too so when I do have time to do housework, I actually knit. I'm sure others reading this are the same.
I actually am not looking forward to wrapping presents tonight, as it is going to detract time away from my needles!!
OK, well I'm going to wish you all a very merry Christmas now. Have a fantastic day tomorrow!

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

This is going to be a very short post today, seeing as I have a stack of knitting to get done for the end of the week. After the post yesterday, I took the kids to see Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium. I highly recommend this film to everyone - it is absolutely wonderful and I think Dustin Hoffman deserves an Oscar for it. The kids thought it was amazing and it gave me a kind of renewed vigour. Everyone, adults and kids alike, came out the cinema smiling at each other. I can't remember the last time I went to a film and the cinema staff smiled at me.

We then went to the new Ikea. It was quite busy and we didn't stay that long. They've got a play area in the kids' section which the kids enjoyed greatly - and which I also enjoyed as I got some time to do more of Robbie's sock, purched on a bright red kids' chair. Amazing how many looks I got off people, looking at the sock and trying to figure out what I was doing. I wonder if I am the first person to knit there?!!

So back to the figures from hell. After I got home last night and the kids were safely tucked up in bed, I decided to have another go. But not at old Chippy, but the Mayor. And guess what?! It's working perfectly. I've still got loads to do on them, but I should get them finished by the end of the week.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

No hangover!!!

Thanks to the wonderful advice of Dr Hillary Jones on Steve Wright in the Afternoon, I do not have a hangover. I will have to send them an e-mail to thank them. Despite drinking copious amounts of alcoholic beverage last night at the shop - so much that I lost count and couldn't say 'Wingham Wools' at one point- I drank two pints of water when I got home, one with 2 tablets of vitamin C and then had paracetemol this morning with a cup of tea. OK, so I haven't had the banana smoothie that Dr Hillary swears by, but I did pretty much follow all the other advice. I think this is the first time in my life that I've actually thought he's been of any use.

Well, we had a very good night last night. It was lovely to see someone I hadn't seen for a while (Wendy Knitwit) as well as welcome a newbie (Davina). Heaven only knows what she thinks of me; she must think I am a complete alkie! Cheryl looked fantastic in a jacket she had knitted all by herself - photo to follow tomorrow when I've got the camera. I have to admit that my memory of the evening is somewhat patchy, although I do remember some of the conversations! I also remember being determined to do some knitting - heavens only knows what it looks like. I am sure I will find that quite amusing tomorrow when I have a look at it. Perhaps someone can fill me in on what was discussed?!! I remember asking people not to buy anything so I didn't have to use the computer. I must have been bad. Hopefully I was just amusing.

So I brought in the deceased Chippy Minton last night (he got cut up in frustration). The other figures are just as much a pain in the arse as him. Hopefully a miracle will happen and I will get them done in two days - there's absolutely no way I'm going to get any knitting done until this evening, given the way I feel just now.

I have a day with the kids to look forward to now. We're off to the cinema later. I don't know if you saw Yarn Harlot's blog a few days ago, but she talked about having small children and about them essentially running your life, allowing you to have a life of your own when they feel like it (or something along those lines). You would think that being self-employed means that you can mix your professional life in more easily with family demands. I don't think that's true for a minute, in fact it is harder as people have different expectations of you (i.e. your husband). There are certainly benefits though, like the fact I can essentially decide not to open the shop should my kids be ill, and I wouldn't be able to not go into work if I had an office job (I don't know how people with small kids who both work cope when the little ones are sick).

Monday, 17 December 2007

POTED, or Putting Off the Evil Day

Anyone who went to Finham Park School in the 1980s-1990s will know this phrase, thanks to Mr Hyland the History Teacher. He has left this earth since I learned this phrase, but it has always stuck with me. Such a nice guy, bit bonkers, huge fan of Ozzy Osbourne (apparently they grew up around the corner from each other).

