Friday, November 30, 2007

30 November: More spinning

Some more of the fibre dyed last week is now yarn.

This is one of the two 125gm skeins spun from some of the brighter shades dyed last week. After trying several combinations of colours together, I decided on the violet, turquoise, jade, charcoal, and blue. I spun a bit from each colour in turn, so that the sequence was the same on each bobbin, but the amounts were slightly different. Then when plyed, the colours come together in different combinations.

Still on the woolly theme, I am now on Ravelry, as stitchwort.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

27 November: Samples

So I tried spinning oatmeal BFL with bits of some of the stuff I dyed the other day.

The pastel shades were combined with the oatmeal in 2 variations. First I spun a single thread of oatmeal with bits of apricot, sage and lavender at intervals, and plyed that with a single of oatmeal. It was a bit lumpy to begin with, till I got the hang of it. That is the small skein at the top of this photo -

The lower skein is a single spun from the colours alone, plyed with a single spun from the oatmeal alone.

Then I knitted them up. As the yarns came out at about 18 w.p.i., I used 3 mm needles -

DH says subtle; I think perhaps dull.

Friday, November 23, 2007

23 November: Stirring from hibernation

This morning not only was it not raining, there was no heavy blanketing cloud cover - sunshine!

A walk round the garden revealed that, although the bird baths were frozen solid (one with an attractive selection of leaves embedded in the ice), there were a number of flowers still blooming. A perfect rose (Pink Perpetue), lobelias and nasturtiums, helenium, everlasting wallflower, a penstemon, verbena bonarensis and clematis.

Under the liquidambar tree was this -

And over by the windy fence -

But as I climbed into the car to go shopping, it began to snow. Out of a clear blue sky.

It has been so dismal and dark lately that yesterday I tried to bring some colour to the workroom - you will remember that I am currently knitting a brown scarf. So I grabbed a half kilo of Blue Faced Leicester fibre, and did a bit of dyeing -

Some of that is electrically bright, so it may end up being blended with some plain white fibre, or with some oatmeal coloured BFL. Maybe flecks of different colours in the oatmeal....

Friday, November 16, 2007

16 November: Birthday, Knitting, Tag

Happy Birthday, Son!

One of the current knitting projects is a scarf, in the pattern Here and There Cables by Norah Gaughan, from the book Scarf Style.

The scarf illustrated in the book is knitted from much thicker yarn, in a variegated pale green. My version is in hand-spun black Wensleydale yarn, about 17 w.p.i., so is much narrower. The wool is sensationally soft, and much, much nicer than white Wensleydale. And of course, it isn't really black - more of a dark brown.

This stitch pattern attracted me because it is the same on both sides, and initially I couldn't see how it was done. It turns out to be remarkably simple, with the cabling on every 7th row, so it makes ideal work for TV watching (if any programmes appeal), or to take along to a Guild workshop day, where much chat occurs.

Tagged again by Granny J - this time it's 7 Things About Me.

1 - I have never read any of Jane Austen's novels.

2- I enjoy train journeys, apart from the stations and the other passengers.

3 - Maps fascinate me.

4 - 25 years in County Durham have failed to eradicate my southern accent.

5 - I would never make a mathematician

6 - I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up.

All passing readers are invited to pick up this tag and give us their own 7 Things.

Monday, November 12, 2007

12 November: Choices

Contrary to popular belief, it's not actually difficult to eat less, especially if you have been aware for some time that you have been eating too much, and simply don't need all that food.

All you have to do is to make the choice (and we all make constant choices) to reduce the amount going into your mouth.

Interest in food can be diverted to choosing what to eat - incidentally it all tastes better when there's less quantity; and obviously, you can also choose to improve the quality when you eat less. Time spent preparing meals can be much less, for example just the time needed to cook some pasta and stir a small jar of pesto through it, and sprinkle a few nuts and seeds on top. Or slide a frozen pizza into the oven while you put a salad together, fill the coffee maker and wash some apples for a pudding. Or you can have that fruit pie, but a smaller piece than you used to have. (Of course, anyone so inclined can spend hours preparing a meal that is eaten in three minutes, but that's a choice I don't make.)

