Yarn Diet Progress

Cruise Countdown

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Reading Corner

Anyone who knows me from Facebook will know that I have two book challenges running at the moment. One with Goodreads to read 50 books this year and another to read all 200 books from the 2003 BBC Big Read.
Due to my passion for knitting I am choosing to use audiobooks for my reading as I can totally immerse myself in the stories whilst still following a pattern. I have two sources for my reading pleasure, the One Click Digital service from my local library and my Audible subscription. I currently have a subscription for two books a month and as far as I am concerned it is the best value for money I get from anything I buy, (other than yarn of course).
Anyhoo, back to my challenge progress.
I have so far this year completed
7/50 Books in the Goodreads challenge
and overall
10/200 from the Big Read
As most of the reading I do comes from the library the Goodreads total will increase much quicker and I shall just dip into my Big Read challenge from time to time. I am not reading the Big Read books in any particular order, rather I am using a random number generator to choose my next book for me. 
My reading will slow down drastically in the summer when I am back at work but the winter months are just perfect for curling up with a good book.

My current book is The English Girl by Daniel Silva read by Jim Barclay
This fast moving thriller has really gripped me and I am racing through the story.

I will declare now that I am not a book reviewer, rather I am an avid reader who will share with you what I am currently reading and whether I like it or not.


Saturday, 30 January 2016

Knitting Natters

Disaster has struck! I may have to go a day or two without knitting. I woke up this morning with a burning sensation in my right thumb. Upon closer inspection I discovered a tiny blister.
Not a major obstacle you would think but it is mighty sore and damned annoying.

So, what to do? Well I could, gasp!, do some housework, or I could spend the day sorting out my stash, (otherwise known as home insulation). But hey it is Saturday and these are not weekend jobs. So I will gingerly pick up the big needles and try oh so carefully to do some knitting on my garter squish blanket.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Knitting Natters

Super Secret Knitting


I received an e-mail yesterday which caused me to drop everything and with giddy excitement rush to my stash and sharpen up my 2.5mm circular. I have been asked to test knit a pair of socks. How wonderful! A few e-mails back and forth and the yarn was chosen and the pattern arrived. Now, whilst I cannot show you my progress I am sure Fiona, the designer, will not mind me sharing my yarn choice with you.
This lovely yarn is Ripples Crafts reliable sock yarn in Wild Heather. I bought this at last year's Edinburgh Yarn Festival and it has been sitting in my sock yarn box just waiting for the right pattern to come along.
Once the design is released I will of course share the link with you all.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Monday Musings

Last Friday saw the 40th anniversary of the maiden flight, with paying passengers, of Concorde. The British Airways flight from Heathrow to Bahrain on the 21st Jan 1976 was undertaken by G-BOAA. This anniversary got me reminiscing about my ambitions as a child.
Back in those days I had only 3 things I really wanted to do in my life. I suppose today it would be called a bucket list. Those three things were to fly on a Concorde, sail on the QE2 and overnight on the Orient Express. Yes, as a child I was attracted to luxury.
Fast forward to me here in my 5th decade and what of my list have I achieved? Nada, nothing, nowt!
The QE2 which was launched the year I was born is retired, as is Concorde (2 years younger than me), I seem to see a theme developing here, and the Orient Express is way out of my league price wise.
I have however cruised on a number of beautiful ships with another cruise to look forward to next year. I have been on many trains and I have travelled the beautiful Inverness to Kyle line which has scenery to take your breath away. I have flown with a few airlines, mainly EasyJet, which have adequately served to get me from A to B.
So my bucket list from childhood is but a memory.
All is not lost completely though. I have a wonderful job which more than makes up for the disappointment of never having flown on a Concorde, I now work with one. And not just any one, I work with G-BOAA, the very Concorde which made that maiden flight 40 years ago. I have been on that aircraft now more times than I care to remember and I still marvel at what she and her sisters achieved in the realms of transatlantic flight. I delight in the faces of visitors whose jaws drop when they see her for the first time. And I never tire of seeing her sleek beauty each and every time I step into the hangar in which she is housed.


Sunday, 24 January 2016

Smokin' Hot Needles

This month I have been busting the stash. With a week still to go I have already knitted up nearly 2.5 miles of yarn.
I have finished the socks I mentioned last week. So cosy and perfect for cold January days.