Anyway, I am completely putting off the evil day and procrastination is the name of the game today. I refer to Camberwick Green figures. I can't help it, I just hate acrylic yarn! Doug said to me last night that I really should be getting on with them, seeing as I need to have them finished for Friday at the very latest. So what did I do? I started a sock for Robbie, justifying it to myself that he had handpicked some Opal sock yarn ages ago and asked me to make a pair for him. I've almost completed the first sock. It's so much fun knitting socks for people with smallish feet (he's already a UK 10.5 and he's only 4 and a bit). I highly doubt that I'm ever going to buy socks for them again. Well not for a few years anyway. I've already eyed up some Tofusies in pick for a pair for Zoe, and also some of the rainbowish Opal yarn. And then I'll perhaps eventually get around to a pair for myself. I am now a confirmed sock knitter so will have to join the sock knitting groups on Ravelry. Why oh why are socks so addictive?

In further attempts to procrasinate, I am currently eyeing up the base of the Christmas tree, planning to do a skirt for it as soon as possible. I obviously don't have time to knit one (I'd love to do one Manos one in the Holiday Handknits book but me thinks it would take about four weeks at least, not four days!) so am going to do a patchwork one instead. I've been inspired by my visit on Saturday to the quiliting shop in Smith Street, so I'm going to get out some of my fabrics and machine.

And if that weren't enough procrastination for the day, I am going to shut the door on the utility room. The washing machine and tumble dryer are literally covered with piles of laundry waiting to be ironed (ha! good joke) and desperately wanting to actually being put in wardrobes and draws. This now only gets done when my mother in law is here. Too much knitting, not enough time.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Oh the weather outside is frightful!

... but inside Crafty Cottage it's delightful!

You've guessed it, I'm in super festive mood. I've found there's a free Christmas music radio station on iTunes and have been feeling festive all morning. Well, since Doug and the kids left at 11am that is. I love my kids more than anything, but it is so nice to have some time apart - as I'm sure most mums feel some of the time.

Warwick is freezing, grey and miserable today. I know - I've been for a walk around the town today to go and visit a few shops and have a wander around the market. There's a fantastic new stall there, a lady selling organic jams (who can go wrong with 3 for a fiver) so of course I bought some off her. She was standing there shivering, just trying to get her new venture off the ground. I've taken some of her little cards and there'll be on the counter in the shop.

So I went down to the fantastic quilting shop on Smith Street. I highly recommend a visit. They've got some beautiful fabrics for sale as well as lots of ready made items too. I bought the kids some little handmade Christmas stockings, which will probably be used to shove a load of sweets in. They do workshops there, so when I get their website address I'll post a link on my blog and the shop website too. I went to the knitting and sewing machine shop too and have found out that they stock everything I could possibly need for the knitting machine.

I'm so glad that I went for quite a generic name for the shop, which sort of encompasses all crafts, really. We're putting together a new business plan in the hope that we can get another loan to help fund the rest of the improvements to the shop, but also because we've had so many people come in asking about embroidery threads, cross stitch and tapestry. I have to admit I know little about these three crafts, having only dabbled in cross stitch and tapestry, but there appear to be plenty of people in the area who are interested and are willing even to come and run workshops for us... Here's praying!

My knitting has come to a bit of a standstill over the past few days. I think it is the shock of having produced a relatively lovely hat for my sister in a relatively short amount of time that has done me in! I've started on a pair of the Opal Picture Bergere de France socks, which you knit on two normal needles (Ok, bloody small normal needles) so the stripes run along your feet and not around. Does that make sense? Here's a photo.
Since completing Doug's socks earlier this week (which we is wearing today for the first time - smiles of joy on my face!!) I am now going a bit mad for sock yarn. Is this a common problem for sock knitters?! I have the sense of achievement of one pair of huge socks so now am planning to make socks for the entire family. I bought some fab patterns from Getknitted last night so I can plan to be a bit more adventerous with the next pair.
I love Getknitted and aspire to their greatness. David and Sue are such lovely people and have been so supportive of this shop. David has been so kind, sharing his experiences of the past four years with me on several occassions and it is great to have someone on the end of a phone who can give some fantastic advice. I have purchased some Cascade 220 from them to make a Harry Potter scarf for my sister-in-law for Christmas, and I also want to have a go at using Cascade before I potentially get any in next year. I have only ever heard good things about them, unlike some other online shops, too which says a lot.
A customer has just walked into the shop and I really should talk to her seeing as she looks like a serious knitter!
Bye for now!