Doing away with snacks between meals is a basic move in this strategy too. Any hunger pangs can be diverted by drinking sugar water instead of coffee - this idea came from a book called The Shangri-La Diet, by Seth Roberts, which suggests drinking sugar water or olive oil as a way to slim. I actually tried the olive oil - once. But the sugar water provides enough to convince your stomach that you are full. Dr Roberts puts forward interesting theories about diet in his book, and I have certainly found the sugar water helpful.

There is a saying that 3 parts of a full stomach feed the person, the fourth feeds their doctor.
Plus the food industry, the advertising industry, and the slimming industry.

Keeping a balance can be tricky when you cut down, but I already take a multi-vitamin tablet and a flax seed oil capsule every day - the oil and the absence of meat has improved the joint pains and stiffness I used to get. We all know by now that processed foods have lots of ingredients that do you no good (and never quite look as good in reality as they do on the packaging!), but fruit and veg don't have those snazzy labels on to tell you how much fat etc. is in them. Mind you, it's alarming how many calories are in some foods that are often thought of as slimming.

Anyway, I have lost another pound since I last posted about this, and now have to keep my jeans up with a belt.

Friday, November 09, 2007

9 November: Less is more

After 11 months of retirement, I think I'm getting used to it. But the reduction in exercise, from lots of walking about, standing, and climbing stairs, to a life of indolence, together with my sweet tooth, and continued consumption of cakes and sweets, was having the inevitable effect on what used to be my waistline.

I've never been small - at 5'10" and over 10 stone, a size 14 was OK widthways, though often not quite long enough. But since I stopped running and orienteering after I had cancer in 1992, the pounds have crept on, and a size 16 became a size 18. But when a size 18 starts to feel a bit tight, and you can't bend over properly because of a great wodge of fat, and 13 stone is horribly near, something has to be done.

Diets have always been a strange thing that other people undertake with much talk and usually little to show for them, and most of the popular diets have been patently ludicrous.

But after a month, I have lost half a stone by a sure-fire diet that I can recommend to everyone - the 2 word diet. I feel better, my clothes are getting loose, and I'm totally amazed at how easy it has been. So far, of course - it may not continue, as it may be difficult to keep a new low weight stable. But I'll worry about that when I get there.

So, here is a photo of the cat enjoying the new winter arrangements, now it's too chilly to have the conservatory door open all day -

He seems to like the blanket (crocheted from odd bits of hand-spun) we put on the sofa to protect it from his claws, and he blends nicely into the cushions.

Oh, the name of the diet?


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

6 November: Further adventures in yarn

The slipover in intarsia squares is finished -

It was suggested that plain sleeves might complete it, but the problem with that is why it's in multi-coloured squares in the first place - not a lot of yarn in any one colour!

In fact, it might eventually get sleeves, as I have been thinking for a while about knitting long arm warmers; like fingerless mittens, only armpit-length. As preparation for this, I've made a number of samples in slip stitch and/or rib variations. And there's still part of a ball of wool in each of those colours left in the Shetland crate!

Much thumbing of stitch pattern books has taken place; as well as Mary Thomas' Book of Knitting Patterns, there are 4 others full of different patterns. 'The Harmony Guide to Knitting Stitches' is dated 1984, and their recent Volume 3 offers 440 more patterns, while Volume 4 has 250 creative knitting stitches. The other book was my mother's, and the only date I can find on it is 1968. The price on the cover is 10/-, so it must be pre-decimalisation. It's called 'Knitting Dictionary 800 Stitches Patterns', and was published by Mon Tricot. I have followed Mum's example, and added notes to some of the patterns.

In spite of the wealth of patterns in these books, I have never used many of them, and I really don't know why not. Some of them, of course, are extremely tedious to work, and the final result is not worth the fuss, but there are some super effects that don't appear too hard to do - must add them to my list of things to try out.

Some lovely multi-coloured yarns are not shown to their best with complex stitch patterns, as I discovered recently with socks. And on the topic of lovely multi-coloured yarns, I have just finished spinning last month's Yarn Yard Fibre Club roving -

It may be a little darker than this in reality, but you can't complain about strong sunlight, can you? There isn't a project in mind for it yet, but I have just bought Pam Allen's "Scarf Style", and there's a little Vogue book of shawls somewhere in the downstairs bookcase, so there are plenty of ideas to hand.