I have finished the body part of the jumper for mu mum and am now on the sleeves.


I am knitting the sleeves on very short, 40cm, circular needles. They are fiddly to use to begin with but you soon get into the rhythm and I find them much, much less stressful than DPN's.
Next up I have put a few rows and beads into this shawl.

I started this nearly a year ago but it went into hibernation and I have just recently pulled it out again.
Finally, I had heard a lot of folk talk about multi-stranding to use up stash. As I like to work with thin yarn and needles I had more or less let the idea pass me by. Recently I had been feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the fact that my sock yarn leftover bag was starting to overflow and the blanket I am knitting with these leftovers is a very slow and long term project. I decided to bite the bullet and give multi-stranding a try. I chose to follow the Garter Squish pattern by Stephen West but I am using 3 strands of sock yarn weight and size 7.5mm needles. The resulting fabric is just to my liking and the i-cord edges give a neat finish.


As you can see my needles have been clicking along at a fair pace.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Monday Musings

Today is known as Blue Monday, according to theorists for many it is the most depressing day of the year.  I take issue with this theory as I for one would not choose a Monday. Monday is the start of a new week it should be a day that brings hope that the week ahead will be all it can be. Now Tuesday is an altogether different beast. What is the point of  Tuesday? It is neither the start, middle or end of anything. It is too far from the weekend to be like Thursday with it's tickle of frisson that the weekend is just around the corner. Nope, Tuesday is a non day, good for nothing and this year it will be Blue Tuesday for me.

The last few days here have been particularly blue of their own accord. Since Friday evening I have been floored by some nasty bug, so much so that my best friends have been, in no particular order, sock knitting, Lemsip and Audiobooks. I lost nearly all of Saturday racking up just 38 steps in 24 hours on my Fitbit, I was out of it. Every time I turned over in bed it felt like I had been hit by a monster truck. Luckily by Sunday I was able to sit up and I got stuck into one of my favourite sock patterns.

Knitting 



This is my progress on the socks. Not too bad for feeling so poorly. The pattern is Socks on a Plane a freebie on Ravelry. Not being a fan of cables this pattern is a surprise favourite of mine. It knits up so quickly using a 6 row repeat and simple short row heel.

The yarn I am using is Reliable Sock from RipplesCrafts. It is my go to sock yarn, hand dyed in gorgeous colours in Assynt which is in the North West of Scotland. 

Books


When I feel awful the last thing I want is anything too heavy or grizzly so at times like this I turn to lighter reads. This was one of those times so I chose A Holiday Yarn from my Audible wishlist. This is the 4th book in the Seaside Knitters series and Sally Goldenbaum's words are once again beautifully read by Julie Mcay. 
The story does have a murder or two in it but the setting of Sea Harbour and the knitters themselves with he wonderful food they share is like a balm to the soul. When listening I feel swept up in a warm and safe haven and I am looking forward to many more mysteries with the four knitting friends.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Half Way to February

We are now half way through the first month of the year and what a first 15 days it has been. Floods have wrecked homes and lives and for a while it seemed the rain would never stop. Every day it was just grey and wet.
Then came the shock of two men passing.
David Bowie was the epitome of a star. His ability to re-invent himself to suit the music tastes of the time was flawless. He could take a feeling, capture it and make it his own. From Major Tom to Dancing in the Street with Mick Jagger there was something for everyone. Even to the end the last photos of him showed a stylish man who gave nothing away that he was so ill. He will be sadly missed but his music will live on forever.
Whilst still reeling from the death of David we were hit with the passing also from cancer of the wonderful actor Alan Rickman. Although best known to younger folk as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films this man was so much more. Through decades he has entertained us on stage and screen. The world of acting is so much poorer today.

Knitting


Moving forward this month I have a new MKAL to look forward to.

I love Susanna's patterns and will be looking forward to a new clue coming out each week. There is still time to sign up via Ravelry if you want to join in.
As it is a winter theme I have chosen to use Drops Lace yarn in a beautiful icy baby blue and silver lined blue beads.
I will keep you updated with my progress each week as the KAL continues.
The red jumper for my Mum is growing and I am almost at the place to put it aside and knit the sleeves.

Walking

My walking has slowed down this week as a cold has kept me mostly indoors. But as soon as I can I will get myself back out and get steps added to my journey.