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

So I can hear a Bob Marley - yes him of Liquid fame (the Cov KnitWits will know what I mean!) - singing 'don't worry about a thing, 'cos every little thing going to be alright'.

First of all, I feel very blessed that I have made some wonderful friends this year. Thank you to everyone for caring. I'm really glad that you all like the shop so much!

I am feeling pretty confident that the shop is going to be OK. I've had lots of prayers and offers of help from some lovely people, so here's hoping that it will all work out. I really believe that everything happens for a reason and perhaps I'm not meant to be doing this on my own anymore.

The baby on the blog, by the way, is Zoe. It's the very first photo of her, taken literally a minute after she was born. She was the inspiration for me to knit again, so it seemed fitting to put a photo of her on here.

I've got to get back to the needles. My sister goes to Canada tomorrow and I've got to finish the lace chevron beret for her. It's a pretty simple knit but interesting enough that you need to think a wee bit, which is pretty good seeing as I feel tired and sore. I'm doing it in Silk Garden Lite to match the Argosy scarf. I think she's going to look quite fab and ever so stylish. I've then got to get back to the Camberwick Green figures that I'm doing for a lady at the solicitors next door. She can't knit, and told me that her three year old son loves Camberwick Green. So the mug I am said I would knit them for her. I am hating it; firstly she got the required horrible acrylic from up the road- how can anyone enjoying knitting with acrylic is beyond me (yes, I am a complete yarn snob)- and they're so bloody fiddly. Alan Dart has got a lot to answer for! Note to self: refuse to knit anything designed by Alan Dart ever again unless it can be knitted in proper wool and is of a decent size (i.e the Ark)!

Have a good day all


Tuesday, 4 December 2007

In the 'old' days of six months ago, I used to love nice, simple projects which used lots of garter stitch and were preferably for babies. How times have changed. I've got several WIPs on the go at the moment which are simple garter or stocking stitch and I am so BORED! The worst WIP by far is the socks for Doug, although I am chipping away, doing a few rounds a day to get them finished by Christmas - they were only started in September! Note to self: don't make your first pair of socks for the person with the largest feet in your family!

Tanisha brought a copy of the most fantastic knitting book I've seen in ages to the knitting group last night- called something like Holiday Knits (by Melanie Fallick). Sorry for vagueness of title-this will be corrected tomorrow as I rushed around to Warwick Books this morning to order a copy in. There are so many fantastic projects in there, for beginners to amazing knitters like Jo, Jane and Kate.

One day, not too soon away, I'm determined to have a go at doing lace proper so am going to drop some not so subtle hints to Doug about Christmas presents (and the fact that I've got a wish list on Amazon!!)

So why is some things never work out how you expect?! I made a little stocking (30 stitches on 2.75mm DPNs) out of some sample 4 ply mohair that I was sent by Jan at Hicks Angora. I was under the impression that all animal fibres are meant to felt. Not this stocking - it actually grew! Can anyone please explain this to me? Needless to say, I'm going to stick to smaller needles and less stitches so no felting is needed.

I can't wait to get to a newsagents tomorrow morning and buy Simply Knitting; the mums and tots knitting group is club of the month. It's so exciting to see something that I've worked pretty hard for over the past 10 months to get some good coverage in the major national knitting magazine.

So, to Victorian evening. For those of you who know me well, it will come as no surprise that everything was done at the last minute. I spent most of Thursday making a semi-authentic (well authentic pattern at least) dress on which to put the wonderful Bosom Friend (I'll get some photos on here tomorrow when at the shop). I was lucky to bump into a fantastic signwriter too so the window is looking quite cool.

I need to get on with some actual knitting now; I had Robbie in the shop all day and while he was pretty amusing to the two customers who came in, he completely distracted me and then I've spent far too long on Ravelry this evening.