Books

This week I finished  The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith, read by the actor Robert Glenister. This is the first in a series of novels written by JK Rowling using this pseudonym. It took me a while to get into the book but once I did I really started to care for the characters, especially Robin. I will definitely be looking for more of these.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Monday Musings

First Steps

Walking

Traditionally in January people make resolutions. One popular one is to join a gym and exercise more. Usually by the end of the month this has fallen by the wayside. This year rather than make such a commitment I have taken on a challenge. I discovered a Scottish website which aims to encourage folk to walk more. World Walking have a huge variety of virtual walks which you can take on as a solo walker, like me, or as part of a larger group. All you need to take part is a pedometer and the will to give it a go. I have chosen to do the North Coast 500, which is a 500 mile circular route from Inverness around the north coast of Scotland. Along each walk are key points to aim for. I have decided that to keep me totally motivated that each time I reach a key point I am allowed to purchase some yarn for my knitting. I am not allowed to purchase at any other time with 2 exceptions, Edinburgh Yarn Festival in March and if I need more to finish a project.

Knitting

Another first step I have taken this week is to cast on a jumper for my mum.
  The Firenze pattern is available for free on Ravelry and is essentially a male pattern. However I have already finished 2, one for DH and one for me, more about that later.

Saving

I have also taken the first steps in the savings challenge I mentioned last week and have kept up with the daily amount. It is easy to do at this this early stage but I know it will get harder as the year goes on. 

Books

A new book was started this week, War at the Edge of the World by Ian Ross. I am not normally the sort to want to read about Roman soldiers battling the Picts but DH was keen and surprisingly I am really enjoying it. The narrator is very good and the writing truly paints a picture in your head as to what is happening.

Finishes

Knitting

As I mentioned earlier I have already finished two jumpers in the Firenze pattern. The first, on the left, for DH and the second for me.


The pattern is one of the easiest I have ever knitted. The jumper is knitted more or less in one piece from the bottom up. Using  strands of yarn held together you knit the main body, put it aside then knit the sleeves. Once they are done you put them all on the one needle and knit the raglan yoke and neck. The only seaming is 8 stitches under each arm which is an absolute joy for someone like me who detests seaming.
The pattern is from Drops and I knitted his in the yarn suggested, Drops Alpaca in Petrol Mix and Drops Fabel in Blue Lagoon Print. For mine I once again used Drops Alpaca in Petrol Mix but this time used King Cole Zig Zag in Thistle from my stash as the 2nd yarn. Zig Zag is now discontinued so I wanted to get some of it used up. I find it amazing that 2 jumpers using the same base shade can look so different just by changing the accent.

Books

I have finished the first book in my Goodreads reading challenge. Not Dead Enough by Peter James was a gripping murder mystery set in Brighton. It had me hooked from the first chapter and all I wanted to do was stay up listening till the early hours to find out more and more. The twist at the end was a complete surprise and I am looking forward to listening to more of his books.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Coming Full Circle

Back when I was a wee girl one of my jobs at home was to clean mine and my Granddad's shoes. At the time I hated it. It seemed to take forever and I got all dirty from the shoe polish. As I grew up I  discovered all different tips and tricks to cut the time including using furniture polish to cheat my way to a shine. Also the shoe polish companies started bringing out more simple methods but in reality these just put a shine on and never really treated the leather or cleaned the shoes. Yesterday I dug out an unopened shoe kit and set about properly cleaning my one favourite pair of shoes. The minute I opened the tin of polish and took a sniff the memories came flooding back, oh how I loved that smell. 10 minutes and a bit of elbow grease later and my shoes, which are over 3 years old, looked almost new again. I had come full circle. The sense of satisfaction I felt was immense. Now I know I will have a new chore at least once a week but my shoes will thank me for it.

Talking about shoes and that pair in particular, I have always struggled to find shoes to fit. A broad foot meant that to get comfort for the toes I needed to take a size 7 when in reality my foot was really as I found out a 51/2. One day I was in Musselburgh with DH and we were in the Mobility shop. They had a selection of Cosyfeet shoes and I decided to try a pair on. I was overjoyed when my feet slipped easily into a lovely pair of black Mary Jane style shoes of the correct size for me. I baulked slightly at the price but here over 3 years on I have to say that they have been the most cost effective shoes I have ever bought. Still comfy, soles look good and believe me I have worn the nearly every day since purchase. I will be back for another pair soon.


Talking about feet as I seem to be doing. It is my left big toe which has given my my first problem of the year. I had the nail removed mid December and all was going well with the recovery until over the New Year holidays something felt amiss. I was lucky to get a emergency appointment at the doc's and so yesterday I trundled off to show my toe. Right enough the toe had become infected, so here I am in the first week of 2016 on a course of antibiotics. Not how I had envisioned my year to begin.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Getting to Grips with 2016

The festivities are all over for another year and now it is time for me to look forward to what I want from 2016.
As any one of you who knows me personally can attest I am about as far from being a domestic goddess as it gets. I try to keep up but with the hoarder husband and my yarn habit I will admit that I am fighting a losing battle. This year though I want to at least give a bash at getting it under control. I mentioned in my last post he 2 out 1 in for my yarn but I and DH seriously have to take a look at our clothing situation. Can you believe I am still wearing a couple of jumpers I bought from a store called What Everyone Wants back in the 1990's. I am sure I have more stuff from that era and it is time for it to go.
This is also the year I want to get my recycling habit sorted. For the last few months I have been trying really hard to get the stuff in the right bins and this year I will be re-doubling my efforts.
Another thing I want to do this year is sort out a savings plan that I can stick to. I want us to have some spare pennies to use to enjoy life with. The first thing I plan to do is get back to a Christmas savings plan with Park. I used to save for the vouchers but for some reason I stopped. This will be restarted this week. The second thing I plan to do is pop a regular amount of money in a jar. I spotted the 365 day savings challenge on FB and I have already begun. Also as a bonus this year has 366 days so an extra £3.66 will go in the kitty.

 It seems such an easy way to save.

The new year also brings lots of new series of our favourite TV shows. I am looking forward to the return of NCIS, Midsommer Murders, Silent Witness and many more. Sometimes there is nothing better than curling up with some easy knitting and a great TV show.
Talking of TV over the holiday season I got bored with the usual repeats and decided to go searching through Sky to see if anything caught my fancy. One which I thought I would try was Glee. Well where the heck was I when this was on? 4 episodes in and I was hooked. The storyline reminds me of Fame from way back in the 80's but the music is fantastic and if I am feeling a wee bit down watching an episode guarantees to cheer me up. I just hope Sky keep the box sets on long enough for me to watch them all.


Saturday, 2 January 2016

New Year New Beginnings

May I wish everyone a happy and healthy 2016.

I have been very remiss at keeping this blog and I promise I will try my very best to post more this year.

Knitting

2015 was one of my very best years for churning out knitted projects. I managed to knit my way through 12.6 miles of yarn on various projects including jumpers, socks, shawls and new for me, fingerless mitts. I still have to block and photo some of the projects and when I do I will get the photos up here for you to peruse.
This year I am hopefully, starting as I mean to go on with a loose resolution to curb my "ooh shiny, must cast on" attitude. I say loose as my aim at this time is to stick to 5 projects a month or less. A jumper, socks, a shawl, fingerless mitts and my ongoing sock yarn blanket.
I also truly need to reduce the stash this year. I am beginning the year with 181,658 yards of yarn and whilst I know I simply cannot go all out "cold sheep" I feel that moderation is in order. I will be aiming for at least 2 out to 1 in. I will here and now confess that this will be hard in the months of Jan and Mar as already I have some new yarn for a jumper for my Mum to be added in and in March we have the wonderful Edinburgh Yarn Festival. It just means that in all the other months I will have to knit more and be frugal with purchasing.

Books 

I have set myself up with a Goodreads reading challenge of finishing 50 books this year. I am still plugging my way through the BBC Big Read list but I am also indulging my passion for crime novels with library downloads. I do not do much eye reading any more, preferring to listen to books on my laptop so i can knit at the same time. I find this combination of my hobbies most satisfying and I am sure it has speeded up my needles.
I am currently listening to a library book, Not Dead Enough by Peter James, this is a new author to me and so far I am enjoying both the story and the narrator.


Life

Things are quiet at the minute as it is the winter season at work and the weather is not great for going out gallivanting. I do hope however this year to share things I have been up to and places I have been. Where this will take me, who knows?, but hey, it will be an adventure.